Summer Camps & COVID
April 27, 2020
We have been getting a lot of questions over the past couple of weeks about summer camps. All the questions seem to come back to– money and cancellation. Summer camp is not cheap. According to bankrate.com, the average summer camp costs about $1,979. So, what happens if camp is cancelled, or you decide you do not want your child to attend camp this year?
For the most part, camps are working with parents to keep them informed and seeking their input in camping decisions. The American Camping Association is providing resources and direction for camps. https://www.acacamps.org/resource-library/coronavirus-information-camp. Many camps are issuing refunds, extending cancellation options, and even coming up with creative virtual camp experiences. Keep in mind many summer camps require year-round planning, and the camp has likely already invested in your children’s camp experience.
Start with the fine print. When you signed your child up for camp, you likely signed a contract. Although COVID or a similar pandemic was not specifically outlined in the contract, it is where you need to start. If you don’t have a copy of your camp contract, email the camp and ask for one. Make sure you know what you signed.
If you signed up for automatic withdrawal on your credit card or through your bank, you should consider stopping those approved withdrawals. You want to pay any future payments to the camp at your own discretion and not be subject to those pre-approved withdrawals. You can cancel an automated draft or charge through your bank and/or credit card company, and you should also notify the camp directly.
You may have paid a “non-refundable” deposit. Asking the camp if that deposit can be rolled over to a future camp instead of being lost completely is a good option. Also consider asking if the deposit can be rolled over to other children in your family for future camps. Ask your questions in writing and get confirmation in writing.
What about the cost of camp beyond the deposit? This is where every camp is different, and every camp is handling costs differently. Some camps offer insurance at registration to cover the money paid, if camp is cancelled or your child cannot attend. If you paid for that insurance, you should immediately file your claim. Keep in mind there will likely be a long line for refunds, so sooner is better. If no insurance was offered, ask your camp what their policy is in light of COVID. Most have posted a policy or statement regarding COVID on their website or have emailed it to parents. Follow the steps set out in the policy to request your refund as soon as possible. Some camps may have not figured out what to do yet. Give them time while also asking for information.
If your camp says refunds are not available despite closure or because they plan to be open this year, you should think about getting advice from a legal professional. A lawyer can read the contract and work with you to figure out your options and the best way to proceed. The key is not waiting. There are worries that some camps will not survive the COVID crisis. The last thing you want is to “rollover” payments to future camps only for the camp to close.
This is an unprecedented time for our world and our summer camps, and there are no clear answers. We are continuing to monitor camping policies and options for camps around the Southeast. If you have specific camp questions or need help navigating camping contracts, please reach out to us. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call our offices at 601-203-0122.