Aussie family asked to pay $3,000 for school camp

Raising three kids, age eight, 11 and 13, on a single full-time salary is no easy feat for this Northern Territory couple.

*Kate works casually in education which means for months of the year the family-of-five relies solely on her husband's *Steve's income to pay for everything.

But despite this, with a bit of help from government vouchers, they usually manage to make it through the back-to-school season with minimal financial fuss.

Until now.

Just five days into the school year Kate was "shocked" and "annoyed" when a letter arrived requesting $3,000 for her 13-year-old daughter's school camp, with the first payment of $400 due within days.

"The school honestly expects parents to pay out this amount of money with no information given," she tells Kidspot.

"Even at the best of times it would be incredibly difficult for us to find that sort of money, let alone with this little notice."

Kate called her daughter *Lisa into the room to ask if she knew anything about the camp, which is to be held in June this year.

"Our daughter looked worried," she says.

"She is fully aware of the value of money and understands that $3,000 is a lot of money, however she was hopeful she'd be able to attend. "

Immediately Kate started thinking back to how much their kids public school camps usually cost.

As she wracked her brain, she couldn't remember them ever costing more than $250 at the most.

So why is this year's camp so much more?

A quick call to the school did little to ease her concerns - Kate was told that the $3,000 was only an initial estimate of the costs.

"They told me it may change depending on number of students attending the camp. It may be more. It may be less," she says.

"Makes absolutely no sense to me! But $3,000 when they're not even leaving the country seems ridiculous. This seems more to me like a luxury holiday rather than a school camp."

When Kate asked what the kids would be doing to rack up such a huge bill, the school was vague on the details as many of the activities "are being booked as those payments come through".

The school would only confirm the year nine students will be journeying to Canberra before heading to both the snow and Melbourne.

The only activities currently confirmed are "a day at the snow, a day at Melbourne Zoo and an AFL game" but Kate still can't imagine what's costing them so much.

Apparently the school did plan on having fundraisers to help pay for the camp, but an unexpected absence in term four last year meant that never went ahead.

Now parents have been left to foot the entire bill - or risk having their kids miss out.

As she's unsure if their family can afford to send their daughter, Kate did ask if the school had anything in place to help struggling parents.

"I was told 'that's where it gets tricky'," she says.

"The trip is being booked through a travel agent in town and those dates are what the school was advised by the travel agent.

"There is absolutely no leeway when it comes to the payment schedule.

"It's pay the total upfront or pay according to the schedule. So bad luck for those that can't. That's outrageous as far as I am concerned."

Kate has spoken to several other parents who are in the same boat as her family.

"The trip would be an awesome experience for our kids… however the cost makes it unaffordable," she says.

"We won't be paying the estimated $3,000. It's just not enough notice."

*Names have been changed

This originally appeared on Kidspot and has been republished with permission.