7 Ways To Make Summer Camp Affordable
According to the American Camp Association, the national median for resident camps was $390 per week and day camps were $182. Therefore, half the camps were more expensive than those benchmarks. Expenses can add up quickly, especially if you have more than one child. Here are seven suggestions from the ACA to help you find the right camp at the right price.
1. Research camps according to cost. Using our camp guide or a database such as ACA’s website, CampParents.org
parents can identify camps according to a number of variables, including cost. The ACA also allows parents to
search by location, special needs, activities, length of session, and age.
2. Check if the camp offers special discounts. Camps offer discounts for situations such as early registration, full-season enrollment, or multiple enrollments from one family. This is another case of making sure that families ask the question. Parents may find that they’re entitled to a reduced rate.
3. Be sure to find out the camp’s refund policy. Refund policies vary greatly from camp to camp. Some will give a total refund prior to a certain date, while others will refund in the case of illness only. Some camps do not offer refunds, so parents should be certain of their camp’s policy before they send money. Most camps will ask for a small nonrefundable deposit at the time of application, which may or may not go toward the cost of camp fees.
4. Ask camps what financial assistance is available. Ninety percent of camps offer some sort of financial assistance to families, usually in the form of “camperships.” Camperships cover a portion or all of the camp enrollment fees. The camp may not offer this option up front, so parents do need to ask if assistance is available and it’s important to keep in mind that it’s vital to apply early. Although camperships are usually awarded based on need, parents should not automatically assume that their income level doesn’t qualify.
5. Determine what ’s included in the enrollment fee. Fees to ask about include transportation, special programs and trips,
special equipment that is required, organization memberships, and amenities such as laundry service and the camp canteen.
6. Day camp can be tax- free. The Internal Revenue Service ( IRS) allows an income tax credit of dependent care expenses, which may apply to qualifying day camp expenses as well. The amount of the credit is based on adjusted gross income and applies only to federal taxes. Parents can visit the IRS’s website for more information about the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.
7. A Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account allows parents to be reimbursed on a pre-tax basis for child care or adult
dependent care expenses that are necessary to allow parents to work, look for work, or attend school fulltime while they are caring for qualified dependents. In certain circumstances, day camp expenses, including transportation by a care provider, may be considered dependent care services. See the FSA Feds website for more information.