News 2 I-Team looks into affordable summer camp options across Lowcountry

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) — For kids, the countdown to summer has begun. The last day of school is a little more than a month away. For parents, that countdown may cause panic, as the amount of time dwindles to find something to occupy your kids during the day.

News2’s Consumer Investigator Libba Holland looked into summer camp options for kids of all ages and what may be best for a summer budget.

Some moms may be able to relate to Kerry Yates. With two young boys, she looks forward to the days of broken routines, lazy mornings, and sunny beach strolls.

“School’s pretty intense for them, so they’re kind of tired,” Yates said.

Yates is a stay-at-home mom, but also a blogger, businesswoman, and life coach; and none of that comes with a summer vacation.

“I spend most of my time during the day either on the computer, moving around the house trying to do something, or on the phone with clients, so it’s pretty go, go, go,” Yates said.

Come June she plans to send Dougie, 7, and Eddie, 5 to daycamp.

She faced several challenges, though; the boys are in separate age groups and cost twice as much.

“There [are] so many cool camps, and I think oh boy I’d love the boys to do that! Then, I times it by two, and I’m like oh, it’s $500 to $800 for one week of camp,” said Yates.

One summer camp some parents may be familiar with is one at your local YMCA.

“We have our traditional day camp that has before-camp and after-camp hours, so parents can really customize that to their schedules,” said Kristin Fry, with the Summerville YMCA.

The day camp runs all summer, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. for ages 5 an up. The cost is $125 for members and $250 for non-members. There are also other camps that focus on one sport or activity that vary in prices.

“This year, we think gymnastics is going to be one of the top picks because it is an Olympic year,” said Fry.

Families can request financial aid. The Annual Flowertown Festival in Summerville helps fund scholarships for the town’s YMCA camps and activities.

“That’s the Y’s mission, to make sure everybody at the camp is able to be involved and participate in programs that encourage healthy lifestyles. We want our kids to have something to do over the summer and have a place to go,” Fry said.

For a link to the Summerville YMCA’s camp brochure, click here. The Charleston YMCA also has a link that provides information about its summer camps.

Trident Technical College also offers camps at all its Lowcountry campuses. Kids take classes in different career fields and live life similar to a college student. Prices range from $99 to $249.

Like a college class, there is financial aid available.

“If someone is in need, they contact me, and I give them the scholarship form. We try to reach out to as many individuals as we possibly can,” said Daphne Holland, who is in charge of the summer camp programs at TTC.

You may also find local daycare facilities offering camps…

The Kids Play Garden in Mount Pleasant and West Ashley offers half-day camps for toddlers to 12-year-olds, or parents can pay just a drop in at $16 an hour.

“If you’ve taken your child to the beach all morning, and they’re exhausted from the sunshine, you can drop them off in the afternoons,” said Maren Anderson, who opened the Play Garden.

Another affordable option for families may be your local parks and rec center.

In Mt. Pleasant, parents will pay anywhere from $50 to $155, depending on the length of the day.

“We have all day camps. We take them on trips all over the Lowcountry. That pays for all their trips, they bring their own lunch, we swim every day, so $155, that’s really a good deal for all you get,” said Tina Carter with Mt. Pleasant Parks and Recreation.

After weighing her options, Yates says Dougie is off to half-day geology camp, and Eddie is off to one in academics. Then, they both will play basketball.

“It’s a great time to pick something that they wouldn’t normally do. Dougie normally wouldn’t do basketball, but because it’s one week, we can give them the exposure,” said Yates.

Most camps run the first week of June through August, with a break for the July 4th holiday.

There is more information about camps in Charleston County and the City of Goose Creek on the associated websites.

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