A lot. Summer camp will cost an awful lot. In fact for most families it is absolutely impossible to send one or more kids to summer camp for the entire summer. Most families will have to find a way to share child care with their extended family, friends and baby sitters. So let’s answer the question by looking at the actual cost of summer camps in my home town: Durham, NC.

My camp-aged child attends Durham Public Schools which begins summer vacation on June 9th, 2016 and runs through August 24, 2016. You can see a complete list of Durham and Wake county school schedules here. According to the Durham Public Schools calendar here are the number of weeks that you need to plan for:
June: 3
July: 4
August: 4
Total: 11
Travel: -2*
Camp Weeks: 9

*Most families will take a week or two off during the summer, we’ll remove those from our camp budget.

In my search, the lowest price point I can find for camps is about $150 per week. This does NOT include lunch or pre/after care. Lunch will add $5-$10 per day and aftercare will typically add about $10 per day. If you were to utilize both lunch and a few days of aftercare you should plan to spend at least an additional $50 per week.

If you’re like me, you’re planning to send either the LEAST amount possible or something slightly more to make sure your child has the best possible summer. First, we’ll identify the minimum you could expect to spend then we’ll add a few more expensive specialty camps and a budget for occasional lunch and aftercare expenses. In total, we’ll plan for 9 weeks of camp expenses.

In this case some of the traditional “summer fun” camps are the least example. These camps typically include arts and crafts, movies, field trips and outdoor play time. A local example of this type of camp is Grey Stone Kids Camp which (according to their website) has been in operation for 28 years of fun. This camp costs $140 per week plus $5 for lunch (it runs to 6pm and there is no after care offered).

What would the least expensive summer camp solution cost?
Nine weeks of Grey Stone Camp without lunch would be $1,260. Adding lunch would increase the total to $1,305.

Our family will definitely utilize several weeks of traditional summer fun camps, but we’ll also send out son to some of his favorite focused activity camps. These include camps that focus on a specific sport (basketball) and outdoor activities. Focused theme camps can be much more expensive. Rock climbing and rock music, for example, ring in at $300 to $400 per week. We’re skipping those this year but we will do basket ball and outdoor camps which cost approximately $250 each week (more for lunch and aftercare). To plan for our summer costs we will include:

  • 4 Weeks of Focused Camps (sports/outdoors) at $250 each + $60 for lunch/aftercare
  • 5 Weeks of traditional summer camp at $150 each + $25 for lunch

Using these assumptions, our family expects to spend:

(4 x $310) = $1,240

+ (5 x $175) = $875

Total: $2,115

In this article we see that you can realistically spend as little as $1,260 or (more realistically) $2,115 per child for 9 weeks of camp activities.  You can also spend much, much more…

What will your family spend?  How did you pick your camps?

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