- Phoenix, AZ: Free Teen Programs
- Free Summer Camps in Florida
- Summer Kids Activities in Lexington, VA
- Toddler Summer Programs in North York, Canada
- What Fun Things Can Teenagers Do Over the Summer?
- Summer Programs for Children in Northampton, MA
- Summer Reading Programs for Kids in Michigan
- Chicago Children's Summer Activities & Organizations
- Summer Programs for Kids in Traverse City, Michigan
- Great Falls, VA Summer Kids Activities
- Summer Programs for Kids in Poplar Bluff, MO
- Summer Programs for Kids in Wylie Sachse, Texas
The Phoenix Public Library (phoenixpubliclibrary.org) is an ideal resource for free teen programs. There are 17 library branches throughout the city of Phoenix. Some of the free teen programs include art and photography contests, writer's workshops, game times, movie times and book clubs. These programs take place throughout the year at various branches of the library. During the summer, your teen can join the summer reading program, with small prizes for reading books and drawings for larger prizes, just for participating.
The City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department offers some free outdoor activities in which your teen can participate. She can go on the Petroglyph Discovery Hike at Beverly Canyon Javelina South Mountain Park (no website; 10919 S. Central Ave., Phoenix; 602-262-7393). Hikers join an experienced Pueblo Grande Museum guide on a three-hour interpretive hike. Some teens can participate in some of the free programs at Arizona Camp Sunrise (azcampsunrise.org). This camp offers programs to kids who have or have had cancer, along with their brothers and sisters. Eligible teens can go to Teen Jams, a five-day river rafting trip. Other free programs include Camp Sunrise, Camp Sunrise Sidekicks and the CIT program.
There are some after-school programs that teens can participate in, to give them something constructive to do each day after school lets out. Teens can drop by the Thunderbird Teen Center (no website; 1106 E. Grovers Ave., Phoenix; 602-953-2944) for free after-school programs during the school year and through the summer. There is a game room, dance room, recreation classes, job and college prep programs and even field trips. Your teen could also take part in programs at the South Phoenix Youth Center (no website; 5245 S. Seventh St., Phoenix; 602-256-3230), when school lets out for the day. Programs include nutrition, tutoring, fitness and computer activities.
A fantastic way to keep your teen busy and teach her about compassion and service to others is through volunteering. The Kids Health website suggests finding a volunteer program that involves something your teen cares about and that fits well with your teen's schedule. Phoenix has an assortment of volunteer opportunities for teenagers. At the Desert Botanical Garden (dbg.org), teens can get involved in the Teen Environmentalists Exploring Nature program, volunteering time at the garden. Your teen can also volunteer at the Center Eastlake Park Community Center (no website; 1545 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix; 602-262-6759). Volunteer Phoenix (myvolunteerphoenix.org) lists more volunteer opportunities that might interest you and your teenager, such as helping out at the Japanese Friendship Garden.
Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten is a free program that is available during the summer for children who have not previously attended VPK. The child must be four years old and entering kindergarten in the fall. The program is between five and seven hours per day, and is offered by public school providers and private child care facilities. Contact the Early Learning division of your local Florida school system for more information.
Easter Seals Florida
The Easter Seals provides assistance to people and families dealing with disability or special needs. They offer a summer camp for children with special needs, Camp Challenge. This camp is not free, but scholarships are available on a case-by-case basis.
Community Connections in Jacksonville, Fla., offers a summer camp program for children from low income families. Eligible children are between kindergarten and 15 years of age. This is a day program and includes two snacks and a full lunch.
The Salvation Army also offers summer camps for children of low income families. It has a camp in Starke, Fla. called Camp Keystone. The camp includes activities such as swimming, horseback riding, music and crafts.
Take your kids for some educational fun at the Virginia Military Institute Museum (vmi.edu). This museum was created in 1856 and started with a single musket from the Revolutionary War. Today, it has more than 15,000 artifacts that are displayed throughout the exhibits. Or, sign your kids up for the Summer Reading Program at the Lexington Public Library (lexpublib.org). Wee Readers is for children 2 and younger, Read-With-Me is for children who don't read on their own yet and the Reader program is for grade school-age kids. Each program involves reading books and logging them, then having the opportunity to win prizes and attend a party. Your teenager can participate in the Teen Reader program, with a special end-of-the summer party just for teens.
