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Free and affordable summer camps in Philly

(Courtesy of Jen Bradley)

(Courtesy of Jen Bradley)

Finding camp opportunities for your soon-to-be-sprung student doesn’t have to break the bank. There are several free or low-cost programs throughout the city designed to open doors and allow kids to build new skills while they meet kids from all around the city.

Rowing Camp

Run by Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, this is a wonderful learn-to-row camp for city youth aged 13-17 years old. The program is just $25 for two full weeks of camp (Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.)/ Campers must be competent swimmers, but no rowing experience is necessary. If your child does it as a 13 year old, they can return the following summer as well.

Philadelphia Department of Recreation Camps

Speaking of the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation department — from swimming to art, from golf to adventure, sports to performing arts — the department has a camp for just about everyone. These camps are centrally located or embedded in neighborhoods. They are affordable and run throughout the summer.

Apple Camp

This is a free camp in Apple store locations throughout the region. Camp typically runs for 90 minutes a day for three consecutive days and includes instruction in iMovie, GarageBand and other Apple favorites. Participation includes screen time in the hip Apple store, the finished project, and a t-shirt.

Asian Arts Initiative Youth Arts Workshop

Based on a sliding scale with a suggested fee starting at $0, this arts camp has separate programming for middle schoolers (morning) and high schoolers (afternoon). Youth in grades 6 through 12 work to create art while building critical thinking skills and community relationships.

Camp Save a Life

A free week-long camp held each year at the Red Cross House for youth ages 10 to14. Campers learn disaster preparedness techniques and leadership skills. Youth become certified in CPR and First Aid while gaining skills in swimming, leadership and communication. Most importantly, they have fun while learning how to keep their families safe!

John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum Camp

Spend time at the refuge this summer and earn your Refuge Youth Conservation Award! Campers explore the refuge’s wild habitats while learning about the plants, insects, and birds. Campers spend a significant time outside. For ages 6 to 11 years old. Snacks provided. A donation of $10 per camper is suggested to assist Friends of Heinz Refuge in the costs.

Spells Writing Lab

A free 6-week writing camp with morning sessions for ages 7 to 12 and afternoon sessions for ages 12 to16. Each week-long program focuses on a different writing theme, such as adventure stories, songwriting, mysteries, or animation. Campers find inspiration for stories through interactive games, group brainstorming sessions, and outdoor play. Students may sign up for individual weeks or for the entire 6-week session. Registration is free, but requires a refundable deposit of $25 per student.

Project Flow

Although it’s too late to apply for this year, keep this one on your radar. Rising 9th graders in the city apply in early April for this free, full-time, 6-week summer program. Participants explore and advocate for all things water.

Treehouse Books

This 4-week afternoon camp is just $25/week for children ages 7 to 13. Campers are grouped by age, with younger children reading picture books and tweens and teens reading chapter books. The texts are linked to Black History while also encouraging readers to explore Philadelphia. For a full day camp experience, pair with the Neighborhood BikeWorks morning camp right next door.

Do you know of a free or low cost camp in the Philadelphia region? If so, please leave a comment so that we can help connect kids and camps!

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