Billy Penn's list of free or affordable summer camps and programs for Philly families
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Arden Drama School62 N. 2nd St.Playwriting Camp for grades 6-8 and 9-12.Kids learn how to write and create an original play Campers in grades 6-8 work in teams of three, while older campers work in duos or go solo. Both camps feature hands-on theater games and activities that teach playwriting fundamentals.The middle school session takes place Aug. 14-18, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The high school session will take place from Aug.14-25, same hours.Financial aid and scholarship is available for qualifying campers. Contact for more information.
Asian Arts Initiative1219 Vine St.Students entering grades 5-9.Photos from past sessions suggest campers will enjoy a plethora of arts and crafts, as well as music-making and playing sessions, and field trips.Jul. 9 to Aug. 17, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.Sliding-scale tuition fees and pay-what-you-can fees, based on need. Contact, or for info.
Fleisher Art Memorial719 Catherine St.Ages 5-18.A no-frills, full-immersion art camp, with workshops that focus specifically on cultivating the skills needed to create different forms of visual and tactical art.Five week-long sessions, spanning Jun. 25 to Aug. 3, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Half- and full-day options available.Tuition assistance for qualifying workshop attendees. Contact for more information.
Girls Rock Philly1428 Germantown Ave.Youth Rock Camp for ages 9-12, Teen Rock Camp for ages 13-19. The website specifies that enrollment is open for "girls, trans and gender variant youth."Campers will form bands and will write one song collaboratively. This task is accompanied and aided by instrument instruction, band practice, a showcase, a day in the recording studio and songwriting and improvisation workshops. Campers will also attend a workshop in self-defense.Youth Rock Camp is Jul. 16-22, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Teen Rock Camp is Jul. 9-15, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.Sliding-scale tuition fees for all campers, based on need. Contact for more information.
Kensington Creative & Performing Arts High School1910 N. Front St.Public school students entering grades 9-11.Students will be exposed to various dance genres, including jazz, ballet and modern, taught by local dance professionals and university professors. No experience needed.Jun. 25-29, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.Free for all participants. Contact for more information.
Mural ArtsMultiple locationsMultiple programs for multiple youth age ranges.Mural Arts' Art Education programs give Philly students the opportunity to: "work with locally, nationally and internationally known artists, contribute to major public art projects, develop creative portfolios and showcase artwork exhibitions, and apply to scholarships, internships and jobs in the creative sector." Each program offered is different, with some honing in on "artpreneurship" skills, while others fine-tune the foundations of drawing, painting, mixed media and mural making. All are year-round.Multiple programs with different dates and times.Affordable or free programming offered, depending on the program. Contact or for more information.
NLArts700 N. 3rd St.Ages 4-12.Each week at NLArts camp, campers will be immersed in different art mediums, such as mural making, filmmaking and working on musical projects. Camp includes field trips to museums and galleries.August 6-24, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Extended care until 5:30 p.m.Sliding-scale tuition fees for qualifying campers. Contact for more information.
Rock to the Future2139 E. Cumberland St.Guitarstars for ages 7-12. Rock*A*Delphia for ages 13-17.Learn how to play guitar, bass guitar or keyboard. Older kids have the added bonus of learning how to play the drums. Both camps are for youth from a variety of musical backgrounds and levels, including those without experience. Campers will form bands, and play and write their own music, take part in creative workshops, sing in the choir and watch a variety of performances.Guitarstars will run from Jul. 9-13, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Rock*A*Delphia will run from Jul. 23-27, same hours. There is early drop off and late pick up available.Free for qualifying campers. Contact for more information.
Saint Peter’s Church Chorister Academy313 Pine St.For children who love to sing, ages 7-12.Campers receive classical repertoire instruction twice a day, particularly on breathing techniques, vowel formation, choral tone, sight singing, intonation and music theory. Campers will also be exposed to drama and art classes daily.Jun. 25-29, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.Sliding-scale tuition fees for qualifying campers. Contact for more information.
Spells Writing Lab1425 N. 2nd St.Five camp sessions for ages 7-12. One camp session for ages 12-16.Each themed session has a different prompt for campers to reflect upon and write about. Field trips and additional workshops and activities will center around these themes. For ages 7-12, there are multiple themes. For the older campers, their one week-long session is designed around the following prompt: “What are the most important issues facing you, your peers, your community, and our society? Become part of the solution by writing and filming an engaging public service ad that will focus attention on your chosen topic and, possibly, change people’s perspectives on it.”For ages 7-12, week-long camp sessions span Jul. 9 through Aug. 3. For older campers, the session is from Jun. 25-29. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for both age groups.Free for all campers. Contact for more information.
