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Tips for getting a spot at a summer camp in Twin Cites

MINNEAPOLIS— Summer is fast approaching and with it summer camps.

It’s a popular summer product, but it’s also quite competitive. Ramsey County hosts eight weeks of summer day camp at the Tamarack Nature Center – when registration opened in early February, spots were filled within 10 minutes.

“Summer camps are in high demand,” said Rebecca Lewis, program director of the Minneapolis Neighborhood Day Camp.

Lewis isn’t surprised; she has seen the competitive nature of camps firsthand.

“I’ve been in the camping world most of my life and I know it’s a very, very competitive process and sometimes it doesn’t provide equal access to the camping world,” she said.

That’s why the city is making an effort to make camping fairer: offering scholarships and even some free options to campers. To ensure Minneapolis families are chosen first, registration for out-of-towners won’t open until June 1.

“I would say probably about half of our campsites are at 50% capacity. We expect those to fill up very quickly once we open the campground outside of Minneapolis,” she said. “But we just want to leave some room for that.”

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Space is also not difficult to find at the Sanneh Foundation.

“We have more than 100 camps and can accommodate 10,000 young people,” says Tony Sanneh, CEO of the Sanneh Foundation.

The foundation opened registration for its free summer sports programs at the beginning of April. There are camps all over the metro for kids to teens all summer long.

“It is one of my pleasures to see children having fun and parents knowing that there are no barriers to entering these camps,” Sanneh said. “Parents are looking for things to do and traditionally not all families have access to the same information. And we work very hard to make sure our camps are open.”

Sanneh says it is sponsors like Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and Delta Dental of Minnesota that make this work possible.

Ramsey County encourages families to sign up for the camp waitlist if they are interested but cannot secure a spot. Industry experts say WCCO schools often have camp grants available as well.

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