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Summer camp prices vary widely

How much does it cost to send your kid to summer camp?

Just about anything you can pay.

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A top-rated, privately run specialty camp can cost up to $10,000, while a subsidized church camp can be as little as $10, and some camps are even free to needy kids.

Jeff Solomon, executive director of the nonprofit National Camp Association, says, "Typically, children who attend sleepaway camps are enrolled in sessions of four or eight weeks, at around $1,000 a week."

Ann Sheets, national president for the American Camp Association, adds, "Parents may worry about the cost, especially if there is more than one camp-aged child in the house, but the good news is that there is a camp for just about every budget. Fees generally range from $75 to $300 per week for ACA-accredited day camps and $201 to $400 per week for resident camps."

The basics
A four-week session at a privately run, general-interest camp typically costs around $3,500, says Solomon, and an eight-week stay costs around $7,000. The wide range reflects the level of instruction, quality of the facilities and the demand to attend. General activities, meals, basic medical care and incidentals such as laundry and awards are usually included, but many camps offer optional extras such as added activities or field trips that can boost the bill.

Nonprofit and organizations' camps, such as YMCA camps, are less expensive. They range from around $1,200 to $3,000 per month or up to about $5,000 for a two-month stay. Some two-week programs are available and range from $650 to $2,000.

Many camps offer payment plans to spread the costs over a few months and some offer subsidies or financial aid. "Many camps offer camperships, which is a partial or total subsidy of the tuition costs," says Sheets. "Although they are usually awarded based on need, do not assume that you make too much to qualify. It is important to apply early."

Sheets also urges parents to ask about camps' refund policies, which vary greatly. "Some refund for illness only, some will give a total refund prior to a certain date, and some do not refund at all," she explains.

Beyond the basics
Specialty camps offer in-depth instruction on a given subject, with supplementary activities that generally carry additional fees. Here's a sampling of what's being offered at specialty camps:

  • Dance: If your teenager is a serious student of ballet, jazz and contemporary dance styles, she could, for example, attend an intensive dance workshop at Hofstra University in New York. Two weeks under the tutelage of world-class dance instructors will set you back $1,975, but this includes tuition and dorm room accommodations with full board. Day attendance at the dance camp is cheaper, at $1,175.
Next: Day camps and great value sleepaways
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