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5 Ways to Save on Kids’ Summer Camp

For many families, sending children to summer camp is an exciting rite of passage. But it can also be an expensive addition to the family budget, especially if there’s more than one child to pay for. Fortunately, there are several ways to save on sending kids to summer camp, as well as lower cost alternatives that can be just as much fun.

Ask About Discounts — They may not always advertise it, but there’s no reason you can’t ask if the camp has any discounts available. For example, there might be a price break if you send more than one child to the same camp together, or perhaps you can save some money by providing your child with transportation to and from camp, rather than taking the camp bus. Remember, you’ll never know what you might be able to get unless you ask for it.   Diverse group of middle-school tweens roasting marshmallows over an open fire

Use Last Year’s Gear — There’s no reason to buy new camp gear every year. Things like sleeping bags, flashlights and backpacks should be good for several years, provided they are carefully stored to stay dry and pest-free during the off-season. It will also save you money to borrow gear from family or friends before buying it yourself.

See About Scholarships — How about sending kids to camp for free? It might be possible. Although it’s probably too late to cover this year’s fees with a scholarship, start planning now for next year. Ask your child’s preferred camp if they have any scholarships available and find out what the qualifications are and how to apply.

Have Kids Help — Even if they just chip in to pay for extras like camp T-shirt and snacks, have kids pay for part of their own camp experience. They can use money they’ve saved throughout the year from their allowance, gifts or by doing odd jobs around the house. Making kids responsible for paying for part of their camp experience gives them a bigger stake in the process and helps create a sense of financial responsibility.

Look for Lower Cost Alternatives — If sleep-away camp just isn’t in the budget this year, that doesn’t mean your kids can’t still have a great time and meet new friends this summer. Look for low- or no-cost local alternatives, such as day camps sponsored by the city, school district or local churches. Additionally, local museums often have day or week-long summer classes or programs for kids with specific interests, such as art, dinosaurs or archaeology.