What happened to the times when summer was filled with riding around the neighborhood on bikes, hanging at a friend’s house or going to the park – for free?
My grandmother never paid one penny for any camp for me or my brothers and sisters– ever!
But now with the school year ending, many parents are struggling with finding a camp for their kids. For some parents it’s a matter of availability. For others it’s a matter of affordability.
M.P. Dunleavey, editorial director for Dailyworth.com, wrote a blog post recently that reminded me of my current situation. She’s 10 days away from her son’s summer camp beginning.
“When I discovered the camp gap a couple of weeks ago (I’m not slow—this is my first summer with a school-age child), I shrugged it off,” Dunleavey wrote. “I figured there would be a program or a playgroup that would offer some coverage during those working days. Um, no.”
Dunleavey said she was stunned by the outpouring of responses she received from readers about summer child-care hassles. she was surprised to get so many comments about her frustration.
That’s the summer camp conundrum.
As Dunleavey writes: “It’s emblematic of an issue that dogs us all: insufficient, overpriced, erratic child care choices for working families.”
Oh, and don’t get me started on teens. You get to a point where they are too old to attend the regular summer camps and too young to work or too young to drive to a job. My 16-year-old got a great job working at a summer camp. The problem is the state law for teen drivers doesn’t allow her to drive alone just yet. The camp ends at 3 p.m. and there are no bus lines that come close to our home. Either she’s got to catch a ride with another worker or I become her shuttle. That’s going to be very complicated with my work schedule.
Of course, the cost of camp is also an issue. Each year more than 11 million children and adults attend camp, according to the American Camp Association. The average weekly fee for resident camps ranges from $325 to $780 per week. The average day camp fee is $100 to $275 per week.
The association says nearly 4 percent of all students attend school year-round. I like the year-round school idea more and more.
Here’s this week’s Color of Money question: How have you cut down on the cost of summer camp? Send your tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put in the subject line “Summer Camp Conundrum.” Be sure to include your full name, city and state.
Let’s Chat Tomorrow
I know. You were ready to chat with me today. But both my video and text chats have been moved to tomorrow. My nephew is graduating from high school and he’s the valedictorian, and I want to be there to celebrate his success.