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Your Guide to a Budget Friendly Summer Camp

July 21, 2021

Summer is a beautiful time of year. It’s the time for long sunny days at the beach or park, and beautiful evenings to enjoy bbq’s and roast marshmallows over the campfire with friends and family. Summertime is the time for new experiences. For kids, nothing sums up summer like the word ‘camp’. Summer camp is a great opportunity for children to learn new skills, boost self-esteem, and create relationships and memories that will last a lifetime. 

Previously I shared six things you need for a successful camp. But let’s face it - camp can be expensive. Still, If you’re planning a summer camp you can create a camp worth remembering no matter what your budget is. Read on to see how with a little creativity you can create a budget-friendly camp that’s a ton of fun without breaking the bank! 


One great place to cut down on cost at your summer camp is on supplies. Camp supplies are a major cost that adds up quickly if you aren’t careful. Thankfully, it’s also one of the easier things to cut down on the budget by doing the following.

Ask for donations: 

Parents are always eager to help, and businesses may also help, especially if they get a shoutout. If there are supplies you need that don’t fit on the budget, don’t hesitate to ask for donations! You’ll be surprised how many show up.

Use what you have on hand: 

When you get pen and paper out to plan your summer camp program, consider planning activities with supplies you already have on hand. By limiting the purchase of new supplies you can keep cost at a minimum while using up supplies that are taking up storage space.

Plan supply-free:

Each week plan for several activities that don’t require materials!! These are not only budget-friendly but can be some of the most memorable games. Think of the times you’ve played charades or “what time is it Mr. Wolf?”. Get creative and you’ll be surprised at how many fun activities you can plan for no cost at all. 


Staffing is obviously a main part of the budget for summer camp, and good staff are essential but that doesn’t mean they all need to be seasoned veterans. There are two ways to cut costs for camp when it comes to staffing.

Hire High Schoolers: 

First, consider hiring high school students as counselors. This is a great opportunity for both your camp and the students. Having something to do over the summer for a high schooler is a great way to keep them occupied, learn new skills, and build a resume. Hiring a few high school camp counselors is a great way to fill up your staff at a relatively low cost and teenagers tend to make up for their lack of experience by bringing the energy and excitement that is such a huge part of camp for kids!

Solicit Volunteers:

Second, consider offering a few volunteer opportunities at your summer camp. This is an effective way to cut your staffing budget and can be a great way to engage your community as well. Think about someone who can come in and teach an art or craft, music, soccer, or another specialized skill each week. There are lots of people in your community that would love to serve at your camp this summer, all you have to do is ask!  

Field Trips

The last area that you can cut costs at your camp is field trips. Field trips are a great way to fill your summer camp days, but they can be expensive too. 

Consider adding some free field trips to your camp this summer. A few popular ones I've done include visiting the park, swimming in a local lake, an excursion to the shopping mall, watching a drive-in or outdoor kids movie, going to the fire station, or doing a grocery store tour. With a little imagination you can come up with all kinds of field trips that are fun, educational, and best of all, free! 

Final Notes

Planning and budgeting for summer camp can be daunting, but don’t be overwhelmed by the costs that come along with it. There are many ways to lower your budget and maximize profit while still offering an entertaining program. 

This summer cut down on supplies with donations or material-free activities, reduce staff costs by hiring high school students or volunteers, and plan free field trips to cut costs at your summer camp. Childcare software can also help reduce staffing needs and eliminate administrative work by offering online registration, automated billing, and online payments

Add some of these cost-saving tips to your camp plans and you’ll be impressed with how quickly the savings add up. Remember, you don’t need more money to have more fun!

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