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American Camp Association tips for parents and a database to help parents choose ACA-accredited programs
Health Appraisal Guidelines for Day Camps and Resident Camps by the ACA and the American Academy of Pediatrics
Sleep-away Camps for Children on Medication by the Child Study Center at the New York University School of Medicine
Advice on Summer Camps for Kids with Learning and Attention Problems by Schwablearning.org, plus a database to search for specialized camps
By GreatSchools Staff
If you need full-time care for your child all summer, the costs can quickly add up so you'll want to first consider your overall budget.
Many day camp programs end early in the afternoon or only last a few weeks. That means working parents need to include the cost of after-camp child care or babysitting in their planning. The cost of summer programs varies widely. The most recent estimate from the American Camp Association is that the average day camp costs $303 a week. But camps that are operated by local governments or nonprofit organizations often cost less. And there are plenty of camps that cost more.
"But the fee does not equate with equality," says Ann Sheets, executive director of the American Camp Association, which accredits day and sleepaway camps.
Miriam Silver, a mother of an 11-year-old boy in Sebastapol, CA, has sent her son to a city-operated day camp several summers that costs $125 a week, much less than the national average.
"It's at a beautiful lake with hiking trails," she says. "They get dirty. They get independent. He doesn't usually canoe. He doesn't fish. But he does that week."
The average cost of a sleepaway camp is about $597 a week, according to the ACA. If you're considering sending your child away to camp, you'll need to factor in transportation to camp for your child and for you, if you're planning to visit.
No matter what program you're conside
ring, be sure to ask about scholarships because many camps offer them.
Once you've figured out your overall budget, you'll need to ask at each camp you consider what the overall fee includes. Does it cover snacks and meals? Does it cover materials, such as arts and craft supplies, and all the activities the camp offers? Are you required to buy a camp uniform or sports gear?
Sometimes you have to get creative to stay within your summer budget. You may want to pool your resources with a few other parents to hire an energetic teenager for the after-camp care you need. Or you might want to join with a small group of other parents who are able to stay at home for a day or two at a time to create your own day camp. You can provide a fun yet inexpensive week by combining a trip to the lake, an outing at a science museum, story hour at the library, baking projects that incorporate math lessons and a nature walk or two. Trying this low-cost alternative might help you save for a week of the soccer camp your child has been begging to attend.
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