As a parent, you know that the price of after-school programs and extracurricular activities can range from economical to expensive, depending on type, length and a number of other factors (like child-to-instructor ratio).
The same holds true for summer camp. Navigating a variety of camps and their associated costs can be daunting. Getting a handle on some of the different types, and the general price range for each one, is a good place to start for narrowing down an affordable selection.
Keep in mind that the below estimates vary, depending on where you live and what options are available at the time you register your child.
Day camps, many of which are hosted by nonprofit organizations, are the most affordable options, with prices starting as low as $100 a week and going up to $500 or more a week. Churches, YMCA branches and organizations like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts may all fall within these price ranges. For-profit camps can cost up to $500+. According to the ACA, the average day camp cost is $304 per week.
If you’re in need of financial assistance, you may also qualify for a day camp free of cost for your child. Ask about price breaks based on your income or group discounts if you're enrolling several kids.
From basketball to science to performing arts and more, the variety of specialty camps is extensive. “There is a camp for every interest, child and budget," says Smith, "last[ing] from one week to all summer. The most cost effective camp is the one best matched to the family and the child’s needs.”
Because these camps typically offer more one-on-one attention and instruction for campers in a specialized area, prices will typically be higher than those of day camps, ranging from $500 to $1,000 per week (according to the ACA).
While overnight (or “resident”) camps may include either a broad range of, or specialized, activities, the cost will be comparable to or higher than specialty/private camps because care is being provided around the clock. You have food and lodging to consider, as well as travel if the camp is far away. Your child may be able to choose from a variety of activities in which to participate, which will cause pricing to vary.
In general, the ACA says that the average weekly cost of an overnight camp is $690. It could, however, cost as much as $2,000+ a week.
One thing to remember: more expensive camp options are not necessarily better. According to Borg, when it comes to the success of the experience, you want your child to be happy in the way that he or she defines it -- whether the goal is to make new friendships or acquire new skills (or achieve something else entirely).
First and foremost, talk to your children about their interests and find out what’s important and appealing to them (and to you!). You may discover that they prefer an inexpensive day camp that their friends are attending over a specialized, overnight one. In that case, you’ll appreciate quite a bit of savings!
Alexandra Kadlec is a freelance writer. When not writing, doing crossword puzzles or playing competitive games of Scrabble, she is known to get effusive about modern art, Jane Austen and karaoke. For more information, check out her website