How to Decide Between Sleepaway Camps and Day Camps

kids at camp

Do you remember the first night you spent away from home?

You found yourself trying to sleep in an uncomfortable, unfamiliar location, knowing your family wasn't nearby. Shortly after, you likely realized everything was OK—you weren't going to be eaten by monsters or kidnapped by criminals after all.

For a child, spending a few days at an overnight camp can be a major growth experience. Once kids come out of their comfort zone and realize they can be away from home for an extended period of time, they often begin to mature and develop a sense of independence and boosted self-esteem.

If you're weighing whether to send your child to an overnight camp or a day camp, here are a few differences to consider.


As expected, overnight camps are more expensive than day camps given the cost of room and board, as well as several meals and snacks.

According to a 2012 report by the American Camp Association (ACA), the average weekly fees for overnight resident camps and day camps are as follows:

  • Resident Camps: $690 to $2000+ per week
  • Day Camps: $304 to $500+ per week

Fortunately, many camps offer special discounts, scholarships and financial assistance. The ACA reports that more than 90 percent of camps offer financial assistance, and more than 70 percent of camps award $10,000 or more in scholarships annually.


Day camps are typically more convenient for children, as they're able to return home each night to a home-cooked meal and their comfortable bed.

Overnight camps, however, provide greater convenience for parents. Resident camps allow parents to avoid the hassles of daily carpools and lunch packing, as well as many other parental duties, such as cooking and cleaning when their children return home each night.

  • 1
  • of
  • 2

Discuss This Article