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How to Afford the Best Summer Camp for Your Kids

Would you like to send your kids to a great Summer Camp but are afraid that you will not be able to afford it?  Even in this economy, getting your kids in a fun and exciting summer program can still fit into your budget.  Before you start to fill out an application for a second mortgage, take a look at these tips to send your kids to camp.

Find a Camp

Your first step in finding an affordable summer camp for your kids is to visit the family-dedicated web site of the American Camp Association, www.CampParents.org and utilize the Find a Camp database to search for camps within a certain price range.  You can search by length of stay, age groups, location and specific activities.

Fees to attend camp vary, and parents may be surprised to learn that among ACA-Accredited® camps, fees can be as low as less than $100 per week for day camps. Among resident camps, one out of four camps has weekly fees between $100 and $300. If a parent is looking to estimate costs, it’s helpful to know that the median weekly fee for day camps is $182, and for resident camps, $390.

Financial Aid

Many summer camps offer assistance to families that qualify.  Close to 90 percent of camps offer some form of financial assistance, kind of like a scholarship for camp.  These “camperships” normally cover a percentage or all of the camp enrollment fees. Be aware that many camps may not offer you the option of financial assistance up-front, so you need to ask if there is assistance is available.

YCares Financial Assistance Program – According to the Community YMCA website, the Community YMCA keeps their promise to serve the community by making their programs, services and facilities available to everyone, regardless of ability to pay. The Y’s YCares Financial Assistance Program brings this commitment to life. Individual and corporate contributions, coupled with proceeds from the Strong Kids Annual Support Campaign, make financial assistance possible for people who need it most.

Because of YCares, a family in need gains peace of mind knowing that their child is safe under their care, teens interact with and receive support from caring mentors and individuals, and families receive needed social services. YCares subsidizes YMCA membership and program services on a needs-based sliding scale, based on a family’s size and income. YCares is easy and confidential. All that is required to get started is to simply download and complete the application from their website, and contact/visit the YMCA location that interests you.

Scholarships for Camp

The best way to find out about a scholarship is to ask at the camp your kids prefer to attend.  As stated before, many camps offer some form of financial assistance but might not advertise the fact.  Each camp takes care of their own scholarships and are usually provided by donations from camp alumni and local businesses.

 American Camp Association

Through accreditation, leadership, education and promotion, the ACA endeavors to enrich the lives of children and prepare them to be the leaders of tomorrow.

As a leading authority in youth development, the ACA works to preserve, promote, and improve the camp experience. The American Camp Association is committed to helping their members and all camps provide:

  • Camp communities committed to a safe, nurturing environment
  • Caring, competent adult role models
  • Healthy, developmentally appropriate experiences
  • Service to the community and the natural world
  • Opportunities for leadership and personal growth
  • Discovery, experiential education, and learning opportunities
  • Excellence and continuous self-improvement

Whenever you are searching for a summer camp for your kids, if given the choice, you can’t go wrong picking the camp that is ACA accredited.  The ACA accredits over 2,400 camps. ACA-Accredited camps meet up to 300 standards for health, safety, and program quality. Nearly all of the ACA accredited camps offer some sort of financial assistance to families that are in need.

Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account

In a dependent care FSA, money budgeted to cover child care for dependents 12 and younger is deducted from the parent’s gross salary, reducing the amount of salary subject to income taxes.

The Internal Revenue Service limits how much a parent can put in a dependent care FSA, Perlman said. Single parents or married parents filing a joint return can put away up to $5,000 per year; married parents filing separately can put in up to $2,500 apiece.

While a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account may help you with the cost of sending your kids to summer camp, there are certain rules and regulations that must be adhered to and you would be well served to contact your accountant or financial advisor for more information.

So, no matter your financial situation, there is a good chance that with a little work on your end, you will be able to send your kids to a summer camp and keep yourself out of the poor house.

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