Summer Camp - Are You Afraid to Spend the Money?

Filed under: Activities: Big Kids, Activities: Tweens

Are you cutting camp from the family budget?With the Dow falling faster than Joaquin Phoenix's asking price for a film, many parents are cutting back on unnecessary expenses. And it's not just new video games or fancy sneakers. Summer camp is on the chopping block.

While day or sleep-away camp is essential for some families, especially those with two working parents, it is a luxury for others. But the reality is that any camp, at any price, is a concern like never before.

Some camp directors say that parents this year are literally afraid to spend the money. "I've never seen anything like this, Shelley Weiner, director of Camp Winadu in the Berkshires told the New York Times. "People are wiped out or overextended."

The Winadu experience runs at $9,500 for seven weeks; that's a commitment most of us wouldn't make even in flush times. There are always less expensive day camps and you gotta love the YMCA. The American Camp Association feels your pain and has a handy list of cost-cutting ideas, including subsidy programs or possibly using pretax dollars slated for dependent care services.

Creative parents are talking about camp co-ops, while others have placed the topic on the agenda for this week's family meeting. "Come up with 30 things things [you'd like to do over the summer], and everybody gets a certain number of vetoes," suggested Prof. William J. Doherty, a professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota.

And if money is really tight, there's always no camp at all. That means having the children home with you all summer, which, of course, if you've lost your job, might not be such an issue after all.

Are you considering cutting camp from the family budget? If so, what are you planning to do with the kids?

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