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Rock 'n Roll summer camp

It's no surprise that music camps are big here in Austin, Live Music Capital of the World.

Rock Camp USA, a part of the Austin School of Music, operates camps in Austin and Fort Worth, as well as in Chicago, Miami, L.A. and Davenport, Iowa. "Study" options range from Lil' Rockers Camp for 5-to-7-year-olds to programs for jazz fans to intensive camps for tomorrow's Maroon 5 or White Stripes or Police or Rolling Stones.

For aspiring Fergies or Lily Allens, Austin also has a Girls Rock Camp.

But Austin's definitely not alone in educating young musicians. Baby boomer parents nationwide love their music and their kids are benefiting from that vibe.

Yep, rock 'n roll camps are the place to put your kids this summer.

"Rockers With a Curfew" announced the headline of a story in this weekend's Wall Street Journal. Reporter John Jurgensen writes:

In the latest blow to rock's image as a symbol of teen rebellion, more parents are pushing their kids to take up electric guitar and drums. They're signing up for lessons on how to work distortion pedals and survive on tour at a growing number of rock schools and camps around the country. Camp Jam, which promises "No canoes. Lots of Rock," will operate in 15 cities this summer, up from one in 2004.

Part of the appeal for parents is nostalgia. The camp curriculum typically is heavy on classic bands like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. For the kids, it's much more fun learning how to nail a heavy riff than memorizing scales.

The price of rock: The camps, according to the WSJ, typically last a week. Power Chord Academy, a sleep-away camp at seven college campuses, charges students $1,600 for six nights.

Not having any kids, I don't know if that's a good or exorbitant price. But maybe as summer vacation drags on, many parents are willing to come up with what it takes to get a break of their own!

If rock camp isn't for your child, you have lots of choices. Check out the National Camp Association and the American Camp Association. Both have online search engines to help you find the right place for your child.

ACA's search gives you the option to look for day camps, not just sleepover facilities., as the name suggests, also can help you track down a daytime-only operation.

The good thing about a day camp, aside from being a preferable option for very young kids and families with separation anxiety, is that you might be able to get Uncle Sam to help you pay for it.

Tax credit for camp care: When it comes to costs to care for a child younger than 13, you can claim the Child and Dependent Care tax credit if the expenses are necessary for you to go to or look for work.

Of course there are lots of rules; this is the IRS after all. One of the biggest is the expense limit. Not all care costs are covered. In computing the credit, you can count only up to $3,000 in expenses for one qualified dependent or up to $6,000 for two or more.

Even then, you only get to claim up to 35 percent of the costs. But, hey. Every little bit helps.

And day camp could count toward your total costs. While the IRS doesn't consider sending your child to an overnight camp a legitimate work-related expense, the cost of sending the kid(s) to a day camp might count.

Check out IRS Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses, for details on the credit in general and the camp considerations. This story has additional information, as does this blog post from the Wandering Tax Pro.

Have a nice, and melodic, summer everyone!


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