toasting marshmallows on a campfire

How to Cut Your Family’s Camp Costs

As any camp-conscious parent can tell you, all that extracurricular enrichment ain’t cheap. You can easily spend several hundred dollars a week on day-camp tuition, while many overnight programs cost between $1,000 and $2,000 a week per child.

But don’t get overwhelmed by sticker shock: Lots of camps offer some form of financial assistance. Some accept tuition on a sliding scale, allowing some parents to pay less, knowing that others will choose to pay more. Other camps, including those offered by the Flynn and Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, advertise pay-what-you-can tuition to make the experience affordable for all.

Still others are open to nontraditional approaches. According to its website, Rebels of the Moon offers a trade and barter option in an attempt “to step outside of the oppressive capitalist economy.”

It’s worth doing a little research into ways to bring down the cost. Here are a few suggestions Kids VT has published over the years from sources including local parents, camp staff and the American Camp Association that could help:

Look for camp scholarships.

Various community organizations see the value in helping young people learn new skills and make connections over the summer months. These can include churches, synagogues, clubs, fraternities and sororities, and even your town or a local foundation. For example, the Chauncey B. Warner Foundation offers assistance to Franklin County families.

Do you have a skill the camp needs?

Some camps will offer tuition breaks for campers whose parents work nursing shifts, for example.

Have a camper’s parents or grandparents served in the military?

Organizations such as Our Military Kids might be able to help. The Virginia-based nonprofit offers grants for children of deployed and combat-injured service members.

Ask the camper to pitch in.

That could mean designating a portion of each week’s allowance or money from birthday gifts for a camp fund. Pitching in to pay for a special experience can be empowering, and it’s smart to practice saving up for something in advance.

Find out if you qualify for a tax credit.

Depending on the type of program, you might.

Talk to the camp owner or director.

It can’t hurt! They might suggest other options. Many overnight programs cost between $1,000 and $2,000 a week per child.

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