The bottom line about camp costs

Parents know that camp is an experience that will last a lifetime. However, they may worry about the cost, especially if there is more than one camp-aged child in the house. The good news for parents is that there is a camp for just about every budget. While fees to attend camp vary, they can range from $75 to over $650 per week for American Camp Association-accredited resident and day camps.

Parents may also reduce the costs by asking the right questions. When talking with the camp director, parents should ask the following:

What is the refund policy?
Refund policies vary greatly from camp to camp. Some refund for illness only, some will give a total refund prior to certain date, and some do not refund at all. Most camps will ask for a small non-refundable deposit at the time of application, which may or may not go toward the cost of tuition. It is important to know the refund policy before you send any money.

Is there financial assistance available?

Many camps offer camperships, which is a partial or total subsidy of the tuition costs, but parents need to ask if they are available. Although they are usually awarded based on need, don not assume that you make too much to qualify. It is important to apply early.

What is included in the tuition?

Day camps will typically include transportation as part of their tuition. Resident camps may offer limited transportation, such as a van ride from a major local train station. Other amenities to ask about are fees for special programs and trips, laundry service, camp canteen, special equipment that is required and service organization membership. Also, ask the camp director if it is appropriate to send spending money with your child.

Are special discounts available?

Often, camps will offer special discounts for such things as early registration, full-season enrollment, and enrollment of multiple family members. If more than one special discount applies, parents may only be able to take advantage of one.

Founded in 1910, the American Camp Association is a national community of camp professionals and is dedicated to enriching the lives of children and adults through the camp experience. The ACA camp database provides parents with many ways to find the ideal ACA-accredited camp. For more information, visit ACA’s family-dedicated Web site,

Reprinted by permission of the American Camp Association © 2005 American Camping Association, Inc.