Camp is one of the greatest learning and growth experiences you could provide for your child, however, families certainly have to consider their family budget when planning for summer. Here are a few suggestions on how to make summer camp work financially for your family.
Look early: It’s not too early to think about camp for as far in the future as 2019. Researching and touring camp this summer for next summer gives your family time to budget throughout the year and allows you to take advantage of early bird discounts offered by the camp for registering early and payment plans.
Scholarships: Not for profit summer camps offer partial or total scholarships as well as financial assistance. Parents should feel free to call a NFP camp directly to inquire. Families can also contact the American Camp Association, New York and New Jersey at (212) 391-5208 for a list of camps that offer scholarships and financial aid.
Forgo family vacation: While family vacations are certainly fun, they can’t replace the learning and growing that occurs during a summer at camp. “For the price of a one week family vacation to Disney World, you could be providing your child with a camp experience that will allow him or her to gain important life skills that will last a lifetime,” says Susie Lupert, executive director of the American Camp Association, New York and New Jersey.
Make camp part of a gift: Chances are, your child doesn’t need another toy or electronic device for their birthday or at the holiday season. Giving the gift of camp is giving your child the opportunity to make lifelong friends, learn independence, gain confidence, and try new sports and activities. Camp is the gift that will keep on giving throughout your child’s life.
Search camps by cost: Have a certain budget in mind? You can search the American Camp Association, New York and New Jersey website (acanynj.org) by cost, as well as location and type of camp. You can also call Renee Flax, camper placement specialist for the organization, to discuss options that fit within your budget.
A Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account: A Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account allows parents to be reimbursed on a pre-tax basis for child care expenses for qualified dependents that are necessary to allow parents to work, look for work, or to attend school full time. This applies to qualifying day camp expenses as well. Visit the FSA Feds website (fsafeds.com) for more information. In certain circumstances, day care expenses, including transportation by a care provider, may be considered dependent care services and paid with pre-tax dollars. Visit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website (irs.gov) for more information.
Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit: The IRS allows an income tax credit of up to $6,000 of dependent care expenses if you have two or more dependents (up to $3,000 for one dependent). The amount of the credit is based on your adjusted gross income and applies only to your federal taxes. This applies to qualifying day camp expenses. Visit the FSA Feds website for more information.
Lupert adds: “If you consider how much it costs to have a child at home during the summer, including the cost of a babysitter and activities, you realize you could be spending your money giving your child an amazing experience at camp. If you do your research and do some careful planning, you can find a summer camp that fits within your family’s budget.”