How Many Camps Do Your Kids Do in the Summer?

Updated on April 22, 2016
C.T. asks from Red River, NM
21 answers

My kids are 6 and 12. I am mostly a stay at home mom (I work a little from home). I am signing my kids up for some summer camps and I am wondering how many camps others let their kids do. My son has a personality where he resists doing any activity. I make him do one activity or club at a time just so he is doing something in life! He is going to do one week long camp. And he may sign up for one week of tennis lessons. My daughter on the other hand wishes to do EVERYTHING and gets bored easily. I don't want to go overboard with her! So far she is signed up for two half day camps (a week long) where you learn a certain skill. She also wishes to do another half day camp. She also wishes to do swim team at the neighborhood pool which meets daily in the mornings. I am unsure of signing her up for a third camp or not. I'm unsure of the swim team...she could just do a week of swim lessons. I think the frugal part of my brain is kicking in also and realizing that if she does everything she wants that is a lot! If you are a stay at home mom, what do you let your kid do in the summer?

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answers from Washington DC on

well mine are 16 and soon-to-be 14.

My oldest is going to two LAX clinics and two JROTC camps for leadership.

My youngest is going to two soccer clinics. Other than that? They will get some "homework" to do and learn to occupy themselves.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

A couple of years ago my daughter signed up for several camps (most just 1/2 day) plus continued her weekly gymnastics class and we were gone two weeks. She really only had two weeks with nothing going on. At the end of the summer my daughter commented that the summer went too fast. Last year we did just 1-2 camps a month, plus gymnastics classes and swim lessons. We ended up being out of town three weeks. This year, she really only wants to do two camps, gymnastics, and swim lessons. I'm totally fine with that.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from San Francisco on

I think you just balance what your kids want with what you can afford. Some kids like more activity and structure and there's nothing wrong with that. There's also nothing wrong with some downtime, and unstructured days. I have three very different kids but in general they each did a week or two of sleep away camp (except my youngest who did NOT want to sleep away) a week or two of local day camps (tech, art or sports) and we belonged to a pool where we went several times a week. Beyond that we took day trips, went hiking and to the beach, museums, movies, skating and just hung out.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Most camps here are extremely expensive, as in $1,000 a month and that is on the low end! Last year, she did a couple of weeks of camp at a church near her grandma's, which grandma paid for, then she started at the Boys & Girls Club camp in my city, not too far from where I live, which I paid for. They stayed open till 6, which was great, since I get off from work at 5:30 so that would give me enough time to get there and pick her up. She stayed there for a few weeks (they had a flat fee no matter if she attended all summer or one month), and then she would go out of town with grandma for a week, then come back to me. Her summer was pretty full and she would be exposed to different people this way.

I want to do that again this summer, but she is resisting because some of the camp counselors she said were too "strict", so I am trying to convince her that maybe the counselors will consist of new staff members this year. I liked that camp because some days they'd do arts and crafts, other days they would go to the neighborhood park's pool to swim, they would have grammar and reading comprehension class on other days, movie hour, free play (which included basketball or playing tag) and then every Friday they would go on a field trip to either a movie theater or a kid's entertainment place like Chuck E. Cheese, Boomers, or Dave & Buster's. These field trips would be an extra fee for parents but still, I ended up paying less than $200 at the end of it all, and they even included lunch and snacks. Considering she was there for about 2 months, I think it was an amazing bargain!

By the way, check with your local park. Many of the parks that have a pool offer swimming lessons and swimming camps that are not very expensive. Some parks offer a full summer camp too, with activities that include tennis, and they are reasonably priced. Problem (for me) is that they are only there until 3 p.m. or so, but if you're a SAHM, this may not be an issue. I would also ask other moms at my child's school for summer camp advice, maybe there is a camp your child's friends love and it may not be too expensive.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My kids live at camp all summer. I work, so I need to send them somewhere during the day.
They'll be in all day camp, all summer long. 8 and 6.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I'm not a SAHM but I know plenty who have their kids in camp virtually all summer. They can afford it. Not sure why they're SAHM's when they're constantly paying other people to watch their kids but it is a personal choice and depends on the kids and finances. I also think with so many kids in camp, it's harder for the noncamp kids to find playmates so camp becomes almost more necessary. Kind of sad. But no right or wrong answer and let your daughter do swim team! She will learn much more than in one week and it's a great sport and she'll be part of a team. Unless it is too expensive, that seems to be a no brainer to me.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Mine are 9, 11, and almost 13 this year. The 13 year old will do one week of literacy camp (free for her through our school system, and the 11 year old MAY get to go this year as well). In the past, they did 2 weeks of swim lessons and 1 week (or more) of VBS. This year, nothing.

