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Dutchess County looks to ease costs of summer camp

Jul 07, 2023

Is $1,200 too much for the cost of two weeks of summer camp? One mother thinks so, but a New York county is trying to alleviate some of that.

Emily Walsh is a 7-year-old with a lot of energy. She's looking forward to summer, but is worried about not being able to attend a camp this year after her mom said finances are tough right now.

"I don't really have anyone to play with. If I’m at a summer camp, I wouldn't have to worry about that, because I’m at summer camp with other kids that I could play with," Walsh said.

Robin Schmitt is Walsh's mother. She's been searching for an affordable camp with flexible scheduling since December but hasn't had much luck.

"I’ve actually given up my search," Schmitt said. "Do I send my daughter to camp for two weeks, or do I pay my rent? I kind of have to pay my rent, and it's heartbreaking, because then she's going to stay home with me and be limited socially."

"When I actually figured that out for my first time, I kind of wanted to start crying," Walsh said.

According to the American Camp Association, camp providers increased prices by 35% in 2022.

Schmitt is now looking into a new camp in Dutchess County called Camp Pathfinder. The county is helping provide need-based scholarships so children can attend.

"When I was a kid, I never got to go to summer camp, so I’m living vicariously through making sure these kids get this opportunity," said Jessica Dickinson, director of youth development for the Pathfinder Foundation. "I really hope that the kids don't have to worry so much and families don't have to worry so much as long as we keep creating these opportunities that allow this access."

The cost of attendance for the camp is $1,200 for a two-week session. Dickinson acknowledges it's pricey, but said the costs can add up due to staffing, program, and facilities.

Applying for the Dutchess County scholarship is Schmitt's last hope of sending her daughter to camp this summer.

"Not knowing until the last minute if she's going to be able to get a scholarship kind of leaves me scurrying," Schmitt said.

Scholarships are available for certain summer camps in other parts of the state for people to apply to as well.