It’s only just February, but Spring Break is just around the corner. Which means that Spring Break camps are now open for registration – some may even be full already! We recognize that sending a kid to day camp can get expensive, so here are our top tips for finding an affordable camp near you:
- Local municipalities often run the most affordable camps. Their programs offer a wide variety of activities and experiences, so you are bound to find something that is a hit with your kiddos. They can take part in everything from arts and crafts to rock climbing to computer programming.
- Many camps offer financial assistance or bursaries to eligible families. The YMCA, SPCA and city camps all have opportunities for financial assistance. If you’ve found a great camp for your kid but can’t find information on whether or not they offer assistance, just ask.
- Always ask about special discounts before registering. Does the camp offer a discount when siblings are registered in the same camp? What about if you pay in full upfront for the camp? Or enroll in multiple camp sessions over the break?
- If the full upfront cost of a Spring Break camp is too much at one time, ask the camp if they have a payment schedule. Smaller payments can be much easier to handle, especially when managing other household bills.
- Ask to be put on a cancellation wait list. If the camp fills up and someone drops out at the last minute, there’s a chance you may be able to get in for lower cost so they can fill the spot. This is a bit of a Hail Mary, and we would never recommend banking on a camp getting a cancellation or offering a discount to fill the empty spot, but we find it doesn’t hurt to ask.
- When looking at the price of camp, take into consideration what is provided at the camp versus what you are still required to provide. Things like food, equipment, or transportation can increase the cost of a camp but may be provided at a lower cost than if you had to do it yourself. On the flip side, if you do have to provide your own equipment, for example, ask the camp if they have any deals with local suppliers or shops.
- If you find day camps don’t run long enough to fit with your work hours, ask if the camp has extended hours. Often for a few dollars a day more you can add an hour or two on to the beginning and end of the camp day, which may save on other childcare costs.
- Start your search as soon as possible. Spring Break camp registrations open as early as November / December for the following March, and many provide a discount for early registrations.
- Check your memberships – if you are a member of the Zoo, Aquarium, Science World or any other Metro Vancouver attraction, check to see if your membership gets you a discount on camp registration.
We hope these tips help you to find the perfect camp for your kids (and your wallet).
By: Michelle Hughes