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Free and Low-cost Summer Camps and Activities for Low-Income Kids.

For parents, summer vacation means longer hours and extra money spent on childcare services. Free or low cost summer camps are a great solution for working parents, and it offers comfort knowing that kids will have somewhere to go during those long summer days. The kid will be safe, often fed, participate in educational activities, and there are many other benefits.

Summer camps are a must for curious kids. It provides an opportunity for youngsters meet new friends and gain confidence in a new atmosphere. During summer camp, kids participate in a variety of group projects, learning team-work, communicating with other children and solving problems on their own. They can also get free, including help from the USDA summer meal program.

Of course, kids can gain these skills in school, but summer camps bring children together in a setting that encourages community and appreciation for individual differences, while school concentrates on academic performance.

According to the American Camp Association, the average cost for camps can range from $300 to almost $2000 per week. This can be an unexpectedly high price for low-income families. Luckily, there are many free and low-cost summer camp options that will fit your budget.

Below, you will find a list of national and regional organizations that can help parents pay for them. There are companies as well as charities that offer free and low-cost summer programs for kids of all ages. These programs will surely help to save money on childcare services while leaving your little ones with rewarding experiences.

Place of Worship: Many churches have 'bible school' or Christian summer camps as part of their ministry. Kids who are members of the church, as well as non-members, are invited to attend.

Christian camps are a great way to enhance your child's religious experience. At bible summer type camps, kids will sing, pray, learn Bible lessons, make friends, performing in skits, learn how to treat others and valuable lessons. Depending on age, campers will engage in all sorts of activities including, teen discussion sessions, group studies, sports, and other extra activities.




Bible vacation camps is a great place for kids to grow spiritually, socially and healthy with physical activities. These summer camps usually last for a week or two with Christian concerts and overnight campouts.

Your child will be supervised by counselors who are trained to work with children, and others are regular clergy members and volunteers with religious affiliations. Each church has its own guidelines, and Bible camps are usually free, but small donations are welcome to cover accommodation cost. Contact your local church near you for more information.

The Salvation Army: A charity organization that is part of the Christian Church. The Salvation Army offers affordable summer camps, after-school and day care programs for low-income families. Some of their services are free for low income parents and/or single moms.

The Salvation Summer camp is for children between 5-14 years old with a weekly fee of $50 for one child, $40 for a second child and $30 for a third child. Prices include free meals, field trips, creative arts and more. The Salvation Army also youth camp for those up to age 17, employment opportunities, counseling, character-building programs, and basic assistance needs. Learn more on the Salvation Army programs for low income families.

Summer Camp at Microsoft Stores: Check out your local Microsoft store if you are looking for free educational activities for your kids this summer. Each year, Microsoft stores in the U.S, Canada, and Puerto Rico offer "YouthSpark Summer Camp" starting in May to late August.

With a future driven by technology, digital skills are critical for career success. Microsoft YouthSpark mission is to make digital as well as computer skills more accessible to students of low-income background and to reduce the income gap and barriers to help them succeed in the 21st-century workforce.

Microsoft Summer Program will provide your child with free resources such as workshops and access to the latest technologies to succeed in school and the workplace. The YouthSpark is designed for students ages 6 and up- but parents and siblings are also welcomed to participate.

Your child will learn to code, creating movies, games, character development, and becoming the next generation of philanthropists by using technology to do good in their community. These types of summer camps consist of either 1 to 4-hour session each day, which can help to reduce the cost of childcare expense. Register online or in-person at your local Microsoft store.





Museum Summer Camps: (For Children with Artistic Pursuit) Each summer, museums across the country arrange camps for kids and adults to help cover operational costs. They are flexible- from half days to overnight and daily to weekly sessions.

Summer museum camps offer a great opportunity for kids to learn about history and art with topics as well as activities ranging from painting, drawing, sculpting and ancient facts. Cost per camp varies from $25 to $600+ depending on location.

Museum visits are free for Bank of America Cardholders with access to a variety of museums and cultural institutions across the U.S. To qualify, simply present your Bank of America card along with a photo ID.

