Calculating the Total Cost of Summer Camp

Since they were smallish, my children have gone to some sort of summer camp.   Whether three hours a day to give Mom a break, or two weeks of adventure, everyone goes somewhere most summers.  The cost of the camp itself has varied greatly, from the free Navy sponsored teen camps to full-price, week-long camps.  We haven’t even tried expensive specialty camps, or longer terms, and already the costs have grown exponentially.

For starters, I’ll admit that having four camp aged children isn’t the ideal way to keep costs down.  There are benefits, however; one drive will deliver a car full of kids to camp, which is a lot less expensive on a per-child basis.  Still, the little bits and pieces all end up being way more than the amount that you are paying the camp provider.

So, either to make me feel better or to help you plan, let’s list all the camp things that cost money, not including the camp:

  • specialty footwear, or just footwear that actually fits properly
  • sleeping bags, ground cloths, camp pads
  • new socks (At least one person in my family always discovers that she “has no socks” as we are driving to camp.  It is a camp miracle.)
  • labels or labeling gear
  • transportation to and from camp
  • overnight accommodations for the grown up if camp pick-up is early and far from your home
  • meals driving to and from camp
  • insect repellent and sunscreen outside of the family stash
  • the right clothes for the camp’s activities
  • spending money if there is a canteen or shop, or if they have field trips
  • laundry costs for longer camps

I’m sure you can think of more things – add them in the comments.  Tomorrow, we’ll talk about ways to cut your costs and keep camp affordable.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.