Yes! And… Collaborative Arts21 W. Washington Ln.Imagination Camp is for elementary school students. Summer Theatre Camp is for middle school students. Shadow Fringe Camp is for high school students. Summer Sort of Thing is for middle and high school students.This camp is for all children and teens with an “artistic itch.” Each performing arts camp delves deeper into craft and skillsets as age groups progress.Dates vary depending on age group and session.Sliding-scale tuition fees and scholarship opportunities for qualifying campers. Contact for more information.
Camp Jamison538 Emery Rd, Dingmans Ferry.Campers entering grade 3-11.The idea behind Camp Jamison is to give all campers — regardless of their economic, racial or religious background — a chance to experience the quintessential, all-American, outdoorsy, sleepaway experience. The founder is from Philly and has a soft spot for her city’s children. Activities available include campfires, hiking, arts & crafts, canoeing & kayaking, swimming, songs, orienteering and nature.Jul. 16-20.Sliding-scale tuition fees for qualifying campers. For older youth, CIT and Junior counselor programs are available. Contact for more information.
Camp Kesem740 Saginaw Rd, Oxford.Ages 6-16.Camp Kesem is a nationwide program dedicated to supporting children through their guardian’s cancer, whether that be a guardian that was lost due to cancer, a guardian who is undergoing treatment or a guardian who is a survivor. The day is chock-full of the usual camp shenanigans (i.e. lots of singing), but includes programming that “provides the foundation for confidence building, improved communication, enhanced life outlook and attitude.” Camp Kesem in Philadelphia is hosted by the University of Pennsylvania.Aug. 12-18.Free for all campers. Contact or for more information.
College Settlement600 Witmer Rd, Horsham.Ages 7-14.An overnight camp with the mission of offering a safe, nurturing and fun summertime experience for all Philly children, regardless of economic circumstance. At College Settlement, kids will “learn to appreciate and respect the environment, each other and themselves.” Days are jam-packed with activities sure to poop out even the most hyper-energetic kid, offering favorites such as: creek crawling, fishing, hiking, gardening, boating, biking, climbing, basketball, soccer, rugby, soft ball, hay rides, dancing, reading, games, rope course, and themed days (the most popular being Pirate Day).Multiple sessions with different dates and times.Affordable programming with financial assistance available for qualifying campers. There are both overnight and day camp options available (keep in mind that campgrounds are located in Horsham). Contact for more information.
Dragonfly Forest143 Nichecronk Rd, Dingmans Ferry.Depends on the session, but overall serves youth ages 7-25.Just like any other overnight camp, with challenging outdoor adventures, plenty of crafting and bonding moments, but with programming is specially designed for children and teens with autism, 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, persistent asthma, sickle cell disease or hemophilia. Campers will be encouraged to be independent, curious and self-reliant within a safe environment.Multiple sessions with different dates, ages, times and disease specialties, as well as a Teen Leadership Program.Scholarships and payment plans available for qualifying campers. Contact for more information.
Journey’s End Farm124 Templin Rd, Glenmoore.Ages 7-12.At this family farm, campers experience a warm and welcoming sleepaway environment, with “classic camp” offerings mixed with farm lifestyle skills and chores. These include: working with animals, singing, swimming, game time, story time and more. Though Journey’s End Farm is based on Quaker values— therefore offering daily Meeting in the morning — it welcomes campers of all faith, race, gender, nationality and economic backgrounds.Four two-week long sessions, spanning from Jun. 24 through Aug. 18.Tuition assistance available for qualifying campers. Contact for more information.
Philadelphia Youth Network400 Market St.Young people ages 12-21.Less of a summer camp and more of an “educationally-enriched” work opportunity summer program. Even though work may not be as fun as camp, the program teaches youth marketable skills, helps them to complete high school via credit attainment and sets them up for success once they go to college or join the “real world” workforce. Internships are generally available for youth ages 16-21, while younger participants have the opportunity to enroll in career exposure (job shadowing) or service-learning models.Summer WorkReady opportunities have multiple start and end dates. All participants are required to complete the six-week (120 hour) paid work experience.N/A. Contact for more information.
