Summer can be a spendy time of year, between vacations, new wardrobes, and summertime activities for kids; the spending can seem endless and relentless. According to a recent New York Times article, three-quarters of families don’t have a parent at home over the summer, which means spending money on summer camp or childcare. We recognize that summer camps can get expensive, so here are our top tips on finding an affordable one near you:
- Local municipalities often run the most affordable summer 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 summer?
- If the full upfront cost of a summer 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.
- Day camps tend to be more affordable than overnight camps. But 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.
- Start your search as soon as possible. Summer camps start registration as early as April, and many provide a discount for early registrations.
We hope these tips help you to find the perfect summer camp for your kids (and your wallet). After all, summer should be spent having fun and relaxing, not stressing about finding childcare or paying bills! Not sure where to start your summer camp research? Check out our summer camp guide for tons of great camps in Metro Vancouver. And if you are looking for some great free or low-cost things to do in Metro Vancouver this summer, we’ve got you covered with a giant list of 100 family-friendly activities!
By: Michelle Hughes