Home Depot Maker Classes: Home Depot stores across the country welcome little builders each week with hands-on workshops. Your child will be given a free project kit during the workshop then take home their craft when completed. In addition to that, they will also receive a free kid-sized orange apron, a commemorative pin for a job well and a certificate of achievement.

All kids must be accompanied by a parent or adult at all times. Some kid-friendly projects include, "build-a-birdhouse", where kids can build birdhouses and decorate it with paint and stickers- without purchasing expensive equipment. There's also do-it-herself workshops where women can learn to tackle a variety of home improvement projects. Home Depot workshops usually start at 9:00 am with various projects lasting until 8:30 pm. Visit your local store for details on the exact time.

Camp Creativity at Michael's: Give your child a fun, crafty summer at your local Michael's store. Camp Creativity starts on June 11th-July 27th from 10 am-noon with affordable price of just $2 for ages 3+ and $5 for ages 6+, including all supplies. Your child will be given new crafts each day, along with coloring pages and different weekly camp themes.

Apple Camp: Takes place each summer in Apple retail stores. Apple camp is a three-day program with 90 minutes session for kids age 8 to 12 years old.

The Apple program is divided into three sessions- programming robots and coding games; Composing music and Creating Characters; and Stories in Motion with iMovie. Apple also offers a "Kids Hour" with 60-minute sessions in teaching kids how to make short movies, involving brainstorming ideas, shooting videos using iPad and editing and producing videos in iMovie. Apple also has sessions- specifically for anyone.

Parents and older sibling can join sessions at retail Apple stores for free coding sessions on building apps, creating music, design, videos and more. The Camp is short with only three days, but it can help your kids battle the summer boredom blues and learn useful skills for the upcoming school year. Register online or in-person at your nearest Apple store.

YMCA Summer Camp: There are over 2,700 YMCA location across the country that supports youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Sign up for a membership pass at the YMCA for free access to childcare, kid classes, teen programs, birthday parties, financial assistance, free gym and more. The membership can cost as little as $15 per month. Contact your nearest YMCA branch for more information. Learn more on the YMCA programs An online learning program that challenges kids to use their knowledge to compete in academic games, including writing, typing, math, book reading and more. Brain Chase is six-week-challenge program and kids will have to complete at least 5 hours of online work per week and some offline activities at their own pace.

Kids will be involved in weekly math and reading challenges, based on difficulty and will receive prize money, free access to Rosetta Stone, Khan Academy and free educational toys in the mail. Students will submit journal entries to teachers and will receive personalized feedback for their work. They will also watch high-quality videos, solving puzzles and more.

Students as well as kids will also have the opportunity to win $10,000 in scholarship to attend their dream college and families can compete with each other for a chance to win $100 each month. Brain Chase is not a free program but will surely keep your kids entertained and learning during the summer months. Prices start at $19 for a "Scout Package" and $29 for an explorer package. A volunteer opportunity program that allows kids to be involved in charities over the summer and creating their own ways to give back and help others. This website allows families and kids to find age-appropriate charities by interest and location. Kids will be able to keep track of their volunteering hours for college applications and will receive a recognition certificate upon completion.





LEGO: The LEGO group offers monthly 'mini builds' on the first Tuesday and Wednesday of every month. Retail LEGO stores host events for kids between ages 6-14 to build cool mini toys and take it home with them. The event is free is to attend but parents are required to register for a free LEGO VIP card. Registration opens at 9 am on the 15th of every month. -An award-winning tuition free program that serves low-income and public-school students. HORIZONS provide students with high-quality supplemental educational programs outside of the traditional school to support academic success and healthy youth development for low-income students. This organization builds partnership with public schools, colleges and universities to support students in need.

The horizon program operates in 18 states including, California, New York City, Georgia, South Carolina, Maryland and more. During the summer, all public-school children are eligible to attend the 6 weeks summer program that focuses on STEM, literacy, free swimming lessons, fitness games and healthy breakfast and snacks.

By Jon McNamara


















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