Making Summer Camp Affordable


Published:

For many kids in the Carolinas, the best part of summer is spelled C-A-M-P! Some kids head to the mountains, others to adventure camps along the coast. Down the street or across the country, the camp experience allows kids to become more independent, learn new skills and make lifelong friends under the summer sun.

Peg Smith, CEO of the American Camp Association, says camp fosters unique experiences. “When you are at camp, it is a promotion of your assets,” she says. “The whole community is geared toward you having success. There is nothing more powerful than being successful.”

Of course, all these wonderful experiences and lifelong memories do come with a price tag — one some parents may think they can’t afford. But there are ways to bring costs down and give your little ones a fantastic camp experience.

The Value of Camp

Smith says the No. 1 rule of planning for summer camp is to know there is a place for everyone. “There is a camp for every child and every budget,” she says. In fact, the ACA camp community annually provides nearly $216 million in camp scholarships for children across the country. “If parents assume there is not a camp out there, it’s a matter of doing research.”

Gail Mashburn, administrative director for Camp Hollymont, a female-only camp in Asheville, says camp is a gift that lasts long after it’s time to go home. “Camp provides children with the time and place for personal growth — learning to think and act independently within a safe, nurturing community.” Mashburn says her camp offers many ways for parents to save on tuition. “We help camp families with a variety of early registration discounts, sibling discounts, camper-recruitment discounts and special drawings.”

Ways to Save

Parents who send their kids to camp year after year know the value and monetary commitment well. “Camp is expensive no matter what strategy you employ, but the cost is worth it,” says Charlotte mom Wendy Foley. “My kids come home dirty and tired, but glowing and full of stories and songs.” Her two oldest children attend YMCA Camp Harrison at Herring Ridge in the Brushy Mountains of North Carolina each summer. The family belongs to the YMCA so they receive a membership discount.

Besides memberships, many camps offer early bird and sibling discounts, scholarships, or internships. Other discounts could be available that aren’t published, so never be afraid to ask.

Kay Anderson, associate director and parent liaison of Skyland Camp for Girls in Clyde, which is nestled in North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains, says her camp offers referral discounts where the referring family receives 20 percent per referral off what the new camper would pay in tuition the first year. “Families can receive up to full tuition in referrals,” she says. This referral can also be used for a sibling the first year; then the family receives 10 percent off with a sibling discount in subsequent years.

Families who send their kids to Camp Chatuga near Mountain Rest, S.C., can earn money toward tuition by hosting house parties. Sherry Moxley, marketing coordinator for the camp, says families can earn a $100 discount for hosting camp-interest parties for at least four families. Additionally, a discount of no less than $50 can be earned for any enrollment resulting from the parties.

Camp Hollymont begins early registration promotions as soon as the last camper leaves. “We offer a system of graduated, early registration discounts August through December, with the deepest discounts in August,” Mashburn says. Parents can also participate in drawings and giveaways — including a Valentine’s Day giveaway — for the chance to win a $150 credit toward the camper’s account.

Some families also encourage their kids to chip in. “My kids traditionally ask for money for camp for their birthdays from grandparents, aunts and uncles,” Foley says.

Elaine Brinkley, CEO of Camp Fire Georgia that oversees Camp Toccoa in Toccoa, Ga., encourages parents to explore payment options and then speak with the camp director if there isn’t one that matches your budget. “We are in the youth-development business because we care about kids,” Brinkley says. “Most camp directors are willing to work with you.”

While the monetary commitment can be daunting, with some planning and research, camp can be a valuable experience any family can enjoy. “Camp is a gift that lasts longer than a day, doesn’t break, and enriches the camper’s life both in the short and long term,” Mashburn says.

Here are seven ways to make camp more affordable:

1.      Register early. Many camps, including day and overnight camps, offer a discount if you register in advance.
2.      Ask about a sibling discount if you are sending little brother or sister along.
3.      Scholarships may be available. Be sure to note application deadlines.
4.      Payment plans, while not discounts, often make camp expenses easier.
5.      Pitch in. Some camps offer tuition breaks if parents work there.
6.      Ask your children to contribute birthday money or allowance to camp expenses.
7.      Contact the camp director if none of these options pan out, and ask the camp director if anything else can be done.

