8 Kid-Friendly Alternatives to Summer Camp

Young girl reading in the library during the summer

Summer camp options tend to fill up quickly – but don’t worry if you missed the boat. There are plenty of summer camp alternatives that will keep your children entertained – and enriched – while school is out.

Summer camps are a common choice among parents — and might be so common that they’re already full. What else can you put on the schedule that will keep your child entertained? Take a look at these eight summer camp alternatives.

Check out programs at museums and zoos. These local organizations offer fun, educational experiences for children — and some even organize “free days” each month, which can help save you money. Many museums and zoos also offer kid-friendly summer programs – such as art classes, science exploration, and more.

Go to the library. In addition to a summer reading program, your local library likely offers a variety of other programs for children. Look for story time, visits from other local organizations like the aquarium, puppet shows, or craft time.

Consider community farms. Search for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in your area — they’re sprouting like weeds these days! Many offer farmer-led activities for kids who like to dig in and get dirty.

Invite special visitors. If you and your family don’t have much time to travel over the summer, invite others to visit and stay with you. Even when you have to work, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and family friends can help entertain your child while you’re gone during the day. Plus, these get-togethers can strengthen family bonds.

Go for a swim. Visit your local community pool and see what they have planned for summer. You’ll likely find the typical swimming lessons, but you might also find that they host family swim days or other water-based activities your child can enjoy.

Tap into local organizations. Your local parks and recreation department may also be a helpful resource. Not only do they offer day camps, they might also offer activities such as a variety of sports, family movie nights, art, music, cooking, yoga, dance, or theater.

Explore nature. Whether you live in the middle of a city or a more rural area, nature is everywhere. Take trips to local parks and urban gardens with your child, observe the plants growing on your own street, venture out to the state park, or go for a hike. You can also tap into Audubon Societies — their programs offer topics ranging from ecology to STEM and can give your child a different look at their local habitat. The opportunities are endless!

Volunteer in your community. Introduce your child to the idea of giving back by volunteering at a local animal shelter or nursing home, or make cards or care packages for people in a local hospital or troops overseas.

If summer camps are full…or you’d rather do something different for your child this year, try these suggestions for summer fun!

Written by: Bright Horizons Education Team

February 18, 2020

About the Author

Teacher reading to a toddler boy and girl

Whether you’re looking for parenting advice, or trying to figure out how to bring learning from the classroom to the family room, let Bright Horizons early education experts be your trusted, knowledgeable resource. Get our weekly newsletter for all things early child development—from the benefits of pretend play to at-home STEM activities, and teaching kindness—along with encouragement for every stage of your parenting journey.