Summer camp sticker shock: Working parents' wallets feel the burn

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29: Children run through the sprinklers at a playground on May 29, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. New York City is experiencing higher than average temperatures for the holiday weekend. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Get

Summer camp has become one of the latest burdens facing parents as the summer nears. Not only are camps filling up at a quick clip, they're costing families more than ever.

Some working families, facing no other day care options, are shelling out hundreds if not thousands at a time for such camps at a time when they are already battling the high cost of everyday expenses.

"If you told me this two years ago, I would have laughed," Jamie Aderski, a New Jersey mother with two children, told FOX Business, adding that the most coveted camps fill up instantly and request at least half of the payment – or more – up front.


"Every flat-fee camp then is like, 'Oh, and then it's another $65 for supplies, it's going to be another $15 a week to have an ice cream," she said, adding that she gets hit with these extra fees for her son's camp as well as her 4-year-old daughter's day care and camp.

"I'm like, we're not going on a vacation in summer… it's not happening because all of our extra money is going to this camp," she said.


Kivilcim Stasik, another New Jersey mother, told FOX Business that she had to decide in January if she was signing her 8-year-old daughter up for Girl Scout camp. It's not only expensive, but the process itself is "rip your hair out, stressful," she said.

Within 15 to 20 minutes of camp registration opening "all those spots are gone," she said.

In addition to the cost of camp, Stasik said she has to shell out more for a babysitter or additional aftercare every day.

In 2022, most day camps reported a daily per-person fee between $1 and $100, while overnight camps were more likely to report daily per-person fees higher than $100, according to the American Camp Association (ACA). About 73% of operators projected that fees would increase in 2023.

The Boy Scouts of America told FOX Business that "camp operations are impacted by the same inflationary pressures facing all businesses and organizations today" and that food and staff costs are usually the largest expenditures at any camp. 

"Both sectors have been significantly impacted by rising costs over the last few years," the Boy Scouts said, adding that "insurance, fuel and other essential cost centers have seen significant increases as well."

This has ultimately led to the "steady rise in camp costs, and price, for most properties regardless of sponsorship or ownership," the Boy Scouts said.

Shelly McTighe-Rippengale, executive vice president of YMCA San Diego County, told CBS8 that "inflation has kind of hit all areas of our life, including the YMCA summer camps."

However, ACA's website stated that there is still a "camp for just about every budget" with fees ranging from less than $100 to more than $1,500 per week for ACA-accredited resident and day camps.

The association also noted that "almost all camps have some sort of financial support for families in need," ACA said on its website. "We recommend that parents find the camps that suit their child's needs and ask the director what sort of summer camp scholarship options are available."

The organization also noted that parents shouldn't just assume their income doesn't qualify.

"Ask your camp what payment or assistance programs they offer. Ask early," the ACA's website says.


FOX Business reached out to the Girl Scouts, YMCA and ACA for comment. 

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