Finding funding for camp — within your own budget or through providers of camp financial aid — can feel a little daunting. But camp experiences are such a childhood joy and essential learning opportunity that it’s well worth the investments made on the part of campers’ families, camps and “campership” providers. Financial aid options, strategic partnerships between funders, and cost-conscious fees put camp within reach for many, if not all, families.
Financial Facts that May Influence your Camp Search
• Camp price tags vary. Some camps are free or offer sliding scale fees for children in need, while tuitions at the other end of the range approach $700 per week for day camp and $2,000 per week for overnight camp. Most camp tuitions fall somewhere in the middle of this range.
• Camps work hard to keep costs down and stay affordable. A few examples of friendly financing options offered by camps: early bird incentives, sibling discounts, new camper referral fees, payment plans and tiered pricing arrangements (offering lower tuitions to families who need them and higher tuitions for families who want to help provide camp experiences for their own children as well as other kids in need).
• Camps themselves are major providers of financial aid. Ask about financial aid and read the application materials thoroughly, noting due dates and required documentation. Scholarships, camperships and financial aid are the most commonly used terms. But the process of applying for and receiving camp financial aid differs widely from camp to camp, depending on the camp’s owner or operator and other key variables. It’s worth it to read all the fine print. Call or message the camp office and ask questions if you still need answers about whether to or how to apply.
• Financial assistance can come from non-camp sources, as well. Banks offer loans and savings accounts for tuition. Some nonprofit organizations, service clubs, foundations, religious communities, and school and community groups set up camp grants. Grants like these are targeted to certain audiences or communities.
• Most campership money is promised to children by March each year, so the sooner you do the research and apply, the better your chances.
• There are creative ways to help defray camp expenses. Many families start saving for camp when their children are young. Children can also save money themselves for this fun and important experience. Fundraisers like lemonade stands and car washes can also be a great way to raise some funds.
• Families can explore whether the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit can help offset some camp costs for children under age 13 who attend a day camp. The IRS is the best source of these details.
Provided by the American Camp Association, New England, a 501 (c)3 organization. Families and camp professionals in Conn., Mass., Maine, N.H., R.I. and Vt. can visit www.acanewengland.org or call 781-541-6080 for help finding a camp or for additional information and resources.