Free Summer Camps and Programs for New York City Teens and Tweens

Free or low cost New York City summer programs for tweens and teens

With the weather we've been having lately it's hard to think about summer, but for teens and tweens now is the time to sign up for some of the city's coolest summer programs. A number of free summer programs for tweens and tweens have applications available now, or soon, and these highly coveted spots fill up quickly. In fact, some free programs have already filled up. Think past the snow, we'll help you: here are some great summer camps, that are right here in New York City, to consider for you older kid's summer.

Girls of Summer

Current 8th and 9th grade girls from NYC public schools can apply for a FREE six week summer camp at the Intrepid Museum. Camp G.O.A.L.S. (Greater Opportunities Advancing Leadership and Science) for Girls is an application-based camp for that helps kids build proficiency in math and science. The camp uses hands-on activities and field studies to explore aeronautics, engineering, marine science, medical science and space/astronomy.

The camp runs 9am - 3pm with an overnight aboard the Intrepid on the last day. Campers get an unlimited Metrocard so they can even get to camp for free.

To apply, download the application and teacher recommendation form. For more information, contact Shay Saleem at or 646-381-5168  or

Rising Seniors

Apollo Theater Summer Internship
There is not information about this program for the summer of 2013 on their website yet. But check over the next few months for updates. High school students going into their senior year can intern at The Apollo Theater. The six week Summer Internship Program, for teens interested in non-performance careers in the arts, pairs teens with staff members of the Apollo Theater Foundation in: Box Office, Community Outreach, Development, Education, Events Management, Information Technology, Marketing and Public Relations, Organizational Leadership, Programming, and Technical Production.

Interns work seven hour days, Monday through Friday, early July through mid August. There is no fee - in fact, interns receive a small weekly stipend, but are responsible for their own meals and transportation.
Students attend seminars and workshops, and receive hands-on training to develop leadership skills and experience a real work environment. They also build industry contacts. Interns must commit to attending the entire program and orientation sessions.

Applications for the Summer Internship Program will be available in March and are due in April. The program is open to all rising seniors, and is highly competitive. For more information and an application, call 212-531-5348, or go to

Home on the Range

Junior Rangers
The NYC Department of Parks & Recreation runs a low cost Junior Ranger summer program for kids ages 8-11. Not free, but very reasonable. The nature-based camp, in Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan, Marine Park, Brooklyn, Crotona Park, Bronx and Blue Heron Park, Staten Island, includes canoeing, fishing and camping out in the park. Each week focuses on a different activity, from ecology to insects to outdoor survival.

Looking ahead

Wingspan Arts Summer Theater Conservatory
Wingspan Arts Summer Conservatory programs are FREE theater programs and book early.  You really have to plan ahead - applications are due in September for the following summer. So this is one to bookmark for next year.

Wingspan offers pre-professional theater training classes for 9-12th graders and creative theater classes for those going into 5-8th grade. Children create their own productions from beginning to end. Even the youngest kids write and produce their own full-scale performance learning playmaking, acting, singing, and dancing as they go. The day is split between performance rehearsals and performing arts classes with a break for outdoor play, games and lunch.

Louis Jonas Foundation Camps
The Louis August Jonas Foundation has two FREE sleepaway camps, one for high school boys in Red Hook, NY and one for high school girls in Clinton Corners, NY. The international camps combine Team Work, Instruction on a variety of subjects, including music, art, drama and fitness, and Project Time, which develops leadership skills. Outdoor activities include hiking, canoeing and swimming, and campers have access to a pool and basketball court for unstructured time.  This is a highly competitive program so apply early.  

Find more free and inexpensive summer programs for kids.

Originally published February 6, 2011

New York , NY
New York