off the beach bags and break out the swimsuits – even if the weather may not
feel like it yet, summer vacation is just around the corner!
you’re already on the hunt for activities to keep your children busy, then
you’re probably also considering summer camps. Camps are a great option because they often expose
children to experiences they would not get at home, while simultaneously
teaching skills like self-care, teamwork and conflict resolution.
challenge, however, is selecting camps that fit both the child and your
household budget. But with a bit of early research and some savvy saving ideas,
you can find a great camp option for your child that won’t break the bank.
a Day Camp
Children can get the same
sense of independence from a daytime camp that they can from an overnight one –
and Mom and Dad can save quite a bit of money, too.
Look for Early Registration Discounts
Many camps offer discounted savings
if you confirm your spot early. This includes camps as varied as those run by
local organizations and recreation departments to sleepover camps. Early
registration discounts may be due as soon as December or as late as April.
Check with your local camp now to see if there is still time.
Inquire about Sibling Discounts
In addition to early registration incentives,
many camps offer sibling discounts. These can range anywhere from five to 20
percent or more, depending on the number of children you are signing up. Ask
about relative discounts – some camps may offer a discount for cousins, too.
Apply for Summer Camp Scholarships
Many programs will offer scholarships that fund partial or full camp fees. Ask the registration department about the kinds
of scholarships available. Some of the scholarships are based on financial need,
while others are given based on talent or skills. For example, if your child is a top violinist
he/she may qualify for a scholarship at music camp. It never hurts to ask.
Submit your Application Online
Many local camps offer small discounts if you sign-up for the camp online. Even a small discount can add up quickly if
you’re planning to do a few week-long camps in your community. And of course,
you’re saving precious time by avoiding the hassle of completing paperwork and
waiting in line. Check out ACTIVE Kids for a listing of camps
in your area where you can sign-up online.
Offer to Volunteer
Many camps need additional adult
help. Offer to be an extra set of hands one day a week or supervise a special
event or activity. Even something as
simple as teaching a craft can help reduce camp costs. Use the skills you have: for instance, if
you’re a web designer, offer to freshen up the camp website in exchange for one
week of camp for your child. You might
be surprised how many camp organizers take you up on the offer.
Ask about Payment Plans
Camp organizers understand the financial challenges that come with summer
camps. Many are willing to arrange a
monthly payment plan to reserve your child’s spot. Work with the camp in
advance to figure out a plan that works for you.
Look into the Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account
Many families utilize their employer’s dependent care flexible spending
account for childcare. But did you know
that some summer programs also qualify? There are rules associated with which
programs qualify, so consult with your accountant or the IRS to see if any of
the options you are considering are a fit.
Whether you’re in the market for day camps or sleepaway camps,
sports camps or the arts, summer camps can be expensive. Plan early, hunt for
discounts, and remember: it never hurts to ask!
Sejal Pietrzak is a busy mom of two children who attend
various camps throughout the summer and Chief Admin Officer at ACTIVE Network.