Summer is the ideal time for outdoor activities in Lexington. Take your kids on a tour of one of a local farm. Cabin Spring Farm (cabinspringfarm.com) offers farm tours, farm stays and special events throughout the year, including Farm Day. Visit one of the parks with your kids so they can run and play. M. Leroy Richardson Park (no website; Diamond Street and Lewis Street, Lexington; 540-462-3700) has green areas for playing, a large playground and picnic areas. At the Brewbaker Field Sports Complex (no website; 198 Wallace St., Lexington; 540-462-3700), your kids can play softball, baseball, basketball or soccer. There is also the Kid's Playce playground and a swimming pool at this park.
Find a summer camp in Lexington for your kids to attend. The City of Lexington, Virginia (ci.lexington.va.us) has a Summer Fun Youth Program. This program is for kids 1st grade to 12 years old. It's a day camp that includes drama, dance, arts and crafts, trips to the pool, field trips, free time and an assortment of group activities. Young Life Camp at Bridge Alum Springs (rockbridge.younglife.org) offers week long summer camps to middle school and high school age kids. During camp, your kids will get to participate in activities such as the climbing tower, zip line, mountain biking, disc golf and swimming.
Attend some of the events that take place in Lexington throughout the summer. In July, you can take your kids to the BB&T Balloon Rally at the Virginia Military Institute (vmi.edu) for balloon rides, music, crafts, food, children's activities and fireworks. Let your kids decorate their bikes and participate in the July 4th Children's Bike Parade (no website; Main Street, Lexington; 540-463-5375). Or, make plans to go to the Rockbridge Regional Fair and Farm Show (rockbridgeregionalfairva.com). Events include carnival rides, animal shows, games, live music, tractor shows and 4-H exhibits.
If your little one dreams of being a ballerina, you can sign her up for one of the summer dance programs in the North York area. Dance Kids Canada in North York offers camps and weekly dance lessons for children 12 months and up. Kids In Dance is also in North York and offers Kinderdance for 2 and 3 year olds. Toddlers will learn some dances while making friends and having a good time.
If you have a future gymnast in the family, check out the Parent and Tot class at East York Gymnastics Club. This class runs for one hour and is for 18-month-old to 3-year-old toddlers. At Gymboree in Toronto, you'll find an assortment of classes for your child. Gymboree Play and Learn is for children 5 and under and includes learning activities and play time. Family classes give the entire family an opportunity to learn and play together. Toronto Premier Gymnastics also has a Parents and Tots program for girls and boys, ages 18 months to 4 years.
Zoo and Museum Programs
You can get your toddler signed up for one of the summer programs through the Toronto Zoo. The Parent and Tot program is for kids 3 and under and includes playtime, crafts and animal encounters. At the Royal Ontario Museum, you can participate in an assortment of family events with your toddler. The Meet the Aquarium Keeper program gives your family a chance to meet the man who keeps the fish healthy and happy and learn more about all of the fish. In the Animal Explorers program, your little one can team up with a stuffed explorer buddy with whom to explore the museum.
Your tot can go to the Imagine With Me summer backyard camp at Thumbprint Adventures in Toronto. Camp is offered for two to three days per week and includes a new adventure each morning, with singing, musical instruments, games, crafts, stories and toys. Kindermusik is available at several places around the Toronto area, including Sesaya and Kindermusik by Lora. Toddlers can join an ABC Music and Me or Our Time class to enjoy music, movement and activities. Alternatively, you can take your toddler to the North York Central Library for programs such as Family Time or Toddler Time with singing, rhymes and craft activities.
Playing sports is a natural outlet for many teenagers. While organized school sports are taking a break for the summer, plenty of other athletic endeavors are available for your teen to try. This may be a perfect time to take a stab at mountain biking, disc golf or beach volleyball. City recreation teams offer summer sessions in soccer, baseball and swimming for a more traditional experience. Even a jog around the neighborhood after dinner or a pick-up game of ultimate is an easy way to build endurance and train off-season.
Without the pressure of homework and projects, summer is an ideal time to take a non-academic class, such as painting, cooking or wood working. More physical classes may include karate, yoga or kick boxing. If you are fortunate enough to have an international vacation planned, take a crash course in the official language of your destination. For a teenager that would rather spend the summer reading in the library, join a book club to meet new people and learn to share ideas in a different forum.
How about an old-fashioned game night with your teenager? Your family can schedule one night each week to play board games together, eat take-out food and maybe even laugh a little. For a more social event, help your teen plan a video game tournament or all-night card game at your house with a group of friends -- you provide pizza, tubs of nachos and subtle supervision.
