It’s that time of year when parents across the state start asking themselves, “What are we going to do with the kids this summer?”. Whether you are a working parent who needs child care, or a stay-at-home parent looking for some organized fun for your kids, you’ve probably been looking into New Jersey’s many summer camp options. And let’s be honest, many of these summer camps don’t come cheap. While it’s easy to drop a small fortune on an awesome camp in New Jersey, there are some budget-friendly options out there. Here are a few tips on how to keep the kids busy this summer without breaking the bank.
Recreation and County Camps
Many towns offer inexpensive summer camps for residents through their recreation departments. These camps generally cost less than $1000 for the entire summer. While they may not come with all the bells and whistles of some of the privately-owned camps, they will provide safe, supervised outdoor fun for your kids. Also, check with your local county park system to find affordable summer programs. The Monmouth County Park System offers a variety of weekly summer camps for kids of all ages for as little as $175 per week.
For another affordable option, head to your local YMCA camp. The YMCA runs summer camps throughout the state of New Jersey, both at local branches and designated outdoor camping facilities. Camp programs include swim lessons, sports, arts & crafts and special events. The YMCA of Old Bridge hosts a 10-week summer camp for less than $275 per week. They also offer flexible scheduling options, including half-days, so you can come up with a schedule that meets your family’s budget.
Girl Scout/Boy Scout Camps
Do you have a Girl or Boy Scout in the family? If not, you may want to consider joining to take advantage of the great Scout Camps offered throughout the Garden State. Girl Scout Camp Amity Acres, located in Waretown, is a great place for children to spend the summer (they even have groups for male siblings). Prices start at just $175 per week, and campers can register for as little or as many weeks as they would like.
Local Community Colleges
Several community colleges throughout the state offer summer camp programs. These weekly camps have specific themes, making it easy for your kids to find something they will enjoy. Each year Middlesex County College hosts Camp Middlesex, a summer camp program for kids ages 6 to 18. The camp provides tons of options specific to a child’s interests, with weekly themes including robotics, magic, karate and soap making. A variety of pricing options are available, starting at 3 weeks of half-day camp for just $395.
If your kids are ages 6 and younger, check out your local preschools, many of which host summer camps. Without older kids to entertain and big grounds to maintain, camp costs are kept low. The Giving Nest provides a half-day summer camp for young children at its Watchung and Warren locations for as little as $135 per week. Camp Briar Hill in Freehold is open only to campers ages pre-K through 5th grade. They offer swimming lessons, as well as plenty of activities, including sports and art, all at a fraction of the price of other local private camps.
What do your kids love to do best? There are plenty of summer camps out there for kids who want to focus on a particular hobby or sport. A simple web search can turn up cooking, gymnastics, art or sewing camps in your area, many of which are relatively inexpensive. Westfield’s Art Lab offers art camps during the summer for kids ages 6 and up for under $200 per session. Weekly sports camps can be an affordable option too.
Have your heart set on a particular camp but worried it’s too expensive? Try calling them to ask what discounts may be available. Many camps offer discounts for siblings, early registration or providing your own transportation. Stay-at-home parents may even want to inquire about working at the camp in exchange for tuition. Also, be sure to check with your employer–you may be able to use a flexible spending account to pay for summer camp, saving you a few tax dollars.
Hero (Top) Feature Image: © diego_cervo / Depositphotos, Inc.
Additional Images (in order) Courtesy:
Facebook/Monmouth County Park System
Oratam Day Camp
Amity Acres Day Camp
The Giving Nest