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How To Find an Affordable Summer Camp (It's Not Too Late!)

How To Find an Affordable Summer Camp (It’s Not Too Late!)

By Kelcey Kintner

Yay it’s summer! Sunshine, relaxation, no schedules.  Oh my gosh, why are all my children home? And staring at me? Oh right, Summer.

I suddenly realized that enjoying these non-school days basically means breaking up sibling fights and trying to keep them off their screens. And when that’s not happening, they’re hungry. Even though they just ate.

Time for summer camp.

But summer camp can come with a pretty hefty price tag. Especially if you are sending more than one child. (And I have five.) But there are ways to save some money. And, you still have time to enroll your kids.

Sibling Discounts

Some camps don’t offer sibling discounts but others offer amazing ones. And I mean, amazing. There is a day camp here in South Florida where the first sibling is 10% off, the second is 50% off and the 4th child is free. I mean, how could I not send my kids to this camp?! Always ask about a sibling discount.

Plus, many camps will give you an additional discount if you sign up for multiple weeks or if you refer a friend. Or get a bunch of friends together and see if you can get a group discount if you all sign up. And some camps even offer financial assistance. You usually have to apply early for these kinds of scholarships but it’s never to late to find out what’s still available.

Become a Member

Many local museums and nature centers will run day camps and you get a discount if you’re a member. This is a great way to save money and you will be able to use that membership all year round. Also – if you belong to a church, temple or another religious institution, they may also give you a break on the summer programs that they typically run.

Use Social Media

The price of camps varies wildly! So you really have to do your research when it comes to finding affordable camps. Google, check out the American Camp Association, post inquiries on Facebook parenting groups, ask your friends, or whatever it takes. There are so many camps and you can find an affordable one if you just keep looking.

I recently emailed a friend of mine from high school about camps and she recommended I check out the Girl Scouts. Guess what? They had some good weekly, overnight and travel camp options and operate all over the country. I would never have thought to check it out on my own.

Town Camps

Many towns offer a day camp through their department of recreation and they are often great deals.  I was recently researching camps on the New Jersey shore. The first camp I called was more than $500 a week. The town-run camp?  Under $200. That is a huge difference. Also check out the local YMCA because they often have less expensive options.

Tax Breaks

The IRS actually allows an income tax credit for dependent care expenses – and that might include your camp costs depending on your income. Or you might be able to pay for it with pre-tax dollars from a dependent care flexible spending account. Keep track of your expenses and visit the IRS or talk to your accountant to find out your options.

Act Quickly

The more inexpensive camps will fill up fast. Hey, you’re not the only one looking for a bargain. But you still have time, especially if you are looking for sessions later in the summer.

So get going! Because those kids aren’t going to entertain themselves. Or maybe they will. But you might not want them repainting the living room fluorescent green.

Got any tips for saving money on summer camp? Please share with us in the comment section below!!

Kelcey Kintner
About the Author

Kelcey Kintner

Kelcey Kintner writes the humor blog, The Mama Bird Diaries and co-founded the cheeky advice site, The Mouthy Ho...

Kelcey Kintner writes the humor blog, The Mama Bird Diaries and co-founded the cheeky advice site, The Mouthy Housewives. This Columbia Journalism School graduate also drives a gold minivan because you can’t fit five kids on a Vespa. An award winning journalist, she still secretly longs to be an Olympic ice skater. You can follow her on Twitter @mamabirddiaries.

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