Help your teen see your hometown through new eyes and hit the town like a tourist. Ride your bikes on the local trails, visit museums and take the time to read the historical markers posted around town. How about pretending you are in a city in Europe, sketching an old church downtown or photographing interesting architecture? Attend a community theater production or try a new restaurant that you have been curious about for a while to experience your city in a new way.
Summer Out Loud! (womensvoicesworldwide.org) is a community-based speaking program for girls, which gives girls the opportunity to develop confidence in public speaking, which is a life skill that they will be sure to appreciate. The program offers one-on-one mentoring and small groups that are fun and inspiring. Smith College (smithpioneers.com) is a women's liberal arts college with an acclaimed sports program, and has several sports for your young lady to try out in the summer. Options include lacrosse overnight camp, swimming and diving classes, overnight field hockey camp, and basketball day camp.
Northampton Summer Horizons Program
The Northampton Community College Summer Horizons for Youth Program (northampton.edu) offers an abundance of choices for your child. All summer, kids can take part in classes that are set in one or two week blocks. Just a few titles from the extensive list include Space Fun, Under the Big Top, Safari Days, Nature Crafts, American Girls Get Together, Spanish, Detective Club, Chess Club, Drawing and Painting Disney, Gross Anatomy, Just Dance, and Kids Cooking.
Your little tree hugger will love Out Place Summercamp (biocitizen.org) where they get to explore forests, rivers and streams, farms and mountains. The camp lasts 5 days. You can pick up and drop off your child at the Forbes Library in Northampton. Young explorers head out in a van to various nature locations. The camp agenda includes spotting and learning about creatures, learning map-reading skills, talking about ecology, and gaining the lasting knowledge of flora and fauna identification.
Fun Activity Camps
For an active child who just wants to get up and get moving, Northampton has many choices. Oasis in Northampton (oasischildren.com) lets kids participate in sports, arts, and field trips. Activities include indoor crafts and play, swimming, canoeing, door track, and rock climbing. The City of Northampton (northamptonma.gov) offers Camp KidZone, where your child will participate in sports, arts, games, swimming theater shows, and field trips. The program runs all summer, with a different theme focus each week.
Library of Michigan
The Library of Michigan in Lansing sponsors a summer reading program that supports and provides materials for local public libraries throughout the state. According to the Library of Michigan website, the state summer reading program is a part of the collaborative summer library program. The CSLP is an organization of states working together to provide high-quality summer reading program materials for children at a low cost to their public libraries.
Through the support of the state and the CSLP, library branches provide prizes and incentives for reaching certain reading benchmarks throughout the summer. Libraries such as the Brighton District Library have programs for preschoolers through teenagers and provide tracking charts for books read, prizes for goals met, special visits from children’s authors, movie nights, bookstore gifts certificates, and end-of-summer celebrations for all those who have spent time reading.
Colleges throughout Michigan provide summer reading skills programs that students of all ages can get involved in. These tuition-based programs focus on increasing reading fluency and comprehension to prepare students for a successful school year of reading. Programs such as the one offered at the University of Detroit Mercy are taught by instructors from their Institute of Reading Development. Classes are taught at a variety of locations throughout the Detroit metropolitan area for easy access to instruction.
Independent bookstores also have something to offer Michigan kids for summer reading. Stores including Pooh’s Corner in Grand Rapids sponsors Camp Read-a-Lot, a program of activities and incentives that includes their regular weekly story time as well as craft days, game days, author and illustrators events and costume character events to encourage kids of all ages to keep reading during the summer. Schuler Books, also in Grand Rapids, has a summer reading program for children in kindergarten through eighth grade in which readers can earn bookstore gift certificates for the books they read.
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (saic.edu) offers a range of summer programs for kids ages four and older. SAIC’s summer camp program is designed for kids up to age 10, giving them the opportunity to explore drawing, painting, sculpture and other artistic expression. Middle-school age kids are invited to two-week courses that explore specific art topics that match their personal interests. For instance, one program focuses on fashion and another on video game graphics. Times and fees vary by program.
Park Your Kids
The Chicago Park District (chicagoparkdistrict.com) offers more than 200 day camp programs for preschoolers through teenagers at parks throughout the city. The programs offer arts and crafts, exercise and sports, plus field trips to museums and cultural activities. Swimming and nature hikes are offered at many parks, too. Some parks offer sport-specific activities, such as golf or softball, for older children.