Young Chances Foundation1201 S. 30th St.Ages 4-13Outdoor games, community service projects, career day, swimming, mentoring and field trips. Young Chances Foundation’s summer camp has a little bit of everything to offer its campers an academically and socially enriching experience.Jul. 2 through Aug. 10.$80 for the duration of camp, which includes breakfast, lunch, snack and swimming. Contact (267) 585-2YCF.
Camp Sojourner801 S. 48th St.Girls ages 8-16.An overnight girls leadership camp, which focuses on “team-building, leadership development, self-expression through creative arts, and the appreciation of nature.” Activities at Camp Sojourner include: swimming, boating, hiking, campfires, archery, climbing walls, singing, dancing, drawing, painting, drumming, acting, sewing, photography and woodworking.Jul. 30 through Aug. 4.Sliding-scale tuition fees for all campers. 17-18-year-old girls can apply to work as junior counselors. Contact for more information.
Center for Aquatic Sciences1 Riverside Dr., Camden, NJStudents entering grades 9-12.A program where high schoolers can shadow a marine biologist or zoologist for the day at Adventure Aquarium.Multiple day-long sessions throughout the summer.$60. Contact for more information.
Episcopal Community ServicesMultiple LocationsOut of School Time is for elementary and middle-school aged children. Seeing Youth Succeed is for youth aged 14-18.Academic enrichment and leadership programs offered year-round.Year-round. Times and dates vary depending on the program and school calendar.Affordable programs. Contact or for more information.
Girl Scouts of Eastern PennsylvaniaMultiple LocationsMultiple programs for multiple youth age ranges.You don’t need to be a Girl Scout to participate in one of GSEP’s four overnight camps or its three day camps. Each overnighter has a different theme. Camp Laughing Waters is for horse lovers, Camp Mosey Wood is for thrill seekers, Camp Shelley Ridge is for “glamping,” and Camp Wood Haven is for animal lovers (horses are in this campground too).Multiple programs with different dates and times.Sliding-scale tuition fees for qualifying campers. “Campership” opportunities available. Contact for more information.
Independence Seaport Museum211 S. Columbus Blvd.High school students.“River Ambassadors” will learn about Philadelphia’s surrounding rivers and waters and why and how to protect them. Past ambassadors have “demonstrated Citizen Science Lab programs for the public, participated in on-water activities, conducted daily water testing in our boat basin, cared for our floating wetlands, and spent time in Spruce Street Harbor Park demonstrating how anyone can take small steps to care for our environment.”Jun. 25 to Sep. 3.N/A. Paid stipend for participants. Contact for more information.
The Business of Doing Good2300 Chestnut St.Middle school students.Children are given an engaging curriculum that helps them learn the how-tos of social entrepreneurship. It includes workshops on idea generation and exposure, project determination and market research, resilience and determination, creating business plans, social media and funding, and presentations and pitching.Jun. 25-29, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Aug. 13-17, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.Scholarship opportunities available. Contact for more information.
Women in Natural Sciences1900 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy.WINS I is for girls entering grade 9. WINS II is for girls who have completed WINS I and have not yet gone to college.The enrichment program has been sharpening young women’s mathematics and science skills, encouraging confidence and introducing them to STEM careers and professions since Academy of Natural Sciences’ founding in 1982.WINS I is a year-long program. It begins in the summer, offering issue-based science classes, field trips and projects. The summer session concludes with a camping trip to the Poconos. In the summer, participants meet three times a week. During the school year, participants meet once-a-week. WINS II meets twice a month throughout the year for field trips or workshops.Free for all students. Contact for more information.
ASAP After School Activities Partnerships1600 W. Norris Ave.Middle and high-school aged youth.Designed for new and novice debaters. Students will learn the style of public forum debate and will research and develop arguments in teams. Field trips related to their cases will be offered. At the end of camp, participants go head-to-head at a two-day tournament.Jul. 23 through Aug. 3, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.Free for all campers. Contact for more information.
