It is (slowly) warming up outside, and it is now officially "Spring". That means we are into our last semester of school for the year and then we have that lovely long summer break!
Summer camp is a bit of a foreign concept to us Aussies, who are used to warm days at the beach, running around in your backyard with the sprinklers on the lawn or swimming in your own pool. As New Yorkers we no longer have those easy & cheap options...which is where summer camp comes in.
Planning summer camp can be a bit dauniting. There are so many options - even kids as young as 2 years can be involved in a camp activity. Camp choices range from sport, cooking, dance, STEM, art ... and the list goes on. if you can imagine it theres's a camp for it! If you have older kids you also have the option of them attending 'sleep away' camp where they stay overnight (over several nights), albeit at a price..
Most of your preschools or kids cubs will offer a summer program for little ones (at an additional fee of course - it is New York City after all!) These are a good way to keep your preschoolers entertained over the summer and really does not feel like much of a change to your current routine.
If your preschool does not offer a summer program you can check out the following.
For kids 5 years and older the search begins.... my kids have been doing the summer camp thing for a few years now. We like to mix it up and do a few different camps over the summer and a few weeks at home doing our own thing - this also has the added benefit of making the summer a bit more affordable as most camp options are not cheap.
There are literally hundreds of camp options in NYC so below is a general list that covers a wide range of different interests and camps that we have been involved in over the years.
Chelsea Piers- New York's ultimate sports playground, for big kids and little kids. offering 16 different sports camp options located in Chelsea on the Hudson River. It is a great set up - lots of professional coaches, equipment and space (though you do pay a premium to enjoy all that prime NYC space!) They also offer transport and before and after care. A new addition is a short week option which runs 2 or 3 days a week and starts at $320 per week (or $670+ per week for a full week program depending on your sport option.) They also offer "Earlybird" specials if you register before May 18 - so hop to it!
Riverside Parks- Taking advantage of the lovely park space, courts and fields along the Hudson river on riverside park between 96th -110t street, this is a more affordable camp option for kids aged 4-14. Sport options include basketball, soccer, tennis, baseball, flag football. Half day options from $375per week or full day from $475 per week.
Kids in the Game - A multi sport option - every day your kids play a different sport and participate in different activities including art, craft, dance. They also go on a couple of offsite field trips (for example, Yankees stadium, Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium etc.) Camp counselors at KING are former college athletes or fitness coaches ... so no slacking off!
Kids in the game have a few camp locations throughout the city and and in Westchester and typically run $550 or so per week.
The Baseball Centre NYC - Located on the Upper West Side at 74th & Broadway, and coached by professional staff, The Baseball Center provides inside and outside baseball training in a fun environment. No prior baseball skills are required (which I can attest to) and they cater to kids aged 4 and up. They are pretty flexible, giving you the option to sign up for a day at $125 or for a week at $535. If your kids are new to baseball, signing up for a day or two will let them test things out before you commit to a longer period of time.
Broadway Dance Center- Offers classes for boys and girls to dance, run around and have fun. The Center welcomes dancers of all levels and caters to a variety of styles inc ballet, jazz, hip hop, musical theatre, tumbling/acrobatics, acting & breakdance, from ages 3-14 years.
1-2 weeks will run you $435 a week if you book by May 15.
92Y- Well known on the Upper East Side as "the" place to go for camp and general sport activities. From gymnastics, dance, music, swim, adventure and arts programs there are plenty of choices at this East 92nd Street Jewish community centre. Prices vary depending on the activities but you should budget around $800+ per week (Welcome to the Upper East Side guys).
Downtown Day Camp - For kids aged 4-14, this camp offers a wide range of sports including aquatics, athletics, arts and STEM. The Tribeca location has a pool and outdoor ball fields.
Two weeks of camp run from $2095 and 6 weeks is around $4645.
YMCA- With 20 locations all over the 5 boroughs, 'The Y" offers both, day camps and sleepaway camps. Each location may have a slightly different program given the facilities available at that location, In Manhattan, The Upper West Side, Harlem and Midtown East locations offer swimming, arts, many sports with rates starting at $485 per week. Check the website for each locations individual programs.
Swim & STEM Camp - Physique & NORY- I love this concept for summer camp - swimming, soccer, & STEM activities. Basically they offer swim and /or sport in the morning then STEM activities in the afternoon. They also do field trips. $730 per week, min. 3 weeks.
TasteBuds - Cooking camp - a hands on cooking experience for kids aged 4 years - 17years. Located on W 27th, TasteBuds offers lots of half day options with different recipes every day (they typically do both a savory and sweet dish each day.) Morning and afternoon options are available (e.g., 10am -1pm or 1pm-4pm.) Daily rates start at approximately $100 depending on recipes / theme or $450+ for the week.
NYSC- You are probably familiar with New York Sports clubs as they have locations all over the 5 boroughs and in Westchester. Many of their locations offer some type of summer camp. Lots of sports based play plus arts and crafts. If you are at a location with a pool they will include swim time. The location on 63rd and Westend Ave has a pool. Full and half day programs are available and the rates are usually more affordable than other camp options - full week $354, half day $239 per week or a daily rate of $79.
NYC Parks - offer a FREE summer camp which includes sports and outdoor activities. It is a lottery system and is very popular so you can enter the lottery online at NYCParks
Registration for the lottery is March 1 - March 11, so this does not help you for this year but keep it in mind for next year!
There are many many more options for camp, a great resource which lists nearly every camp in NYC is the Mommy Poppins website.
Disclaimer- all prices are approximate only and may vary or change from time of publication.