May 5, 2022 - News

Inflation comes for Colorado summer camps

Kids at summer camp in Colorado. Photo: RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Colorado parents are paying more this year to enroll their children in summer day camps, and inflation isn't the only factor to blame.

Why it matters: Parents are scrambling to find reliable help for their kids amid a shortage of child care workers across the country.

  • Meanwhile, children's opportunities to socialize and learn new skills outside of the classroom are limited as the end of the school year approaches.

What's happening: A surge in demand for summer activities coupled with camp understaffing, steep worker payrolls, inflated supply prices and extra costs for onsite COVID protocols are driving camp enrollment prices up, industry experts tell Axios Denver.

  • The pandemic also forced many summer camps to shut down completely, narrowing parents' options and putting more pressure on camps left standing.
  • The facilities that managed to weather the pandemic are still grappling with losses suffered from closures in 2020 and restricted operations in 2021, straining their spending even further.

What they're saying: Avid4 Adventure hiked its Colorado summer camp prices between 8-12% — the largest increase in the local chapter's history — "and it was not nearly as much as most of our large expense increases for this year," CEO Paul Dreyer tells Axios Denver.

  • "Pricing will definitely go up next year, and I would imagine that we will be in an inflationary period for at least the next two summer seasons," he adds.
  • "There is no one benefiting from the problem," says Heidi Heissenbuttel, CEO of Sewall Child Development Center, where the waitlist for services, including summer camps, has grown to about a hundred kids across its seven facilities — the longest in the organization's history — which is "directly correlated" to the staffing crisis and inflation.

By the numbers: The cost of day camp has more than doubled to an average of $178 a day from about $76 in 2021, according to the American Camp Association.

  • Camp fees nationwide are projected to spike between 10-15% this summer compared to the previous year, CNN Business reports.

Be smart: Some summer camps offer financial aid or payment plans for those in need, but it's wise to ask sooner than later considering high demand.

The bottom line: From the gas pump to the drive-thru, and now even summer camps, Coloradans are combating climbing costs at every turn.

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