Summer camps remain in family budgets despite recession

The Kansas City StarMarch 10, 2009 

As many parents cut costs, they're forced to ask themselves whether splurging on summer camps for the kids is worth it.

Local and national camp officials say that the answer is yes and that camp is the one thing parents are willing to pay for, even in hard times. That said, some families may be looking for less expensive options, such as one week instead of two.

"They want to make sure their kids aren't sitting home all day playing video games this summer," said Pam Watkins, director of operations for the YMCA of Greater Kansas City, which offers camp sessions all summer.

"Parents are absolutely going to cut back on summer vacations and weekend excursions, but as far as camp for their kids, it's the one thing they're willing to put the money out there for."

Sean Nienow, a director at the National Camp Association, agreed.

"When Mom and Dad sit down and talk about camp, it's a hard 'no' to say. Obviously, there are many families that just can't do it," he said. "But … they don't want their child to lose that valuable experience."

Nienow said camp enrollment nationwide is down a bit over past years, but he's hoping that's just because families are waiting a little longer to send in their registration and money.

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