Are Your Kids Going to Summer Camp? [AUDIO]
The summer will arrive in less than two months and many parents in New Jersey are looking to keep their children busy while they're out of school, but the thought of spending a fortune on camp is concerning.
The good news is, there are ways to save and still give your child a summer camp experience.
"We have been seeing an uptick in registration at summer camps in recent years. Many parents start planning in one summer for the next summer, so it's certainly never too soon to sign up, but it's also not too late at this point. There is a camp for every budget," said Susie Lupert, executive director of the American Camp Association of New York and New Jersey. "We do believe camp is a vital part of a child's life experience. It's just a matter of finding the camp that's right for them if they're able."
Why is summer camp so important for children?
"Camp provides independence, life skills, confidence, leadership and sportsmanship. It helps teach flexibility and children learn how to adapt to new situations. It keeps children active which is very important in this day and age with the increasing rates of diabetes and obesity," said Lupert. "It's good for children to have fun and spend the day outside running around."
While a typical summer day camp generally costs a few thousand dollars per child for a full summer session, there are ways to save money.
"There are free camps for children who qualify and meet a certain criteria. Many camps offer scholarships and assistance to families who need the help," said Lupert. "For example, right now there are scholarships available to children affected by Hurricane Sandy."
It also helps to start planning early.
"Maybe the birthday gift this year is to have relatives contribute to the child's camp fund, or maybe you can put a little bit of money aside every month toward a summer camp fund," said Lupert. "We believe that camp is that important and that a child can have that great of an experience that it's something to really plan and budget for."
Many camps are making adjustments to help people with their budgets.
"Some camps are offering shorter sessions or allowing for drop off instead of requiring kids to be picked up by the bus. These types of things make a huge difference. We're finding that sleep away camps are also offering shorter sessions. Times have changed and people's lifestyles have changed, especially when you have people with multiple children who are trying to find things for their children to do for the summer," said Lupert.
For more information, contact the American Camp Association of New York and New Jersey at 212-391-5208.