The Lincoln Park Zoo (lpzoo.org) offers a variety of summer activities for kids. Conservation camp, for kids in preschool to fourth grade, teaches environmental basics and care for animals. Attendees work with keepers and other zoo staff to explore how the zoo cares for its animals and promotes wildlife preservation. The Zoo Crew, for children in middle school, teaches participants to plan and carry out animal care and conservation programs in their communities.
Fun for (and with) Sprouts
The Garfield Park Conservatory (garfield-conservatory.org) features a weekly drop-in program for children ages 5 and younger. Kids are encouraged to explore the children’s garden and have fun digging, planting, and learning about seeds, flowers, and other parts of the plant kingdom. Conservatory staff help youngsters learn about the beauty and importance of nature through story times and play activities. A parent or caregiver must attend with the child.
Spur of the Moment
For less structured activities, take the kids swimming or to one of the city's regularly scheduled fireworks displays. The Chicago Park District (chicagoparkdistrict.com) staffs 50 outdoor swimming pools. All feature free family swim and open swim programs from June until Labor Day. Navy Pier (navypier.com), on the lakefront has fireworks displays on Wednesdays and Saturdays from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
The City of Traverse City Parks and Recreation Department offers a summer day camp program for area kids. At this week-long day camp, your 7- to 12-year-old can participate in games and exciting camp activities like swimming. Traverse Bay Area Youth Soccer has an assortment of camps during the summer as well, including Coerver Camp, Challenger Sports and Mr. Soccer Camp. At KidzArt Summer Camp, kids ages 5 to 12 can enjoy art activities with themes like Caribbean Adventure and Jungle Tour.
At the Grand Traverse Bay YMCA, your kids can choose from a broad variety of summer programs. Family Fun Nights include fun games of tennis, basketball and snacks. Youth sports programs are available in the summer, such as basketball, soccer, tennis and gymnastics. YMCA camps include summer day camps, including Art Camp and Science and Nature Camp, as well as a Traditional Y Day Camp. Your teen can enjoy summer programs at the Y, such as teen dances, Leaders Club and Michigan Youth in Government.
You could check out all of the summer programs offered at the Traverse Area District Library. Your kids can participate in the Summer Reading Club, where kids read books, tell the librarian about them and earn prizes. In addition, each week kids can come to the library for fun programs like craft times, beach parties and special guests, including jugglers. Younger children can attend Wigglers Story Time for stories, singing and rhymes. Other summer events include movie times, magic shows, ice cream parties and surprise guests.
Kids can choose from an array of summer programs through the Traverse City Area Public Schools. Summer Adventure Day Camps are for children 3 to 12 and include arts, crafts, games and weekly field trips. High school teens can attend the Summer Academy to take classes and earn credits. Middle school students can go to the West Middle School Robotics Camps to learn about entry level robotics and compete against other students. Alternatively, kids can participate in a Youth Sailing Program to learn how to sail.
Get the children outside for some fresh air and sunshine on a beautiful summer day. Visit Great Falls Park (no website; 9200 Old Dominion Drive, Great Falls; 703-285-2965). Take a hike along the Potomac River, camp under the stars, tour the visitor center or sign up for a ranger-led guided tour through the park. You can also visit Colvin Run Mill (no website; 10017 Colvin Run Road, Great Falls; 703-759-2771) with your kids. While there, hike the nature trail, visit the general store, tour the mill or sign your kids up for some of the events that take place, such as the history camp or music camp.
Camps and Programs
Your kids can attend one of the summer camps offered in Great Falls. The Fairfax County Park Authority (parktakes.fairfaxcounty.gov) offers an array of kids camps in the summer. American Indian Princesses and Warriors teaches kids about Pocahontas and American Indians through hikes, games, stories and crafts. Dinosaur Days Camp gives children the opportunity to become junior paleontologists and learn about dinosaurs. Pioneer Life at the Grange takes kids back to the pioneer days, teaching them how to make a fire, create shelters and make their own food. You could also send your child to Shooting Stars Lacrosse Camps (shootingstarslacrossecamp.com) during the summer. This week-long camp takes place each evening and is for boys or girls.
Need something to do indoors on a rainy summer day? Visit the Great Falls Library (no website; 9830 Georgetown Pike, Great Falls; 703-757-8560) with your kids. You can participate in free children's programs, such as story times, movie nights, craft activities and summer reading clubs. Or, take the kids to the Great Falls Foundation for the Arts Inc., School of Art (greatfallsart.org). Your kids can participate in a summer class to let their inner Picasso shine through. Kids will get to draw, paint and sculpt, while working on an assortment of projects.
