Last fall we wrote a post about camps for Election Day and Veterans Day to help out all of those working parents who can't take every school holiday off. Now Martin Luther King Day is coming up on Monday, January 21, and despite the fact that it's a federal holiday (not to mention Obama's public Inauguration Day), we know a lot of moms and dads may need to go into the office (like me!).
On these one-off school holidays, it's often hard to find coverage but we did the work for you and came up with 13 awesome sounding camps, many offering a full day of activities (although a few are half-day in case you can get out early). While you slave away, your children get to enjoy soccer, cooking, theater, robotics and chess, plus special volunteer opportunities in the spirit of the Martin Luther King Day of Service. Makes us wish we could trade places with our kids.
NYC is My Backyard Does Compassion – Battery Park City
Winter Garden at the World Financial Center, 220 Vesey Street at West Street
A local public school teacher founded this unique program which treats NYC as the ultimate classroom (kind of like we do here at Mommy Poppins). Much like the camp that was offered on Veterans Day, the MLK Day program is all about community service in our city. Kids will tackle age-appropriate projects like wrapping gifts for children in hospitals and making cards for senior citizens, as well as more hands-on opportunities.
TADA! Musical Theater Camps – Chelsea
15 West 28th Street between Fifth Avenue and Broadway
My seven-year-old daughter did two weeks of TADA! camp last summer (that's her in the photo) and she just adored it—she still frequently sings the numbers she learned. The theme for MLK Day is I Have a Dream, so we're guessing children will come away crooning a few civil rights tunes in addition to Broadway standards. Families can even come see what their little stars learned at a mini-performance at the end of the day.
Brooklyn Robot Foundry – Gowanus
303 Third Avenue near Carroll Street
$135, extended hours available for an additional fee
Robots and MLK Day? Well why not. At this awesome Brooklyn studio, kids will learn about Dr. King's 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and then create a model of the route, from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial. Finally, they'll build moving and talking robots to populate it. That sounds seriously cool.
RoboFun – Upper West Side
2672 Broadway near 102nd Street
$160, extended hours available for an additional fee
RoboFun is a favorite of Mommy Poppins founder Anna's son. Students in first through sixth grades get to build working LEGO robots, which helps hone their math, science and engineering skills.
New York Chess & Games – Prospect Heights
192 Flatbush Avenue at Dean Street
This Brooklyn chess shop hosts a day-long camp for kids of all skill levels. Participants will also play board games and visit Dean Street Playground, weather permitting.
NYChess Kids Camp – Greenwich Village and the Upper East Side
The Marshall Chess Club, 23 West 10th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues/Chess NYC @ Zinc, 82 West 3rd Street between Sullivan and Thompson Streets
PS 183, Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary School, 67th Street between First and York Avenues
$100 for full day, $60 for half day
More chess fun: Players of all levels can work on their skills with professional instruction, there's even grandmaster coaching from Rashad Babaev. In addition, there will be breaks for sports and open play.
Backpacks + Binoculars – Downtown Brooklyn
NY City Explorers, 110 Schermerhorn Street at Boerum Place
$125, extended hours to 6pm offered at no additional cost
The brainchild of NY City Explorers, this program brings kids to one iconic NYC institution each day. For MLK Day, campers will travel to Harlem's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, where they'll learn about his legacy and African-American history. Bonus: Although camp officially ends at 4pm, kids can stay and romp in the play space until 6pm for no additional fee.
Taste Buds – Chelsea
109 West 27th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues
In this half-day cooking camp, kids will prepare confetti couscous and rainbow cupcakes, and get to sample their eats. If you're lucky, they may even bring you a doggy bag.
HiArt! – Chelsea
227 West 29th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues
$175 for full day
There's always something creative going on at this Chelsea studio. On MLK Day, educators help young artists explore a wide variety of mediums, including photography, mixed media, painting, sculpture and manga. There's also a half-day program for children ages 3 to 5 and their adult companions for $95.
14th Street Y – East Village
344 East 14th Street between First and Second Avenues
The Y's regular after-school program is holding a one-day holiday camp for both member and non-member children in kindergarten through fifth grades. Kids will design a cover for their own notepad and an additional one to give away to charity. There's an additional fee of $20 if you register on the day of the program.
Aviator Sports & Events Center Holiday Break Camp – Marine Park
Floyd Bennett Field, 3159 Flatbush Avenue
$88 per day; extended hours available for an additional fee
Kids can have all kinds of athletic fun at this massive Brooklyn facility. Ice-skating, sports, games and movies are all on tap, and lunch and snacks are provided.
Pro Hoops NYC – East Harlem
PS 38, 102nd Street and Second Avenue
Girls and boys in grades six through 12 can work on their basketball skills and play friendly games in this half-day clinic run by two former college players. All participants snag T-shirts.
Super Soccer Stars – Manhattan and Brooklyn
Whether your young Pele is just starting out or wants to bend it like Beckham, kids can get their game on at two half-day camps.
Ages 2 1/2-5
$80-$90 per day depending on location
Young athletes learn basic soccer techniques and also enjoy arts and crafts, and free play.
Kick It! Clinics
Older kids can develop their soccer skills and play friendly games.