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For kids, camp can be an opportunity to make friends, enjoy fun summer activities and explore individuality. For parents, it is a much-welcomed opportunity to keep the kids safe, occupied and entertained.

Camp prices vary widely, particularly overnight camps, with some around $500 a week and others upwards of $1,500 a week.

But, why does camp have to cost as much as it does?

Sandi Garcia Boyer, executive director at the North Carolina Youth Camp Association, says camp costs differ for many reasons, including the camp's size and location. A larger camp, for instance, will need to hire more staff to accommodate the increased number of campers, she says.

“Additional factors come into play such as lodging and food options and the activities that are offered during the week," she adds.

Programming costs can add up. For example, a camp that offers horseback riding will need funding to care for their horses.

“However, camp is an incredible experience that is possible for every child and every budget," she says, emphasizing, "you do not have to go to the most expensive camp to have a great camp experience.”

On average, the resident camp fee is $85 a day, while the average day camp fee is $43 per day. But before considering price, Boyer recommends that parents focus on the child’s interests and find a camp with an experienced and caring staff of camp counselors.

“It is important for parents to know that there are camps that meet every interest, price range and schedule,” says Boyer. “Knowing that you have options will help you as a parent to find the camp that will best suit your child’s interests, as well as your budget.”

According to Boyer, parents that are looking for budget-friendly camps should keep the following in mind:

  • Do not be afraid to call the camp director and ask if financial assistance is available.
  • Visit individual camp websites before making a decision. Most camp websites clearly state whether or not they offer financial assistance.
  • Make camp a family affair. If you are sending two or more children to camp, be sure to ask about sibling discounts. 

Parents might take into consideration community programs and organizations that already offer low-cost programs to local children, like the YMCA of WNC and YWCA of Asheville, for example.

It is all about researching, beginning the dialogue with camp directors and finding what best suits your needs and your child’s needs.

For more information and to contact the North Carolina Youth Camp Association, you can visit www.nccamps.org. The site has a camp directory to help parents further explore and find the right camp for each child and budget.

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