Finding a spot at kids’ summer camp is getting competitive

Camps can be a saving grace for working parents during those eight weeks of summer break—but if you were hoping to get a “hello muddah, hello fadduh” type letter from your kids at Camp Grenada this summer, you better get a head start on registration and budget a few more bucks. 

Driving the news: Despite a 10% increase in registration fees, parents are scrambling to secure a coveted camping spot for their youngsters. However, increased operating costs and staffing challenges could mean more kids will be stuck sitting at home this summer.

  • From counsellors to lifeguards, cooks to medical staff, interest in working at summer camps has dropped off. 

Why it’s happening: Simply put, taking care of kids just doesn’t pay very well. Camps are facing the same staffing conundrum as childcare providers—they don’t have adequate staff to operate at full capacity, meaning they’ve got to turn kids away.

  • The Association des Camps du Québec hopes bumping wages by $1.50 to $16.75 an hour will help them attract the over 20,000 camp monitors needed to run full programs.

  • The wage increase will be passed on to parents, says director Éric Beauchemin, who also said the camp is reducing its capacity from 600 kids a day to 400.

If you’re looking for summer camps for your kids, here are some tactics to secure a spot:

  • Start your search early. Affordable camp registration fills up fast, but if you miss the deadline, ask about early bird discounts at pricier camps.

  • Consider camps a bit further away. Camps in urban centres will always cost more, so consider signing up for a camp in a suburb nearby if you can manage the pickup/dropoffs with your own schedule.

  • Ask about financial aid/payment plans. Some camps offer low-income households a discount or subsidize a portion of the cost. Sleepaway camps often offer a payment plan, so you can budget the cost into your monthly expenses.

  • Organize locally. It takes a village to raise kids, especially in the summertime—turn to your community and find other parents, friends or family members open to a childcare swap schedule.