With many of our big summer plans canceled, it’s time to get creative to keep the kids busy. Your usual sleepaway camp might not be happening, but there are still tons of cool summer camps and programs that have taken their operations online and are keeping costs very low or even free. From cooking classes to reading challenges, these kid-approved summer programs are the best way to fill your time this summer. Below is a growing list of Virtual Bible Schools and Online Summer Camps for elementary children to high school young adults. Keep coming back to see the new additions!
Presbyterian Outlook Staycation Bible School 2020
Are you looking for a way to engage children this summer, but struggling with how to connect during social distancing? The Presbyterian Outlook has you covered with Staycation Bible School! Christian educator Kelly Kaufman has crafted a week of VBS lessons and activities that can be done from home. Families of elementary-aged children will go on a journey exploring the places Jesus traveled and discovering the ways we can travel and share God’s love while staying right in our own homes!
Cost: $20-$30 per church
**Families of First Presbyterian Church of Santa Fe and Westminster Presbyterian Church Santa Fe please contact First Presbyterian Church of Santa Fe for Free access to materials.
Now is the time to talk to our kids about what it means to be anti-racist, and the Caribu app is offering one way to facilitate these conversations. On June 8, they’re launching Camp Caribu, a free summer reading program with 100 days of activities, featured books and themed reading categories. The first theme will be “Courageous Conversations: Anti-Racism,” and they’ll be adding additional books about anti-racism throughout the summer.
Cost: Free for summer 2020
The Be Kind American Adventure
Send your kids on a virtual field trip with The Be Kind People Project. Over five weeks of virtual classes, they’ll get to explore ten American landmarks through interactive videos, hands-on projects, music, recipes and virtual souvenirs. The classes offer a fun approach to project-based learning with a focus on kindness and youth development.
Cost: $65/household (15 classes)
From the popular hands-on outdoor learning program for kids comes a free, eight-week summer course you can do at home. Filled with all sorts of fun like a printable “trail map,” reading summer list, songs and rituals for camp, plus articles and resources for parents, each week focuses on a different core Tinkergarten skill: persistence, empathy, creativity, focus and more. It officially kicks off on Jun. 20th.
Met Opera Global Camp
An incredible opportunity from the Met Opera, this free, eight-week online summer camp offers music learning and exploration and includes a featured opera each week from the Met’s digital library. Each opera comes with hands-on creative projects, instruction from teaching artists and music educators and even a chance to speak with Met artists. The camp runs from Jun. 15-Aug 7.
There are two age groups: 3rd-6th graders and 7th-12th graders, it’s five days a week and many of the events happen live. Among the iconic operas to be featured are Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, Dvořák’s Rusalka, and Mozart’s Così fan tutte.
If your kiddo is interested in cooking, you’ve got to check out Raddish Kids’ virtual cooking camp. Each week covers a different theme, from Around the World to Bake Shop. The camps are designed for kids ages 8 to 13 and run daily for one week each. Follow their page on Outschool to be notified when you can sign up; you can also check out their recorded one-time classes in the meantime.
Cost: $15/one-time class
Keep your kids learning (and having a great time) this summer with Camp Wonderopolis, a great free program that incorporates science, music, reading comprehension and more. Choose from themes including space travel, the Olympics and city building.
Get learning time in this summer with Varsity Tutors’ weeklong, totally free virtual summer camps. Running June through August, kids can sign up to make their own LEGO movie, crack detective cases and create their own worlds in Minecraft. Space is limited, so grab your spot soon.
Family Maker Camp
Get your whole crew involved with Family Maker Camp—it’s a great way to flex your imagination and create something new. Join in on one of their live streams or pick something that sounds interesting out of their project library. Before you know it, you’ll have built a hovercraft or a musical instrument.
MarcoPolo World School
Keep the summer boredom away with this fun digital learning platform. Kids ages three to seven can learn STEAM concepts while watching videos and participating in interactive online activities. You can try it out with a 30-day free trial; after that, it’s $9.99 a month.
