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How To Afford Summer Camps & Programs For Low Income Families

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Summer camps provide kids with round-the-clock entertainment and avenues to develop their skills along with meeting new friends. It's an experience that most kids enjoy and with such a wide variety of camps, it's easy to find one that is suitable for your child's interest

Unfortunately, parents often find it challenging to send their kids to these camps due to the high costs involved. In this post, we’ll highlight some helpful avenues that you can use to save costs and be able to afford summer camps. 

Apply for summer camp scholarships

You’ve likely heard about scholarships in the context of colleges and universities. Well, a summer camp scholarship is based on a fairly similar concept. These are tuition grants that are awarded to offset part of the summer camp tuition. 

There’s just one caveat: you’ll need to demonstrate financial hardship so that your child can qualify for the scholarship. 

If you’re planning to apply for a scholarship, start your search early. Search online for camps that award scholarships and inquire about the application procedures. Often, there are only a few scholarships given and they’re awarded on a first-come first-served basis.

Ask about camp discounts

Discounts are offered in multiple places - so it comes as no surprise that several summer camps offer them. 

There are two main types: early registration and sibling discounts. Also referred to as ‘early bird’, the first type is given to parents who enroll their children early on in the year. Usually, these discounts are offered between January and March.

If you’re a parent with more than one child, you may be eligible for the sibling discount. That said, there are several factors that determine the amount of the discount. These include: the number of kids being enrolled as well as the length and structure of the program (whether it’s a day or overnight camp).

Although these are not as common, you may also find membership-based discounts. If you’re a member of a local sports club or other organization, you may earn a discount. 

Use the barter system

This concept involves offering free services at the institution in exchange for a free camp program for your child. If you’re a health practitioner, you can offer healthcare services at the summer camp. These services are then used to cover your child’s camp tuition. 

The best part about this is that you don’t have to work full-time. In fact, offering less time-consuming services like designing promotional brochures or training the staff first-aid course, also works.

Attend in late summer

You’re likely to pay less if you enroll your child for the camp much later in the season. By this time, the majority of kids have completed their summer programs. This means that camping centers will have more vacancies- a factor that will drive the prices down.

Another reason that contributes to the low pricing is the fact that sessions offered in late summer are shorter; hence cheaper.

Claim a tax credit

This is a sum of money used to offset part of the camp tuition you have to pay for your child. However, you have to meet certain requirements to qualify for a tax credit. 

For one, both you and your significant other should be attending school, working or searching for jobs during the summer camp session.

The amount of tax credit will vary depending on your income. Overall, it can offset up to 35% of the camp expenses. This translates to an average of $3000 for a single child and $6000 for families with several kids. 

Buy only essential camping supplies

Getting an affordable summer camp is just half the battle. The next step is to budget for all the supplies your child will need in the course of the program. 

While some camping centers separate their lists into must-haves and optional items, others put them altogether. Common accessories you’re likely to find on these lists are stationery supplies, musical instruments, banquet attire among others. 

There’s a good chance that your child won’t use all these items. To determine the essential and non-essential items, go over the list with your child and remove the unnecessary ones, otherwise feel free to contact the camp and ask.

As for the required items, look for deals at discount stores. You can also borrow some of these items from family and friends, since they’ll only be used for a short period of time. 

Conclusion - According to the American Camp Association, parents spent an average of $315 per week on day camp tuition in 2018. This is exclusive of the expenses that a child needs when attending the sessions. 

All this shows how expensive summer camps are for the average parent. Fortunately, there are a few strategies that can help to cut back on these costs. 

For one, you can apply for summer camp scholarships. Just be sure to start your search early as they’re usually awarded to the earliest applicants. Secondly, look for camps that offer sibling, early bird or membership-based discounts. 

Claiming a tax credit and buying only the most essential accessories for the summer are also techniques that help you save money. We hope this article can help you and provide the necessary financial knowledge to send your kid to summer camp at an affordable cost to you. Read our tips guide to be more prepared for the camp experience once you find one.