The Cost of Camp PALS

Starting in 2014, the full tuition for PALS summers camps will be $1,400 per participant. We recognize that this amount is beyond the reach of some of our families, and we want to do everything in our power to ensure that no one ever does not come to PALS because of a lack of ability to pay. Therefore, we intend to expand our financial aid to continue to serve 100% of requests.

Why $1,400? That’s how much it costs per camper, on average, across 5 programs in 2013 (excluding executive director compensation). Despite almost all our staff being volunteers, housing and feeding 1.2 staff members per camper adds up quickly.

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Here's a breakdown of our costs for reference:

  • $544.42 - Housing
  • $417.19 - Food
  • $129.42 - Transportation
  • $131.23 - Centralized Program Costs (apparel, background checks, insurance, etc.)
  • $78.38 - PALS Leader Training & Travel
  • $59.61 - Supplies
  • $40.03 - Programming
  • $1400.28 - Total Program Cost

We are always looking for ways to lower our costs and welcome any ideas or suggestions you have. Last year 20% of our families received financial aid directly from PALS and 24% worked with outside entities (state funds, local Arc chapters, local Down syndrome associations, churches) to fund their child’s tuition. We do our best to update this guide of outside funding opportunities to help you in your search. We want to minimize the cost of camp and the price parents pay, so are actively looking for new ways to reduce costs and welcome suggestions.

For a more detailed look at our finances, visit our most recent annual report.


Why did the price go up in 2013?
In order to ensure that PALS doesn’t just exist this year, but many years into the future, we’ve adjusted our pricing to reflect our actual costs. The amount we were charging previously was not sustainable for PALS in the long term. Rather than slowly increment the price year after year, we decided that it’d be better to be transparent about the costs and have our pricing reflect those costs.

Where is my money going?
See the table above for a breakdown of costs. Tuition covers food, housing, supplies, and activities for not only the camper, but his or her paired counselor, and additional staff.

What if I can’t afford it?
We don’t want money to be a reason anyone can’t attend PALS. We encourage anyone interested to fill out the reduced tuition form, even if they’re not sure it’s right for them. We also encourage families to review our Funding Sources document to learn more about outside organizations that can help subsidize tuition.

Why not charge less for programs that cost less?
The longer programs run, the more we’re typically able to reduce costs-- both by building stronger relationships with local organizations, and by hosting more campers with shared resources. In order to foster an environment that supports new programs, we’ve decided to charge the same rate across programs.

Where does money from the fundraising campaign go?
Money from the fundraising campaigns, as well as grants we receive, go toward ensuring that any camper can attend PALS regardless of their ability to pay. Additional funds go to year-round program development, office expenses across programs (e.g. storage, mailing), long term savings, taxes, and staff compensation.

Why stay at college dorms if housing is one of your biggest costs?
While housing is expensive, we think that being on college campuses is an important part of the PALS experience. The young adults who participate in our programs (both campers and volunteers) have enjoyed the independence and life-skills opportunities that are available on a college campus, and we are able to use these campus communities to further PALS mission of building transformative relationships between people with and without Down syndrome.