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Balancing Your Budget 

Summer camp doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg

click to enlarge Boys and Girls Club out cherry picking.
  • Boys and Girls Club out cherry picking.

Memorable summers are measured in scraped knees, water balloon fights and macaroni arts and crafts.

But these summertime experiences don’t require a hefty price tag. Summer adventure can be experienced on a budget with local day camps. Many camps offer in-house scholarships, provide sliding pay scales or even accept financial assistance through the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).

“Last year we gave out a little over $10,000 in summer scholarships,” says Lu Eagle, director of program operations for the Boys and Girls Club of Spokane County. “We don’t want cost to be the reason why youth can’t access our club.”

The Boys and Girls Club offers scholarships based upon household income. The organization’s Super Hero Summer Program provides campers with nonstop action Monday through Friday from 9 am to 6 pm for just $10 per week or $100 for 10 weeks.

Campers will participate in recreational and educational activities themed around X-Men, Star Wars, Nintendo, anime and more. For an additional $10 per week, campers will visit places like Cat Tales Zoological Park and Splash Down Waterpark.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Family Outreach Center offers a sliding pay scale and provides income-based scholarships for its Summer Youth Academy day camps. The center also accepts payments through the Child Care Subsidy Program — a DSHS program in which qualifying families receive state assistance to cover the cost of childcare, including qualifying summer camps.

“We offer scholarships because we want kids who are from low income families to have the same opportunities,” says Freda Gandy, executive director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Family Outreach Center. “We want all children to have safe, structured fun.”

Day camps operate Monday through Friday from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm. The 10-week program allows campers to garden, swim, cook, create art and more in an effort to promote diversity, community service and literacy.

YMCA of the Inland Northwest also offers financial assistance based upon income, and campers may receive a discount of up to 35 percent. Eligible families may also receive assistance through the DSHS Child Care Subsidy Program.

“We believe that all kids deserve the opportunity to discover who they are and what they can achieve, regardless of their family background or household income level,” says Connie Reynolds, the day camp’s director. “As a mission-driven nonprofit, we turn no one away because of inability to pay program fees.”

YMCA day camps are offered at various times and weekly intervals. Campers may explore dance, rock climbing, roller derby, archery, swimming, crafts,field trips and more.

Although summer adventure can be achieved on a budget, Reynolds says the experience is priceless: “Camps help kids develop grit, character and curiosity — all qualities needed for success.” 

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