Perhaps that technology camp you enrolled your nature-loving daughter in just wasn’t quite right, or maybe you’ve noticed your teenager spending too many summer days staring at the wall—or a screen. Luckily, there are still lots of free, engaging summer classes and programs in all five boroughs for kids of all ages. It’s not too late! And don't forget to check out our listing of free educational enrichment programs year-round.
NYC Parks—Free Outdoor Pools
Visit one of New York City's free outdoor pools. Through Sept. 1, NYC Parks’ outdoor pools are offering amenities including free summer swim programs for all ages and abilities and free, healthy summer meals provided by USDA through SchoolFood, a part of the NYC Department of Education for all children 18 years old and under. Download a flyer to find out more about the local pool in your school district. For more information, visit nyc.gov/parks.
Big Apple Games
Big Apple Games for high school and middle school students, sponsored by the Public Schools Athletic League, are held indoors, from Monday, July 8 through Thursday, Aug. 1. For high school students, games run Monday–Thursday, 1 to 5 pm, and from 6 to 9 pm. Afternoon and evening teen recreational centers are hosting wrestling, volleyball, basketball, softball, floor hockey, team handball, gymnastics, ultimate Frisbee, arts and crafts and swimming lessons. The junior high school program for students in 4th to 8th grades is open 9 am to 3 pm on weekdays, and offers a variety of activities including arts and crafts, game room fun and sports. All sites are staffed with licensed teachers and school safety officers. Registration is ongoing. Click here to register and to see a full schedule and list of locations.
Summer Play Streets
Free summer, adult-supervised games and activities for all youths are held on designated streets, schools and playgrounds. Weekdays only. The goal of the program includes reducing risk-taking behaviors among youth and fostering life skills. Older youths play stickball, volleyball, basketball, skully, and double Dutch, among others, while younger kids have jump rope, hopscotch and relay races. There will also be chess, checkers and mancala (a board strategy game) for some mental exercise. For more information, contact Richard Guevera at [email protected] To find a Play Street near you call the Police Athletic League at 212-477-9450 ext. 389.
Youth volunteer projects
Several nonprofit organizations in New York City provide opportunities for teens to volunteer. Among them are Green Teens, New York Cares, American Red Cross, Citymeals on Wheels, and Food Banks for New York City. For additional volunteer opportunities, see NY Metro Parents.
CityParks Tennis offers free tennis lessons for youths aged 6–16 in parks throughout the five boroughs from July 1 through Aug. 8. Lessons are offered at all skill levels, including beginners. Additional opportunities include tournaments, leagues, excellence programs and special events. More information may be found at CityParks Foundation.
Apply to participate in Disability Mentoring Day
Students with disabilities who will be a junior or a senior in high school in 2014 are invited to apply to become a mentee. (Members of the current graduating class of 2014 are eligible as well.) The online DMD application is due by Aug. 22, 2014. Mentees are matched with workplace mentors according to expressed career interests and shadow their mentor for a day. This enables mentees to learn more from their assigned mentors about a typical day on the job and how to prepare for that particular career.
Saturday Sketching—Roman sculpture (ages 11–18)
Experiment with different drawing approaches as you sketch from original works of art in the Museum's galleries with the guidance of an artist-instructor. Register online for Saturday, Aug. 9, 1–3pm. (Ages 11–18)
Art Explore—Roman portraits (ages 11–14)
Talk with other teens about works of art from around the world. Register online for Sunday, Aug. 17, 1–3 pm. (Ages 11–14)
Programs are free, but registration is requested.
Middle school enrichment programs
There's still space in the Department of Education's middle school enrichment programs for students in the Bronx and Brooklyn. Enrollment deadlines have been extended. Check out the information here and on the DOE's website.
New York Public Library
The New York Public Library has tons of programs for kids of all ages, ranging from family crafts and creative writing to specialized LEGO projects and nature appreciation with live animals. Visit your local branch at nypl.org for a listing of weekly activities.
NYPL Summer Science Camp
Spend seven weeks becoming a super scientist. Educators lead weekly workshops exploring simple machines and their unique functions. Kids learn about gears, pulleys, wheel and axles and much more through hands-on demonstrations. Get a hands-on education by building models such as cars, planes and paddle boats that lead up to a culminating activity where kids work together with other super scientists to build their very own Rube Goldberg machine! (A Rube Goldberg machine is a purposefully overdone, overcomplicated machine that peforms a simple function, like zipping a zipper.) Presented by the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. For ages 6 and older, through Aug. 26. Take a look at the participating sites below.
Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library
Fridays, 11:15 am
Battery Park City Library
Wednesdays, 4 pm
Chatham Square Library
Fridays, 3 pm
Kips Bay Library
Mondays, 3:30 pm
Fridays, 2 pm
St. Agnes Library
Tuesdays, 2 pm
Thursdays, 3 pm
West Farms Library
Wednesdays, 2 pm
New Dorp Library
Mondays: July 28, Aug. 18, 3pm
Tuesdays: July 15, 22; Aug. 5, 12, 26, 3pm
St. George Library
Thursdays, 3 pm
All New York Public Library programs are free of charge. Space is limited. Reserve a spot by visiting NYPL.org or calling the branches listed here.
Free summer meals for kids
And, don't forget free summer meals are available at multiple sites to all children in the city, 18-years-old or younger.