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When Summer Camp Is Too Expensive

Updated on August 27, 2016
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Summer camp correlates to a world of extravagance for single mothers. A place filled with wonderful opportunities that somehow seem allusive to a single income home. Many mothers speculate, sending their children to the many selections of summer camp can exceed their expectation however any one of these selections remains too expensive. Instead, the resourceful necessity of single parenthood kicks in and summer will seldom accompany “camp” instead, following it are the words “creative fun”.

When my daughter entered elementary school, summertime was froth with creativity. It was necessary to tap into the imagination to find funds to cover the expenses of caregivers, vacation trips and events. The world prior to school consists of daycare summer events. There were planned trips and other facility events, all of which cost next to nothing. The summer years within the elementary school period consist of do-or-die search for a caregiver. After a semester of having only to pay for after school care trying to locate a reliable reasonable caregiver was a moving target.

The first summer it became necessary to put my daughter back at her pre-elementary daycare. Having to go back and pay for childcare strained the household finances. That year the budget dragged all summer long but, what was a person to do? The desperate search for low-cost childcare turned up nothing, so we ended back at her daycare. The positive consequences outshined the struggle, that year, summer fun prevailed under the management of the daycare. When my daughter was dropped off there was always some fun event planned by the facility. The staff took the children roller skating, they had museum visits, as well as movie and outdoor trips. Sure my wallet felt the pinch but my daughter enjoyed the experience. At the end of that first vacation, the mission thereafter evolved into planning ahead so as to avoid expensive vacations and later yearlong financial pain.

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The next vacation break my daughter attend summer school not because of any failing grades but because it was a free program. Some states offer free summer school for all students, failing and non-failing students. Failing students are notified of the mandatory summer school in order to be promoted and or pass a class. Since it is not a pre-requisite for pass or promotion, passing students are rarely offered the opportunity to attend school. My daughter attending school that summer happened by chance. I was expressing my frustration to a teacher about how expensive it is to find reasonable childcare in the summer when, she casually mentioned the option of having my daughter attend summer school. She realized she said, that my daughter does not need summer school nevertheless, it is a productive vacation alternative that will keep her academically sharp and remove the cost of daycare or camp. The teacher’s recommendation was on point hence, my daughter was enrolled to attend summer school that vacation year. These school programs are offered to low income families and students must sign up at a pivotal period, usually two to three months prior the end of the semester. That year summer time was a success. We were both occupied, my daughter with school and me with work.

At first there was the concern that my daughter would begrudge attending school on her vacation time. However, it was welcomed because it was a time of having the many school care that she was unable to receive during a regular school semester. Instead of her taking the school bus, I dropped and picked her up. There were classroom visits and volunteer time, a period of quality time that she eagerly accepted. Our time in the car filled with conversations about school “happenings”, often progressed into topics on friends and friendship. We enjoyed an awesome bonding time. With a more relaxed atmosphere and free time, school events became joyous. It was that year we incorporated Sunday morning brunch, coupled with a long walk home. During that time our conversations lengthy, sometimes intense, and sometimes so very casual that any and every topic blossomed into a single understanding and acceptance.

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One year we “did a summer” at the YMCA, they had an low-income community service program that became affordable due to my promotion and eventual income increase. It was a great summer for my daughter because there were theme days, events, and camp trips all of which were similar to her previous summer at her old daycare. The uncovering of this program was also a chance occurrence. In a conversation with a customer it was conveyed that the “Y” and other private schools offer scholarship programs for low income families. The consumer said, most parents do not know about the program, because these established institution refused to advertise and so parents must make inquiries. A telephone conversation pursued; the next day and after some discourse my daughter attended the YMCA for the first and last time. Although she enjoyed the program, the next year it was no longer available and their regular rates were too expensive.

The following year equipped with knowledge and know how several scholarships inquiries were made but to no avail. The scholarships were either already offered or not being “offered at this time”. In a conversation with a sibling, it was suggested that my daughter spend summer with out-of-state family members. At first the reaction was no, an entire summer away from home, “she might not like it”. But she did, that year with a cheap airline ticket in hand and a flight attendant as a travel chaperon by daughter spend summer with her aunts and cousins. We did the send away to distance relative every summers thereafter. It was a great time apart, we learned to appreciate each other and my daughter became a knowledgeable traveler. The time apart allowed for dating and career development. We matured apart; we developed separate interest which allowed for a healthier mother daughter relationship, a stronger bond. If there is a family member, in state or out, that will take in your child for the summer make the arrangements, it might manifest into a great vacation opportunity for your child.

Today, due to the internet, summer time arrangements are not as restricted. Parents can research community and school programs, as well as alternative reasonably priced camps. The internet is an amazing equalizer, information is available to all. Parents just have to keenly use their imagination and think outside the box for when summer camp is too expensive.

Did your child go to summer camp?

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    • Say Yes To Life profile image

      Yoleen Lucas 2 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      SDA camps run around $500 a week, give or take a little. Best of luck to you!

    • Flipsgeraldine profile image

      Yvette Marshall 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Thank you for sharing your experience about camping. It is good to read that you had a great summer camp experience. I write about single parenthood and all its struggles and I can tell you $2000 a week is too much for a single income household regardless of what the activities. Let's hope the Seventh Day Adventist camp is more affordable.

    • Say Yes To Life profile image

      Yoleen Lucas 2 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      I voted "yes" in your poll, even though I don't have children. I was blessed to attend summer camp for 8 glorious years when I was a child. They provide my best memories. It is why to this day, as a middle-aged adult, I attend High Cascade Snowboard Camp whenever I can.

      It is unfortunate that summer camps have gotten WAY more expensive. In the 1970s, I attended Pinecrest Camp in the Lake Tahoe region, run by Seventh Day Adventists. When I first attended, it cost an astronomical $35 a week! Even the last time I went, the price had escalated to $50! LOL! Interesting that 5 years later, I heard some college schoolmates discussing being camp counselors at Camp Beverly Hills, where the cost was $1000 a week.

      Seventh Day Adventists operate excellently run camps all over the US, for prices that are still quite reasonable. Due to insurance issues, they tier their costs according to activities, with horse camp being the most expensive. Here is a link:

      P.S. High Cascade Snowboard Camp costs around $2000 a week! But considering all you get, it's well worth it. Here's a link for them: