5 ways to save on summer camp cost

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It’s that time of year again. Time to send your little one off to camp to learn all the necessary life skills, like leadership and video games. Although camp can get expensive, there are ways to cut some of those costs. Whether it’s a day camp or overnight, here’s what to do to save on camp this summer:

Ask if they offer any camp discounts

Discounts on kids camps aren’t always posted on websites, so why not ask? Try these tips for securing discounts:

  • Scroll through Groupon to see if they’re offering any special deals.
  • If you have multiple children, sign all the kiddos up together to possibly receive a multi-child discount.
  • Ask if you can provide your child with transportation to and from the camp; if so, it may cut the cost a bit.
  • Offer to volunteer; this can sometimes cut tuition costs all together. Get creative with your offer and use one of your special skills. Help the camp with advertising, like brochure writing or helping to build their website.

If none of these discounts are offered, then put a notification in your phone to sign up early next year. Early registration usually starts in February, when you can get discounts up to 35%.

Look for camp scholarships

More than 90% of summer camps offer needs-based or merit-based scholarships, so be sure to do some research to see what your child qualifies for. If your child isn’t eligible for a scholarship, then ask about a financial assistance programs. These program are often first-come, first-served, so start early. Did we mention early registration? Probably the easiest way to receive big discounts is through early registration, so plan ahead.

Look for low- or no-cost alternatives to summer camp

If sleepaway camp is too expensive, there are cheaper daytime programs to consider:

  • Check out local community centers, churches, or colleges. These alternatives will not only be a great experience for your children, but can also help you to get to know the community around you better.
  • Check area museums for day or week-long summer programs. These programs are often based on specific interests, like art, dinosaurs, or archaeology.
  • Talk to friends or other parents in your neighborhood about taking turns watching each other’s kiddos for the day for free. We’re all in this together! On your day to host, you can engage the kids in inexpensive activities at home like sidewalk chalk, backyard sprinkler fun, and yard games.

Make smart decisions when purchasing camp gear

Camp supplies can get pricey! Check the camp Facebook page for required items vs. recommended items, and ask other parents who have sent their children for their recommendations. Here are some tips to save when you shop:

  • Save camp gear for multiple years by investing in good-quality sleeping bags, flashlights, and backpacks. You shouldn’t have to repurchase this type of gear for years to come if you store it correctly during winter months.
  • Try to avoid purchasing items your child will quickly grow out of. Even though they want that hatchimals backpack, will it still be trendy next year?
  • There are some items you can probably borrow from friends and family in order to save a few dollars.
  • Keep an eye out for coupons to stores that sell summer camp gear. Inevitably, there are certain items that kids will need new each year. Swimsuits, sunscreen, and bug spray to name a few…

Plan for extra expenses

Daily lunches, additional field trips, and t-shirts are all extra expenses that often accompany summer camp costs. Pack lunch from home rather than using the often-expensive meal plan offered by camps to save money. Ask the camp directors if they can recommend other parents for you to coordinate with and organize a carpool in order to save on gas money. You may also be able to procure last year’s t-shirt from a family that no longer needs it.

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Doing research and planning ahead is the best way to make sure you’re getting a good deal on summer fun. Follow these tips so you and your children can enjoy the next couple months of fresh air and good weather before the ==emotional rollercoaster of going back to school starts==.

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