We Polled Hundreds of Moms to See How Much Summer Camp Is Really Costing Them

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Weintraub Entertainment

Summertime and the living is…expensive, especially if have children to send to camp.

Sure, it’s a seminal childhood experience. (Every day at pickup, my five-year-old regales me with tales of arts and crafts, swimming and puppet shows.) But the cost? Oof. Let’s just say, as a Brooklyn-based mom, I winced while plugging in my credit card details and clicking “buy”; It’s running me an average of $800 a week for full-time care until 3:30…and that’s before I pay the after-camp sitter.

All this got me thinking: What are moms across the country paying for their kids’ summer camp experiences? We polled hundreds of families to ask them about their total spend and how they feel about it. Here’s a selection of their responses.


Kids: A 13-year-old, 10-year-old and 2-year-old
The Spend: $750 (this covers a couple of sports camps for my 13-year-old that are two-hour days apiece and a week-long overnight church camp; my 10-year-old did a week-long part-time camp)
Her Take: “I think it’s reasonable. As a teacher myself, I know how much work it is to take care of kids. I also don’t have childcare costs in the summer as a teacher.”


Kids: A 9-year-old and a 6-year-old
The Spend: $800 for full-time care from 8 to 6 p.m. for both (this covers ten weeks of summer)
Her Take: “We love it! It’s very affordable and the girls are learning life tools and dance/cheer basics.”


Kids: A 9-year-old and 5-year-old
The Spend: $850 for four weeks of half-day camp during their nine-week vacation
Her Take: “I am only able to make this work because of a very flexible work from home job and kids who play well together when I have Zoom meetings. My kids prefer half-day camps and our city does have a very affordable full-day option through the parks and recreation department. That said, childcare is a huge issue!”


Kids: A 13-year-old and a 10-year-old
The Spend: $1,340 for the summer (this covers a two-week, half-day band camp for my 13-year-old that was $100 and a six-week camp for my 10-year-old that was $940 total, but has weekly field trips that cost $50 extra per trip)
Her Take: “Camp essentially replaces childcare costs that we incurred during the school year. I wish there were more local options for my 13-year-old and I don’t love him being home alone all day, but the lack of cost is nice. We also try to plan summer trips around camps, so that if camp is in session and we’re paying for it, we’re here. I work from home otherwise to help offset camp costs.”


Kids: A 7-year-old and 3-year-old
The Spend: $2,134 for seven weeks of weekly day camp for the 7-year-old (three weeks of full-time camp, then four weeks of half day); the 3-year-old is in daycare
Her Take: “My son goes to public school during the school year, so this is an additional expense for us. This is also on top of his sister’s daycare tuition.”


Kids: A 4-year-old and 1-year-old
The Spend: $5,200 for my 4-year-old (my 1-year-old has a nanny this summer)
Her Take: “I feel the same way that I feel about regular childcare costs—it’s extortionate. But what can I do? We need care!”


Kids: A 7-year-old and a 6-year-old (I have one more, but they’re not in camp)
The Spend: $5,500 for six weeks of day camp (there’s no after-care and camp ends at either 1 or 3:30 p.m., depending on the week)
Her Take: “It’s a challenge since my kids are in public school, so this is all an additional cost.”


Kids: An 8-year-old and 6-year-old
The Spend: $5,500. This covers six weeks of camp for two kids (full-time until 3 p.m.). They’re doing four weeks of general day camp (that’s $3,600), two weeks of soccer camp for one kid ($900) and one week of art camp ($500) and one week of cooking camp ($500) for the other kid.
Her Take: “Camp is so expensive and annoying. Getting into our day camp is a blood sport—all the spots go in the first 10 minutes after registration opens. That said, it really does make everybody’s summer. We don’t have many significant childcare costs (just afterschool activities), so summers are definitely more expensive and hinge on the fact that my husband has a very flexible job. We have six weeks of camp and summer is 10 weeks long, so they sort of run feral around the house a lot.”


Kids: An 8-year-old and a 4-year-old
The Spend: $6,000 for four weeks of full-day camp for both (the hours are 9 to 4; after-care costs extra)
Her Take: “Our son goes to public school and our daughter is still in preschool. They are going to the same camp, so it’s convenient that we can drop them off together, but still a big expense.”


Kids: A 7-year-old, 5-year-old and 3-year-old (only the older two go to camp)
The Spend: $6,250 (the range is $500 to $750/week per child for full-time day camp to cover five of the eight weeks of summer)
Her Take: “It’s so expensive! I find it staggering to be honest. The fact that we can pay for any of it is an immense privilege, but we need the childcare coverage so my husband I can work. Last year, we did six of the eight weeks, but this year we’re only doing five. I’m already worried about when we have to pay for it for all three kids. Right now, our daughter is in year-round preschool.”


Kids: A 10-year-old and a 7-year-old
The Spend: $7,000 for six weeks of day camp
Her Take: “It’s way too pricey…but it’s also childcare.”


Kids: A 6-year-old, 4-year-old and 2-year-old
The Spend: $9,000 for a combination of full- and part-time camp that covers the entire summer (7 weeks)
Her Take: “The kids have a great time even if this doesn’t fully replace our childcare costs. Time-wise, camp is longer than school hours, so that’s helpful [in terms of the amount of coverage we have to supplement].”


Kids: A 6-year-old and 3-year-old
The Spend: $12,200 for full-time camp for both kids (8 weeks)
Her Take: “We always opt for the least expensive options, but sign up is earlier and earlier each year, so we are putting out all that money around Christmas time. It’s insanity.”


Kids: A 9-year-old
The Spend: $14,000 for seven weeks of sleep-away camp
Her Take: “It’s is worth every penny. Camp is the greatest gift I could give my daughter and would do anything to keep her there. She is thriving! There are so many benefits—building her self-esteem, learning to be independent, living with others, making new friends, supporting each other. We do have to keep our nanny for seven weeks, so that’s an added cost, but she helps out with other things.”


Kids: A 4-year-old and a 3-year-old
The Spend: $17,000 for 8 weeks of full-day camp until 4 p.m. for both kids (snacks are included, but not lunch; they also handle drop-off and pickup).
Her Take: “They do have a pool and a ton of activities that I’m impressed by.”


Kids: A 10-year-old and 7-year-old
The Spend: $23,000 for seven weeks of sleepaway camp for both kids
Her Take: “This camp is a little less than others. I know it’s a lot, but the experience is amazing.”

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Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...