Looking to register for low-cost and free summer camps in NYC—and even snag some early-bird rates? We’ve rounded up some of the more affordable summer camps in NYC, including favorite camps in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens, as well as the city’s Summer Rising program from the DOE and STEM summer program in all boroughs. Some camps are free, others offer a sliding scale, and still more have prices not as sky-high as so many other camps around NYC. Save more cash with our favorite free and fun things to do this month in NYC, NYC museums that are always free, and NYC’s best playgrounds, which never cost a cent!
Register for NYC's Free Summer Rising Program
It is not too late to register for Summer Rising, the New York Department of Education's free summer academic and enrichment programming for all students in grades K–12! The Summer Rising Enrollment Portal opens on April 25, 2022. The program provides academic support and enrichment activities, giving students daily opportunities to play, create, explore and develop new interests. (Translation: some learning, lots of fun.) Programs run from July 5 to August 12, with options for all students, including English language learners and those with special education needs. All current K-8 NYC students are eligible to enroll in Summer Rising.
Locations throughout NYC
STEAM Matters NYC Summer Enrichment Programs
The New York City Department of Education is offering free summer enrichment programs for kids entering grades 1-12. Priority is given to children who attend Title 1 Schools. Camps run from July 5 to August 19.
Kids can get their hands dirty in the garden, encounter amazing animals, or design an art or engineering project. Students will meet and work with field experts in programs that feature real-world learning experiences. Choose from a wide range of programs offered at sites throughout the city! Click here to view the programs.
Programs are offered at cultural institutions such as the Department of Ed's Environmental Study Center; Audubon New York; Bronx Zoo; MakerSpace NYC; New York Aquarium; New-York Historical Society; Prospect Park Zoo; Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden; Staten Island Museum; Staten Island Zoo; The Battery Conservancy; The Green-Wood Cemetery; and UrbanGlass. Click here to see the locations.
Send questions to: STEMMattersNYC@schools.nyc.gov
Apply now: Deadline is April 19. Click here to apply!
STEAM Summer Camp at Greenwich House
Greenwich House is offering in-person STEAM Summer Camp in July an August for kids ages 6 to 14. Activities include arts and crafts, engaging science and technology activities, recreation and outdoor summer fun. Cost is $2,500 for July, and $2,600 for August, plus $80 supply fee. Need-based financial aid and scholarships are available. Registration is open now.
27 Barrow St.
Henry Street Settlement Camps
Campers at the Henry Street Settlement can enjoy art, music, drama, sports and swimming, as well as field trips to cultural institutions like New York Hall of Science, Queens County Farm, and art museums. The program is open for kids ages five to 10 and deadline is June 7, with aid offered on first-come, first-served basis.
Camp is in two sessions, July 5-July 21, and July 25-August 8, with days running from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with an after-care option. Rates are $1,305 for the first session, $1,425 for the second, with a discounted rate of $2,600 for both. (There is also a $50 registration fee.)
Income-based tuition assistance is available to households whose annual income is less than $50,000 annually. Those who qualify and apply in time will receive a 50% discount for tuition.
The NYCHA Arts Initiative offers free tuition for NYCHA Residents in zip codes 10002, 10003, 10009, and 10038. A $50 registration fee per session is still required. Learn more about applying for the NYCHA Arts Initiative here.
Discounts are also offered for returning campers, campers' siblings, and those who refer a friend. Henry Street has a commitment to working with anyone to make camp an affordable experience. Find a helpful FAQ on the camp here.
Boys' Club of New York
Unfortunately, like the name indicates, it's for boys only (ages seven and up). In the past, the BCNY hosted a six-week long summer program in the city, encompassing swimming, athletics, music, arts and field trips. (The cost was nominal: $25 for one member, $35 for a family of several sons, with breakfast and lunch included.)
The Boys' Club of New York will offer sleepaway camp at Harriman State Park at Harriman Base Camp for kids in 5th - 8th grade and 9th to 11th grade. Register for a virtual April 14 info session here. For more info fill out this registration form and contact Otha Caldwell, Director of Environmental and Wilderness Arts and Sciences at BaseCamp@bcny.org.
The Boys' Club will also be offering camp programs in the city, BCNY’s Summer Cycle at Abbe Clubhouse or Gerry Clubhouse for campers entering 4th to 12th grade. You must become a member to register. To join BCNY, select your child’s age group on this page and register. (If you’re already a member, your local clubhouse will be in touch about BCNY’s Summer Cycle.) For membership or program inquiries, contact Meredith Gray, director of program development.
