Budget-Camping-11Depending on the age and stage of your child, with the summer months approaching, you may be facing a bit of a child care dilemma.

Also, to complicate matters, what if your child is older? Home alone after school is fine, but home alone for a whole day can be a little worrisome. However, finding full-time child care can not only be expensive, it may make your “big kid” feel like they’ve taken a step back in the responsibility department.

Seemingly, the best option for the pre-teen is Summer Camp. But do they fit in the budget?

Camps are too Expensive

Camps are a great idea for socializing, learning new skills or honing those skills that you already have. It also gives your pre-teen a spot to be supervised all day- or all week, depending on if you are looking at day camp or overnight camp..

Great idea! Sign me up! The thing is, camps can be super-expensive. Like hundreds a week for some sport-specific day camps, to well over a thousand dollars a week for some overnight camps.

It is important to note that there is a vast range in costs, and it is worth investigating the difference.

Not all Camps are Equal

Time to get your research hat on, and do some digging. Not all camps are created equal, first of all. If your child is looking to go to hockey camp, for example, you are going to pay substantial amounts, because of expensive ice. Some private art camps, for instance, are expensive because of studio time and materials associated.

Your best bet to find camps that are less expensive is to first seek out city-run camps vs. private camps. The reason for this is that municipal programs are often subsidized (at least partially) and are run at a far lower cost than camps run by private companies.

Another lower-cost option are camps run by school boards, that are able to use their schools in the summer for camps, at cost savings, which are passed along to you.

For day camps, check on things like before and aftercare (do they charge extra?) and meals (many day camps include lunch as part of the cost). Read the fine print and ask lots of questions. It can help defray costs.

Some camps even offer transportation, saving you time and money.

Group and Sibling Discounts

Are all of your child’s buddies interested in going to the same camp? Do you have more than one child? Many camps offer discounts if you can bring in a group (a minimum number will be required) or for additional siblings registered during the same week (usually a smaller amount, but still a discount!).

Church Camps

There are a number of church camps, run by churches as a service to the community, and are not necessarily devoted to that particular belief, religion or faith.

Many of these camps are run at low (or no cost) as a means of offering all children access to “the camp experience”. Do a quick search of your area, and you may be surprised at what you find.


If paying camp fees is outside of your means, approach the camp in question. Rarely will they advertise subsidies or sponsored spots, but they do exist, at nearly every camp. There is no doubt a procedure to follow, so it is worth inquiring.

Other camps offer families the chance to “pay-what-they-can” or operate as a not-for-profit, and give families the chance to do fundraising through families and friends to pay their camp fees (which are generally very low-cost).