Get your kids involved in some of the summer sports available in Great Falls. At Beloved Yoga (belovedyoga.com), your 3- to 6-year-old can participate in Cobra Yoga, with stories, music and games. Kids Yoga is for 7- to 11-year-olds and teaches them about techniques for breathing and relaxation. Teens can even attend a class. Teen Yoga, for 12- to 17-year-olds, introduces kids to the postures of yoga. Sign your kids up for soccer through the Great Falls Soccer Club (greatfallssoccer.com). Spring soccer seasons run into the summer and are for kids 3 and older. Check out the summer programs at the Great Falls Swim and Tennis Club (gfsandt.com). Kids can take tennis or swim lessons, participate in Junior Team Tennis or join the swim team.
Baseball and softball programs are available to children who live in the Poplar Bluff R-1 School District, with teams for kids ages 8 to 16 years, and a non-competitive, co-ed coach-pitch program for younger school-age children. Youth tennis clinics and sports camps for volleyball, wrestling, football, basketball, soccer and cross-country are also offered for children during the summer through the school district. Three Rivers Community College provides a summer basketball camp for children ages 9 to 17 years. Led by TRCC coaching staff, this program includes three sessions a day and provides each child with a lunch.
Kids don't mind those hot, sticky summer days when they're having fun splashing the day away at the Black River Coliseum or the R.W. Huntington Municipal Pool. From the Poplar Bluff Piranhas swim team to American Red Cross swimming lessons, a swimming program is available to children of every age and swimming ability. For kids who are ready for an overnight camping experience, Camp Taum Sauk is just an hour away, and provides campers with the opportunity to swim, snorkel and canoe on the Black River and in the Taum Sauk Reservoir.
Kids -- with their parents -- can learn the joys of exploring nature at the nearby Mark Twain National Forest, which includes participating in the free camping days program offered as part of National Get Outdoors Day. To round out the wilderness experience for kids and their families, the free camping days are offered in tandem with free fishing days, which are sponsored by the Missouri Office of Conservation and allow any Missouri resident to fish for free without a state fishing license.
The Ozark National Scenic Riverways hosts special events throughout the summer near Poplar Bluff, where children can participate in the Junior Ranger program for hikes, campfires and special demonstrations. Children can also check out river exploration kits, complete with nets, bug boxes and field guides to enhance the experience of getting close to nature. Poplar Bluff children and their families can reach for the stars through programs offered by the Ozark Skies Astronomy Club. The OSAC meets for special presentations and stargazing events and at various campgrounds and at nearby Big Spring Park.
Children ages 6 to 14 are eligible to enroll in a summer camp at Capricorn Equestrian. The week-long camp sessions will introduce your child to basic care of horses and riding. He will learn about safety, grooming, saddling and bridling -- essential skills to have when caring for a horse. Campers will get two horseback riding lessons per day. Other activities such as games and costume contests take place during the week.
Martial arts and dance camps are offered during the summer months for children who want to improve their skills or learn something new. Wylie Karate hosts summer day camps for kids with a wide variety of themes. Enroll in the circus camp that focuses on flexibility, balance and falling techniques or the fearsome feet camp that focuses on power, agility and balance. Advanced camps are offered to students who wish to pursue a black belt. Summer camps at K.C.’s Dance and Cheer Center are appropriate for children ages 4 to 10. The four-day camps start at 9 a.m. and lasts until 1 p.m. Each week has a different theme such as spirit week or beach party.
The Wylie Mutiny Futbol Club hosts summer training programs for children ages 4 to 16. The program is open to Mutiny and non-Mutiny members. Stretch-and-Grow -- an international company dedicated to children’s fitness -- hosts summer programs at schools in Wylie and Sachse for children ages 4 to 12. The camps are designed to provide kids with hands-on experience and skills training in an assortment of sports activities. The eight-week sports clinics introduce children to soccer, baseball, basketball, football, and track and field.
Children ages 6 to 12 are eligible for enrollment in the Bearfoot Lodge Summer Camp, which introduces a wide variety of activities throughout the summer. Campers take part in sports, drama, science, outdoor, cooking and water fun activities. The Friends of the Sachse Public Library host a summer reading program to keep your child's mind active during the summer months. The program is open to children in preschool up to 12 years old. Teen programs are available separately. To participate, parents can pick up the reading log at the Sachse Public Library for their children to record their progress. At the end of summer, an awards ceremony will take place.