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Understanding the Cost of Overnight Summer Camps

The True Cost of Overnight Summer Camps

By Choice Camps Staff

Updated Oct. 25, 2009, 6:54 p.m.

While there's no doubt that the overnight summer camp experience has a positive life-long impact on kids and teens, many families stress over the cost of sending their children to an overnight summer camp. Fear not; there is a great overnight summer camp for every child, and a great overnight summer camp to fit every budget. That being said, the cost of summer camp often doesn't stop at the tuition price. Families should consider the following factors when choosing a summer camp in their price range.

The True Cost of Overnight Summer Camps

When we say there's a summer camp in every price range, we mean it. Some overnight summer camps have tuition rates as low as $150 per week, while others can cost more than $10,000 for a full summer experience. Numerous factors determine the price of a camp: the location, facilities, instructors, religious affiliation, and more. According to the American Camp Association, the least expensive camps are typically non-profit, religiously affiliated programs in the Southeast or Midwest. The most expensive programs are typically private, for-profit camps in the Northeast.

Do trips or special activities cost extra?
Many overnight camps offer trip programs or special off-site activities that often come at an additional cost to families. Trips may include professional sports games, amusement parks, or special outdoor activities. In addition, special activities (such as horseback riding) often require additional fees. Be sure to ask directors which trips and activities are included in the tuition price, and which cost extra. Trips and special activities may add several hundred dollars to the tuition price, so it's important to account for them before committing to a program.

Does the camp require special clothing, uniforms, or equipment?

At the very least, most overnight camps require families to purchase a camp t-shirt or two. Some camps require additional items like sweatshirts, shorts, swim gear, and more. The cost of camp branded clothing can often exceed $100 - and if the camp requires a daily uniform, that price can grow exponentially. Beyond camp clothing, some programs require campers to bring special equipment like tennis racquets, shin guards, or other protective gear. If your family doesn't already own this equipment, be sure to factor it into your camp budget.

Are there transportation costs for getting your child to camp?

Most camps offer a variety of convenient transportation options to get kids to camp. Charter bus service from regional hot-spots is often available, but typically comes at a cost. If your family can't drive to camp, or would prefer using the camp's charter services, be sure to account for those travel costs when setting a camp budget.

Know the Camp's Refund Policy
It's important to know each camp's refund policy before sending any money. Some camps offer full refunds through the start of camp, while others offer no refund at all. Almost all camps require a deposit to hold a camper slot, and it's important to know if that deposit is refundable. Deposits are typically credited toward tuition, but families should confirm that their deposit will be deducted from the total tuition cost.

Take Advantage of Seasonal or Special Discounts
Camps typically offer early enrollment specials in the months of August, September, and October for the following summer. These discounts can reach as high as 20% off tuition, so it's prudent to start your camp search early. If you're willing to commit to a program in the fall, you will most likely be rewarded with a great discount or last year's rates. Moreover, if you're enrolling multiple campers, most programs offer sibling or "family and friends" discounts - usually around 5%.

For help finding a summer camp that fits your budget, it's a good idea to talk to a Choice Camps Summer Camp Consultant. Choice Camps offers free placement advice to help families find a camp that matches both their child's interests and their budget. Just call 617-264-0939 to speak to a camp expert today!

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