Summer camp cost: breaking down the rates for day, sleep-away and specialty camps
Parents know that the prices for after-school care and extracurricular activities for children vary widely. Summer activities can have just as wide a range — anywhere from economical, public day camps to expensive, specialty sleep-away camps. Here’s a look at the different types of camps, and the costs associated with them, so you can figure out what works with your budget.
Average weekly rate: $314
Day camps are typically the most affordable options. Prices can start at less than $100 per week and go up to $500 or more per week, according to the American Camp Association (ACA). The average cost of a week-long ACA-accredited day camp is $314. Many of these camps are hosted by nonprofit and city organizations, churches, branches of the YMCA and organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs.
If you’re in need of financial assistance, be sure to inquire with camp organizers. According to the ACA, 93 percent of accredited camps offer some form of scholarship. For example, YMCA camps offer significant Groupon discounts nationally. The Boys and Girls Clubs offer two financial aid options: a reduced rate for children enrolled in a free or reduced school lunch program and free enrollment for 10 percent of their camper spots each week.
Research camps near you to find the perfect fit for your family, or check out these camps for cost references:
YMCA: The YMCA in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area offers a day camp at $25 per day. Kids will learn about nature, learn to swim, participate in team sports and meet new friends. There are even bus stop locations to deliver a child right to their doorstep.
The Boys and Girls Club: This organization has provided kids with a fun, safe extracurricular space for more than 150 years. The Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Boys and Girls Club offers four 10-day summer sessions at $350 per session, or just $35 per day.
Parks & Recreation camps: Camps run by the city are typically economical. The NYC Parks Experience program in New York City allows children ages 6-13 from any of the five boroughs to participate in sports, fitness and outdoor adventures, plus many of the city’s rich cultural happenings — like museum trips or canoeing with the Parks' Urban Park Rangers. The cost is $500 per seven-week session and $575 for extended hour sessions.
Montessori Country Day Schools: The national non-profit organization offers camps that provide a safe space for kids to get away and bond. The MCDS in Plainsboro, New Jersey, has a nine-week elementary camp for kids ages 5-12 and is $275 per week with a $25 registration fee.
Teens-only camps: These camps might help teens feel more independent while still being in a safe, productive environment over the summer. The Shiloh Teen Camp in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, features a variety of arts, music and sports activities in a natural environment. It’s open to kids ages 12-16, costs $25 - $35 per week and includes breakfast, lunch and a snack for each camper.
Average weekly rate: $768
At sleep-away, or “resident” camps, supervision is provided around the clock, so the cost will almost always be higher than a day camp. The weekly price for a sleep-away camp can vary from under $200 to more than $1,500. The average cost of a week-long, ACA-accredited overnight camp is $768.
Parents will have additional expenses at overnight camps, like food and lodging, as well as travel if the camp is far away. Your child may be able to choose from a variety of activities to participate in, which can also cause pricing to vary.
Sleep-away camps range from the traditional to the full outdoor experience. Depending on your child’s preferences, they might enjoy camps like:
The traditional camp experience: Think bunks and campfire tales, plenty of outdoor activities and writing letters home. Camp Laurel in Mount Vernon, Maine, has offered all the traditional outdoor camp experiences since 1947. Kids ages 7-15 can attend the rural camp in the Belgrade Lakes region for $1,886 per week for seven weeks.
A faith-based camp: Camps based on faith offer kids an opportunity to continue their fellowship throughout the summer. Camp DeWolfe in Long Island, New York offers a weeklong “Explorer Camp” for elementary schoolers (ages 7-12) that costs a standard $670 with an early-bird rate of $570.
Roughing it in the mountains: Kids who are more outdoorsy might enjoy spending some time in the great outdoors. Camp Tall Timbers in High View, West Virginia, is in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers kids ages 7-16 the unplugged experience with mountain trails and swimming holes for $1,350 for a one-week session to $1,185 per week for a seven-week session. Cali Camp in Topanga, California, allows children ages 3-15 an opportunity to get away from nearby Los Angeles and enjoy the outdoors with horseback riding, nature hiking and rock climbing in the Santa Monica Mountains at $825 for nine weeks, with an early-bird rate of $725.
Exploring a national forest: These camps are great for kids who’d love to become a junior park ranger. Big Lake Youth Camp in Sisters, Oregon, is in the Willamette National Forest and focuses on outdoor exploration and safety and costs $415.
Average weekly rate: $500 - $1,000
From computers and sports to science and the performing arts, the variety of specialty camps is extensive. 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, according to the 2018 ACA Business Operations Report. Average prices range from $500 to $1,000 per week.
Specialty camps include some of the following:
Robotics camps: These specialty camps provide technical knowledge and expertise to children interested in any aspects of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Sylvan Learning in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, teaches robotics, engineering, coding, and advanced coding for kids from first through eighth grade for $299 per week. Sylvan also offers other workshops and camps for $99 or less.
Computer camps: These camps teach computer literacy all the way up to coding and even gaming. At the iDTech summer camps in 30 cities across the U.S., kids ages 7-17 can learn to be more computer savvy in a day camp or a sleep-away setting for $579 per week.
All-girls and all-boys camps: These camps can be good for for kids more comfortable in a boy- or girls-only setting. The Mondamin Camp on Lake Summit in Zirconia, North Carolina, has been offering a boys-only camp since 1922, with a focus on learning to appreciate nature and the outdoors. Boys ages 8-17 can participate in a five-week session for $6,500. Rockbrook Camp for Girls in Brevard, North Carolina, offers girls ages 6-16 the same experience with three regular two-and-a-half-week sessions at $5,150 and three week-and-a-half mini sessions at $3,750.
Family camps: These camps present a unique way to bond and spend time as a family, with options to spend alone time, as well. Family summer camps can offer a broad range of outdoor activities, like rock climbing and kayaking. Camp Getaway in Kent, Connecticut, for instance, offers three-day packages throughout the summer for the entire family to attend. Parents can “get away” with couples activities as they wish, while the children can do kids-only activities. The Camp Getaway adult price is $319 for three days, and the under-18 price is $219 for the same duration. Children under 2 camp for free.
Special needs camps: Children with disabilities can participate in summer day programs and sleep-away camps that offer specific facilities for their needs. Horseback riding, swimming and other outdoor activities that are challenging for special needs kids are led by coaches and counselors with experience with handling disabilities. Camp Fairlee in Chestertown, Maryland, has been providing these types of services for the Delaware and Maryland areas since 1954. Costs for their summer respite program start at $1,333 and go up to $2,100. Camp scholarships are also available. There’s also Camp Paivika in Pasadena, California, which offers overnight summer programs for kids with mild to severe developmental and physical disabilities such as autism, ADHD, cerebral palsy, epilepsy and Down syndrome. There are three-, five- and seven-week sessions that range from $690 to $1610 per session. Camp Paivika offers sliding scale prices, too, depending on income level, as well as one-on-one camp sessions.
Sports camps: Kids who are interested in sports can find a camp for almost any interest. IMG Academy is a premiere sports training organization offering one-, three- and five-week summer sessions for kids ages 8-18 interested in things like tennis, golf, football or basketball. The most popular is their three-week session for $5,389.
No matter what your child’s interests, they’re likely to find a summer camp that appeals to them. You may discover that your child prefers an inexpensive day camp that their friends are attending over a specialized, overnight summer camp. In that case, you’ll save quite a bit of money to make other fun summer memories.
Kellie C. Murphy is a freelance writer. When not writing articles or screenplays, working out at the gym or practicing yoga, she can be found singing at local open mic nights or at the movies. Check out her website at kcmjournalist.wordpress.com.