Discovery Camp222 N. 20th St.Mini Molecules (grades K-2), Awesome Atoms (grades 3-6) and Excited Electrons (grades 7-9).The Franklin Institute created a great Survival Guide for parents that gives a general idea of what the camp offers. Each age group is exposed to hands-on science learning activities, but as they progress throughout the camp and in grade level, learning gets deeper and more challenging.Mini Molecules, Awesome Atoms and Excited Electrons have different dates and themes for their sessions, but camp days all end at 4 p.m.Scholarships available for qualifying campers. Contact for more information.
Free Library of PhiladelphiaMultiple LocationsMultiple programs for multiple youth age ranges.A variety of enticing and valuable free activities, workshops and programs for youth of all ages. Summer Thyme Cooks, for example, is a four-part cooking program for children entering grades 5-7 every Wednesday in August from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Teen Summer Thyme Cooks is for youth entering grades 8 to 12, every Thursday in August from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. A more traditional day camp available at multiple library branches is Camp Play and Learn, a two-week camp starting on Aug. 6 for students entering grades 1-3, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.Multiple programs with different dates and times.Free for all participants. Check out the website for more information.
GSK Science in the SummerMultiple LocationsStudents entering grades 2-6.The theme of 2018’s program is “The Science of Space,” which entails active, hands-on learning where students will explore the basics of astronomy.Multiple programs with different dates and times.Free for all campers. Contact for more information.
Immersion Science4261 N. 5th St.Students finishing grades 9-12.Students will take part in a five-day “FlyLab” curriculum, which essentially gives them the chance to become genetic research scientists for the week. They’ll be able to observe the stages of fruit fly development, see how experiments are performed in real-world cancer research labs, learn how to measure via “micropipetting,” make their own grape juice plates and more.Dates for 2018’s week-long session have not yet been posted, but camp will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.$25. Refunded after successful completion of the program. Contact for more information.
LocoRoboMultiple LocationsMultiple programs for multiple youth age ranges.Created to teach kids about robotics, coding, sensors, 3D design, physics, statistics, green energy and other forms of modern technology. There are campuses in Center City and on the Main Line.Multiple programs with different dates and times.Scholarships available for qualifying campers. Visit the website for more information.
Mighty WritersMultiple LocationsMultiple programs for multiple youth age ranges, spanning from ages 7-17.The mission of Mighty Writers is to teach kids how to think and write with clarity through a myriad of creative and motivating workshops and class sessions, year-round.Multiple programs with different dates and times.Free for all students. Contact for more information.
Philadelphia Writing Project3700 Walnut St.Project Write and GAME ON! are for middle-school aged children. Humor Writing Summer Camp is for high-school aged youth.Project Write, in collaboration with Independence National Historical Park, allows students to simultaneously explore the city’s history while immersed in writing, digital and art workshops. GAME ON! challenges middle schoolers to learn “at the intersection of science, literacy, gaming and making.” Humor Writing Summer Camp is a two-week humor writing workshop.Dates and times for day camps and out-of-school time programs vary depending on the session and age group.Scholarships available for interested students. Contact or for more information.
Young Achievers Learning CenterMultiple locationsElementary-aged children.Young Achievers Learning Center Camp doesn’t just focus on academics — though it may suggest so in the name — it also offers sports, music, drama, arts & crafts, technology sessions and field trips. The camp emphasizes non-competitive activities and confidence-building learning approaches, to remove the stresses that the “academic, athletic and social competition shapes in their lives at school.”Jun. 26 through Aug. 11, from 7 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.Affordable programming. Scholarship opportunities available. Visit the website for more information.
Camp Garrett395 Bishop Hollow Rd, Newton Square.Ages 5-15.This 240-acre historic farm and campground in Newton Square offers ten themed weeks, featuring pool time, nature and outdoor activities, cooperative games, sports, arts, archery, tomahawk-throwing, garden activities and special events (depending on the week’s theme). 13-15-year-olds are considered “Leaders In Training,” and may have different duties and programming while at camp.10 week-long sessions, spanning Jun. 18 to Aug. 24. Times vary.Scholarships available for qualifying campers. Contact for more information.
Caring People AllianceMultiple LocationsAges 5-13, grades K-8 for “school-aged” summer programming. Ages 14-18, grades 9-12 for “teen” summer programming.Summer camp for “school-aged” children provides field trips, art classes, computer classes, sports and physical education, life skills and cultural events. Summer camp for “teens” provides mentoring, tutoring, computer technology classes and community service projects.Multiple programs with different dates and times.Affordable or free programming. Contact for more information.
