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In-person summer camps are so expensive! What do you suggest when everything that has an open spot is hundreds of dollars per week?

Sweating It in Southeast Louisiana

Photo of Ileana

Ileana Ortiz

Ileana Ortiz was born and raised in Miami and now lives in New Orleans, where they specialize in navigating for Spanish-speaking families. They are a proud theater/improv geek, costume aficionado, and follower of at least 42 cute animal instagram accounts. They also firmly believe every day is Halloween.

Dear Sweating It,


I get it. Finding an affordable summer camp is tougher than snagging a Covid vaccine appointment. This year, it seems like it’s worse than ever because camps have fewer slots to offer due to social distancing measures. If you haven’t already tried this, many camps that seem expensive on the surface may offer scholarships or sliding scale tuition, so it’s always worth sending an email to inquire. And here are few other options to consider:


Neighborhood kid share. Do you have friends or neighbors in a similar situation this summer? Consider podding up and sharing the childcare load by splitting days of the week or hours of the day. Or better yet, if you know a responsible teen in the neighborhood, hire them to supervise for a reasonable hourly rate. Bonus if they have some cool athletic or art skills they can teach your kids, since younger kids love learning from the big ones.


City-run offerings. Private camps tend to fill up quickly, but often summer programs run by local parks and recreation departments have more openings, and they tend to be more affordable, too. In New Orleans, check out the New Orleans Recreation Division (NORD) options.


Churches, temples, and other houses of worship. Whether or not you consider yourself part of a faith community, many religious institutions offer reasonably priced summer programming.


Local community centers and libraries. Things might not be up and running quite as usual (the library probably isn’t open for hours of air conditioned hanging out, unfortunately), but some places may be running special summer programs, so it’s worth checking their websites to find out what’s going on near you.


The Y. The YMCA camps run a little pricier, but are still typically more reasonable than other local options, and many locations do still have openings for this summer. Find your nearest Y here.


If you’re open to virtual and at-home options, here are a few I recommend checking out:


Backyard Camp. This is a weekly newsletter with simple activities that are tailored for your child’s age, interests (like sports, arts, etc.), and whether you live in a house or a building. It’s totally free, but you do have to set up an account.


Outschool. These are virtual courses on everything under the sun (seriously, whatever your child is interested in...there’s a class for that). Cost varies, but it’s generally in the $10-$50 range.


Camp Kinda. Our favorite, of course, is our very own Camp Kinda, which will be back this summer with brand new adventures from Codebuilder to The Craft of Magic. Each adventure features hours of weekly on- and offline content on topics that your kids will find genuinely exciting—minimal supervision required. And you don’t mention how old your children are, but this summer we’re introducing Camp Kinda Jr., which offers adventures for little campers under 6. Camp Kinda costs $25 per family for the whole summer, and fee waivers are always available.