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Save money on summer camps and register now

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

The end of the school year is just around the corner and if you're scrambling to figure out what you want to do with the kids for the summer, we've got details on finding affordable summer camps.

Camps are already filling up, but before you make any commitments, you could get a better bargain. One Houston mom has a new book out about scoring summer camp discounts.

Parents are excited about the dozens of options around town. At the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the adventures here are mostly hands on.

Nicole Temple, HMNS Director of Youth Programs, said, "It's an excellent way to introduce kids to harder topics in science that is totally not threatening."

We got a sneak peek at what's in store during summer camp here at the museum, from creating and testing your own hover craft to getting an up close look at a baby alligators and butterflies, and studying fossils and dinosaurs. There is something that will pique your kids' interest.

But before you register, it pays to ask the right questions, says Sarah Gish, author of the Summer Book 2013, a guide to Houston day camps.

"The first thing I would do is look at the back and look at scholarship," Gish suggested. "I list all the camps that offer scholarships."

At the very least, ask. At the Houston Museum of Natural Science there are 100 scholarships available.

"The Hearst Foundation generously gave us the ability to offer 100 spots per summer for kids who would not otherwise be able to afford camp," Temple said.

Next, Gish said says pre-register now before the deadlines.

"A lot of camps have discounts for early registration," she said.

On the flip side if you happen to wait a little longer to register, you might be able to negotiate a better deal as camps look to fill up those spots. If you can't afford the full week, Gish says kids can get the same experience at "drop in camps."

"If you still want your child to have the enrichment summer that you'd like them to have and you can't afford all day camps, all day summer, then I recommend drop in camps and I list those in the book as well," Gish said.

Another potential discount -- if you have time to volunteer at the camp, offer to barter.

"Moms can drive school buses," Gish said. "I know people have done that and you can offer your skills. If you know how to swim, then teach swimming."

Be sure to ask if there is a sibling discount, and don't forget about the early and late child care charges. It's usually an additional fee.

One more thing to keep in mind -- some camps don't offer lunch, so that will be an additional cost during the week. Additionally, some require a uniform. Sometimes that's included in the fee, but some are additional costs. Be sure to get all the details before registering for any summer camp.
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Find Patricia on Facebook at ABC13PatriciaLopez or on Twitter at @patricialopez13

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