Prepare to shell out €3,000 if you want your kids in summer camp
The hidden cost of summer holidays has been revealed, and it shows that families will have to burst their budgets if they are to keep their children entertained during the long break.
Families with two children, where both parents work, face having to shell out up to €3,000 if they want to keep their offspring in camps for three months during June, July and August.
Summer camp prices have not risen significantly since last year. But families are still facing bumper bills in order to keep their children energised and stimulated.
The closure of schools means that many households with two working parents will have to juggle having children in summer camps, and then having them collected and minded after the camps have finished for the day.
A survey by the Consumers Association shows that most courses have not gone up in price compared with 2014, when the last comparable survey was done.
But some of the courses have increased their fees by as much as 10pc, the survey shows.
"It is often pricier to keep teenagers entertained than their younger siblings," according to the survey.
"But the higher charges generally reflect longer hours of activity, more advanced levels of training and more sophisticated equipment on offer," the survey adds.
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Courses that are on offer around the country range from zip lining to archaeology, to sports, with camps catering for those from the ages of five right up to those in their teenage years.
The survey found that camps run by the GAA, the Football Association of Ireland (FAI), Athletics Ireland and the Parks Tennis training sessions can offer the best value, as they are sponsored by corporates and other bodies.
Among the most popular camps are those which are run by Fighting Words, the creative writing initiative founded by Booker prize winner Roddy Doyle. The camps are free and they cater for some 400 children at centres in Dublin, Belfast, Cork and Wicklow.
However, all of the places have been filled, according to Fighting Words director Sean Love. "We are completely swamped," Mr Love said.
He added that the course was free because it had corporate and individuals who sponsor it.
The GAA Cúl camps cost €60 a week, with the FAI camp costing €65 a week per child. However, many of the other courses cost between €100 and €200.
And some of the language courses, which are run by the likes of Alliance Francaise, cost up to €350 a week.
The residential Gaeltacht courses cost up to €1,000 a week.
Laura Erskine, a spokeswoman for the online mothers' group MummyPages, said that the summer camps were expensive.
"Summer camps are not cheap, especially when you have more than one child to book into these activity programmes," she said.
This was especially the case for families where there is a need for activity programmes for up to eight weeks, while both parents are at work.
The average price for a week of summer camp entertainment from 9am to 3pm is €125, according to a separate MummyPages survey, Ms Erskine said.