How I Survived Summer Camps in DC for under $100 for the ENTIRE SUMMER

As summer camp season draws to a close, I must share with you details about the gem we call South East Tennis And Learning Center (SETLC).

Every year (in February, to be exact), my husband and I are logged into the DC Parks and Recreation portal armed and ready to take down other parents as we sign up to register our kids for Summer Camp. It’s literally survival of the fittest! Camps are normally filled up in an hour, leaving the ill prepared parents with no choice but to begin the arduous search for summer camp.

Well guess what…. We were the ill prepared parents this year.

We searched and searched. Either the camps were overly expensive (we talking $250-$400 a week, A Week!!!!!!), the camp hours were not fitting for a working parent (Camp hours: 10 am-3 pm and Before/After Care hours: 9 am- 4pm), and no lunch provided ( all that and we still gotta make lunches??) I’m not sure if these camp organizations think all parents are teachers and are off all summer, but what employers do you know will allow you to work from 11 am – 2 pm all summer? I’ll wait…

We were feeling defeated until….

My husband came across the South East Tennis And Learning Center (SETLC) on Mississippi Ave SE. My husband is perfect at finding the trinket spots of DC and this one was by far a gem!!!!

The SETLC is a world-class, state-of-the art, premier tennis facility located in Ward 8. The center serves as model for public/private partnerships, sharing resources and talents of the Recreation Wish List Committee (RWLC) and DPR. The crown jewel facility offers tennis programming for residents of all ages. The center has served more than 10,000 District youth by providing tennis instruction, tutoring, life skills, developmental chess, a computer room, a library, educational and personal reinforcement to the District’s youth since 2001.

The idea of my children learning the art of tennis made my heart skip a beat. Not only, would my children learn to play tennis all summer, but the tuition was $50.00 a child for the entire 8 weeks. For those that did not hear me in the back, this camp was $50.00 for the entire summer!!!! The hours for this camp was 9:00 am – 5:00 pm with Before/After Care hours 8:00 am- 6:00 pm. Not only was a healthy lunch included with this camp, breakfast was included as well. Who knew such a thing even existed!! God had answered our prayers!!

We met the Former First Lady of D.C. and SETLC founder and CEO Cora Masters Barry (wife of the late Marion Barry) as she led the camp introduction for orientation before the camp began. Her raw and uncut attitude gave you an understanding that she was passionate about her program and the kids. Not to mention, the facility itself is clean and well kept.

“SETLC’s programming is “to develop multidimensional young people to give them a trajectory in life. You have to have some skills and some education. Not tennis dummies.” -Mrs. Cora Masters Barry

I felt her passion, loved her wit and couldn’t wait for the kids to start.

We bought the kids all of the essentials needed for camp (tennis racquets, tennis bags, appropriate tennis shoes and outfits, tennis literature, etc). The program began and my kids endured intense tennis training, reading encouragement and coaching, computer literacy work, robotics and even sewing. They had to run around the building two, sometimes three times every morning. The kids hated running around that building, but we did not allow them to quit. I kept hearing Mrs Masters-Barry’s voice in my head,

“There is no such thing as quitters, only WINNERS here.”

My kids definitely entered into tennis camp one way and will be exiting as totally different kids. They are structured, stronger, smarter, and definitely DARKER (those daily runs in the sun gave them the ultimate tans and lighter hair, LOL!!!). We are definitely grateful that our kids received the opportunity to learn this sport.They have developed the ability to focus and to think quickly and strategically.

Mrs. Cora Masters-Barry and her staff have done an AMAZING job of rendering their talents to the children at SETLC.

Truly one of the best kept summer camp secrets of DC!!