Don't let the recession kill your fun

It’s not too late to find affordable camp options

While no one yet knows the extent of a possible economic slowdown, it certainly seems possible that many American families may be faced with budgetary challenges this year. In spite of this economic uncertainty, the American Camp Association® (ACA), which represents over 7,000 camp and youth development professionals nationwide, predicts that overall camp enrollment numbers for this summer will remain strong.

Teach your children smart money habits

"This is consistent with what the camp community has seen in other challenging times," says Peg L. Smith, ACA's chief executive officer. "Parents and children believe deeply in the value of the camp experience – and their passion for what camp provides grows every year."

In a survey last fall of over 2,400 camps accredited by ACA, more than half the camps responding (55 percent) said that the 2007 summer season was one of their best in the previous five years. More specifically, more than one-third (34 percent) said that the 2007 summer season was their highest enrollment of the previous five years.

According to Smith, "As you'd expect, the dollar parents spend on their children is the last one they cut from their budgets. Parents will find a way not to cut that last dollar in order to provide their children with the opportunity to experience what we know as an important rite of passage – childhood."

How can parents still find affordable camp options for the summer?

  • Remember that it's not too late to enroll your child. Many camps are very affordable, and camps are still accepting campers.
  • Research your choices. Parents seeking information about choosing camps – including costs – can visit ACA's family-oriented website, The site includes a searchable database of over 2,400 ACA-Accredited® camps, where families can search by many variables, including location, activities, and length of session, as well as cost.
  • Ask about financial assistance. Ninety percent of camps offer some sort of financial assistance to families, usually in the form of "camperships."  Camperships can cover a portion or all of the camp enrollment fees. Parents should always ask the camp if assistance is available.  Although camperships are usually awarded based on need, parents should not automatically assume that their income level doesn't qualify – they should ask.
  • Review the potential tax savings you may quality for. Day camp can be tax-free.  The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows an income tax credit of dependent care expenses, which may apply to qualifying day camp expenses as well. Parents can visit the IRS's Web site for more information about the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. A Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account allows parents to be reimbursed on a pre-tax basis for certain child care or adult dependent care expenses. See the FSA Feds Web site for more information.
  • Parents and families can still take advantage of the many camp options that are available and plan for camp's unique learning experience this summer.

The American Camp Association® (ACA) works to preserve, promote, and enhance the camp experience for children and adults. ACA-Accredited® camp programs ensure that children are provided with a diversity of educational and developmentally challenging learning opportunities. ACA is the only national organization that accredits camps. There are over 2,400 ACA-accredited camps that meet up to 300 health and safety standards. For more information, visit

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