This past weekend, I finished signing up the kids for summer camp. Camps have changed a lot since I was a kid. I think my mother said she spent about $25 to send me to camp for a week. That was around 40 years ago though. It might have also been subsidized. In any case, we pay a lot more than that for our kids to go to summer camp nowadays.
We used to send the kids to the local YMCA for most of the weeks. That was similar to the camp I had growing up. Play sports, do arts and crafts, go on hikes, and have a little swim time. The price for the YMCA is reasonable and they have long hours which is good for me. Unfortunately, the kids hate the YMCA camp. The camp counselor takes away anything fun if one kid misbehaves. Their groups are big (that’s how they keep the price reasonable), so there’s always one kid that spoils it for the whole group.
This is the first year that we skipped YMCA or a general, old-fashioned camp. Instead, the kids have picked the camps they enjoyed the most over the last few years. Unfortunately, those happen to be the most expensive camps. This is one of those cases where Kids Ain’t Cheap. The good news is that there’s a lot of enrichment.
Kid 1: Nine-Year-Old
We signed up our oldest for 4 camps. He’s doing a theater camp, a sailing camp, a veterinarian camp, and a cooking camp. The theater camp is 3 weeks and the sailing camp is two weeks.
Sailing is big in Newport, Rhode Island. It’s so big that the National Sailing Hall of Fame is moving here. The theater camp is fairly renowned. The veterinarian camp fits well with my dog boarding business. If I’m going to spend a lot for a camp, I don’t mind the money helping out our local animal shelter. I’m a huge fan of kids learning cooking – it’s a lifelong skill that will save them a lot of money.
Kid 2: Eight-Year-Old
Our youngest is signed up for 6 different types of camps. One camp has four separate weeks of activities. They are a maker camp, art camp, Lego robotics, and a sports camp. Drawing and building are what he loves and does best. It’s also being done at his school, so there’s a good chance he’ll know some kids.
Like his older brother, he has a sailing camp and a veterinarian camp (a more junior version of the same veterinarian camp). He also has a cooking camp, but it’s only 3 days as an introduction. Essentially he traded his brother’s theater camp for building and art.
The Cost of Summer Camp
Summer camp has become a big business. Consumers will pay for the education of their kids. Perhaps it is a trap, but I’ve fallen for it.
The 9-year-old’s camps add up to $2,150. The 8-year-old’s camps add up to $2,420. That’s over $4,500 for two kids to have 7 weeks of camp. We are taking three weeks of camp off, but they’ll be small road trips. With hotels and driving and events, they’ll be even more expensive than the camps.
Are we spending too much on camp, or are we investing in education and things we believe in. Perhaps it is a little of both? What do you think? Let me know in the comments.