Parents and caregivers need camp more than ever. Whether camp serves as child care or a just needed break, day and residential programs have become important for families. However, it is harder than ever for some families to pay for summer camp with unemployment and more limited funds or access to disposable income. Summer camp expert, Allison Miller, Founder, and CEO of Happy Camper Live, a 365-day year platform centered around the world of summer camp offers some advice for financing programs.
1. Camper Scholarships: “Camperships” are offered to families in need. Ask the Camp Director if full or partial scholarships are available. Most camps reserve a number of spots for campers in need.
2. Offer your services: Working for a summer program is a great way to pay for camp. Camps have a variety of roles besides the typical camp counselor role. Office, food service, activity leaders, camp moms are common needs and roles for adults that may provide a way for you to earn money to pay for the camp experience for your children.
3. Ask your employer: Some employers will assist parents with summer camp tuition.
4. Consider Non-profits: Non-profits such as the Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCA’s, Scouts, and local Parks and Rec Centers provide great free or low-cost day and residential programs. Local groups and organizations such as churches, synagogues, civic and military programs run camps as well.
5. Research organizations that provide camp experiences for income-eligible families. For instance, SCOPE (Summer Camp Opportunities for Children) complete an application, including an essay, and apply to one of their partner camps. Morry’s camp is a free-of-charge program for children from underserved communities in New York City. Another great organization to check out is Kids2Camp.org which also provides camp scholarship programs. Google the word “camperships” plus your area to find participating camps.
6. Create your own neighborhood camp: Parents and caretakers can hire local camp counselors or share hosting a program. Happy Camper Live provides great on-demand camp activities that they can use to run the program or reference from art to dance to music and sports.
7. Check to see if you qualify for a tax credit. The child and dependent care credit gives a tax break for many parents who are responsible for the cost of childcare if your child is under 13 years old or no age limit if they are disabled. Day camp or summer camp fees may apply if the camp was selected to provide care while the parents are at work. Overnight camps do not qualify. You will be required to get a receipt from the camp or organization and then file Form 2441 to claim your credit. Be sure to speak with your accountant or tax expert if you have any questions.
8. Try virtual camp: There are plenty of great options for campers to experience right at home. For as little as $4.99 your child can experience camp on-demand at happycamperlive.com. Other virtual camps that offer live programming do so at a significantly lower price than in person.