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Summer Camp


I realize that my stubbornness regarding the kids’ summer camp is rubbing some people the wrong way. I also realize that I am spending a great deal of money on their summer camp. In fact, the amount I am spending is probably more than I’ve spent on their weekly summer camps for the last 5 or 6 years combined. I am aware of this. I own this decision. And as much as I would like to put the money towards something else, my kids will always come first.

Summer Camp Reasoning

With that being said, and all the comments I’ve gotten each post, I felt like sharing my thoughts and reasoning was necessary. I’m sorry if you do not agree with this choice, but this is one choice I am not willing to reconsider.

  • The kids will be 13 and 14 next year. It will most likely be their last year going to summer camp. They will both be old enough to get part time jobs the following year, and will want to (they already want to.)
  • They are REALLY isolated in this tiny town. As much I attempt to get them out and involved, it’s just a completely different world here. These weeks are camp at are a needed respite from that isolation. And they LOVED this camp this past summer.
  • Although I have been attempting to hire someone to help facilitate getting them out and about, even just to volunteer opportunities, well, I haven’t had any luck. The summer is worse since their brother will be gone again. They understand that this camp commitment will replace any chance of me hiring someone, and they are in agreement.
  • They shoot guns, ride horses, jump off huge platforms onto blobs in the lake, play nightly games, go camping and so much more that they have never done before. Some I’ve never done before. I want these experiences for them. I never got to go to summer camp. I want this for my kids. I can’t give them everything I want to give them, but I can give them this. This is in my grasp now.
  • And probably the most selfish reason of all, but with this camp, I get TWO WHOLE WEEKS of me time. As a single mom, this is just a breathe of fresh air. Two weeks where I don’t have to drive anyone anywhere, feed anyone, answer calls about drama at home and so on. Unless you have walked in my shoes, don’t judge. I don’t EVER get a break, NEVER.

This is my justification, excuse, whatever you want to call it for the camp commitment. I know it is delaying my debt free life a little while. But I also know I won’t get this time back with my kids, they won’t get time in their life back.

I can’t be the only one with a hold out in their “minimizing budget.” Do you have an item in your budget that others would question? What is your Achilles heal when it comes to your money choices? Obviously mine is my kids and their activities.


  • Reply Lisa |

    Hi, Hope! I never realized that the girls were so old! I went to camp for a week when I was 10 or so, it wasn’t cheap then so I can’t imagine the cost now. I think that knowing you won’t be giving it up, you are making the best choice to budget it into the monthly budget.
    Our vice? We won’t give up our weekly bogo coffee shop Tuesdays, nor three planned trips a year. One week of camping with our younger boys, our anniversary getaway alone, and just a fun trip to somewhere in our state.

    • Reply Hope |

      Gymnast is actually a boy…Princess is a girl.
      I dream of a real vacation, one where I don’t have to work, but I don’t think that will happen any time soon. My PTO time from my W2 job gets eaten up my gymnastic meets and dr appts. (No sick time since I wasn’t here in January.) Maybe next year will be different.

  • Reply Walnut |

    I won’t give up my coffee habit. I make coffee at home most days. Probably 80% of the time. However, according to my Personal Capital log, my household has spent $1,101 on coffee year to date. I don’t regret one.single.penny.

    • Reply Walnut |

      Also, I went to summer camp as a kid. Most of the time it was 4-H camps that were local, but one year I earned a scholarship to a fancy schmancy summer camp. My parents were generous enough to pay for the plane ticket to get me there and I had an amazing week.

      FWIW, your kids should totally look at being camp counselors next year.

      • Reply Hope |

        Sea Cadet has been a camp counselor the last two years at the camp I sent them two once they moved in with me. He LOVES it, and is planning his college years around getting to continue to work there every summer. I fully support that!

        We will see if the younger kids are interested. I have definitely brought it up!

    • Reply Hope |

      As a non-coffee drinker, I do not personally understand the habit. But I definitely support your right to your vice. Enjoy!

  • Reply Kate |

    We have two horses. For a long time we were paying more than our mortgage to board them but just moved to a new home with a barn so are saving money overall… I won’t say how much we spend overall but they’re worth it.

    • Reply Hope |

      I have heard that about horses. I think animals in general can be expensive, but as a dog lover. I totally agree, animals are worth it.

  • Reply drmaddog2020 |

    My dogs (with their expensive food and expensive kennel when I am out of town). High speed internet and various streaming services. Travel. Kindle books. Amazon prime.

  • Reply Jennifer |

    Have you thought of an exchange instead of camp? My niece and nephew come to visit us for a couple of weeks in the summer. My brother gives me money to cover a few fun activities. This is much cheaper for them then putting the kids in daycare. We love it because our kids are grown and it is nice to visit with them without their parents( much better behaved 🙂 ) maybe someone from your old homeschool group would be interested
    My vice pedicures. My justification…I don’t wear any makeup and I don’t dye my hair. Vices need to come with trade offs

    • Reply Hope |

      I hear about others doing this type of thing, normally with family, but it’s not something that has appealed to either me or the kids. (My parents offer on occasion.) They are REALLY excited about camp and I am too.

