Posted by Jack Shitama ● Fri, Dec 17, 2021 @ 12:12 PM
Making Camp Affordable
We probably don't have to convince you that Camp is a valuable experience for young people. In today's world it's more important than ever for young people to be able to get outside and unplug, to stretch their legs, and exercise their independence in a safe community.
We also know that Camp - especially overnight camp - can be costly for families, especially when added to the financial burden of ongoing childcare and other enrichment programs.
We're committed to making camp accessible for every child, while still offering the programming that our campers love, with the safety and care that our camper parents have come to trust. If you're curious, we'd like to share a look at what goes into the cost of camp.. and make sure to read to the bottom for ways to make camp affordable for your family.
The Cost of Camp
Why does Camp cost what it costs? Here's a glimpse at what goes into a week of overnight camp....
Quality Camp Staff
A great camp experience is dependent upon staff who help campers to feel safe and cared for! We maintain a ratio of at least 1 staffer per 10 campers (not to mention a minimum of two staff per sleeping area).
More specialized programs often require fewer campers per counselor. For example, Leaps of Faith (which spends much of their time on the challenge course) is 1 staffer to 7 campers.
We are also committed to having well-trained staff, many with specialized certifications. In addition to being contracted for 8 weeks of camp, we also pay our staff to attend one full week of all staff training where cover best practices for connecting with campers, safety protocols and emergency procedures.
Some of our programs require staff to have specialized certifications. For example:
- One (1) certified Challenge Course Instructor for each group on the course at a time (it's not unusual for there to be as many as three groups on the course at any one time).
- One (1) American Red Cross certified lifeguards for every 50 campers in the Pool. However, our own safety standards require that we have a minimum of three (3) guards at the Pool whenever we're open, even if there are only a handful of swimmers there.
- Two (2) American Red Cross Waterfront Certified lifeguards for each program when they are at the Waterfront.
- One (1) USA Archery certified instructor for every 7 campers at the archery range.
We pay the cost of these trainings so that the cost won't be a barrier for qualified staff who have a passion for working with children and youth!
We also have dedicated year-round administrative staff who help get campers from registration to their bunk. These staff (like our registrar Julie) are here to help with registration questions, campership requests, double checking paperwork, coordinate dietary accommodations, handling cabinmate requests and much more!
Meals and Snacks
Campers and staff have to be fed and we currently use an outside contractor to staff and supply our meals. In 2021 our price per meal was $5.50. That adds up to $82.50 per camper!
Canteen is a highlight of every camper's day, when each camper gets to choose 2 snack items from our list of drinks, candy, and ice cream. Many years ago we moved to including this in the cost of camp, rather than asking campers to bring money or buy a canteen card.
While it may seem like a small thing, campers love being able to choose their own snacks - especially campers who wouldn't normally have pocket money to spend.
And of course, we go through a lot of s'mores supplies!
Facilities and Vehicles
Sure, camp is a rustic experience, but clean and well-cared for facilities help create an environment where campers feel safe and valued. When campers know that they matter, they are able to step outside of their comfort zones to make new friends, try new things, and experience the great outdoors!
Our facilities require a lot of upkeep (even during our slower months)! We employ 3 full-time year round Maintenance staff and around 5 Summer Maintenance staff to assist them, under the direction of our Facilities Director.
We also use vehicles (some rented during the summer, some purchased or donated) to move supplies, take campers on off-site trips, and to transport campers safely during storms. Our maintenance staff keep these vehicles fueled, clean, and ready to go!
We want every camper to have a safe and happy experience at camp, and we do everything we can mitigate risks. But, sometimes things happen and we want to make sure that things are covered if they do. As a camp that has a High Ropes Challenge Course, Pool, and Waterfront with boats we have higher coverage to protect participants engaging in those activities.
Additional Program Costs
One of the great things about Camp Pecometh is our wide range of programming we offer, often with specific additional costs. A bushel of crabs is over $200, but Chester River Trek would not be the same program without the good old Eastern Shore crab feast at the end of a week of learning to crab!
Programs that take off-site trips have costs of travel built into their pricing, and some programs like Top Chef and our art programs have consumable materials that are purchased for each week.
We continue to offer these specialized programs because campers love them, but also because we know that some of our campers might not have access to experiences like sailing, picking crabs, or getting cooking lessons anywhere else.
Raising Our Prices
We made the difficult decision to raise our prices this year. A key reason is we had to increase our summer staff pay in 2021 to MORE THAN DOUBLE the previous rate just to be able to hire enough quality staff to run our program.
We're glad we did this because we know of one camp that had to cancel 60% of their 2021 summer camp weeks because they didn't have enough staff.
We don't expect this situation to change in 2022. A quality summer staff essential to the summer camp experience.
We're going to do what's necessary to make sure we have one.
Your camper is worth it.
Reducing the Cost of Camp
We believe that Camp should be available to every child who wants to attend. We offer several ways to make the cost of camp more manageable for families.
- A $50 deposit is required to complete your registration, but you are in control of when and how you pay for camp with a balance payoff date of June 1. Just log back into your account at any time to make payments.
- Payment Plans: At the time of registration, you can also choose to set up a payment plan with automatic payment dates.
Early Payment Discounts
- If we receive your camper fee payment in full by January 1, 2022, we will reduce your total fees by 10%. Use code JAN10
- If we receive your camper fee payment by February 1, 2022, we will reduce your total fees by 5%. Use code FEB5
Sibling and Multi-Session Discounts
- Sibling Discount! Families registering more than one camper are eligible for a 10% discount on program fees for the second and all subsequent campers.
- Day Campers registering for four or more weeks of camp are eligible for a 10% discount on day camp program fees. Use code DAYCAMP10
- Mini Campers registering for back-to-back Mini Camp sessions C & D from July 24-29 are eligible for a discount on program fees. Use code B2BMINI
Referral Discount - "Thrifty Fifty"
- Help us to register a friend (not family) who is a first-time camper, and make sure they they list your name for the question "Were you referred by a returning camper?" on the Camper Information Form. You'll both get a $50 credit! You are eligible for Thrifty Fifty credits up to the total cost of your camper family balance.
- Camperships are our version of scholarships. They are available for campers who need financial support to attend camp. We typically provide a $200 camperships (up from $150) for our week-long, overnight programs and $50 for mini-camp.
All that being said, we will never turn away a camper for financial reasons! Please reach out to us if you would love to send your child to camp, but aren't sure if you can afford it. Our Registrar Julie is here to help!
Support Campers in Need
If you would like to help us make camp accessible to all young people, please consider making a financial contribution to Pecometh.
A donation to our Campership Fund will help us to provide camperships to every camper who asks for one, or an Undesignated Gift will help us to keep our fees as low and our program quality high.