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Summer camp prices vary widely
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  • Science: A Robocamp in Branchburg, N.J., offering theme-based robotics with plenty of hands-on, creative fun, costs $659 for a 10-day session or $859 for an advanced 10-day session.
  • Sports: At the All-Star Sports Camp, held annually at Baylor School in Chattanooga, Tenn., campers are encouraged to participate in a number of major sports, including swimming and diving, basketball, soccer, baseball and tennis. A two-week minimum stay costs $1,990 a week for lodging, food and activities, or $5,590 for a six-week stay.
  • Football: The University of Tennessee summer football camp charges $160 a day ($200 for overnights) for hands-on instruction from the UT coaching staff and former NFL players.
  • Video animation: A two-week video game animation camp at Penn State University, aimed at kids in grades 6 through 12, teaches animation basics, including creating video heroes, villains and "cool orange dudes." Cost: around $775 for the two weeks.
  • Overseas: A three-week adventure down under in Australia costs $5,380, while three-weeks of sailing and scuba-diving in the Caribbean costs $4,550, plus air fare.
  • Day camps and great value sleepaways
    Nonprofit and service organizations such as church groups, the YMCA and the Boy Scouts of America offer many summer camp bargains.

    Typical day camp costs at a big-city Y run around $90 to $150 a week or $250 to $650 a week for kids who go away to swim, ride horses, hike, do crafts, play sports and enjoy campfire games.

    Many local Ys offer specialty camps such as those for asthma sufferers. One such camp, in South Dakota, is run in conjunction with the American Lung Association and supported by local hospitals, which underwrite part of the costs. For less than $400 per one-week session, asthmatic children get to enjoy the fun of summer camp while managing their disabilities under skilled medical watch.

    The Boy Scouts of America have many camps, but their crown jewel is the 138,000-acre Philmont ranch, in the beautiful Sangre de Cristo range of the Rockies in New Mexico. It might offer the best bargain of all. Scouts can enjoy 6-day to three-week adventure summer camps. A three-week stay can cost up to $595, but there is a two-year waiting list. More than 650,000 scouts have enjoyed the spectacular facility, with activities from rifle shooting to gold panning.

    Other costs
    Certainly, there may be other expenses for extras and added fees for optional activities and programs. You may need to buy a uniform or pay charges for field trips, and needed equipment can add to the total. Remember to budget for the cost of visiting your child, and for her transportation to and from camp, too. Administrators will provide you with a list of what is and isn't included in the fees, from laundry and meals (usually included) to extra activities such as horseback riding (not usually included).

    You'll also need to add in some spending money, and don't forget to budget for the costs of creating and sending care packages or for shipping extra gear, clothes or equipment.

    Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Updated: March 16, 2006
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