Last summer, it wasn’t until May that I realized my son would be out of school in less than a month with no summer programs to keep him busy while I worked. I panicked and ended up cobbling together a bunch of weekly camps (think: robotics camp, swimming camp, Lego camp). When I couldn't come up with something, my in-laws generously stepped in. But I ended up spending far too much money, and stringing together all those programs was pretty stressful.
This year, I’ve decided to go about things a little differently. You see, if you send your kid to one place for the entire summer, you end up spending less overall. Bonus: these camps usually have rolling admission, so you can slip your kid in – even last minute.
Here are some last-minute camps that will keep your kid – and your wallet – happy this summer:
1. Check Your Recreation Department
Before you panic about summer childcare, take a look at your town’s recreation department. Many towns and cities offer inexpensive summer camps for residents.
My town’s rec camp is amazing (and, personally, it’s the option I chose for my kid to attend this summer). Not only will my son get to play with all of his neighborhood and school friends, he’ll also attend a bunch of trips to local attractions, like water parks, museums, the aquarium and amusement parks.
The best part? It’s only $135 per week for town residents.
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2. Go to the YMCA
If your town doesn’t have a recreation camp, check out your local YMCA. In most areas of the country, a full day of YMCA summer camp typically costs less than $200 per week.
My local YMCA has a robust schedule of lessons, activities, trips and swim lessons in their beautiful pool. There’s also financial assistance for qualifying families.
3. Local Places of Worship
I’ve also seen multiple camps through local churches and places of worship. One Presbyterian church by us offers a day camp for kids 6 through 11 for just $75 a week. The activities range from cooking lessons to rock climbing and ropes courses to movie filming.
Check your nearby churches and spiritual centers to see if they run any camps. Most are open to kids of any faith.
4. Boy Scout and Girl Scout Camps
Boy Scout and Girl Scout camps across the country also provide fun summer camps for kids. For example, our local Boy Scout group offers an amazing camp with tons of different programs and activities. They even work toward merit badges to help them advance in rank. Check with your local Boy Scouts or Girls Scouts office for area camps.
It may be getting down to the wire for summer programs, but that doesn't mean you're out of luck just yet. Take a deep breath and do a little research. There are plenty of community resources to help you out!