We are going to SC for a long weekend in June, then it's the 4th of July, then my daughter and I will be in PA for dance finals, then home for two weeks, then TN for a week vacation, then back for two weeks and school starts again. We are already busy and I want my kids to have legitimate down time. They will play basketball in the driveway and go to the pool any day they want when I get home from work, which is 3pm. So they'll have fun, but no camps this year.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I do not sign my kids up for summer camps. They stay with me, hang out with friends, hang out with their uncles (my younger brothers), and have multiple soccer tournaments.
I hated summer camps as a kid, my brother was molested at one, and I was bullied. My kids are gone all day through the school year, I like to hang out with them when they are on break! So far...they still like me too. lol
(my kids are 13, 10, and 5) (I work part time, my husband full time. We work so that someone is always home with the far. That may change soon)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

My older kids go to a sleep away camp for one week. I'd love for them to do two - because they love it. But it's way too pricey. So they do that one month, and then the next month they do a sports related week of camp. So 2 weeks for the older kids.

Then our local rec center has week long camps - so 2-3 of those a summer. They are very inexpensive compared to the older kids' camps. They are more like daycare for kids whose parents work.

We tend to schedule a week of vacation, a week home, a week at camp, a week home, a week vacation, home, camp ... type thing to keep the kids from getting bored.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

If there are other kids in the same situation in the neighborhood, don't underestimate the value of free play and unscheduled time. Yes, kick the kids out of the house and off the computer/TV, but let them PLAY with neighborhood kids! Get some free books from the library on your area - send them out on nature hikes or set them up with experiments (safe ones of course) or projects. Resist the urge to script everything but if your son needs some direction then you may have to have some standards! You can do some day trips (maybe each can choose a friend) and go to anything from nature areas to museums to lakes/rivers/canyons. You can also have them paint the swing set or dig weeds or plant a rock/succulent garden. These are all free or cheap.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

We homeschool through summer. (Year round, shorter learning days, works for us.) Still, Kiddo will do two camps: one is a daytime Art and Nature camp with a friend out at a farm; the other is an Extreme Science camp at a local school for a couple hours in the afternoons.
We will organize ourselves and do other fun studies this summer: tour the fountains in town (he loves them and we can study their history/designers/purpose); biking trips around the neighborhood, meet up with friend and we are moving into bat studies in a month or so, so I'm guessing we'll do something up at the Audubon Society, even if it's just a day hike up to the Center. This entire paragraph is mostly 'free' other than the cost of bus tickets and a snack while we are out. :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

If I were still able to keep her home in the summer, she would do other one-off activities, the school-sponsored summer freebies, and swim lessons. No formal camps because they are expensive. This year she's doing camps as daycare, so we have her both in more traditional care settings and theme camps (robots, cooking, etc). If I were in your shoes, I'd sign her up for her most wanted camp only and then save my money til after I saw how this year went.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

we are doing swimming lessons, and t ball. if they express interest in doing other stuff we will check into it and see if we can afford it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

My kids do a 3-day baseball camp, and they will do 6 weeks of tennis (twice a week). Otherwise, they just go to the neighborhood pool every day.

They also both play baseball in leagues (not a camp, but in the evenings).

I would encourage the swim team if I were you, and it's definitely better than lessons. They will teach her the proper strokes on swim team, and she'll be a much stronger swimmer than if she took lessons. And swimming is a really healthy life-long sport. I tried to encourage my kids to join the swim team, but they don't want to.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

My son is almost 9 and usually does 3-4 week long camps; some are 9-12 and some are 9-3ish. My daughter did two week long camps last year (9-12) and will probably do three this year. She's only 5. In addition to that, on the weeks where they don't have a camp, they might go a couple of times to a general day camp that you can just go whatever days you want from 8-1. The day by day camp is super cheap and doesn't really have to be planned in advance, so it's a nice option,.

