The American Camp Association (ACA) believes the benefits of the camp experience are priceless, but we also realize that parents' pockets aren't bottomless. ACA also believes there is a camp for every child and every budget, and we want to show you the opportunities available.
ACA's Find a Camp has the most complete list of camps available. Finding out how to afford camp is easy—and there's plenty of help. There's a camp for just about every budget. Fees range from less than $100 to more than $1,500 per week for ACA-accredited resident and day camps. There are a number of different options parents can turn to when trying to provide a camp experience for their child.
ACA supports summer camp scholarships indirectly.
ACA does not grant scholarships directly to campers or camper families; instead ACA-accredited camps apply, through the UltraCamp Foundation, for support from the Send a Child to Camp Fund for campers in need. Through this fund, ACA provides scholarship dollars for day and resident camps to distribute to children whose families may not otherwise be able to afford a camp experience for their children.
How do parents find camp scholarships for their child?
Parents interested in receiving support for their child to go to summer camp will need to apply directly to the camp, as early as possible. Typically, camps identify funding for camperships and make decisions about which campers they will fund prior to the camp season. Almost all camps have some sort of financial support for families in need. 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.
Emphasis is placed on children from financially disadvantaged backgrounds.
Every child experiences some summer learning loss—the loss of skills learned during the school year, resulting from a lack of organized learning during the summer. Children whose families are not struggling financially have more opportunity to participate in camp and other educational programs during the summer to help their minds stay sharp. ACA believes children whose families are financially disadvantaged should have the same opportunity. Send a Child to Camp scholarships help children from financially disadvantaged backgrounds to constructively learn independence and safe risk-taking, build essential mentor relationships, and reap the benefits of connecting with nature.
What kinds of camps can participate in ACA’s Send a Child to Camp Fund camp scholarship program?
ACA accredited day and resident camps are eligible to take part in the program. ACA does not directly select the camps to receive funding. ACA partners with the UltraCamp Foundation who selects camps through a formal application process.
Assistance offered from camps
Camps offer special discounts—for everything from early registration, full-season, multiple enrollments from one family, to late registration to fill an empty spot. For families who enroll early, many camps also offer a structured payment plan throughout the year, so camp costs are not incurred all at once. In addition, many camps offer "camperships"—partial or total scholarships and financial assistance. Parents shouldn't assume their income doesn't qualify. Ask your camp what payment or assistance programs they offer. Ask early.
Assistance offered by other organizations
Many organizations offer financial assistance for camp. Here are some ideas. Your church or synagogue may have a fund that support campers. If the camper's parent(s) or grandparent(s) served or are serving in the military, there may be funds available for camp. Other civic organizations and clubs, sororities, and fraternities, may have available funds.
Assistance offered from the US government
- Parents should inquire into whether the camp participates in income-eligible subsidy programs, for instance through Title XX.
- For day camps:
- A Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account allows parents to be reimbursed on a pre-tax basis for child care or adult dependent care expenses for qualified dependents that are necessary to allow parents to work, look for work, or to attend school full time. Visit the FSA Feds Web site for more information.
- In certain circumstances, day care expenses, including transportation by a care provider, may be considered dependent care services and paid with pre-tax dollars. Visit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for more information.
- Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit: The IRS allows an income tax credit of up to $6,000 of dependent care expenses if you have two or more dependents (up to $3,000 for one dependent). The amount of the credit is based on your adjusted gross income and applies only to your federal taxes. This applies to qualifying day camp expenses. Visit the FSA Feds Web site for more information.