Budget Friendly Summer Fun, Is It Possible?

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When I was a kid there were no big family trips. No amusement parks. I’m not whining or complaining, just stating facts. We weren’t the camping type of family and we didn’t have the money to take major trips.

My mom always found a way to get my brother and me to scout camp though. I remember looking through the brochure and figuring out which week I was going to go. My brother and I went different weeks. That alone was like a vacation. For as much as I love my brother now, we were constantly at each other during the summers of our youth. Fortunately for my mom, she worked full time.

Now that I’m a mom, summer activities are a big concern for me. As a homeschooler, for me summer is just more time to learn. But in the paradigm of kid activity, summer is high tide. Activity overload, overloaded. There are entire magazines devoted to sleep-away summer camps. And oh, boy, are some of them pricey!

Sleep away camps? Let’s just say that’s not happening! Sure, I went to sleep away camp for the first time when I was 7. But I had been getting myself to and from school by myself since I was 5. And, well, truth be told, I’m not ready for BabyGirl to go yet. There, I said it! I’m trying to psych myself up for when she is accepted into the youth symphony and has to go on the overnight retreat. I need a few months, so just go with me on this.

Day camps aren’t cheap either. One of the camp I wish I could go to, I mean send BaybGirl to, is $795 for a week. Well, not really a week, week. Rather it is 6 hours for 4 days and then 3 hours for the 5th day. So you don’t have to do the math, that’s about $88 per hour. For $88 an hour, when she’s done BabyGirl better be able to get a part time job! That being said, she won’t be doing that camp this summer.

We do a lot throughout the year, so for us summer is a time when I look forward to less activity. BabyGirl will be on a summer recreational swim team and she’ll attend a week of music camp. There may be one or two other scheduled camps but at $200 – $300 per week it’s expensive.

I was talking with my friend, Sally, at lunch about this. We figured that summer activities for the kids would run about $1,000. That’s crazy! OK, maybe not, but I can’t imagine where a family with a few kids would come up with several thousand dollars for summer activities.

As a frugalista, I’m into finding quality activities that fit my budget. One of the biggest changes I’m making this year is that I’m looking to the city aquatics program for our summer swim rather than the private swim program. I’ve researched it and have heard good things. And for 1/4 the price, I think we can manage for 7 weeks.

We’re pretty fortunate to live about a mile from a terrific community college that offers a summer Kid’s College program with activities that range from art and theater to math and engineering. The classes are very reasonable and are kept small to allow the kids to both learn and have fun.

And although we don’t have a pool, we have a very gracious neighbor who extends an open invitation for us to come over and swim. Some days it’s just nice to know we can go over there and BabyGirl can play with a friend and I can have adult conversation.

I know there are many options to use our garden membership and museum passes, making for inexpensive summer fun. There is always the Stuffington Bear Factory and Cerreta Candy Company, both of which are free and pretty decent. And indoors!

It is possible to have a budget friendly summer with kids at home. It take planning, something I’m probably late to doing right now. And it takes the understanding that fun can be had at home too. Even if it means ones house will likely be covered with glitter by time August rolls around.

How do you plan for summer in your home? I know y’all have great suggestions on how mom can avoid going insane because the kids are bored.