FAQ: How to Budget for Camp


Summer camp is an incredibly valuable experience for children, but the cost can be intimidating.  Today, we talk about how to budget for camp and give you tips on how to save on your child’s summer experience.

Plan it out.  We do our best to include all at-camp associated costs at the time of registration.  That includes the camp store deposit, transportation and gear rentals.  When you are sitting down to plan, remember to include costs that will fall outside of those categories: does your camper need a new PFD this summer?  Are you driving your camper to camp yourself?  Are you hoping to come for a banquet, or stay at the Chateau?  By taking these costs into consideration, you will avoid any surprises as summer gets closer.

Put money aside on a regular basis.  Rather than thinking of camp fees as one lump sum, break it down into smaller “payments” that you put aside, ideally in their own account.  This means a preset monthly or weekly amount you include in your household budget that is dedicated for camp.  When May 1st (our deadline for fee payment) arrives, you already have your payment ready to go!

Register early.  Wanapitei offers an automatic 5% discount off program fees for all campers (new and returning) that register before November 27th.  Only a deposit is required to register, and that savings makes a difference, especially for older campers.

Send the family.  Families who send more than one camper are eligible for further discounts – 10% for the second child and 12% for the third (and fourth… and fifth!).  These discounts are available as long as our registration process is open.  We will happily add the discount if your other children register later than the initial registration.

Get the kids involved.  Contributing to camp fees is a great way to teach kids about financial responsibility.  Many of our older campers use money they’ve saved from after-school jobs to help pay for camp.  For younger campers, doing chores around the house or the neighbourhood, bake-sales and yard sales are fun, age-appropriate ways to contribute.

Take advantage of tax credits. The federal government offers a children’s fitness credit for eligible program fees up to $500.  Our program qualifies!

The gift of camp.  Ask relatives and friends to contribute to camp fees instead of giving birthday or holiday gifts.  If you are not comfortable asking for money, ask for items your camper will need at camp – outdoor clothing, a quick-dry towel, dry-bags, etc.  A MEC gift-card also makes a handy present.

Refer a friend. Wanapitei currently offers a $100 credit to families who successfully refer a new family to Wanapitei for 2014.  Credits are given at the end of the summer, and can be applied to next summer’s fees.

Save on gear.  Outfitting your camper for the summer can potentially be a huge expense, but it doesn’t have to be.  Used clothing stores like Value Village are great places to find fleece and quick-dry clothing.  Wanapitei will be running our second Gear Swap in the spring where families can come and buy/sell/trade gently used outdoor clothing and gear (packs, paddles, PFDs).  If your camper is still growing or is unsure if canoeing is his or her “thing”, we offer paddle and helmet rentals for about  $1 a day.  No need to buy a new paddle every summer!  For an idea of what campers need at camp, take a look at our equipment lists.

Look into bursaries. Start researching early.  It is worth communicating with community groups and places of worship that your family is connected with to see if they have sponsorship opportunities available. There are also camping specific bursary programs available for families with demonstrated financial need.   Wanapitei works with the Taylor Statten Camping Bursary Fund to bring campers to camp each year.  Please e-mail us for information on the application process.

If you have any questions about budgeting for camp, our programs or anything camp related, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! E-mail us at [email protected]