NIA Community Services Network
Brooklyn's NIA Community Services Network operates two free K-5 camps at P.S. 247 in Bensonhurst and P.S. 179 in Kensington. Typically elementary summer camps run Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and includes free breakfast and lunch. NIA also offers several free middle school camps, as well as a fee-based camp at P.S. 30 in Bay Ridge.
Exact details for summer 2022 are still being determined, and programming and dates are contingent on city funding. Sign up here (scroll to the bottom of the page) to get notification of camp and registration info when it becomes available. You can read about 2019 offerings here.
Good Shepherd Services
Located at various community centers and public schools in the Bronx and Brooklyn, once school is out for the summer, Good Shepherd becomes a free, all-day camp with arts & crafts, dance, sports and more. Contact each, individual center for hours and programming details.
Chances are, there's a YMCA Camp near you. The non-profit organization has more than 70 summer camps throughout the five boroughs, including camps for little ones (four and five-year-olds), overnight camps, and specialty camps dedicated to all kids of activities, including dance, STEAM, and sports. General camp activities include swimming, sports, themed days, games, and more, along with special field trips to area attractions, and the Y also runs inclusion camps.
Rates vary depending on the type of camp and location, but standard day camp is $750 per two-week session. Sessions begin July 5 and end August 26. There's a 10 percent sibling discount, and if you register before April 30, you also get a 10 Early Bird percent discount. Finally, financial assistance is also available. You can download an application for aid here. The Y is holding information sessions for camp over the next few weeks.
Lehman College Summer Camp
Held on the 37-acre, tree-lined campus of Lehman College in the Bronx, this summer camp operates two, three-week sessions for kids ages six to 12. Activities are designed the goal of developing children’s academic, social and athletic skills and include everything from water safety, self-defense and arts and crafts, to sports, math games and dance. In the past, full-day and half-day sessions in July and August have been offered, with early bird discounts and payment plan options. Previous rates were $1528 per session for full-day, and $764 per session for half-day. Free breakfast and lunch are provided for all campers.
Summer 2022 camp is pending, dependent on the state of the COVID pandemic and the full opening of Lehman College.
Oasis Day Camp
A classic summer day camp in the city, Oasis prides itself on its affordability. Oasis operates camps in Central Park, East Village, Bayside, Queens, Long Island and Westchester. Kids ages three to 15 enjoy sports, games, crafts, drama, and more for the bulk of the day outside (although there are indoor facilities as well).
Locations: Central Park, East Village, Bayside, Long Island University, Dobbs Ferry
Camp dates: 6/27-8/19
Fees (starting at): Varies by location. Central Park: $1470 (entering nursery - K); $1420 (entering grades 1-6)
Now in its 135th year (!), Trail Blazers' tag line is "Building Values for Life." Both a day camp, held in Brooklyn's Prospect Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Riverside Park and Morningside Park, and an overnight camp (in Montague, New Jersey) Trail Blazers is all about unplugging, learning and playing. (You can read about some of the camp's core beliefs here.) Each week has an environmentally-focused theme with related skill instruction (orienteering, knot-tying, plant identification) and kids spend the entire day in the park, only heading inside if the weather gets really unforgiving. Trail Blazers also holds a Farmstead overnight camp at which kids live and work on the Stony Creek Farmstead in the Catskills. Base rate for day camp is $700, but families pay on a self-reporting, sliding scale according to income. Scholarships are also available.
ACT at Cathedral at St. John the Divine
The Cathedral at St. John the Divine runs several programs for kids ages 3.9 to 15, including summer day camp and specialty week-long camps. Day camp, in July, featuring classic activities like arts and crafts, games and day trips, requires a five week commitment. Single-week specialty camps for campers eight years old and up are dedicated to activities such as soccer, floor hockey, performance, wearable art, DIY and mosaic and sculpting. Day camp is $3,000 for five weeks; specialty camps are $650/week. Camp hours are 9:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. with early drop off and late pickup options. There is a sibling discount of 10 percent, and a $100 discount if you register for the whole summer. Financial aid may be available. Register and pay in full by May 2. Download registration form here.
ACT at Cathedral at St. John the Divine
1047 Amsterdam Ave.
—Alina Adams & Mimi O’Connor
Out ‘N’ About: Free & Fun Events for Kids and Families This Month
Fun in the Sun: The Ultimate NYC Summer Camp Guide
Fresh Air Fun: The Best Spring Day Trips From NYC For Kids