How can you get the most out of your summer, and get the most value for your money? Summer camps are a classic way to entertain and enrich children during the summer, but there are so many options out there that it can be a little overwhelming. Add to that the question of whether a camp is actually worth the price tag, and it can make you ready for school to start again.
If you haven’t booked camps for your kids yet, there could still be time!
Here’s our guide to making the decision about whether to splurge or save on camp this summer.
Classic Day Camp
Splurge: Steve & Kate’s
If you’re looking for a cutting edge, innovative approach to day camp, then you’ll find it with Steve & Kate’s. This is a flexible day camp option, in which you can purchase a chunk of available days and then schedule them however you’d like. The activities are guided by your child’s interest. with a particular eye towards offering kids the chance to try things that they haven’t experienced before. The concept goes even further with self directed learning where children are encouraged to make mistakes and to learn from them. Steve & Kate’s has been around for 35 years and has seen a lot of expansion, and parents and kids love it.
Price: $69-89 per day, or $2415 for the whole summer
Click HERE for more info and to find a location in your area.
Is there anything more American than a YMCA Summer Day Camp? Maybe apple pie. What’s great about the YMCA is that local programs are tailored to local interests and needs, not to mention that your kids will likely be around other children that they know and in a place that you can feel confident in. YMCA Day Camps are pre-programmed and very structured. Some weeks are based around a theme like the exploration or soccer. You want to register early for these camps, as they fill up fast.
Price: around $200 per week (varies by location)
Click HERE to find a location near you.
Outdoor Adventure Camp
Splurge: Outward Bound
There’s a reason that Outward Bound is the top name in adventure – its expeditions are well planned and staffed with highly trained counselors, offering unique experiences in outdoor adventure. Some Outward Bound courses actually count for college credit for older kids and there are programs that lead all the way into adulthood. With expeditions in everything from sea kayaking to mountain climbing, Outward Bound is truly something special.
Price: $1500 and up for one week expeditions, plus travel costs
Click HERE to view a sample camp and find a location near you.
Save: Local Wilderness Camp
The local wilderness camp is a cliche for a reason – it offers the opportunity to create memorable experiences and lifelong friendships. Wilderness camps come a wide variety of flavors to suit your child’s interests, and kids can learn skills from archery to crafts. Another bonus is that these camps can be found within driving distance of most everywhere and that the cost is wonderfully reasonable. To find a great camp, do a little research and look for something that truly matches your child’s interest or sparks their excitement. There are some fantastic wilderness camps where kids can sleep in converted train cars or spend a week mostly soaked in a lake.
Price: $400-$600 per week, depending on location
Check out THIS example and search for others near you!
Splurge: Youth Digital
Youth Digital is a leader in teaching kids about the back end of the technology that we all take for granted. There are course in a wide variety of subtopics offered here, from app coding to making movies. The courses are open for a year, so there’s no timetable or real structure. Reviewers consistently say that Youth Digital offers the most detail oriented and comprehensive training online for kids. The instructors are funny, informative and on-call to answer questions as your child moves through the modules.
Price: $179 per course
Click HERE for more info.
Save: Free Online Coding
Backed by an impressive list of public figures like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and President Obama, Code.org is an initiative that’s mission is to help kids learn to code in an effort to improve STEM participation in youth. The “Hour of Code” tutorial series is well designed, engaging, and easy to navigate. You’ll find that your kids can learn to code with the likes of Anna and Elsa from Frozen, or the Angry Birds themselves. This site is really a one stop shop for kids wanting to learn how to create in the digital world. Did we mention that it’s free?
Learn more here.
Splurge: Fashion Design Camp
Many major fashion schools offer summer day camp programs for kids, and most especially for teens. The key here is that unless you’re local to one of these fabulous programs, you’ll have to find local accommodations and stay with your child. That being said, there are some majorly impressive programs in places like NYC and Chicago. If your child is truly interested in fashion design as a career, this kind of intensive, structured and well connected experience could open a lot of doors. And your child will have a truly once in a lifetime experience.
Price: $600 and up
Click HERE to see an example and find a location near you!
Save: DIY Camps Fashion Designer
One of the most fun things about fashion is that it lives wherever we are. Design is driven by creativity and that creativity is right there inside your child’s head. DIY Camps offers incredibly guided camp experiences right from your home. The fashion design camp includes activities like staging a photo shoot and hacking your clothing. Camps are four weeks long and offer lots of video and activity guides. Kids then post their creations for the community to see, and there is a rich and well developed community over at DIY, allowing your budding fashionista to find new partners in fashion.
Price: $39, $10 for your first camp!
Click here to check out DIY Camps.
Still looking for last minute camp options? Visit Thrively to find out about options near you.
Autumn Robinson is a writer, teacher, martial artist and mom who’s pursuing her PhD in Clinical Psychology. Autumn loves her life in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina with her three young boys and loving husband. She is also an advocate for children, who believes that all kids deserve to live out their passion.