Going to summer camp is a childhood memory many of us cherish, but sending your kids can be expensive. Now is the time to think about where to sign up, but also how to give your kids a memorable summer without breaking the bank.

It might seem early, but summer is just around the corner. In fact, most summer camps start opening registration in the spring, so if your kids have their heart set on one, now is the time to start looking. Whether they want to get away for a night or weeks at a time, there are ways to make their dreams come true without taking on any financial burden. 

Ask about scholarships or discounts

Many camps will offer discounts if more than one of your children attends, so it’s worth asking what their rate is. Also, ask if they offer a scholarship. Camps associated with universities often have needs-based scholarships, while others offer them based on aptitude, such as musical talent. There may even be a way to reduce the fee if you volunteer with the camp in some way, so be sure to ask! 

Have kids help save

A great way to help kids learn financial responsibility is involving them in saving up for an expense like going away to camp. Sit down and discuss the options with them, talk about the costs, and come up with a plan together. Maybe they have a birthday coming up and they can set aside any money they receive as gifts, or perhaps they can do a couple of extra chores around the house to earn some extra. Whatever it is, camp will be that much sweeter when they’ve helped earn it themselves.

Remember all the costs

Once you’ve paid for camp, there are other expenses involved, such as required items, food, and transportation getting to and from camp. If it’s far away, it may even require plane tickets or hotel rooms to make sure your kid gets there safely. Make sure you take these things into account and plan ahead. You can get most gear for athletic or outdoor camps second hand, which is especially helpful if your kid is trying the activity out for the first time. Likewise, plane tickets or hotel rooms are usually cheaper the further out you reserve them. 

Look for lower-cost alternatives

If a week-long excursion isn’t in the budget this year, that doesn’t mean your kids can’t have fun. Look for shorter stays or day-only camps. Museums often have recurring summer programs that are less expensive options, as well as your local youth organizations or churches. You can also organize a fun camping experience for your kids and their friends as a fun alternative. Talk with the parents of your kids’ friends and see if you can come up with something together that’s just as fun while relieving financial stress for all involved. 

Still exploring options for camp this year? Come see us for the annual Summer Expo! Top summer camps from around the Black Hills will be set up so you can explore all your options, and maybe even find ones you didn’t realize existed!