• Bidding On Summer Camps

    Our resident bargain shopper recommends auction site BiddingForGood as one summer camp enrollment option.

    By Hillary Chura

    It’s possible that our boys are the only children in the tri-state area who don’t spend their summers in camp.

    This is partly because my husband and are from the South where “camp” is a verb, not a destination, and partly because the grandparents still live down South and enjoy having the kids visit. It’s also because camp up here can be ungodly expensive. Since the kids have never asked to go to camp and apparently don’t know what they’re missing, we’re happy to keep them in the dark.

    But were they so inclined, we might be tempted—thanks to biddingforgood.com

    The online site runs auctions for non-profits such as schools, hospitals, and religious institutions, and enrollment at hundreds of New York camps were listed for auction last year, many offered in the five boroughs. They range from quilting and chess to musical improv and sports. Most go for at least some discount, though the more sought-after camps may go for face value. Because final prices are based on what bidders are willing to pay, some items sell for more than the going price. So unless you don’t mind paying extra, be aware of the face value before you start bidding.

    Since some camps donate a week of their programs to multiple non-profits, you may find a camp offered several different times. Last year, New York Chess Kids offered 12 camps through some five organizations. Valued at $375 for one week of instruction, they ultimately went for anywhere from $250 to $300. Asphalt Green, another go-to option for city parents, offered three camps, ranging from a mini camp to a full summer.  They all went for about 10% under full value, according to BiddingForGood.

    Most BiddingForGood camp offers will start to come on the market this month and last through May. If you worry that you’ll miss out on a great camp deal, register for keyword alerts that notify you when that specific camp is mentioned or is about to close. You also can search by state, charity, or specific item.

    In addition to summer camps, BiddingForGood offers jewelry, vacations, sports tickets, and other miscellany like horse bridles and signed pro hockey pucks. For those of you who don’t know what you need until you see it, it’s fun to peruse items that have attracted no bidders. Last year, we paid $14 for two tickets to a dolphin-watching excursion, which would’ve gone for about $50 had we bought them at the pier.

    And those certificates would’ve been a pretty sweet deal—had we actually used them.

    Hillary Chura writes our Le$$er Parenting column where she helps New Yorkers parent for less. She lives in Manhattan with her sons and husband.