As a single mother raising two kids, Judy Hillmer’s friends used to ask her why she made personal sacrifices to set aside the $6,300 to send her children to The Hollows Camp for six weeks each summer.
"I knew I was making a lifelong investment in them becoming their best selves. They bonded with a whole community at camp. They got to experience the wilderness and looked forward to going every year," says Hillmer. "Once they started going, I would have gone without eating all summer, rather than not send them to camp."
Their many summers at the small horseback riding camp north of Toronto—first as campers and then as counsellors— was a defining experience that shaped the adults her daughter Lindsay, 23, and her son Zachary, 21, have become. Lindsay, who used to plan nightly events at camp, ended up studying to become an event planner.
Hillmer believes her children sailed through their teenage years with ease due to their strong camp connections. They also made deep and lasting friendships with people from around the world.
"Camp is not a one-year investment. It is a long-term investment you make in your children,” she says. “Now I have two great kids."
Costs vary greatly. While a community day experience can run a few hundred dollars, the price of a residential or specialty camp can be closer to $1,000. Here are some points to consider when crunching the numbers:
We offer the Our Kids Children's Fund to help families in need.