How to Afford Summer Camp for Your Kids, Even If You’re on a Budget

If you’ve got kids, you know that summertime is less about relaxation and more about figuring out how to keep the kids entertained! Child care expenses also often skyrocket during the summer, as working parents need to ensure their children are supervised during the day.

Summer camp is a great solution to the entertainment/supervision conundrum, but summer camps can be really expensive. If you’re thinking about what to do with the kids this summer, Get Rich Slowly has some great suggestions about how to save money on summer camp.

Scholarships, Gifts and Piggy Banks  

The first thing you want to do is see which summer camps offer scholarships. Many camps provide scholarships to families who need that extra financial boost, so check the camps in your area and start sending in applications.

Pay attention to camps that offer sibling discounts; sometimes a camp will let you save a little money while supervising all of your children simultaneously! It’s a win-win.

Consider asking your children’s grandparents for a financial gift. Most grandparents want to contribute to their grandchildren’s lives, and helping pay for summer camp is a lot better than buying the latest toy!

Don’t forget about asking your children to dip into their own piggy banks or allowance money, especially if they’re the ones begging you to let them go to an expensive camp. But don’t be surprised if your kids suddenly become interested in a more affordable option. As Get Rich Slowly writes: “it is amazing how kids’ wants change when it’s their money that will be paying for it.”

Summer Camp Alternatives

If summer camp is out of your financial reach this year, consider these cheap summer camps and camp alternatives:

  • Free or low-cost day camps run by churches or local athletic organizations
  • Day-long kid activities hosted at the public library
  • Summer school or enrichment programs at your child’s public school

Check your local paper and visit local organizations’ websites to learn what affordable kid opportunities are available.

Get Rich Slowly also suggests that you start budgeting now for next year’s camp expenses. Get a jar and start tossing in your loose change, or sign up for one of the many bank programs that helps you save small amounts of money every week. The more you save, the more you’ll be prepared for your family’s expenses—including summer camp!

Want to learn more? Read the full story at Get Rich Slowly.

Your Turn: Do you have any tips on how to save money on summer camp?

Nicole Dieker is a freelance writer focusing on personal finance and personal stories. Her work has appeared in The Billfold, The Toast, Yearbook Office, The Write Life and Boing Boing.