I love The Simpsons because I tend to think of it as an animated satire instead of as a cartoon for adults. Anyway, there is a famous episode where Homer and Marge want to send their kids to a fancy summer camp, but they can’t afford it. So, they end up sending their kids to the very cheap and safety optional summer camp Kamp Krusty. It is a hilarious episode, but it reminds me of the predicament that parents are now experiencing. Covid-19 restrictions are lapsing, summer is dawning, and parents are desperate to get the kids out of the house. So, how can you send your kid to summer camp on a budget?
How much can you spend to send your kid to summer camp? Depending on the camp, it can end up costing you a lot.
It can cost you anywhere between $1,000 to $3,000 to enroll a child in a summer camp program.
The day camps, where kids come home at the end of the day, can cost $100 a week on average. Even the cheapest resident summer camps, where kids stay for several weeks or the whole summer, can cost $100 to $300 weekly.
If you have multiple children, then those costs can add up in a hurry.
Here are some tips on how to send your kid to summer camp on a budget safely and responsibly.
Send Your Kid to Summer Camp on a Budget (Compare Prices)
There is more than one summer camp out there. Do some extensive research online to learn where to send your kid to summer camp on a budget.
You can check out websites like Summer Camps.com or Hisawyer.com which lists all available summer camps in your area.
You can also lookup summer camps on your local municipal and state government websites. Or just input the term “summer camp” and your city name in an online search engine.
Take note of prices, changes, and facility offerings. Email and call summer camp officials to ask questions. Ask about refund policies – some summer camps don’t offer them. Don’t just choose the cheapest place to send your kid to summer camp on a budget. Find a summer camp that is affordable, nearby, and suits your children’s needs.
Ask About Camperships
About 90% of summer camps offer some forms of financial aid assistance to families who require them. Such financial aid assistance for summer camp enrollment is known as “camperships.”
The issue is that since the summer camp business can be very lucrative, most don’t openly advertise that they offer financial assistance.
If you have chosen a summer camp that is a bit out of your budget, call or walk in and ask about financial assistance opportunities. You may have opportunities to send your kid to summer camp on a budget without knowing it.
Inquire About Discounts
The best way to send your kid to summer camp on a budget may be to know what questions to ask. Just like camperships, many summer camps may not publicly advertise or promote discounts that they offer.
You may be eligible for a summer camp enrollment discount without knowing it. Many summer camps offer discounts if you enroll children for a full season or if you enroll early. Some summer camps will offer you a discount if you enroll multiple kids from the same family.
Be sure to ask about available discounts.
You can send your kid to summer camp on a budget by taking advantage of available tax credits. For example, you may be able to write off enrollment fees, transportation costs, and other expenses related to summer camp as a parent.
You may qualify for income tax credits offered by the Internal Revenue Service for services and expenses based on taking care of dependents, or your kids. It’s called The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. The amount of tax credit that you qualify for will be based on your income and the latest federal tax filing.
The Federal Flexible Spending Account Program, also known as FSAFEDS, offers pretax reimbursement for parents who pay out-of-pocket for dependent expenses like summer or day camp. You may also be able to use this service to open special tax-free bank accounts dedicated to medical expenses or dependent care.
Check out your local chapters of the Boys and Girls Club of America or the YMCA to see what kinds of alternative summer cap programs they may offer. Such summer programs will cost half or a third of the costs for traditional summer camp enrollments.
Check out your local, city, and state parks to see if they offer summer camp programs and experiences. Parks departments offer shorter summer camp programs, day walks, nature walks, educational trips and excursions, hikes, and so on.
You may be able to send your kid to summer camp on a budget that may not exceed $40. And don’t forget to ask about financial assistance or camperships.
Don’t just send your kids to the cheapest summer camp that satisfies your needs, or which is most convenient for your schedule.
Conduct extensive background research on the summer camps that interest you. Develop questions to ask and get them all answered, Find out about offered amenities. Your kids will be spending time there – know what is going on before you send them.
Talk to your kids about what they want in a summer camp experience and try to incorporate their wishes against your expenses as much as possible.
You have every right to try to save as much money as possible on a summer camp. But don’t just send your kids anywhere on a whim so you can get some peace and quiet.
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