A look at camp costs, financial aid, tax breaks, and camp scholarships
No doubt: camps offer great benefits, for children of all ages, from toddler to teen. But it isn't free. We'll look at camp costs in Canada—both overnight and day options—and the ways to keep those costs down. These include getting supplementary funding and breaks from camps, government, and third-party organizations. Read more
The cost of an overnight camp starts at $300 a week and runs as high as $1,000 weekly, a figure out of reach for many families. Day camp costs tend to be less, between $35 to $500 a week.
What's included in the base camp fee?
Every camp is different, but you can expect the base camp fees to include:
Access to the camp's facilities
Supervision from trained staff members
Depending on the camp, there may be extra services, which aren’t included in the base camp fee:
Optional programs and activities
Supervision from trained staff members
Camp merchandise, clothes and snacks, which may be available at tuck shops
Sources of financial aid and savings
Here are some sources of funds and cost-savings to help give your kids an experience they will cherish for a lifetime.
Financial aid and savings from camps:
Subsidies and financial aid: A number of camps have a subsidy program for families that qualify. Look for camps that offer this service. Financial applications are usually due by February. Apply early to make sure you can take advantage of the funds available.
Sibling discounts: If your children are close in age, consider sending them to the same camp. Most offer a discount if two children from the same family are attending. Call ahead and book early to make sure both your children get a spot in the camp. There is an added benefit of knowing your children will feel less homesick because they are away together.
Early-bird discounts: Most camps in Canada offer a discount if you register early. The deadlines for these early bird specials are different, so refer to the individual camp’s website to see how much time you have. Some camps offer a return camper discount. It can save you a lot of money if you plan a year ahead and take advantage of the offer. If you can’t afford the entire cost up front, ask if you can be put on a payment plan.
Savings from the government:
Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB): This provides financial assistance to all Canadian families with young children, regardless of where they live, whatever their family circumstances or preferences. Parents receive $100 a month for each child under six. By saving this money all year, it can be used towards a summer camp program for your child.
Childcare Expense Deduction (CCED): With the end of the children fitness and arts deductions, families lost access to a tax-savings tool. Luckily, parents may be able to access another tool: the Childcare Expense Deduction (CCED). To be eligible for the CCED, expenses must be incurred for providing childcare so that a tax payer or supporting person can take on specific activities, such as employment. To learn more, read this Manulife article.
Provincial tax credits: Some provinces offer tax breaks similar to the federal fitness and arts credits:
Religious organizations such as the Salvation Army offers support for low-income families to send their kids to camp.
From family and friends:
Gifts and loans: Consider asking family members to contribute to camp fees instead of providing gifts for birthdays or holidays. Encourage your kids to earn the money themselves by doing errands and chores for friends, families or neighbours.
For more advice, visit the largest camp expo in Canada: Our Kids hosts an annual camp expo at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto late February. The expo features March break, year-round and summer camps from across Ontario and Quebec. Camps at the expo have many years of experience advising parents on how to afford summer camp.