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The summer-camp feeding frenzy has already begun

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The “every family for itself” approach to child care in the U.S. means parents’ options for three months of the year are shelling out for expensive camps, fighting for limited slots in affordable programs, or nothing.
Elliot Haspel
Publication Date: 
23 Jan 2023


New Year’s resolutions had barely been resolved before parents across the nation started thinking ahead to summer. The scramble to sign kids up for summer camp begins in January, because limited slots and huge demand have led to a highly competitive environment that verges on absurd. Case in point: Rachael Deane, a mother in Richmond, Virginia, has a summer-camp spreadsheet. She joked to me that it is “more sophisticated than a bill tracker” she uses to follow legislation in her work at a children’s-advocacy nonprofit; the spreadsheet is color-coded, and registration dates are cross-posted onto her work calendar so she can jump into action as soon as slots open.