Looking to register for low-cost and free summer camps, and snag 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 new free Summer Rising program from the DOE and STEM summer program in all boroughs. Some camps are free, others offering a sliding scale, and still more have prices not as sky-high as so many other camps around NYC. Read on to find a camp for summer 2021 that won’t break the bank!

photo: iStock

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! (Translation: some learning, lots of fun.) Programs run from July 6 to mid-August, with options for all students, including English language learners and those with special education needs. 

Summer Rising programs will follow rigorous health and safety protocols, including social distancing and mask-wearing as appropriate, that mirror DOE practices.

Locations throughout NYC
Online: discoverdycd

photo: iStock

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

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  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 23. Click here to apply!

Online: spep.libguides.com

Brooklyn Children's Museum Summer Camp at PS 189

The Brooklyn Children’s Museum offers a free summer camp program in July and August for students be entering Grades 1 through 6 in the fall of 2021. It is held at P.S. 189, 1100 East New York Avenue in Brooklyn and slots are filled via a lottery system. Kids learn about art, culture, and science as they explore the museum's 30,000-piece collection of artifacts and natural science specimens. Breakfast and lunch are served, and pending New York State COVID-19 regulations, participants go on field trips as well. (Note that this program may be offered remote only or with a modified in-person schedule, due to Covid-19 safety regulations.) 

A Zoom info session will be held on Sat., April 3 at Noon. Click here for more info.

Registration is through April 11, with placement notifications sent between May 3 and 10. Download the application here

Questions? Contact After School Program Manager Kwame Brandt-Pierce at kbpierce@brooklynkids.org (Write “BCM Summer 2021” in the subject of the email.)

Online: brooklynkids.org

photo: Greenwich House

STEAM Summer Camp at Greenwich House

Greenwich House is offering in-person STEAM Summer Camp in July and August for kids ages 6 to 14. Activities include arts and crafts, engaging science and technology activities, recreation, and outdoor summer fun. Rates vary. Need-based financial aid and scholarships are available. Registration is open now

27 Barrow St. 
West Village
212-991-0003
Online: greenwichhouse.org

Henry Street Settlement Camps

Starting at age five, 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.

Programming and details are still being determined for summer 2021 (check website for updates), but the weekly rate for a in a previous year was $355, which included after-care. In addition to discounts for returning campers, campers' siblings, and those who refer a friend, the camp  offers tuition assistance on a first-come, first-served basis. Click here for info on tuition assistance. Henry Street has a commitment to working with anyone to make camp an affordable experience. 

Online: abronsartscenter.org

photo: NIA Brooklyn

Boys' Club of New York

Unfortunately, like the name indicates, it's for boys only (ages 7 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.) 

For 2021 the Boys' Club of New York will offer sleepaway camp at Harriman State Park for Junior, Senior and Intermediate members. Info on registration is being determined. Contact individual clubhouses or email info@bcny.org for info. 

Online: bcny.org

photo: NIA

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. tp 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 2021 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.

Online: niabklyn.org

photo: iStock

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.

Online: goodshepherds.org

photo: YMCA

YMCA Camps

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 6 and end august 27. There's a 10 percent sibling discount, and if you register before April 18, you also get a 10 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. Click here to see specific dates and times. 

Online: ymcanyc.org/programs

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 2021 camp is pending, as it is unknown if Lehman College will be fully open due to Covid-19 regulations. 

Online: lehman.edu

Trail Blazers

Now in its 134th year (!), Trail Blazers' tag line is "Building Values for Life."  Both a day camp, held in Brooklyn's Prospect Park and Brooklyn Bridge 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. 

Online:  trailblazers.org

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, wearable art, DIY and mosaic and sculpting. Day camp is $2750 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. Financial aid may be available. Register by April 1. Download registration form here

ACT at Cathedral at St. John the Divine 
1047 Amsterdam Ave.
Morningside Heights
212-316-7530
Online: stjohndivine.org

—Alina Adams & Mimi O’Connor

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