Diversified Community ServicesMultiple LocationsGrades K-6.A “funducational” day camp experience, where students are kept occupied with a balance of academic and extracurricular activities. Along with weekly field trips, daily extracurriculars include: swimming, sports, dance, karate, golf, and arts and crafts.Dates and times of sessions depend on the location where they are being held: Dixon Learning Academy, Western Learning Center or Stephen Girard Elementary.$25. Visit the website for more information.
Neighborhood Bike Works3939 Lancaster Ave.Ages 8-14.A unique “Earn-A-Bike” curriculum, which teaches children how to recondition a bike. After reconditioning a bike, they earn it, along with a helmet and a lock. Between learning mechanical skills, campers will participate in outdoor activities, go on field trips and learn about safe cycling and healthy lifestyles.Three two-week long sessions, spanning Jul. 9 to Aug. 17, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.Scholarship opportunities available for qualifying campers. Contact for more information.
Parent Infant Center4205 Spruce St.Grades K-5.Each week, children can expect programming related to a different theme. Some themes include “Artful Antics,” “Wind and Water,” “Goin’ Green,” “Philly Phun!” and “Imaginarium.” All sessions offer campers a chance at water play, play at neighborhood parks, visits to museums and cultural institutions, and field trips.10 week-long sessions, spanning Jun. 18 to Aug. 22, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.Tuition assistance available for qualifying campers. Accepts subsidy. Contact for more information.
Philadelphia City Rowing1 Kelly Dr.Students entering grades 7-12. They must be enrolled in either a Philadelphia Public school or a Philadelphia Charter school.Depending on your level, camp sessions offer learn-to-row, recreational or competitive rowing programs. Philadelphia City Rowing also incorporates nutrition education, mentoring, enrichment, swimming and academic support throughout the camp day.Middle school camps are week-long sessions, offered Jul. 9-13 and Jul. 30 to Aug. 3, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. High school camps are two week-long sessions, offered Jul. 16-27 and Aug. 6-17, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.Free for all campers. Contact for more information.
Philadelphia Parks & RecreationMultiple LocationsMultiple programs for multiple youth age ranges.There are over 125 neighborhood day camps throughout the city, with the general offerings of arts & crafts, sports, educational activities, games and field trips. Some camps are themed, special-interest or serve children and adults with disabilities. Camp Philly, for example, is a one-week overnight camp in the Pocono Mountains.Multiple programs with different dates and times.Affordable or free programming. Scholarship availability. Contact for more information.
Philadelphia Youth BasketballMultiple LocationsDifferent weeks are for different age groups, generally ranging from grades 4-12.A college campus-based program, with week-long sessions at Jefferson University, Chesnut Hill College, St. Joseph’s University, Temple University and LaSalle University. There, campers can expect basketball skill-building and competition, academic enrichment and support, leadership and character development, and health and nutrition.Seven week-long sessions spanning Jun. 18 to Aug. 8. Times vary.Scholarship opportunities available. Contact
Police Athletic LeagueMultiple LocationsMultiple programs for multiple youth age ranges.PAL programs help reduce crime, promote positive character development and improve educational outcomes for Philly children in twenty different locations. Multiple athletic and educational experiences are available, year-round and/or during the summer.Multiple programs with different dates and times.Free for all participants. Contact for more information.
SquashSmarts3890 N. 10th St.Grades 6-12.Fuses squash and academics while maintaining a “5 Pillars of Programming” model. The pillars are: academic support, squash instruction, fitness & nutrition, personal achievement and leadership.Jul. 9 to Aug. 10. Times vary.Affordable programming. Contact for more information.
Starfinder Foundation4015 Main St.Ages 6-14.Soccer camp where you can make friends and escape the heat at an indoor facility.Three week-long sessions, spanning from Jul. 9-27. Times vary.Affordable. Pay-what-you-can and sliding-scale fees available. Contact for more information.
Zhang Sah Martial Arts530 Bainbridge St.Summer Day Camp for ages 4-12. MOSTSPORTS+ for ages 12-14.Martial arts classes, swimming, weekly trips, fencing and project-based learning.Summer Day Camp is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., with free extended daycare from 4 to 6 p.m. MOSTSPORTS+ is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.Tuition assistance available for qualifying campers. Accepts subsidy. Contact for more information.
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