Collage of golden masks, swimming goggles, swimming slippers, a football, baseball glove, and "expen...

How Much We Spent On Summer Camps As A Family Of 4

by Anonymous

Raising a child supposedly costs you a quarter of a million dollars, but it can honestly be more daunting to face the idea of spending $80 on bottle nipples in a single month. Expense Report gives us a look into the spending, scrimping, and wishing that defines parenthood, from what moms spend on birthdays, to childcare, to sleep, to self-care (we wish!), and beyond.

Ask people how much they spend on summer activities for their child, and you'll hear anything from "Nothing, I just let them explore in the backyard" to "I send them away to summer camp to make sure they are always entertained." So what do the costs look like for an average family? This California-based family offers one answer.

Family: A mom and dad in their 30s

Location: Southern California

Annual Family Income: $150,000

Number of Children: Two (4 and 6 years old)

Summer is the perfect time to sleep in, lounge all day or check out local zoos and parks that you normally can’t during school days. Of course if you work the standard 9-5, need to carve out time to work, or have 1,000 errands to handle throughout the day, summer time is not all sleep-ins and lazy days. Instead it’s a quest for camps and activities that fit your child’s interests — and your budget. As a full-time working mom, it’s important to me and my husband that the girls are productive all summer, and that my mom, the heaven-sent babysitter, gets a break here and there throughout the day.

Vacation Bible School: $50 & $57

Our church hosts Vacation Bible School (VBS) every summer. One is geared toward older kids and the other for pre-K and kindergarteners. This is the first year my girls can’t attend the same session, which means my mom will need to keep one entertained while the other is at camp. Both girls ask about VBS every year as they look forward to the rotation centers, age-appropriate worship, and the always popular bubble center.

Swimming/Swim Team: $275/season & $220 (55/wk x 4 weeks)

When our eldest showed interest in swim team, we immediately signed her up. Because the season runs from April to July, swim practice has kept us busy with daily after-school practice and weekend meets. Committing our Saturdays to a sports team was kind of a big deal for us because the girls have never shown an interest in team sports. She surprised us by really enjoying the time spent in the water and competing against other teams.


Our younger daughter is still not comfortable taking off her puddle jumper although she can swim without one. Initially we wanted to skip lessons this summer because she’s been in both private and group lessons, and can swim. She just refuses to do it on her own. Her fear of the water helped sway us to enroll her in swim lessons again this summer in the hope that she would regain some confidence in the water.

Theater Camp: $180

For two weeks my 6-year-old danced, acted, and ran lines with kids her age at a local theater camp. This was her second year attending the class that allowed her to do the things she loved to do: hang out with friends and act. Her only request was not to get cast as a character with a speaking part, which worked out since the younger kids typically get cast as sidekicks and backup dancers.

Sports Camp: $169

There are very limited camp options for children under age 6. The classes and camps in our local area either require parent participation or are all day camps. Because I couldn't attend a class held between the hours of 7 a.m.- and 4 p.m., and I didn't need all day coverage, none of those classes worked. So I enrolled my 4-year-old in the same multi-sport class for the fourth time in a row. Luckily she loves the sports and adores the coaches. Plus it’s held after work so I got to take her to class and give my mom a break.

Total: $926

We hit our goal of keeping our kids busy this summer with this lineup of summer activities. It’s hard not to think “holy hell that’s a lot of money,” but when I get calls from my mom during the week because the girls are fighting, or they are bored, I know this is the way to keep them from sitting in front of the TV all summer. And I know my mom is getting that much needed hour of kid-free time that every parent needs.