Camp Costs: What Families Need to Know

CampWithout summer camp, I would probably not be the daily swimmer I am today.  And even though I'm not a regular practitioner, I still remember the excitement of actually hitting the archery target.  And the skits -- I loved the Friday skits.

Many of us have great memories, and some lifelong friendships, from our experiences at summer camp. 

Priceless, right? Well, not exactly.

There's lots to consider when choosing the right summer camp experience for our kids, but, let's face it, for most of us, cost is high on the list.

The American Camp Association wants us to know that, even in today’s economic climate, camp is affordable. Yes, affordable.

There is a camp for every child, and just about every budget. Camp fees range from less than $100 per week to $800 or more per week. And, for families who are looking to keep camp budget-friendly, there are several options. The ACA offers the following tips:

Assistance offered from camps:

Camps offer special discounts—for everything from early registration, full-season, or multiple enrollments from one family.

Many camps offer partial or total scholarships and financial assistance. Parents shouldn't assume their income doesn't qualify.

Some camps offer payment plans or structured payment schedules, allowing families to break camp fees into smaller pieces.

It’s important for families to talk to camp directors about special pricing options and financial assistance.

Assistance offered from the U.S. government:

Parents should inquire into whether the camp participates in income-eligible subsidy programs, for instance through Title XX.

A Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account allows parents to be reimbursed on a pre-tax basis for child care or adult dependent care expenses for qualified dependents that are necessary to allow parents to work, look for work, or to attend school full time. Visit the FSA Feds Web site for more information.

In certain circumstances, day care expenses, including transportation by a care provider, may be considered dependent care services and paid with pre-tax dollars. Visit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for more information.

Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit: The IRS allows an income tax credit of up to $6,000 of dependent care expenses if you have two or more dependents (up to $3,000 for one dependent). The amount of the credit is based on your adjusted gross income and applies only to your federal taxes. This applies to qualifying day camp expenses as well. Visit the FSA Feds Web site for more information.

For more tips and information, families can visit, ACA’s family resource site. Families can search ACA’s Find A Camp database, which allows families to look for a camp based on region, activity, cultural focus, budget, session length, and much more! In addition, families can follow ACA on Facebook and Twitter for helpful hints and camp information.

About ACA
The American Camp Association® (ACA) works to preserve, promote, and enhance the camp experience for children and adults. ACA-Accredited® camp programs ensure that children are provided with a diversity of educational and developmentally challenging learning opportunities. There are over 2,400 ACA-accredited camps that meet up to 300 health and safety standards. For more information, visit