Here Are 4 Ways to Make Summer Camp Affordable

By: Mollie Shauger | Tuesday, March 10, 2020 | Summer Camp

Three happy young campers.

Summer camp is a rewarding experience for kids of all ages, providing lifelong memories and unique learning opportunities, while boosting independence and self-confidence. 

For many families though, budgeting for day or sleepaway camp while also planning for expenses like summer vacations and child care is challenging. Sometimes just saving money isn’t enough. Here are some resources that could help you or other families you know afford camp:  

1. Assistance from camp

  • Some camp providers may allow families to set up a payment plan based on their income, known as a sliding fee scale. 
  • Many camp providers, such as the YMCA, help offset the cost of camp tuition in the form of financial assistance or through scholarships or “camperships” to families based on need. 

2. Government assistance

  • If you are enrolled in a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account through your employer, this money can be used to help pay for child care services and even summer camp. Money from your paycheck goes into the account before taxes are collected. Employees have options of contributing up to $5,000 annually, and according to the U.S. Government those enrolled can save an average of 30 percent on dependent care services.
  • States receive money from the federal government to offer child care subsidies to low-income families. The New Jersey Child Care Subsidy Program helps parents who are in school or working to pay for child care or summer camp. Search by county to see what is available in your region.
  • Credits and deductions like the Child Care Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit help working families and those with lower incomes. The IRS can help determine what credits you qualify for.

3. Special discounts

  • If you have more than one child, ask the camp if they provide a discount for siblings who attend. Also, if you belong to the organization that runs camp, or participate in their other programs during the year, you may qualify for extra savings.

  • Find out if a camp offers cost savings for registering early in the year. 

  • Employers may also offer discounts for using their own summer programs or those nearby. 

  • Some programs also give discounts to military members and their family. The Armed Services YMCA offers junior enlisted families the chance to participate in family, youth, and teen camps year-round at YMCA locations.

4. Outside organizations

Civic organizations, churches, synagogues and other religious institutions may offer financial assistance or scholarships to members looking to attend camp, notes the American Camp Association

For more information about summer camps at the YMCA, visit Because the Y is for all, the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges offers financial assistance to eligible families. Find out what is available at your local branch.


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