2/27/2012 - Finding affordable summer camp fun in Asheville is possible
by Asheville Citizen Times
Finding a camp that you can afford may not be as hard as you think. There are several day camps in Western North Carolina that charge less than $200 a week. And nearly every overnight camp in the area has what they call "camperships," which are scholarships, in total or in part, for qualifying campers.
"Every camp that I've ever come in contact with has a 'campership' program," said Jane Cox Murray, executive director of the N.C. Youth Camp Association, based in Black Mountain. "My advice is find a camp that's a good match for your child and then look for a way to find the resources." Scholarship information is usually listed on a camp website's application page.
For many people, day camps are more affordable.
The YWCA summer camp in Asheville is licensed for 150 kids. Parents drop off their children at the South French Broad Avenue campus anytime after 7 a.m. and pick them up by 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. The cost is $140 a week for YWCA members and $160 a week for nonmembers.
On campus, the children garden and take swimming lessons. Their arts and crafts are sometimes guided by visiting artists. Field trips include travels to Chimney Rock State Park, Max Patch and swimming pools. Once a week, campers travel outside the city to places that have included Discovery Place in Charlotte and Catawba Science Center in Hickory.
"They really enjoy it," said camp director CiCi Weston, also the YWCA's school-age programs director. "When the parents come to pick their children up early, sometimes the children are crying because they don't want to go home yet."
The YMCA of Western North Carolina continues to operate its Kiddie and Explorer camps at its newly renovated 10-acre property in North Asheville's Beaverdam section. Weekly sessions are $155, plus a registration fee of $35 child/$50 family. It also operates Discovery camps at Estes, Bell and Hominy Valley elementary schools, as well as Black Mountain Primary School. The cost is the same as for Kiddie and Explorer camps. In Asheville, there are also swim and "mild" and "wild" adventure camps.
The Y also operates day camps in McDowell and Henderson counties, as well as sports, football and cheer camps at the Reuter Family YMCA in Biltmore Park. Families can apply through county social workers for vouchers that provide state assistance with costs. If they don't qualify, the YMCA has its own subsidy program. Register for the Buncombe and Hend erson county camps by March 31, and the registration fee is waived. The same is true for the first 30 registrations in McDowell County.
Hahn's Gymnastics in Arden has half-day camps ($85 per week) and full-day camps ($165 per week). Full-day camp is for children 5-12, and half-day camp is for those 3 (toilet trained) to 12. Campers get two to three hours of gymnastics training, including bars, trampoline, tumbling, balance beam and parachute. They also get arts and crafts and daily snacks. Parents are expected to provide lunch and a water bottle each day.
The full-day experience add activities and field trips related to the theme of the week, which last year included Mad Scientist, Super Soakin', Artful Antics and Wacky Week. The afternoon activities include hiking, swimming and movies.
"We're more of a theme-based activity camp with gymnastics as one of the activities," Vicki Hahn, the camp owner, said. Hahn's has supervised extended care for parents who need to drop children off at 8 a.m. (half an hour before regular opening) or pick them up by 6 p.m. (half an hour after regular closing). The cost is an additional $15 a week.
Fletcher Parks and Recreation is offering two five-week sessions of summer day camp at Fletcher Community Park that will be affordable for many people.
The cost per week is $100 for Fletcher residents and $125 for everyone else. The sessions, for children 5-12 years old, are 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday from June 11 to Aug. 17 (there is no camp on July 4). Registration at Fletcher Town Hall is 8:30 a.m.-noon. March 10. There's an additional $25 per camper registration fee.
Each week, counselors will take campers on two field trips to area outdoor recreation areas such as the Cradle of Forestry in Pisgah Forest. The children will go swimming twice a week at Cane Creek pool in Fletcher, play active games daily and create arts and crafts weekly. New this year is scholarship assistance for qualifying families.
"We wanted to make it accessible and affordable to everyone," Fletcher Parks & Recreation director Greg Walker said. "We sell out just about every week."
Swannanoa 4-H Center, one of five 4-H camps and centers owned and operated by N.C. State University, has weekly half-day summer camps for children ages 4-9. The cost is $80 per week for one- or two-week sessions. Children are expected to bring their own lunch.
Weeks have themes such as "Holiday in July," "Pioneer Pastimes," and "Behind Scenes." Activities include climbing tower, archery, rifle range and swimming, as well as camping skills, Native American history, stream ecology and arts and crafts.
Your daughter doesn't have to be a Girl Scout to attend Camp Pisgah, an overnight Girl Scout camp in Brevard. Any girl entering grades 1 through 12 can attend, though nonscouts pay a $50 fee. Through March 15, a one-week session costs $295 "in comparison to other camps around us at $800 to $2,000 a week," said camp director Christine Le Clair. Scouts are eligible for financial aid, she said. After March 15, the weekly rate is $395. Most beds are filled by March 15, Le Clair said. (To get the $295 rate, buy immediately or put down a $50 deposit and pay by the end of May.)
The camp has one- and two-week sessions, as well as a three-day, two-nig ht "starter" session. Activities include horseback riding, swimming, boating, archery, overnight campouts and trips to places like the Biltmore Estate.
Providing money for "at-risk" campers is the Raleigh-based organization Scott-Free. Recommendations come from teachers, principals and counselors from N.C. elementary and middle schools. With its help, some four dozen children have been able to attend summer camps, according to founder and executive director Deborrah Jeffreys Gruder.