Finding March Break and Summer Camps for Every Budget

Camp Can-Aqua - Photo credit: Stan Behal

Camps and camp programs offer countless benefits for children and teens but the cost can often stop families in their tracks. The fee for an overnight camp, for example, starts at $300 a week and runs as high as $1,000 in some cases, a price out of reach for many.

What most don’t know is that many camps offer some sort of financial assistance to families and these affordable Summer camps cover a portion or all of the camp enrollment fees. Grants and sponsors allow some Summer camps to be free for kids, such as art, writing, theater, math, science, and reading camps. In fact, many good camps are subsidized by arts and education funding.

The following tips can help you keep costs down and ensure that your child enjoys an incredible camp experience:

Consider your options—Not all camps are created equal, at least not when it comes to price. While a week at an overnight camp can cost $300-$1,000, a week of day camp can cost $35-$200. Conversely, a longer-term stay at an overnight camp will cost less per week.

Look at the extras—Some camps charge extra for activities, while others include them in the cost. Additional charges for supplies should also be considered. Check in with your camps of choice to find out what is included in their costs and what isn’t. You can use our site to find out about paying for Summer camp.

Ask camps about financial help and incentives—While camps may not widely advertise discounts available, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Ask about early registration discounts and subsidies. Some camps offer sibling discounts to assist multi-child families. And those with one child can sometimes get discounts for referring other children to camp. If a parent once attended the same camp, their child may be eligible for an alma mater discount. Several camps offer individual payment plans for families, while others accept year-round payments. It never hurts to ask!

Find out about government assistance—Parents can claim about $500 per year per child for the fees paid for some sports or physical activities. It’s all part of the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit. For more information, visit Revenue Canada. The Ontario government, through the Ministry of Community, Family and Children’s Services, offers financial assistance to parents of children with disabilities. Contact your local ministry office. The GTA’s Welcome Policy ensures people from a variety of backgrounds can access municipal programs. Low-income families may have their fees waived for one aquatic, one non-aquatic, and one camp program per child if they qualify. Applications are available at recreational or civic centres.

Research subsidy information—Visit camp association websites such as the Ontario Camps Association’s bursary and subsidy guide to find out what subsidies are available to help bring camp within your reach. Many charitable organizations like Kiwanis Club, and other organizations such as Tim Horton’s Camp Fund, Reach for the Rainbow, the YMCA, and the City of Toronto, recognize how valuable a camp experience is and provide financial assistance. Our Kids lists camp financial aid as well as information on bursaries, subsidies, charitable organizations, businesses and service clubs, churches, government, and other avenues that can help.

Start a family camp fund—Start a bank account early in the year dedicated to building a camp fund (now is a perfect time!) and deposit money regularly. Encourage older kids to contribute to the fund through their part-time job earnings.

Ask relatives to chip in—When grandma asks for birthday or holiday gift ideas, why not suggest camp? Have your children contribute birthday money or cash earned from chores towards their camp fund.

Remember, camp isn’t just fun and games, it’s a valuable educational experience for your child and a worthwhile investment to aid in their success.

For more information on paying for camp, please join Our Kids at their Camp Expo on Sunday February 23rd, 2014 at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto. This is a fun, informative event for families to meet leading day and overnight camps that focus on: arts, sports, education, special needs, or an all around traditional experience.

• Meet with 50+ camps and programs to suit every age, every interest, and every budget!
• Enjoy fun activities, animal shows and games for kids and teens
• Lots of prizes to be won, plus $2,500 in camp scholarships
• Receive a free copy of the 2014 OUR KIDS Camp Guide featuring 200+ programs to choose from

Pre-register online for FREE admission valid for a family of four here:

*Regular walk-in admission is $10 which goes directly to supporting the Kids in Camp charity.

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