Happy Camping: Scout How Your Kids Will Spend Their Summer

After more than nine highly structured months with kids in school, summer can seem long and unwieldy. Camp is the answer for many parents.

Traditional sleep-away camps can give urban children a chance to relax and play in idyllic environments. Specialty camps can hone skills in sports, music, drama, religion, or other activities. Others just offer a variety of experiences day to day to allow kids to follow and cultivate their curiosity and imagination.

Here’s how to find the right camp for your child and ensure that he or she will have the best possible experience:
* Visit campparents.org. The American Camp Association’s parent-focused site offers a find-a-camp search tool, allowing parents to narrow choices by cost, camper age, location, length of stay, activities, and more. All of the camps in the database are accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA), Martinsville, Ind., which ensures that they meet minimum standards for health, safety, and program quality.

* Call camp directors. “As a parent, be prepared to articulate what you hope your children will gain from the camp experience,” says Dayna Hardin, owner of Lake of the Woods camp for girls and Greenwoods camp for boys in Decatur, Mich. “When we as camp directors know what parent expectations are, we do a good job of meeting or exceeding them.”

* Don’t offer to rescue. Hardin discourages parents from having some kind of pick-up deal. “Kids are going to feel a little homesick,” she says. “They’re supposed to miss their families, not forget about them. But one of the things about camp is that kids learn coping skills.”

* Visit if you can. Hardin notes that many camps—both overnight and day—welcome parents for visits while camp is in session. It requires planning; parents would have to tour camp the year before they want to enroll their children, but nothing beats that first-hand impression.

* Ask about financial assistance. Many camps offer early enrollment or sibling discounts, and some will arrange payment plans with parents. Every year, 90% of ACA camps offer some kind of financial assistance, often called “camperships,” totaling more than $39 million.

Hopewell Federal can help you save for camp and other family activities by helping create a spending plan. Call us today at 740.522.8311 or stop by for assistance in creating a plan.


Summertime Tax Tips

Summer is filled with activities–weddings, jobs, and summer camps are just a few. Whether you’re tying the knot, or sending your child to camp, these tips from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can help you prepare for tax implications that might occur and prepare for some possible tax breaks.

• Report any name change to the Social Security Administration so your name and Social Security number will match when you file your next tax return.
• File address changes with the U.S. Postal Service–this way you’ll continue to receive your mail and can let the IRS know your new address.
• Consider whether you’ll file joint or separate returns.
• If you’re considering buying a house, find out which expenses may be deductible and which are not.

Working students
You may be exempt from withholding taxes if:
• You can be claimed as a dependent (usually on a parent’s return),
• Your total 2012 income will not be more than $5,950,
• Your unearned income (interest, dividends, and so forth) will not exceed $300, and
• You had no income tax liability for 2011.

Summer Camps
Day camp programs can have favorable tax consequences. Unlike overnight camp, the cost of day camp counts as an expense toward the child and dependent care credit. You may figure the credit on up to $3,000 of expenses, $6,000 for two or more children. The credit rate ranges from 20% to 35% of expenses, depending on your income. The 35% rate applies if your income is under $15,000; the 20% rate, if your income is over $43,000.

Check the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov for more information.