From NYC to Chicago, Los Angeles to Denver, these free summer camps and programs around the country offer tons of great experiences for kids without a hefty price tag. 

By Maressa Brown
Updated: April 29, 2019

It may seem tough to find a summer program for your kiddo that doesn't cost an arm and a leg—or anything really. But there are actually free summer camps and summer programs out there. Here are 11 options near you to consider.

The Fresh Air Fund

New York, NY

Families who live in or near NYC can take advantage of the Fresh Air Fund, which provides kids from the city a chance to experience the wilderness. Qualified families get tuition free.

Local Arts Council Camps

Greenfield, CA

Some local arts councils offer free camps for kids and teens. For example, the Greenfield Cultural Arts Center in California offers camps free of charge to residents aged 10-17. Camps run Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Parks and Recreation Department Camps

Los Angeles, CA

Some parks and recreation departments offer day camps for free or at a very low cost to families who qualify. For instance, the LA Parks system offers free programs and activities to kids aged 5-17 and has done so since 1996.

Apple Camp

Your Local Apple Store

The tech giant offers free camps in Apple store locations across the country for kids aged 8-12. Camps—which run for 90-minute sessions over the course of three days—aim to help kids "explore their creativity through fun, hands-on projects across three tracks ranging from moviemaking to coding robots."

Boys & Girls Clubs of America

Your Local Boys & Girls Club

The organization is behind various programs focusing on different subjects from STEM to music. While they may not necessarily be free, they are often priced on a sliding scale, depending on a family's need.

Museum Programs

Your Local Museum

Many local museums offer free programs throughout the summer. For example, Brooklyn Children’s Museum will run a free summer camp program in July and August of 2019. And the Field Museum in Chicago offers opportunities for teens to volunteer at the museum over the summer.

Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program

Located in Schools Around the Country

This free 7-week introductory computer science ​program ​is specifically for​ ​10th-11th grade girls going into their junior or senior year of high school. Participants​ ​learn​ about ​computer science,​ ​gain​ ​exposure​ ​to​ ​tech​ ​jobs,​ ​and​ ​join​ ​a​ sisterhood​ ​of​ ​girls​ ​who​ ​are​ ​using​ ​computer​ ​science​ ​to​ ​become​ ​change-makers. Check out the website to find a location near you.

Mathcamp

Portland, OR

The intensive, 5-week-long summer program is for mathematically talented high school students. Students can explore undergraduate and even graduate-level topics while building problem-solving skills that will help them in any field they choose to study. Canada/USA Mathcamp 2019 will take place at Lewis & Clark in Portland, OR from June 23 to July 28, 2019 and is free for qualifying candidates.

Telluride Association Summer Programs (TASP)

Telluride, Colorado

TASP is a six-week educational experience for high school juniors located in Colorado. Students participate in seminars led by college and university members and participate in educational and social activities outside the classroom. The program is meant for students who want both a personal and intellectual challenge. Telluride Association Summer Programs are completely free—every student awarded a place in a TASP attends the program on a full housing, dining and tuition scholarship.

University of New Hampshire Upward Bound Summer Program

Durham, NH

This New Hampshire-based summer program was created to help eligible students achieve their goal of higher education through a free, federally funded, college preparatory program. For six weeks, students live at the University of New Hampshire and take academic courses, participate in enriching activities, receive tutoring as well as attend career workshops, college visits and help through navigating the college application process and financial aid system. You can learn more on the University of New Hampshire Upward Bound Summer Program website.

STEM Programs Grades K-8 

Located in Schools Around the Country

Check out this roundup of STEM programs around the country that are either tuition-free or provide scholarships for kids grades kindergarten through eighth.

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