A SINGLE father is skimping on food to allow his son to attend his school camp this month.
The father of the Launceston teen said the $135 cost of his son's camping trip for two nights in the North-East would force his ``eating this fortnight to suffer''.
When the man rang the school after he was notified about the camp in August, he was told the cost was to cover the transport, food, other incidentals and the cost of relief teachers while the regular teachers went on camp.
The father, who did not wish to be identified, said he had organised to pay off the camp cost in instalments, but he also had to cover additional food for one night and equipment, such as a tent and torch.
``It's the cost of the teachers which angers me, I don't know how many children are not going on the camp or if it's to cover other classes at school but I think it's really terrible organisation and expensive,'' the father said.
In the past two years schools have reported either ending camp programs or curtailing them, as school budgets were tightened by the state government and they became more costly for parents.
Tasmanian Association of State School Organisations president Jenny Eddington said this was not the first time she'd heard of parents foregoing things to ensure their child could attend a camp, excursion or take part in some school activity.
She said they had received feedback from parents for and against camps, but the rising cost was certainly the biggest concern raised with them.
Mrs Eddington said schools often gave parents reasonable warning of an upcoming camp and payment plans were common.
Otherwise schools often organised day-long trips to avoid staying overnight anywhere, she said.
She said some schools also held fund-raising events to help cover the cost, especially if students were travelling some distance.
Tasmanian Council of Social Services chief executive Tony Reidy said children were often the first to suffer when the home budget tightened.
``There are many thousands of Tasmanians making this decision each day,'' Mr Reidy said.
``When people are living in hardship, it's almost always the children who suffer first.
``And it's things like school excursions or anything that occurs to be an extra that goes first.''
Education Department deputy secretary Liz Banks said school camps and other off-campus activities were determined at an individual school level and each had its own policy, including costs.
``Generally, the school association would be involved with these policies and the decision-making process, and costs incorporate transport and accommodation for the camp,'' Ms Banks said.
Australian Education Union state president Terry Polglase can recall great memories of his time spent on camps as a teacher and said it would be a sad loss for students if they ended.
However, because school budgets and staff resourcing were stretched, there was little left for schools to be able to run them without turning to parents to foot the bill.