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Christian Retreats Network

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Cards vs Cash

By Kayla

“Your payment has been received.”                                                          

Success!  You have finished paying for your child(ren) to participate in church camp this summer.  Now your wallet can breathe….Wrong.  Technically, your child(ren) could attend camp now and not spend another dime, but any camp parent knows that is not how this works.

Between the camp store, snacks, arcade games and offerings during service, there are various expenses that will occur while campers attend.  Now it is up to you as the parent to choose what to send along. Where to start?  Let us help you work through it.

In the last year, many businesses have put up signs saying that money is dirty and request patrons to pay with a card.  On the flip side, some people believe that cash is king.  The best place to start, no matter which way you lean, is by asking your event leader and/or the venue what their preference is.  Many places only take one form or another.  Although, those often have a means for switching between the two.  Giving your child(ren) the preferred payment method ahead of time not only makes things easier, but also takes the stress off of them when they are trying to pay with an unaccepted means.


Cash has traditionally been the preference for parents to send with kids places.  Once they run out, there is no more spending, it is easy for them to see how much they have left, and parents can hand it over without hassle.  Plus, if they were to lose the cash (not that they ever would) it doesn’t require bank phone calls, credit card stops, or anything like that.


As previously stated, many places (travel included) prefer some type of card to cash.  It is one piece of plastic for kids to keep track of, it doesn’t require counting or change, payments can be tracked, and it can have the balance updated without having to do anything with the physical card. 

There are three types of cards parents can send: credit, debit, or prepaid. 

The downsides to sending the debit or credit card of a parent is that the parent goes without it for the time the kid is gone and that many do not allow a temporary limit that will kick off the card when more is spent than desired.  If this is the decision, make sure to have a good conversation with your kid(s) about how it works.  Then the parents can monitor through their account online as transactions are made. 

Maybe you are ready for the kid to take their own card.  Some companies are now creating kid debit cards.  The parents just have to open an account.  Obviously, this would need some prep so that it is ready in time for camp.  Then the parents can put in as much as they choose.

But the easiest and safest way to send a card with kids is through a prepaid card, which can be found at local stores like Wal-Mart and Dollar General.  Just fill with the amount you want the kid(s) to have for the week and let them go.  It will deduct as they go and eventually decline if they try to spend more than is left on the card.  This doesn’t mean the card is empty, though, so it is best for kids to either keep track on a piece of paper as they spend or have a way to look at what is left online.  Like the other card types, transactions can be viewed through the accounts on apps and the internet.  So if parents choose, they can monitor the spending throughout the week. 

There are pros and cons to both forms of payment, but in the end it comes down to what is accepted at the camp and what you as a parent are comfortable with.  Just remember; sending extra money is not a requirement. 

Christian Retreats Network /

Based at Lake Williamson / PO Box 620 / Carlinville, IL 62626