  • Reply MsMidLife |

    Hope, you and the kids have been through a lot over the last few years! One more summer of camp is as important, if not more so, than getting the debt all paid off a few months sooner. This coming from someone who has a heck of a lot more debt than they should 🙂
    I know the kids appreciate what you do for them and I hope they enjoy their last summer at camp. Also I hear you on the two week break, I have 5 at home, and a partner and I would still take the chance at that two week break if it came along – lol

    • Reply Hope |

      Thanks, MsMidLife…there are definitely days that I count the days until the two weeks come. Even dream of giving myself a mini-getaway or maybe a spa day. But I will be content with getting off work and getting to crawl into bed with a good book and maybe some junk food.

  • Reply Angel |

    Single mom here as well and I send my son to private school. I have debt and it would get paid so much faster if I sent him to public school, but I won’t compromise on this. Instead I don’t eat out, I scale back on babysitters, I cap my online shopping to $40, and have no new clothes.

    I completely support your decision for Summer Camp, I know how much knowing your kids are okay gives that peace and ability to focus on other things. I don’t think Summer Camp is the reason you have debt or the thing keeping you from paying it. Your strategy in the last post shows some planning about tackling it and I think that’s good enough and also still commit to Summer Camp plans. Everyone has their “summer camp” and the point is to make sure we PLAN around it with debt management, not use it as a budget busting excuse to not plan.

  • Reply cwaltz |

    It’s important to find the right balance between enjoying the right now and planning for a future for you and your family(anyone who has lost someone can tell you the future is not guaranteed so YES the now does matter.) From where I am sitting you aren’t in a “financial emergency.” You have bills yes but your bills do not exceed your income. fund. You have a generous emergency You are paying things down albeit more slowly than some(including yourself) might like. Keep on keeping on and try not to let the criticisms bother you too much.

    • Reply Hope |

      Thank you. It’s nice to be in a better place financially where I feel more confident owning these type of decisions that in some ways go against “blogging away debt” but balance is very important to me as a mom.

  • Reply Katie |

    Just a question. The camp my daughter attends always asks if we need a scholarship, or would like to contribute to the scholarship fund. Does your camp offer scholarships? In my view, your family fits the profile of who we should be supporting when we contribute a little extra to the scholarship fund.

    • Reply Hope |

      I know the camp in VA offered scholarships, and this past summer this particular camp gave us 50% as first time campers. I haven’t really looked into it this year because I do feel that I am working and making enough money to cover it, while there are others who are where I was last year who would definitely need it more than I do.

  • Reply Megan |

    I think this all sounds reasonable. To me, living with a budget and a plan isn’t about giving up absolutely everything all the time. It is about balance. You have decided what you are working towards and you are putting away the payments for it bit by bit. You are planning. You aren’t ignoring it and then getting blindsided right before/after the camp. This is how you do it. You are showing your kids that to give them what they want, they have to balance and give up some things to get it. I like it.

    It would be different if you were not paying bills or going into debt that you couldn’t manage to do it. You aren’t choosing this over eating or power. You are paying things down a little bit more slowly to make it happen. That is a decision you are owning, understanding, and planning around. Love it.

    • Reply Hope |

      Thank you, Megan. It’s really nice to feel that someone truly understands where I am coming from…”owning, understanding and planning around” is exactly where I am coming from!

  • Reply JayP |

    I definitely think there is a balance required to both achieve your goals and also eliminate burnout. But the main measure you should be tracking against is your total debt. What was your debt a year ago, six months ago, two years ago? Is it going down, and by how much? As long as you are making significant progress then some luxuries are fine. If it isn’t going down regularly over time then you really need to think about what things in the budget can change. Use a free ap like mint and you can really see your net worth change over time with very little effort as to inputting data. Seems like you have made a lot of positive changes in the past few months.

    • Reply Hope |

      I hadn’t thought of it like that…while we have made BIG changes over the last couple of years. I am not sure we have done our absolute best at paying off debt and giving up things. I am in the middle of taking a look at that now and seeing what else we can cut. I am definitely ready to look back and see some significant changes in my debt load!

    • Reply Hope |

      Hi Carrie,
      We priced a couple of places for replacing the glass. And found a place called CPR who would do it for $70 in one hour. They also warrantied their work. She paid for her with her own money and has been very happy with the results. I was so proud of how she took responsibility for it and it was a good lesson shopping around. (Sometimes we rush to make decisions when tragedy strikes, waiting and taking a breathe definitely helped in this situation.) It ended well for all.
      Thanks for following up!

  • Reply Miranda |

    I am all for them going to camp and making it work.

    Have you looked into the Tim Horton. They are often free and have a great leadership program.

So, what do you think ?