the economics of summer camp

April 03, 2016

Posted By: Shaunescy


When deciding on which summer camps and how many, I start by asking myself, “How much money am I able or willing to drop this year?” Initially the number is always very low. Then I realize that my kids will only be at half-day camps for a week, maybe two. So I re-prioritize.

The first thing to go is the pampering. Scrap coloring my hair and cutting the kids’ hair. I don’t really need a massage or manicure. I’ve learned enough in Pilates class; I should be able to do that at home. Score. Now we are up to two weeks of full-day camps. But that still leaves about nine open weeks . . . nine glorious weeks of spending all day and all night with my three angels. In addition to my full-time job, which unfortunately takes place on a crowded desk in a corner of my house, I now envision my new summer responsibilities: chef for three square meals everyday, full-time referee, event coordinator (someone has to find something for them to do), chauffer...the list is exhausting.

With hypertension setting in, I decide we can cut back dramatically on groceries, completely avoid the movie theater, ice cream parlors and impulse shopping centers like Target. Hell, I’ll even bike to town to save on gas. Now we’ve got a total of four weeks of camp secured.

Cancel our satellite TV subscription, life insurance and college savings fund = one more week.

If they aren’t here all day, I’ll require much less wine. Six weeks.

I’m fairly certain my teeth are fine, so I’ll cancel the annual dentist appointment. My three-year-old eyeglass prescription will do for another year; I can’t afford new glasses anyway. Partially blind is underrated. Seven weeks.

Start selling stuff. Anything. Everything. Eight weeks.

Epiphany: This takes us into August – we’re in the homestretch . . . take all my money, even the money I don’t have, I’ll take out a loan.

My kids are going to have the best summer ever becoming the next Broadway star, riding horses, singing, crafting, exercising, playing sports and getting in touch with nature. As for me, I’ll be completely broke, yet quite sane, smiling at my quiet, crowded desk in the corner of my house – blissfully all alone.

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