They will both be on the swim team this summer too (my son has done it for three years already). It's a great way to fill the afternoons - they get exercise, play time at the pool, and a chance to see many of their friends.

I'm a stay at home mom, too, so paying for all the camps does feel like a waste sometimes, but I also know that my kids both really need to have some structured camps. I let them choose which ones they want to go to so they pick the ones that seem most fun for them.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

My kids are 5 and 10. I work while the kids are in school (they are in school 8-2 and I work 8:30-1:30). Works well during the school year but not during the summer! My children go to 1/2 day camps and a babysitter picks them up and brings them home (much cheaper than full day camps). They also do swim team - ours is Monday to Thursday from 6-7. Swim meets - 5 of them are on Saturdays. The entire summer of swim team costs $64/kid. One week of swim lessons also costs $64.00. The coaches on the swim team work on strokes - mine will both do swim team this year. The 5 year old didn't make the team last year but he will this year. We are doing 2-3 weeks of three different camps this summer - one is a traditional day camp, arts and crafts, sports, etc. One is at our children's science the museum and the other is at a state park - focusing on ecology and Florida history. My older one will also do one week of Cub Scout camp - day camp - not sleep away and it is full time.

Although I miss the summers of doing nothing - my mom was SAHM, I try to look at them as a chance to explore new interests and do things we don't have time for during the school year. We will also visit the library weekly and visit some local parks.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I learned with my daughter that kids without direction or activities tend to find trouble. So I keep my grand kids busy, busy, busy.

She is doing summer tumbling, summer dance, girls camp with the YW at church for a week, then a week long basketball camp.

We'll likely do some traveling if we end up with any money left over but it won't be much.



answers from Boca Raton on

my kids are almost 12. they play tennis year round. so, i have signed them up for 2 (weeklong) tennis camps. they would do camps all summer long but i don't want to do that. i want to spend time with them, and i also want them to relax some too. so for us, 2 camps, one weeklong vacation, and one 3 week vacation overseas. plenty, in my book.
ps we have a pool at home so it's not like they will be bored. if they do get bored, i can find some chores for them to do around the house.


answers from Dallas on

Do what works best for your family. We are the more unstructured types of people. My boys are older, 12 and 18, and this will be my oldest's last summer before leaving us for college. I'm a teacher and am home with the boys during the summer, and we have always treasured our lazy summer days - working in the garden together, eating breakfast and lunch outside, going to the nearby water park, and visiting all of the museums in the area each summer. We also all love painting and reading, so we like to have plenty of time for that. Hot afternoons are spent watching movies together.

We always take a family vacation, and I spend 9 days as an AP reader, traveling out of state to read AP English essays. Our youngest has enjoyed going to camp for one week each summer for the past several years, but our oldest never enjoyed it much.

Find what works for you and your family. We love summer, but if we filled up our schedule it would make us crazy. For others, they like the structure of camps and scheduled activities.



answers from Savannah on

Of the 10 weeks that my boys are off from public school, I plan about half of the time of scheduled activities/family visits. The other half we hang out at home/around time. It's a good balance!



answers from Springfield on

My 9 year old is a lot like me. He enjoys being at home to a point, but he loves being on the go. He is signed up for a camp just about every week of the summer. Now, 2 of them are free, so that helps financially. Some of them are all day, and some are half day. It's completely based on his interests. He's doing Vacation Bible School, "creative camps" at the YMCA, art camp, college for kids. He loves it! He does have a couple of weeks where nothing is scheduled.

My 7 year old is special needs and an introvert. He is going to do some summer school (not for academics but for the other things in his IEP that we're working on). He will also continue his therapy and probably take swim lessons. That's it!

The three of us will, of course, go swimming, bowling (Kids Bowl Free program), kids movies at a local movie theater, library, etc.

I really understand the financial part of summer camps. Some of them are VERY pricey. There are cheaper camps out there and Vacation Bible Schools (usually free). Some kids are very content playing outside with the neighborhood kids. Unfortunately, not all of us even have neighborhood kids to play with. And some kids really want to stay busy and just love the camps and other opportunities.

If your daughter gets board easily and wants more to do, I would start looking into VBS, the YMCA, the park district, a local mom's website and just see what else is out there. Summer can feel very long to a kid who likes to be active, and that might make summer feel very long to you.

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