The Cost of Summer Camp Could Be More than Double This Year

summer campers around a campfire Bobby Burch via Unsplash
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Campers everywhere are eagerly awaiting what looks to be the most “normal” summer since 2019, before Covid decided to pay us a visit. But one thing that won’t be the same is camp prices, which have been hit (like everything else) by inflation. The American Camp Association (ACA) estimates that the price of day camp has nearly doubled and the price of overnight camp has nearly tripled since last year.

Wait. But why? Well, according to ACA President & CEO Tom Rosenberg, the costs for camps to operate have risen. “We’ve had increases in labor costs, food costs, program supply costs, COVID-related costs. Everything has gone up,” he told Yahoo Finance Live.

For those of us who sent our kids to camp—if you could find one that decided to brave the challenges and risks of operating during Covid—many of our kids came home mid-week, and family plans were disrupted for the remainder of the summer as we tested, then retested, then tested again until everyone in the family came up negative. According to CampMinder, nearly two out of every three summer camps had opted to remain closed during the summer of 2020. Fast forward to one year later, and camps continued to operate on a limited scale.

Now, we’re staring down the summer of 2022, and the demand by parents for camp has never been higher. With offices returning to in-person work and children having missed out on what some families prioritize as an important developmental experience, it’s easy to understand why. But camps are facing the same problems that every business trying to operate in this economy is facing, and the result is that if you get your kids into a camp, you’re going to be paying for it.

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Reflecting on the impact of the pandemic, Rosenberg noted that camps were really hurt; many didn’t operate and went a whole year without revenue. Now, they’re trying to find qualified employees and hoping that the supply chain disruptions will settle down in time for the large amounts of food and household consumer products (toilet paper, anyone?) that camps rely on to arrive.

What this means for families is that the average cost of day camp has more than doubled from $76 per day last year to $178 per day in 2022, and the average cost for sleepaway camp has nearly tripled to $449 per day, according to the ACA. So buckle your seatbelt, because day and summer camping? It’s not only the memories that will be solid gold.

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