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Securing a spot in summer camp is getting more competitive and costly

Many parents are struggling to secure spots and afford the costs of summer camp for their kids.
Securing a spot in summer camp is getting more competitive and costly
Posted at 5:43 PM, Apr 17, 2024

Summer is right around the corner, and some parents are facing an uphill battle trying to schedule their kids for summer camp.

Parents say they wait for the programs to open and it's a race to enroll their kids, and sometimes these programs are full within minutes.

"It's summertime and it might even be too late to get into camps now," said Alexis Dezaro, a mother of three kids.

Dezaro said she has been struggling to find a summer camp for her three kids. She's facing two problems: high costs, and space availability.

"We signed up for the financial help for an overnight camp for a week," Dezaro said. "And to do that, you still had to pay a deposit."

Dezaro has seen summer camp programs in her price range fully booked.

But she's not alone, Stories have spread around the country with some parents saying they've seen camps fill up within minutes of opening for registration.

Diane Lange, the youth enrichment coordinator for Parker Recreation Center in Parker, Colorado, said even when programs don't fill up that quickly parents still must act fast.

"We open our camps for registration on March first," Lange said. "A lot of people are caught off guard because the camp doesn't start until June. And they think, 'Hh my gosh, I have until June to register,' but you don't."

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According to the nonprofit American Camp Association, the average cost of summer camp is around $87 a day, with overnight camp tuition at about $173 a day.

The American Camp Association reports in 2023 there were more than 15,000 camps across the country with around 26 million kids attending.

Tom Rosenberg, the CEO of ACA, said demand since the pandemic has jumped.

"It's really about increased demand and day camps in particular are trying to expand their programs to accommodate more young people," Rosenberg said. "But there's a limit to how fast they can expand, and to build or expand overnight camps takes time."

Lange said parents shouldn't stop trying because there's likely some space available if you're flexible.

"Some are half-day camps, some are full-day camps," Lange said.

ACA said they have tools on their website to help people find available camps nearby.

But Rosenberg wants people to know to start planning their summer camp decisions as early as December.


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