MOCA Art Camp
MOCA North Miami is offering a virtual contemporary art experience with free Virtual Art Camps this summer. Kids ages six to 13 will be introduced to mixed media, painting, drawing and textile arts during Zoom workshops, and their final projects will be featured in a virtual exhibition on MOCA’s website. Space is limited, so be sure to sign up while you still can!
If you’re worried about getting your middle or high school kids up to speed in the new school year, Numerade has a fabulous (and free) solution. They’re offering free STEM summer camps covering SAT test prep, precalculus, physics and more.
Walk & Talk from Marathon Kids
Research shows that kids connect when they’re participating in an activity with you whether it’s cooking, playing outside or being creative. Non-profit organization Marathon Kids, which works to ignite the joy of physical activity in kids, is launching a free summer program in hopes of making this easier for parents. Simply walk a mile and talk while doing it. Each day you’ll receive a new prompt, there’s a special mileage tracker, and by the end, you’ll have walked the length of a marathon (26 miles) while getting to know your child better.
Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program
If you need an incentive to get the kids to go screen-free every once in a while, check out the Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program. Download a reading journal from the Barnes & Noble website, then have your little bookworm log each book as it’s completed. Once they’ve read eight books, bring the completed journal to your local Barnes & Noble between July 1 and Aug. 31 to get a free book.*** Score!
***Due to COVID-19, Check with your local store for updates on in-store activities.
LEGO Mini Builds & Magazine
Every month this summer, download the free instructions to a new LEGO mini build. In addition, your master builder can receive a free magazine as part of the LEGO life program. There are stories, activities and news updates for kids ages 5-9.
Microsoft Kids Camp
Microsoft normally offers free kids camp at their stores during the summer, but they’ve moved online for now. Kids can sign up for free online workshops to tour the Smithsonian, plan a virtual road trip, put their Minecraft skills to the test and more. Ages range from 6-14, and while the camps are free, advance registration is required.
Give your kids an exciting and engaging adventure this summer by joining forces with Mae Merriweather from the Grayson Academy of Antiquities. Starting on Jun. 1, 2020, your tiny treasure hunter can join other participants from all over the world to work hard, have fun and decode the clues that will lead one lucky winner to the mysterious Sunstone of Cortes.
How does it work? Kids will choose three electives out of 15 (depending on which package you select), including math, engineering, cooking, typing and even yoga, to solve each weekly challenge. Once solved, an original webisode containing the next hidden clue will be unlocked. The first treasure hunter to solve the mystery will jet off to unearth the real buried treasure—$1,000 in gold!
Cost: $99 and up. Click here for more information.
Your avid reader can help underprivileged kids gain access to books by keeping track of his total minutes read this summer. Sign up on Scholastic’s new Home Base to get started. As kids track their reading streaks, they’ll unlock fun videos, book excerpts and other exclusive summer content. For every two days in a row kids track their reading streaks, Scholastic, with the help of other sponsors, will donate a book (totaling up to 100,000 books) to underserved kids across the country. You can register here, and check out the info for parents here.
Ranger Rick Photo Contest
If you’ve got a budding Ansel Adams at home, the Ranger Rick photo contest is a great way to keep her busy over the summer. First, head for the great outdoors (or your own backyard) and have her take nature photos. Then, select her favorite one and send it in with proper sizing (2 MB or smaller, JPG format, at least 600 pixels wide or 600 pixels tall). If your kid doesn’t have a digital camera, no worries! Phone images are also accepted. Recent winners (this is an ongoing contest) are entered into the running for Ranger Rick’s “Your Best Shots” Magazine Award and are selected three times a year. Each winner receives a certificate of achievement and copies of the magazine featuring the winning image!
Kids That Do Good Volunteer Program
It’s never too early to instill the habit of giving to others. Have your little philanthropists sign up with Kids That Do Good this summer in order to spend time giving back to their local community. The online (kid-founded!) resource allows kids to get involved with a cause or charity of their choosing—or, if you’ve got real go-getters at home—create their own! Once you’ve created an account and found an organization, kids can track their service hours via social profiles and certificates. During Covid-19, they’re highlighting ways that you can volunteer safely from home, including sewing masks, transcribing historic documents and more.