Summer Activities for Kids That Won't Break the Bank

June 2, 2022 by Chevron Federal Credit Union

The school year is almost over and summer is about to begin! Have you been thinking about ways to keep your children occupied and entertained with all that free time? We have, too, with an eye toward worthwhile activities, camps and classes that are easy on the budget.

That’s especially wise this year, as inflation prompts popular options like camps and hands-on classes to hike prices. Case in point: The median cost of a day camp was $178.49 per day in 2021; for sleep-away camp, it was $448.53, according to an annual report by the American Camp Association (ACA). But 84% of all the camps responding to ACA’s survey said they anticipated their fees would increase in 2022 — by between 3% and 5%.

We’ve rounded up some no- or low-cost ideas that push the boundaries, keep kids engaged, foster togetherness and encourage learning along the way.

Summer fun that’s free

Instill the love of reading and build related skills by exploring the full scope of free storytime activities, games and summer reading challenges and prizes that your public library has to offer, as well as additional free nationwide summer reading programs available at schools and bookstores.

Looking to really connect with your child this summer when schedules aren’t quite as frenetic? Plus, work in some physical activity at the same time? Consider Walk and Talk, a free program of nonprofit Marathon Kids that invites you to walk a mile with your child and talk about a new topic each day. With a mileage log and 26 conversation starter cards, after about a month or so, you'll have walked (and talked) the distance of a marathon (26.2 miles).

How about a playful educational journey? You may know Khan Academy, the free, nonprofit learning resource for thousands of lessons and practice for K-12 through early college subjects. But did you know it also offers Camp Khan Kids, a free, self-paced summer learning program for children ages two to eight? Each week in July features a different theme that you can mix or match for hands-on learning.

Fit in some fun money lessons with the free downloadable Family-at-Home Financial Fun Pack, a curated set of ideas, activities, games and books from the nonprofit Council for Economic Education. It covers all kinds of age-appropriate ways to start building personal finance smarts for K-12.

Summer fun that’s low-cost

Eager movie fan among your flock? Beat the summer heat with special kids movie passes from participating theaters nationwide. Kids can catch a kid-friendly show during the summer months for just $1, $1.50 or $2 a ticket, depending on the theater chain.

Interested in a little bit of everything? It pays to take advantage of classes and camps available through the local, regional or national parks, YMCAs, as well as museums and zoos, near you. Whether it’s arts, nature or sports, these resources may offer special pricing, complimentary programs or free admission on certain days or weeks.

Become a builder by checking out summer kids workshops at your  local home improvement store. Materials, instructions and tools for upcoming projects are provided or can be ordered. From a tabletop fish tank to a golfer putting green game, some outlets may also offer virtual field trips about growing plants for your young gardeners.

Learn how money, businesses and jobs work with Junior Achievement’s “BizTown” day camp. Geared toward ages nine to 14, the program is based on Junior Achievement’s three learning pillars of financial literacy, work-readiness and entrepreneurship. Cost may vary depending on location; find your local JA to check summer offerings. Another great way to prepare children for financial success is by opening a MySavings Youth account. It’s a high-dividend savings account that’s designed to help younger members learn the joys of saving money and how compound interest works.

Finding more ways to have an affordable summer

As you explore budget-friendly summer activities, keep in mind that Uncle Sam also may offer some help. Under IRS rules, the cost of day camps for children under age 13 may count as an expense towards the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. In addition, if you have a dependent care flexible spending account (versus a regular FSA) through your employer, you may use those funds toward the cost of day camp (if you work, look for work or are a full-time student). Note: You can’t use both an FSA and the tax credit for the same expenses.

There are many opportunities, either locally or online, to keep your kids active this summer. No matter what you choose, you and your kids can enjoy a stress-free summer filled with fun activities that won’t break the bank.



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