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We're not out of the woods with COVID-19 yet, so online summer camp might be your best bet for summer 2021. Check out these free and affordable virtual summer camps that will keep your kids busy, entertained, and safe.

By Melissa Mills
Updated February 16, 2021
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The COVID-19 crisis has caused most things to move online—work, school, grocery shopping, birthday parties, and even playdates. And while more than one approved coronavirus vaccine means things are getting closer to "normal" again, kids under 16 aren't yet able to be vaccinated. But that doesn't mean your summer plans have gone completely out the window. Since mask-wearing, frequent hand-washing, and social distancing remain the best ways to decrease your family's chances of getting the coronavirus, virtual summer camp might be just the thing to help your kids stay safe and have some fun.

These programs—many of which, by the way, are traditional camps that have simply shifted online—will allow your kids to stay engaged, entertained, and busy this summer. While school's out, your kids can still have the opportunity to meet some new friends and socialize—albeit virtually. And, who knows, maybe your child will find—and love—a summer camp online that they never would have been able to attend in person. It may not be the summer you envisioned, but you can still make the best of it. Here are some virtual summer camp options to check out with your kids:

Child spending time at home during quarantine
Credit: yulkapopkova/Getty Images

1. Camp Wonderopolis

Fun for kids of all ages, Camp Wonderopolis offers fun, free STEAM—science, technology, engineering, arts, and math—programs. How does a hot air balloon fly? Why does slime feel so gooey? How does a crane work? These are just a few of the things your child can explore this summer.

2. Camp Supernow

Kids ages 4 to 10 can join live, interactive shows and classes at Camp Supernow where they'll be paired with a counselor and other campers from across the country for adventures in fitness, theater, art, mindfulness, music, and STEM. Get unlimited access to all of the daily activities for $18/month, but you can also start out with a free trial to see if your kid's into it first!

3. Varsity Tutors

Why not use the time at home to have your child learn a new language, solve brain teasers, or even practice their creative writing. Tailored for specific grade levels—kindergarten and up—your kid can enjoy week-long camps in pretty much any subject that interests them with Varsity Tutors.

4. Happy Camper Live

From arts and crafts and sports to photography and magic, Happy Camper Live will give your kiddo a real camp feel at home—there's even a virtual campfire! You can stock up on some camp gear ahead of time to really make your child feel like they're at camp.

5. PBS Kids

The PBS Kids for Parents site offers up free age-by-age tips, crafts, games, and activities to get you through summer. You can search by your child's age and the area you'd like to work on to find the best options—and, yes, some of the activities will include characters like Daniel Tiger and Elmo.

6. DIY Summer Camp

Kids at any skill level can use the DIY app to enjoy virtual classes like, "Photography," "Become a Music Star," "Build Anything With Lego," and "Drawing Bootcamp." With a 14-day free trial, unlimited access to all of DIY's content, and even offline activities to try, your child's sure to find something they like.

7. iD Tech

If you've got an older kid at home who's super tech-savvy, then iD Tech's virtual classes might be right up their alley. These classes—mostly for kids 7 and up—teach computer animation, app building, and your kid can even learn how to design for Minecraft. This camp's not free, but once you pay for one child, a sibling or friend can join for free!

8. Reading Rockets

Reading Rockets' "Start with a Book" program is free and sort of an online book club for kids ages 6 and up. With 24 topics—including dinosaurs, time travel, and sports—to choose from, your child will be matched with the books to check out as well as corresponding activities, apps, and ideas to keep the fun going after the book's done.

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