I have three kids and I work full-time. I can't afford to send them all to summer camp next summer, but I don't want them to sit around and play video games either. Are there more affordable options to get three kids (ages 4, 7, and 9) engaged and doing positive activities?

I live in Newburgh, NY.


Charlotte Dungan, Harvard Graduate Student, Pk-12 Educator, Parent, Lifelong Learner

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You may want to check with your local Boys and Girls Club. Membership in the club is only $25 per YEAR and they have all kinds of programming that is free, including afterschool programming, preschool, and daily summer access that includes swimming. My daughter did their 3 hour boating program DAILY this summer and it was only $85 for the whole summer, and she could use the other facilities during the other hours. Also, the YMCA has program fees that can be reduced with demonstrated need, including summer camp programs. I loved their summer camps because they actually accommodated the working parent; i.e. 7:45-5:30, instead of the typical 9-3.

Best Wishes in finding a program that works for you!

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Jessica Lopa, School Psychologist and Founder of Mommy University

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There are so many fun things you can do without spending a ton of money over the summer. I recommend getting a museum and zoo membership. The museum is perfect for really hot or rainy days. It also offers things to do for kids of all ages as well as often provides special events and programs throughout the summer at no additional fee. Zoos are perfect for nice summer days and offer a great opportunity to walk around and get some exercise. Zoos also offer events and programs that are often free for members. During the summer, I also take advantage of free activities such as Lowe's Build and Grow and Home Depot Kids Workshops. Michaels also offers fun and educational crafts 3 times a week for around $5/class. Each summer there is a new theme which offers a fun learning experience. Another great option is to have your own camp at home. I do this by creating themed weeks or days then have activities surrounding this theme such as cooking, crafts, games, books, day trips and even movies. This also gets the kids involved in the process. I hope some of these ideas helped:)

Jennifer Oleniczak, Artistic Director and Founder of The Engaging Educator

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Echoing the financial support that many camps offer. Even if a camp isn't offering a formalized scholarship on their website, often times camps are run by individuals versus corporations - so they are more than willing to work with families to maintain relationships and develop consistency in campers. Often times camps will also offer a multi-child discount - essentially my advice is to email the general camp inbox. Look for smaller, newer camps that might benefit from reviews or exchanges.

When I ran summer camp for another organization, as well as running it for my company this year, we loved parents that were interested in giving reviews or referrals for magazines and other media outlets. Word of mouth is great, and marketing only goes so far - family support is so much stronger!

Yamini Pathak, Yamini Pathak is co-founder of K-12 Education resources website Schools 'N More

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You can explore your local community centers and churches to find out whether they offer sibling discounts or financial aid for your kids to attend camp. The following article will give you more ideas on how to make summer affordable for your family: https://www.noodle.com/articles/the-benefits-of-summer-camp-and-how-to-afford-it.

As an alternative to playing video games, you can have kids try a daily math problem from bedtimemath.org or let them try a free learning website such as chesskid.com where they learn to play chess in a safe environment.

All the best!

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