In Mayence, Germany, I paid $170 for a one-week tennis camp for one of my children, including lunch and drinks. In a suburb of Montpellier, France, a half-day camp with horseback riding costs the same. Right now, our oldest son is in France enjoying a two-week sleepaway camp for about $1,000. Are summer camps in Germany and France really that inexpensive?
Two years ago, I wrote for the first time about American summer camps (in German). A year later, I described the huge business of summer camps in America. “According to Care.com, the average cost of sending the kids to camp runs from about $304 a week for day camps to over $2,000 per week for sleepaway camps,” said Forbes in this 2016 article.
After three summers of expensive camps in the US, I’m grateful that my children can enjoy exciting outdoor activities at a reasonable fee. But, when I talked to some of my friends, I understood that my expectations were biased by the high cost of living around Washington, DC.
Cost of living in Germany, France and Washington DC
Since the beginning of July, I’ve been traveling for work and vacation in Europe. During my stay in Germany, I rented a house and cooked for myself. When I did my first grocery shop at the supermarket, I was aghast at the register. I had the same experience after my family joined me a week later. We visited a Walmart-like supermarket and filled our cart with expensive items like detergent and sunscreen. Still, our receipt was very low in comparison to what we’d spend around DC.
Once my job was completed in Germany, I traveled to France (which I wrote about here) and stayed in Paris, in the Loire valley, which is famous for its castles. Now, I’m near Montpellier in the south of France. It’s summer time, and Paris is deserted. Parisians are vacationing at the sea, so merchants have raised their prices for tourists and vacationers. Have you noticed this phenomenon in the US too?
Comparing summer camp in Germany and France
To be honest, I’ve often heard that for French families, overnight summer camps are expensive. Day camps cost around $40 a day, and sleepaway camps cost over $70 a day. That’s too much for many families. According to Le Monde, “one-fourth of French children ages 5 to 19 never go on vacation.”
Compared to the cheapest camp I found in my American neighborhood (a YMCA day camp), day camps are still cheaper in Germany and France. And, according to my children, they are also more fun. Tennis in Germany or horseback riding in France is much more exciting than being stuck on a playground or doing board games all day in Bethesda, MD.
I never felt that summer camp in Germany was expensive. I also never heard my friends complaining about the cost. Let’s assume, based on my experiences, that they are a great value for money.
Why don’t you consider summer camps in Germany next year for your family? If you have any family in Germany (or in France), ask about the local options for your kids. Condor, the low-cost airline associated with Lufthansa, serves many airports in the US. Even with the cost of the flight, your children will gain a lot for the money: learning a language, making new friends, and appreciating another view of the world!
Photo credit: Rochereul & Friends Consulting