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Summerplanning hero
• Jan 30, 2023

Summer may seem like a long way off during these dreary winter days. But it will be here before you know it, and for parents, that often means planning activities during the school hiatus.

We know that it isn't always cheap to find enriching summer activities, so check out our money-saving tips below before your 2nd grader is doodling on the walls, and your middle-schooler's screen time is reaching new heights:

Explore Community Centers & Enrichment Programs

Many public-school districts offer summer enrichment programs ranging from coding classes to summer theatre productions. Check out your school district's website to see if there are such programs being offered, as they may be a less expensive alternative to sending your child to a camp program.

Additionally, many municipalities run summer activities through their local recreation centers at more affordable costs. Activities may include Arts & Crafts, cooking, and chess classes. They may also offer a wide variety of recreational sports teams your child could join. Some centers offer a Community Pass at a standing price, which allows you to pay a singular price rather than pay for each class or activity individually.

If your child is interested in sports, investigate if your town has a Police Athletic League (PAL), in which the local Police Department works with community members in sponsoring sports teams and games. Many PAL teams exist for children in grades K-8, with some extending even further. To find out more about what your township offers, check out their recreational department web-page for activities and costs.

A Happy Camper

Of course, summer camp is a highly-ranked activity for children in the summer. However, many summer-camp programs can be a stretch on your wallet. Within the world of camp, there are cheaper alternatives available. Many towns offer "Playground Camp", a camp run through their recreation departments. Often, "Playground Camps" employ local educators and teenagers to lead activities with the campers.

Similarly, you may want to investigate local religious centers that may offer summer programming for young children. These programs are often an extension of the day-care service they may provide throughout the school year. The YMCA offers a variety of summer camp programs, including day-camp and travel options. Not only are summer camps a wonderful opportunity for your child to partake in summer fun, but they also give older children an opportunity to get involved at the counselor level. Many camps offer counselor-in-training (commonly known as C.I.T.) programs to train young teens to assume positions of leadership within the camp. These training programs are often free of cost and can lead to paid counselor positions in the future. Not only does this give your teen something to do, but it allows them to build leadership skills and obtain valuable work experience.

Volunteering in the Community

Children heading into their early teens may want to consider exploring volunteer opportunities that exist within the community. For animal-lovers, volunteering at a local animal shelter is a great opportunity to work with animals and add to their skill-set. Public libraries often eagerly take on young volunteers, whose role it is to assist with organizing inventory and help plan community outreach events. American Red Cross Clubs, organizations for children aged 13-17, exist throughout the country and have volunteer opportunities that exist both during the school-year and summer months. Such experiences include volunteering with soup kitchens, environmentally focused initiatives, and other local charities. These clubs are often linked to specific schools, and are definitely worth exploring on the Red Cross website.

Collaborate & Negotiate

The summer-activity challenge is one that exists in many households within your community. Talk to neighbors about splitting the costs of a reliable baby-sitter who can watch over group play-dates and lead small activities with the kids. Many college students who are home for the summer offer such baby-sitting services. You may want to explore your town's Facebook page for postings or reach out to your local connections.

Think outside-the-box and turn to your skill set to see what you can offer in exchange for a discounted rate into a camp program. For example, if you are an electrician or have experience in construction, reach out to your municipality to see if you could help out with the camp-grounds in exchange for a lower rate for your own child to attend. Or, if you are able to, offer your time to help out with Arts and Craft classes or assist with school-bus transportation. Get creative, and keep in mind that the magic of summer is not something only achieved through handing over your wallet!

For More on Personal Finance Topics

If you have more questions about other personal finance topics that matter to you, visit the Learning Center on TD Bank’s website

We hope you found this helpful. This article is based on information available in January 2023 and is subject to change. It is provided as a convenience and for general information purposes only. Our content is not intended to provide legal, tax, investment, or financial advice or to indicate that a particular TD Bank or third-party product or service is available or right for you.

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