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6 of America's Most Expensive Summer Camps For Kids

In an effort to thwart boredom and to teach kids important skills in handicrafts and making friends, many parents consider the summer camp as a delightful alternative to a home-bound babysitter.

Summer camps can vary widely in both pricing and offerings, though; rates can range from dollars a day for community-funded day classes to thousands per week for all-inclusive overnight camps offering only the finest of activities and accommodations.   

Even with the economy still suffering in some areas, summer camps at high-end destinations are still filling up fast. Discover what’s so special about the camps that earned a spot on our list of some of the most expensive camps in the nation; each will set back a family over $7,000 for a single child this summer! 

This list is not meant to be an exhaustive list of the most expensive summer camps in America. Instead it's a sampling of some of the most expensive summer camps throughout the nation.

Note: Pricing found from survey of the camps' websites, and was accurate as of June 20, 2012. 

Camp Vega
Echo Lake, Maine 
2012 Tuition: $10,600 per child for full session 

The tuition for the summer is $10,600; additional fees include $150 for laundry service, $350 for "personal, trip and outing expenses," and a variable fee for transportation to and from the camp. Optional programs include equestrian activities, figure skating, or extended trips, at a cost of $575 to $775 each. Official camp clothing, which is required for attendance, will cost an additional $250 to $400 per child.

What you get for your money: This long-running camp, established in 1936, is rich in history and has high standards for health and wellness. The meal plan, for example, includes organic foods -- when possible -- and can accommodate most dietary restrictions. Activities include waterskiing, wakeboarding, sailing, cheerleading, and studio recording.

Camp Takajo
Naples, Maine 
2012 Tuition: $10,850 per child for full session 

Tuition for this boys-only summer camp will run $10,850, although additional fees may apply. Parents are encouraged to call the camp directly to discuss the details of enrollment; this information is not provided online. 

What you get for your money: Competitive sports are a big selling point for this camp, which prides itself on offering league play for a variety of athletic genres. Some of the more creative activities include journalism, electronics and videography; a pioneer-skills focus is also available.  

Somax Aadvanced Swim Camp
San Francisco, California
2012 Tuition: $3,500 per child for group camp; $10,500 per child for private camp 

Children looking to become Olympic contenders via this highly intensive five-day swim camp can attend this private camp. (For a cheaper option, try the group camp, with a rate of $3,500.) These fees do not include transportation to and from the San Francisco area, nor does it include hotel accomodations or food. (Parents of minors are also required to attend.)

What you get for your money: In addition to the kind of instruction that has, according to the website, graduated 43 gold medalists and 11 world record holders, there are a few additional perks to the program. Campers at the advanced level will receive a powerbelt training aid, as well as customized exercises and individual analysis.

Buck’s Rock Performing and Creative Arts Camp
New Milford, Connecticut
2012 Tuition: Starting at $6,690 for half session, $9,490 for full session. (Two-week and six-week sessions available for younger kids.) 

This music and arts camp starts with a $9,490 tuition fee for the full summer session. Partial sessions are available, and "junior campers" -- those who are 9 or 10 years old -- can attend a two-week session for $3,090. Some art supplies, canteen snacks and rental fees for instruments cost extra; parents are encouraged to open a camper account of $250 of more for these expenses.

What you get for your money: Students can dabble in any of the 30 creative programs offered at the camp. In addition to getting hands-on experience with glassblowing, metalsmithing, culinary arts, circus arts and music recording, kids can participate in an end-of-year festival to showcase their new skills to family and friends.

Indian Head
Honesdale, Pennsylvania
2012 Tuition: $10,100 per child for full session 

This camp has a base tuition of $10,100 per camper and accommodates both girls and boys. An additional canteen fee of $185 to $375 is required as well.

What you get for your money: Alumni of the camp have shared many fond memories of Indian Head, perhaps because it has a ratio of three campers for every one staff member in the youngest camper age range. Older campers will find an experience tailored to their curiosities, including camping and hiking adventures across Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California.

Camp Ramah Darom
Clayton, Georgia
2012 Tuition: $4,345 per child for half session, $7,195 per child for full session

This Jewish summer camp offers both partial and full session rates. Shorter options are available, but only for younger kids. For example, third graders can attend for a week for $1,250, while fourth graders can attend for two weeks for $2,150. 

What you get for your money: One of the more prominent Jewish camps available, campers will enjoy traditional Jewish cuisine, as well as classes in the culture, history, and influence of Israel and the Jewish people. A camping trip to Memphis; Savannah, Ga.; Charleston, S.C.; Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and Washington, D.C. is included for older teens.

The Investing Answer: Summer camps of this caliber may seem a stretch for the everyday budget.  Camps of any price range, however, may qualify as child care and could possibly set up parents for a healthy child care tax credit at the end of 2012.