News: Applications for Free Summer Camps, Two Central Park Playgrounds Close for Renovations, Broadway Auditions for Kids

1/21/15 - By Alina Adams

It's a whole lot of good news this week! (For once, right?) We've got the scoop on three FREE summer camps currently accepting applications, Central Park playgrounds currently undergoing renovations and how your kid can audition for an upcoming Broadway show. Plus an office with complimentary childcare? Sign us up! All that and more in this edition of our biweekly news post.


Openings, closings & renovations Parts of Central Park, Riverside Park and several Upper West Side school playgrounds are scheduled to get $12 million worth of upgrades in 2015. Popular Central Park romping spots Adventure Playground and Wild West Playground are already closed and undergoing renovations. The city promises all work will be completed in five months but if you have any experience with contractors you know that's probably an optimistic guestimate. We're hoping by summer!

For once, an old business is closing... and it's not in NYC! But New Yorkers will want to know that decades-old New Jersey stadium the Izod Center is set to close for at least two years while the state tries to figure out how to stop it from hemorrhaging money. It will go out with a bang: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey: Circus Xtreme is set to be its last show in March.

Park Slope's make-your-own batik boutique, Hiho Batik, recently opened a mini-location inside FAO Schwarz. Drop by the upper level to learn about the Asian art of using hot wax and dye to create funky patterns on fabric, and then decorate your own T-shirt or tote.  

FREE summer camps & classes In NYC, planning for summer camp begins in January... especially when the programs are FREE. GOALS (Greater Opportunities Advancing Leadership and Science) for Girls FREE STEM summer intensive at the Intrepid is currently accepting applications. All hopefuls must be female (obviously), and currently attend the eighth or ninth grade in NYC. Competition is fierce but if your girl fits the bill, she has until March 16 to apply. Meanwhile, Camp Rising Sun, a FREE summer sleepaway program for teens who have demonstrated strong leadership qualities, is also accepting applications through February 1. Applicants come from all over the world and must have been born between June 1, 1999 and June 1, 2001. Find out more online. Finally, we wrote an entire post about the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program for high school sophomores and juniors, which takes place in multiple cities including New York. Applications are currently being accepted so read our article and then apply online.

Meanwhile, Brooklyn makerspace Beam Center is offering FREE Sunday Workshops in its brand-new Columbia Street Waterfront District studio. Students in grades seven and up can try printmaking, action figure design and the intriguingly named Funky Pants. Advance registration is required.

Broadway auditions for little rockers The Broadway-bound musical School of Rock (yup, based on the Jack Black movie) is looking for a few good kid rockers. This Saturday, January 24 there will be an open call for singers and musicians ages 9 to 15 at the Winter Garden Theater. Sign in begins at 9am but we suspect the line will begin forming even earlier. Bring your own sheet music, instruments, picture and resume, and rock 'n' roll attitude. Can't make it on Saturday? You can audition online, too.

Random tidbits Tickets for the super-popular New York International Children's Film Festival go on sale next Wednesday, January 28. The family film fest takes place on weekends from February 27 to March 22 and judging from years past, a lot of screenings will sell out quickly. Sign up for NYICFF's email list to get a sneak peek at the lineup and to be reminded when tickets are available.

A few days ago we spotted these adorable penguin skate aids holding up a few unsteady kid skaters at the Bryant Park rink. They're available to rent for $20 per hour ($15 per half hour) . Hey, admission to the rink is free so they've got to make their money somehow, right?

Finally, from the why-aren't-all-workplaces-like-this pile, comes Brooklyn Explorers Academy's brilliant idea: an office with complimentary childcare! Independent contractors can rent semi-private office space on weekday mornings complete with Wi-Fi, printers and free babysitting by certified Play Experts. Reservations are recommended, as only five desks are available at any given time. I think I know where I'll be writing my next blog post.