10 low-cost and free summer camp options for 2015

JUNE 1, 2015 By Jen Bradley

Finding camp opportunities for your soon-to-be-free 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 meeting kids from around the region.

Rowing Camp

Run by Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, this is a wonderful learn-to-row camp for city youth aged 13 to 17 years old. The program is $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 Parks and 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 at 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, a 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 programming for youth in grades 5 through 9. Kids work to create art while building critical thinking skills and community relationships.

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 and spending a significant amount of time outside. For ages 6 to 11 years old and snacks are provided. A donation of $10 per camper is suggested to assist Friends of Heinz Refuge in the costs. Call Erica Scarborough at (215) 365-3118 for additional details.

Camp Save-A-Life

A free week-long camp held each year at the Red Cross House for youth ages 10 to 14. 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.

Spells Writing Lab

A free six-week writing camp with morning sessions for ages 7 to 12 and afternoon sessions for ages 12 to 16. Each week 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 six-week session. Registration is free, but requires a refundable deposit of $25 per student.

Treehouse Books

This four-week afternoon camp is $25 per 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 and Philadelphia.

Starfinder Soccer Camp

This free camp runs from Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon with locations in Germantown, Hunting Park and Manayunk. Kids ages 6 to 14 years old can learn the game, develop skills and enter an amazing organization for soccer development around the city.

Richie Ashburn-Harry Kalas Foundation Baseball Camp

Teach your kids a little bit of Philly baseball history while they learn the game. These camps run four days a week for kids ages 6 to 12, with locations throughout the city, the surrounding suburbs and even down the shore. They are free and run from 9 a.m. to noon Mondays through Thursdays.

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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