For parents summer vacation often means finding ways to keep school-free kids busy and entertained. Camps have long been a popular option for filling a child’s summer months. But with a wide range of options at varying prices and conditions, the decision on the best one to choose can be tougher than you think.
Below are some useful ideas for getting the most out of your money when arranging for your children’s summer camp.
1. Early Booking Discounts
Most camps in Canada offer a discount for early registration. ‘Early’ means really early – even the summer before. Planning a year ahead allows you to take advantage of any early bird discounts which could save you a lot of money. If your kids had a great time at camp previously, let their enthusiasm be the motivation to sign up for next year on the way out!
2. Enquire Into Scholarships and Subsidies
You know that scholarships and sponsorships exist for schools, but you may have overlooked such opportunities when it comes to camp. Many organizations offer money for kids to attend camp. Organizations like Kids in Camp, Girl Guides of Canada and the YMCA offer camp scholarships.
A number of camps offer subsidies on fees for those families that qualify – look for camps that offer this service. Apply early to make sure you can take advantage of the funds available.
3. Explore Discounts
Research some of the camps you’re considering to find out if they offer additional discounts, because they may not be openly advertised. Try contacting the camp administration directly. You may get a discount, for instance, if you refer other children to the camp, or you may qualify for a bulk rate if you’re booking multiple sessions.
4. Tax Credits
Many provincial governments offer tax breaks for your children to attend summer camp, similar to the federal fitness credits. Check out your provincial government’s website for more information.
5. Exchange Your Services
This is where you’ll want to get creative. Ask about volunteering your time at the camp — say, in the role of a chaperone — in return for a discounted rate. Many camps offer opportunities for parents to ‘work’ at camp (nurse, doctor, program instructor, administration) for free or reduced camps for their child. As with other types of discounts you may be eligible for, it doesn’t hurt to ask!
6. Don’t Overlook the Hidden Costs!
Costs can add up quickly based on a number of obvious, but sometimes overlooked factors. Think about transportation, for example – if you’re deciding between a local camp and one farther away that will require a long drive (with lots of gas), a camp bus pick-up (which usually costs extra) or even a plane ticket, keep in mind the extra costs. Focusing on local camps and organizations is an easy way to save.
So before you sign on the dotted line, research all of your camp options and any fees involved. Because costs can vary so widely, this step should not be skipped!
Found any other ways to save on camp? Please share them with us using the comments box below.