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Do you ever find your bank account emptying itself out faster than you can put money in it? Whether or not you have children, life can be more expensive than we find reasonable. The addition of kids, though, does bring with it a whole list of other costs. Between food, clothes, schools, and 1000 little expenditures along the way, we may balk at the idea of spending hundreds of dollars on Christian camps for our children. “Does it really have to be so expensive?” While there are different kinds of Christian camps and costs associated with them, we’ll try to break down just how much planning goes into these events. For starters, let’s talk about the cost differences that exist between church camps and private Christian camps.
Different Costs of Church Camps and Private Camps
If we’re going to talk about the cost of summer camps, we’ll have to first acknowledge that there are different levels of cost. After all, you could also say that candy is expensive depending on where you buy your chocolate.
Christian camps come with different focuses. Most are typical summer camps that include fun games and challenges, but there are also camps that specify skill development in music, sports, or a host of other activities. These specialty camps often come with additional costs factored in for professional coaching, equipment, and anything else that will help your child become the best she can be. One of the biggest cost differences between Christian camps affiliated with churches and those of the private sector is staffing and finding counselors.
Finding Staff and Counselors
As we’ve covered in another post, camp counselors at private Christian camps go through quite a few hoops to land the summer gig. Many of these camps hold regional interviews or actually embark on a tour of colleges to find the best candidates. That costs money. Just like it also costs money to employ some staff members year round. Some private Christian camps hold events throughout the year or simply need to keep a small level of staff on-hand for planning purposes. This doesn’t necessarily play into the cost of your child’s summer camp experience, but it shows a different business model from most church camps.
Private Christian camps often pay their counselors, who are usually college students, to work their events. That’s a huge cost difference from smaller church-based operations that regularly put together a list of counselors from parents of children who are already attending the camp. If you have a camp with 200 kids and the counselor-to-camper ratio is 1:8 (pretty standard number), that means you’re looking at 25 counselors that a private Christian camp would need to pay. Let’s say the pay is fairly low at $300/week. That’s still $7500 in production cost that these institutions would have to combine with facility fees, employing a camp nurse, getting speakers, etc.
Food, Lodging, Activities
When you think of church camps, do you think of luxurious accomodations, fine dining, and world-class facilities? Probably not. A more accurate portrayal of the usual camp life would be cafeteria food, rustic cabins that lack wifi, and a few water activities. That’s not to disparage anyone from looking into church camps, as most are wonderful opportunities, but they’re not to be confused with a resort vacation. The focus of Christian camps associated with a church or denomination is to provide Godly teaching and fun activities that will entertain the kids of the youth ministry while also challenging them in the faith. As far as the amenities are concerned, they are typically safe, modest, and efficient.
Private Christian camps often make a slight improvement when it comes to their facilities, but summer camp housing looks pretty similar from location to location. One cost factor that has to be included when considering the price of Christian camps is the number of activities. We joked about water sports earlier, but maintaining lakes, pools, and the equipment that goes with each isn’t cheap. Not to mention ropes courses (which we all want to be in top condition), paintball, and simpler activities like archery can also run up the bill. If your summer camp offers horses, you also have to consider the cost of these cool animals. You know just how much of your paycheck is taken up by the family pet’s medical bills and food. Try doing that with a stable full of horses.
What we’re basically saying is that activities and the campuses on which they take place cost money. The more a camp has to offer = the more likely the price is to be on the higher end of the spectrum.
Travel and Other Expenses
One area where church camps might carry a higher price tag than private camps is when it comes to travel. This is because the youth ministry will depart together from the church on a bus (or several) to a destination that could be hours away. While traveling by chartered bus is fairly inexpensive, that’s still a cost that may be passed on to the campers. Private Christian camps aren’t any cheaper, as you’re still likely to be driving a considerable distance to reach the facility, but this cost is not included in your price tag.
One last item to consider is the talent that your child’s camp is bringing in to teach and lead worship. Depending on what kind of camp it is, there may be several speakers or bands. Christian acts like these aren’t pulling down the same kind of cash as Donald Trump ($1.5 million before being elected president) or the Rolling Stones, but they do have to be paid.
Why Can’t Christian Camps Be Free?
Wouldn’t it be great if Christian camps could be free to everyone? They are such a wonderful experience for kids and provide a nice opportunity to branch out and try new things. As we’ve outlined above, though, there are costs that have to be considered. As much good as Christian camps do, we have to also consider the importance of using church funds in the most Gospel-focused way. Private Christian camps don’t have to worry about this issue, but church camps get their backing from the same tithe money that is used to impact the local community, send missionaries overseas, plant new churches, employ a staff, and more. That’s why a certain amount of the cost is passed along to church members and others who want to send their children to camp. We can all do our part to make summer camp a reality for kids. For those who have trouble coming up with the money for camp, we do have a few suggestions.
Ways to Make Camp More Affordable
The first thing you can do is shop around for a camp that fits your budget. Between your local church, private camps, and other ministries/organizations, there is no shortage in opportunities for your child to enjoy the camp experience. See what options there and find the best fit for your child. The next aspect of affordability is to look for any deals or discounts for which you might qualify. Christian camps offer early bird discounts, deals for sending multiple siblings, scholarships, and a host of similar special rates. Call hotlines and check websites for any information that might make attending summer camp an achievable goal for your child.
Camp Electric is a Christian camp devoted to helping kids become proficient in musical knowledge and playing ability while also training them to be effective Christian leaders. If your child is looking to master an instrument or vocals, come let them learn from the biggest names in Christian music. Each summer we bring in the top acts to be your camper’s instructor and to provide the night’s entertainment. Find out more by clicking on the icon below.