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Planning for San Diego summer camps on a budget

Posted: 11:09 AM, Apr 29, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-30 13:34:51-04
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SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - For families planning to take advantage of a San Diego summer camp, planning early can not only secure your child's spot but also save you money.

San Diego Family Magazine compiled a list of over 40 local summer camps and offers these tips to finding the right one for your child:

Know Your Child
Talk it over and narrow the options based on your child’s interests and needs. Find out what he wants from the experience and together make a list of things he might like to do. Also consider his developmental needs. Is he ready for an all-day program? Would he be more comfortable in an intimate versus large group setting? If your child likes sports but has shown some interest in drama or art, encourage him to step out of his comfort zone. It may just spark a new passion.

Gather Information
Attend camp fairs and browse local guides like SD Family Magazine and San Diego Mom's Blog. Inquire about philosophy, daily schedule and other topics important to you. Invest this time up front and you may find a camp to stay with for several years.

Consider Costs
Compare program costs and find out what the fees actually cover. Some camps include field trips, materials, meals and T-shirts in their fee; for others, these are add-ons. Also find out the camp’s refund policy and rules regarding transfer of weeks if your plans change or your child gets sick. If the camp is out of your price range, is a scholarship or financial assistance available?

Ways to save on camp:

  • Early bird discounts
  • Sibling discounts
  • Camp scholarships or financial assistance
  • Tiered pricing (Camp Stevens; Girl Scouts)
  • Half-day vs. full-day camp
  • Reduce transportation costs by carpooling with friends
  • Talk to your tax advisor to see if you qualify for a tax credit for partial day camp costs.
  • If you can secure a spot, both Apple and Microsoft offer free camps.

Traditional or Specialty
When choosing between a traditional versus specialty program, consider this rule of thumb: the younger the child, the more varied the activities should be. Children between the ages of 7 and 11 thrive in a setting where they can sample a variety of subjects. As their attention span develops, they may want to focus on a single activity. If you go with a specialty camp, find out how intense the program is. It may be labeled “specialty” but only have a one to two-hour component with other activities scheduled in.

Look at Location
Find a camp close to your job or home to shorten travel time and allow quick access to your child in an emergency. Convenience, however, shouldn’t be the primary factor. Balance your decision with what the camp has to offer. If your child really wants to participate in a given camp, consider your willingness to drive out of the way. Or see if there’s a neighbor you can carpool with.

Explore Open Houses
Visiting an open house can get children acclimated to the environment and give you a better perspective of the staff, facilities and activities. Is the staff smiling and friendly? Do they immediately bond with the children? Are the facilities well maintained, clean, and free of safety hazards?
I am open to discussion!