Roughing It? Please: Some Families Fly Private to Take Kids to Summer Camp

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Now kids can get to summer camp faster than they can sing all 99 verses of “99 Bottles of Beer on The Wall.” More and more wealthy families are ditching the long car rides to rural summer camps and hitching rides on private planes to save time, the New York Times reports.

A round-trip flight on a seven-person turboprop plane can cost about $3,800, on top of the nearly $10,000 price tags of these luxurious summer camps.

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This past weekend, when numerous camps held visiting days for parents, 51 private jets touched down at Maine’s Augusta State Airport, causing the small airport to shut down one of its two main runways just to park all of the planes.

Camp-bound families have accounted for roughly 40% of private plane traffic at other small regional airports this summer, such as Sullivan County Airport in Bethel, N.Y., Laconia Municipal Airport in Gilford, N.H., and Moultonborough Airport in Moultonborough, N.H. Todd Rome, president of Blue Star Jets, told the Times that his company has experienced a 30% increase in bookings this summer.

Some camp administrators worry that this surge in private plane travel among affluent families conflicts with the values of simplicity that they strive to teach campers. Kyle Courtiss, whose family manages Camp Vega, an all-girls camp in Echo Lake, Maine, that costs $10,400, stressed to the Times that private planes are “not what this camp is about.”

Nevertheless, Maine Governor Paul LePage is thrilled about this new trend and sees it as a boon to the state’s economy. “Love it, love it, love it,” he exclaimed to the Times. “I wish they’d stay a week while they’re here. This is a big business.”

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Olivia B. Waxman is a TIME contributor. Find her on Twitter at @OBWax. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.