Gone Outdoors

Low Income Summer Camps in Florida

by Ki West

Sending your child to summer camp might not be a top priority this year due to rising costs. However, lower income families can participate in this memorable childhood tradition, despite the considerable increase in camp costs. Park and recreation departments, city governments and county programs often offer reduced rates–and sometimes free programs–to families who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford them. Non-profit organizations like the YMCA frequently base fees on income, which can greatly reduce the cost of the camp.


The Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) in Tampa, Florida offers summer camps for children 5 to 16 years of age from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, June 14 to Aug. 20. Ages 5 to 12 can experience an adventure-filled day camp including swimming, games, character development, arts and crafts, special events and field trips. The cost is $120 for members and $165 non-members. Ages 12 to 16 can enjoy a teen summer camp including arts and crafts, sports, outdoor games, cultural activities, field trips and service learning. The cost is $60 for members and $70 for non-members. Early and late care is available at no additional charge. Swim lessons with a certified YMCA swim instructor are available during the camp sessions for all ages. The YMCA strives to make programs accessible to all. Financial assistance is available with proof of household income. YMCA 110 East Oak Ave. Tampa, FL 33602 813-229-9622 tampaymca.org

Joining Hands Mission

The Joining Hands Mission offers a camp for children in kindergarten to 5th grade. According to the website, the camp is geared toward “children whose families are experiencing homelessness or financial hardships.” The full-day program is Aug. 2 to Aug. 6 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The cost is free, based on Florida Income Eligibility Guidelines. Campers enjoy breakfast, lunch and snacks. The program includes singing, drama, arts and crafts, indoor and outdoor physical activities and special events. Limited to 110 participants. Joining Hands Community Mission 3214 U.S. Hwy. 19 Holiday, FL 34691 727-937-3268 joininghandsmission.org/summer.html

City of Tampa Parks and Recreation Department

The City of Tampa Parks and Recreation Department offers a nine-week traditional summer day camp at 21 local community centers. Campers ages 5 to 17 years can participate in arts and crafts, team sports, games, sports clinics and special events. The camp runs from 7:30 to 6 p.m. June 14 to Aug. 13. The cost is $55 per child, per week. Low-income families can apply for a reduced fee program and scholarship program. Parks and Recreation 3402 W. Columbus Drive Tampa, FL 33607 813-274-8615 tampagov.net/dept_parks_and_recreation/programs_and_services/summer_session_2010.asp

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