Dreaming about camp but not sure if you can afford it? The good news is camps today are more accessible for families who may need a little or a lot of help with fees.
To meet the need, a growing number of charities and institutions are providing financial aid and more camps are willing to negotiate payment plans or offer discounts, subsidies and camperships. In turn, camps are seeing more groups from diverse socio-economic and multicultural backgrounds interested or participating in camp.
“We’re trying to make it easier for parents to find a way for their children to experience what we think is an unforgettable experience,” says Liz Greenway, who has been director at YWCA Camp Tapawingo since 1979. “You’re investing in an experience that’s going to last forever.”
Some quick tips:
1. Contact camps directly to find out fees and whether they offer subsidies or camperships. A campership is financial aid given to needy campers. Some organizations request a small family contribution to prevent cancellations and to enable families to contribute to their child’s experience.
2. Start your search early to save on fees. Often, the sooner parents register their children for camp, the more they save, says Kristen Gage, director of Glenbrook Day Camp in Stouffville, Ont., which offers early-bird rates and camperships. Families should start looking for financial aid options in the fall, says Catherine Ross, communications officer and executive member of the Canadian Camping Association. Some charities will have already selected their eligible applicants by February, she points out. Many camps only have an allotted amount of financial aid but can still accept applications year-round as spaces do become available upon cancellations. Some camps award funding on a first-come, first-served basis.
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3. Federal fitness and arts tax credits: These credits allow parents to claim 15 per cent on up to $500 of their expenses a year for children who are under 16, or an additional $500 for those under 18 who have a disability if the program costs at least $100. If the program includes both sports and arts, the camp can help families figure out which credit they should apply for.
Click here for the e-book 14 Tips You Need to Know to Pay for Camp, featuring must-read advice on financial aid, camperships, bursaries and other ways to save.
“No matter what their economic situation is, there is a camp experience out there for every child,” says Patti Thom, director of Camp Tanamakoon and founding member of the Kids in Camp charity, which offers financial aid to children applying to any of the 300 member camps of the Ontario Camps Association. “You may have to do a little work, but it’s out there.”
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Planning on sending your kid to camp this summer? Have any tips on paying for camp? Share your advice in the Comments section below.