Courtney McLaughlin is a mom of two who enjoys a day of adventure with her family.

 
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Cost: Free

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Online
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Contact Name: Ranika Chaney
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Downtown
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Cost: $70/month

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Cost: See website for fees

Where:
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Cost: Free

Where:
Online
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Charlotte, NC  28271
View map »


Sponsor: Engage Art Contest
Telephone: 980-999-1447
Contact Name: Ranika Chaney
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500 S Salisbury St
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View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Website »

More information

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Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
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More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
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View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

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Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
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View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
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More information

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Cost: FREE

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Suite 215
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View map »


Sponsor: Crossroads Plaza/ Kimco Realty
Telephone: 864-979-2291
Contact Name: Katie Earnhardt
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More information

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Cost: $35 per Student

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Cost: Free

Where:
Online
PO Box 78951
Charlotte, NC  28271
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Sponsor: Engage Art Contest
Telephone: 980-999-1447
Contact Name: Ranika Chaney
Website »

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Forget tourist-filled museums, make your own memories with a photo scavenger hunt tour in Raleigh! On a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, you and your team will work together to wander throughout...

Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
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Farmers markets are essential to the livelihood of farmers and food producers and are exempt from the Governor's Stay at Home Order (page 6). Farmers markets offer an efficient way for residents to...

Cost: free

Where:
Holly Springs Cultural Center
300 W. Ballentine St.
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Farmers Market Coordinator
Telephone: 919-567-4010
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PARENTS JOIN OUR DHHS APPROVEDCPR/AED & First Aid Certification ClassesFoster parents are required to be CPR & First Aid certified. Must register in advance. Space is limited. Parents, bring your...

Cost: 50-80

Where:
Holly Springs, NC
1001 Silverstone Way
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Save A Life Now Training Center LLC
Telephone: 919-215-6942
Contact Name: Valentina Cordoba
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PARENTS JOIN OUR DHHS APPROVEDCPR/AED & First Aid Certification ClassesFoster parents are required to be CPR & First Aid certified. Parents, bring your child to class with you. Children 10 years...

Cost: 50-80

Where:
Holly Springs, NC
1001 Silverstone Way
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Save A Life Now Training Center LLC
Telephone: 919-215-6942
Contact Name: Valentina Cordoba
Website »

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Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
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Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
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Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
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Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

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Join one of our talented Mid-South Fencers’ Club coaches for a one hour virtual lesson to the fast paced and exciting sport of Olympic Fencing! This will be a FREE ONLINE class. All you need is...

Cost: free

Where:
Mid-South Fencers' Club ONLINE
125 N. Gregson St.
DURHAM, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Mid-South Fencers' Club
Telephone: 919-286-3100
Contact Name: Jeff Kallio
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It's time to play... TAKEOUT BINGO!!!  Take a screenshot or download the game board. Mark off the locations you visit. Share your progress on Facebook and Instagram using #CRTakeoutBingo. Send...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Crossroads Plaza
Crossroad Blvd
Suite 215
Cary, NC  27518
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Sponsor: Crossroads Plaza/ Kimco Realty
Telephone: 864-979-2291
Contact Name: Katie Earnhardt
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We invite all Triangle youth between the ages of 8 thru 17 with a sincere interest in the Performance Art of Magic to join Magic Youth Raleigh! This youth program teaches magic history and theory,...

Cost: $35 per Student

Where:
New Horizons Fellowship
820 E. Williams St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Sponsor: The International Brotherhood of Magicians
Contact Name: Roger Way
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River Jam at the U.S. National Whitewater Center brings together live musical performances throughout the year to a one-of-a-kind outdoor venue, right in the middle of the world’s largest...

Cost: $6

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
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Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Contact Name: Jenny Hill
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Get your summer vibes going at the 1st Annual Hubb’s Beach Blast at Hubb’s Farm in Clinton, NC.  Hubb’s Beach Blast will feature two of beach music industry’s top groups, Jim Quick and...

Cost: 20-50

Where:
Hubb's Farm
10276 US HWY 421 N
Clinton, NC  28328
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Sponsor: Hubb's Farm
Telephone: 910-564-6709
Contact Name: Tammy Peterson
Website »

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