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Plan an Affordable Budget for Camp

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The camp experience can enrich a child’s summer, but camp comes with a cost. According to Tom Holland, CEO of the American Camp Association, tuition ranges from less than $100 up to $1,500 per week for ACA-accredited resident and day camps. That sounds steep, but with some planning and creative budgeting, camp can fit every family’s budget.

Plan ahead

The earlier you decide on a camp, the better because many camps offer early registration discounts. Camp scholarships also usually have early deadlines, even as early as Feb. 1 for the upcoming summer. Identify the key dates at the camps you’re eyeing, and mark your calendar. 


Scholarships for camp can come from the camps themselves or from local and national organizations.

Parents should call the camps they’re interested in to find out more about the scholarships offered. “According to ACA research, 88 percent of day camps and 95 percent of overnight camps give some form of tuition assistance to their campers,” says Holland. 

While every camp has different qualifications, Claire Mickletz, interpretive programs manager at Bellevue State Park in Wilmington, DE, says if your child qualifies for free or reduced lunch at school, then he will probably qualify for tuition assistance at Delaware state park summer camps.

Special interest organizations offer camp scholarships, too. For example, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia provides needs-based awards to families for day or overnight camp, and the Department of Jewish Education in South Jersey offers funds for children to attend Jewish overnight camp. Members of the Down Syndrome Association of Delaware can apply for funds to help offset camp costs for their child. 


Along with early registration discounts, camps often offer sibling discounts or a reduced rate for enrolling in multiple weeks of camp. Marci Rubin, camp director at Camp Kef at the Kaiserman JCC in Wynnewood, PA, offers discounts to people who sign up at their events like camp reunions or open houses. Other camps offer a program where families can earn discounts for each camper referred to them — a great program if your child likes to attend camp with friends. Every camp offers something different, so check into the discounts offered by your child’s camp of choice.

See page 2 for more ways to budget for summer camp.

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