By Christiane Cordero

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Those of us thinking of shipping the kids off to summer camp know — it can get expensive.

Some of them cost more than $1,000 a week, but you don’t have to spend a ton of cash to get your kids out of the house this summer.

Technically any camp could cost you nothing at all if you fundraise your way to it. We spoke with a North Community High School student who wanted to go to her first overnight camp through Young Life and, like many other kids, didn’t really put cost into the equation until she broke the news to dad.

“When they first told me about Young Life, I was like, ‘Dad, I really want to go,’ and he was like, ‘I took you to a camp for $20 and it was good, too, so why do you have to pay $300 to go?’ And I was like, ‘I don’t know, it’s how much the camp is!'” Taylor Tidwell-Bennett said.

She and her classmates made it work, though. They did some spring cleaning, painting and plenty of yard work for a little extra cash, and now she has totally paid her way there.

If fundraising isn’t an option for your family, you can find some free camps that get kids involved in some really cool stuff:

  • The Sanneh Foundation has a bunch of soccer and basketball camps around the Metro area. They’re designed for children ages 5 to 12 years old. You even get a free water bottle and shirt to go with your new skills.
  • Camp Sunrise near Rush City, along the St. Croix River, offers seven different week-long camps starting mid-June until early August. It focuses on teaching teenagers all about the outdoors, crafts, and STEM.
  • Speaking of STEM, both Apple and Microsoft have their own free learning sessions for kids available in-store. Both offer a ton of choices between learning coding, robotics, movie-making or musical storytelling. The catch: parents need to be present during the duration of the class, which usually ranges between 2 to 4 hours. So you can’t exactly drop the kids off and run errands the way you can with most camps. That’s a small price to pay, considering they’re all free.
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