How to Pay for Summer Camp

If you want to send your child(ren) to camp but think it’s out of reach financially, don’t despair: Lots of programs offer some form of financial assistance.

Some accept tuition on a sliding scale, allowing parents to pay discounted tuition, knowing that others will choose to pay more. Other camps, including those offered by the Flynn in Burlington and Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vergennes, use a pay-what-you-can model to make the experience affordable for all.

It’s worth researching ways to bring down the cost. Here are a few suggestions:

Look for camp scholarships.

Many programs raise money for “camperships” that defray costs for families in need of financial aid. Some community organizations do this, too. For example, Upper Valley families can apply to the LISTEN Summer Camp Scholarship Program, which provides need-based aid to Upper Valley children ages 6 to 14 for one week of camp. Application guidelines are available at

The Chauncey B. Warner Foundation offers assistance to families in Franklin County. “Last year we had almost 200 kids apply and awarded grants to 174 children,” said Sarah Allerton, chair of the foundation’s campership committee. Learn more about applying for these awards at

Other scholarship providers include churches, synagogues, clubs, fraternities and sororities.

Do you have a skill the camp needs?

Some camps will offer tuition breaks for campers whose parents work nursing shifts, for example. Don’t be afraid to ask about this before you register.

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.

Find out if you qualify for a tax credit.

Depending on the type of program, you might.

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 a good opportunity to practice saving up for something.

Talk to the camp owner or director.

It can’t hurt! They might know of other resources or donors who could help.

Look for less expensive options.

“We encourage families to look into the more affordable programs run by or affiliated with schools, local libraries, and parks and recreation programs, in addition to the more traditional summer camps,” Vermont Afterschool communication manager Seth Hibbert said.

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