Cheap Summer Camps for Kids

swimming boy image by Marzanna Syncerz from

Summer camps offer children relief from the boredom that comes from being out of school and away from classmates. An initial look at the cost, however, forces some parents to look further for a camp inexpensive enough to make it affordable. While specialized camps are often fairly expensive, many communities offer activities for children that are reasonably priced. Most local libraries or convenience stores carry publications that list local summer camps and events. The following offers some suggestions on inexpensive alternatives to regular summer camps.

Public Libraries

Public libraries offer reading programs and other special events designed to keep children occupied and motivated during the summer months. Some offer free six-week reading programs in which children agree to read a book a week on average, with an awards ceremony at the conclusion. Library programs are not only for readers. Libraries also offer programs in which preschoolers have story time with a snack and craft associated with the book of the day. Some librarians hold programs in which they read stories before nap time or bedtime, and the programs are often held outdoors in good weather. Many offer weekly or regularly scheduled visits from zoo animals and handlers, magicians, storytellers, and other entertainers. Most if not all of these programs are offered free to the public.

Local Resources

Many towns and cities offer inexpensive summer camps for residents sponsored by the Parks and Recreation Department. While fees vary by region, the costs of summer camp are usually kept extremely low to make them affordable for families. Some camps offer both part-time and full-day activities. Activities usually include a half-day of play time with exercise at a local park featuring swing sets, jungle gyms, sandboxes, and more, complemented by a half-day activity off site. They might offer board games or cards. Some Parks and Rec Departments escort children by bus to area beaches or ponds. Events can include inexpensive trips to movies, trips to picnic areas, bowling, trips to sporting events, or using a rock-climbing gym. Costs for these events are often no more than a few dollars a day. Consider also classes held at preschools and day-care centers, community centers, and churches that offer low-cost summer programs like Vacation Bible School.

Community Organizations

Many community organizations offer summer activities for kids, often at a reasonable cost. While some cost more than Parks and Rec activities, they are still reasonably priced and offer part-time or day-long classes during the week for parents who need them. Organizations like the Audubon Society offer camps for kids with an interest in animals and the outdoors. Camps are offered for different grades, and scholarships are available. Children learn about animals and even have a chance to handle them while getting outdoor activity and exercise. The YMCA and YWCA traditionally offer an assortment of activities. Camps frequently include swimming, basketball, ping-pong, or tennis. Other specialized programs offer subjects in areas like cooking or arts and crafts. Call around to see what your region offers.