Free and Affordable Summer Camps in DC, Maryland, & Northern Virginia

The DC Department of Parks & Recreation offers a variety of affordable summer camps, including football camp. Photo at Edgewood Rec Center, courtesy of  DC Parks & Recreation
The DC Department of Parks & Recreation offers a variety of affordable summer camps, including football camp. Photo at Edgewood Rec Center, courtesy of DC Parks & Recreation
2/18/24 - By Meredith Kiryakov

Summer break is magical for kids, but summer camps near DC can sure be expensive. If you’re looking for a day camp that will keep your kids happy, safe, and entertained without breaking your budget, we’ve found 14 summer camps in DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia that are reasonably priced and full of fun—plus a FREE virtual camp!

From traditional day camps to coding and STEM camps to music and art camps, there’s an affordable summer camp option to fit every child’s interest—from preschoolers all the way through teens—in the DC area. Registration has already begun for many of these popular camps, so sign up soon!

For more summer camps in the DC metro area, including great picks for preschool summer camps near DC, be sure to bookmark our Washington DC Summer Camp Guide and our< a href=""> Camp Directory, where you can search for summer camps by type, age, and town.


Affordable Summer Camps in Washington, DC

1. DC Department of Parks & Recreation Summer Camps

The DC Department of Parks & Recreation offers some of the most affordable summer camps in the region. Its REC day camp for kids ages 6-12 starts at around $80 per week, with before- and after-care costing around $20 if needed. Its specialty camps and traditional camps for younger kids are also very reasonable, starting at under $150 per week. Reduced rates are also available for DC-resident families that qualify. A lottery system is used to give all families an equal chance at securing a coveted camp spot.

2. Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington Summer Camps

This non-profit offers eight weeks of summer camp for only $100 per week at its George M. Ferris, Jr. Clubhouse 6 location. With camp running from 9am-6pm, that's a steal! Children ages 6-13 who are member of the Boys & Girls Club are welcome to attend. The camp offers all sorts of fun activities, including sports, arts and crafts, technology, field trips, and swimming.

At its FBR Club @THEARC location, the Boys & Girls Club welcomes campers ages 6-18 for eight weeks of themed summer fun from 9am-5pm. Camp includes breakfast and lunch, a weekly field trip, and daily activities including sports, games, and arts and crafts. The camp includes an academic component to help combat summer learning loss.

3. DC-ICE Summer Skating Camp

At DC-ICE's summer skating camp at the Anacostia Park Skating Pavilion, campers can practice their inline skating, swim, play sports, and more. Parents can choose a half-day camp from 9am-12pm for $125 per week, a full-day camp from 9am-3pm for $250 per week, or an extended-day camp from 9am-6pm for $325 per week.

RELATED: STEM Summer Camps in DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia

Free and Affordable Summer Camps Near DC: S.H.E. Can STEAM 
S.H.E. Can STEAM is a free aviation summer camp for students in grades 6-8. Photo courtesy of the program

Free & Affordable Summer Camps in Northern Virginia

4. S.H.E. Can STEAM Camp — Chantilly, FREE

Students in grades 6-8 can apply online to attend this free weeklong aviation camp at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. Campers receive hands-on flight instruction on FAA-certified simulators, take off on a 30-minute discovery flight with a local flight school, participate in indoor skydiving or outdoor zip lining, launch a rocket, visit air traffic control facilities, and more. Lunch and snacks are provided.

Applications are due March 31, 2024, and priority is given to students who attend Title I or Title I eligible school or qualify for free or reduced lunches.

5. Fairfax County Department of Parks & Recreation Summer Camps

The Fairfax County Park Authority is one of the largest providers of summer camps in the region, with a huge range of camp options for residents of Fairfax County, Fairfax City, and Falls Church. The Rec-PAC program for kids in grades 1-6 is the most affordable option at less than $125 per week for up to six weeks. Partial scholarships are available based on need. The variety day camps—Kiddie Camp for preschoolers, Junior ROCS for ages 5-7, and Summer ROCS for ages 8-12—are open to non-county residents for a small fee and are also fairly affordable, as are full-day themed camps.

6. Fairfax City Summer Camps

The City of Fairfax offers popular summer day camps that run for six weeks from late June through late July for kids in preschool through 8th grade. Little School Summer Camp for preschoolers runs from 9am-1pm and costs less than $1,000 for all six weeks. Camps for elementary- and middle-schoolers cost a bit more for the six-week session, but run from 8am-4pm. Financial assistance is available for Fairfax City residents who qualify. There are also full-day speciality camps such as art camps, LEGO camps, and cooking camps.

RELATED: Top Summer Camps for Preschoolers in DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia

Free and Affordable Summer Camps Near DC: Arlington County Parks & Rec camps
Art is just one of the themes at Arlington County Parks & Rec camps.

7. Arlington County Department of Parks & Recreation Summer Camps

Arlington County’s summer day camps for ages 3-14 start at less than $150 per week for half-day camps and $200 per week for full-day programs. These camps offer traditional summer fun with themed weeks, swimming, arts and crafts, and more. For teens and tweens, the Summertime Thrills Camp includes daily trips to amusement parks, water parks, state parks, and other fun destinations in the DMV. Arlington County also offers inclusive camps for kids with special needs, though those cost a bit more.

8. Alexandria Department of Parks & Recreation Summer Camps

The Alexandria Department of Parks & Rec offers a wide variety of traditional day camps and themed summer camps for kids ages 3-18. Full-day options start at under $200 per week. City of Alexandria residents can also participate in the Summer Power-On/Power-Up program, which costs less than $500 for all eight weeks of camp and runs from 9am-6pm. Even more discounts are available for families that qualify.

Affordable Summer Camps in Maryland

9. Montgomery County Department of Parks & Recreation Summer Camps

Montgomery County Parks & Rec offers several affordable day camps. The Summer Outdoor Adventure camp for kids ages 6-12 is a particularly good deal, costing less than $200 for six weeks of camp from 8:30am-3:30pm. Before- and after-care is available for most camps for an additional fee. Another great option is the Summer Fun Centers: For around $200, families can drop off their kids ages 6-12 for supervised activities from 8am-6pm for six weeks.

10. Idea Lab STEAM Summer Camps

If you have a future scientist or doctor in the family, check out Idea Lab’s STEAM summer camps, located in Howard County and Baltimore. The camps cover all types of science, from veterinary medicine to forensic science to game development. There’s even a hocus-pocus wizarding science camp. The camps are for ages 5-11 and start at under $200 per week. Before- and after-care is also available for an added fee.

11. Camp Sonshine — Germantown & Silver Spring

Camp Sonshine is an affordable Christian camp program with locations in Silver Spring and Germantown for kids ages 4-15. Prices vary by age, starting at $350 per week for preschoolers and kindergartners. There are also multi-week and military discounts available, as well as financial assistance for families that qualify. Kids in 7th through 9th grades can add overnight stays to their week of camp for an additional fee. Regular camp hours are 9am-3:30pm, with extended care (which costs extra) starting at 7am and ending at 6pm.

RELATED: Fun Sports Summer Camps Near DC

Free and Affordable Summer Camps Near DC: HoopEd Nation
Little ballers will love HoopEd Nation's basketball camps.

Summer Camps with Multiple Locations, Plus a FREE Virtual Day Camp

12. HoopEd Nation Summer Camps

If your kids are all about sports—especially basketball—send them to HoopEd Nation summer camps, with locations throughout Montgomery County and DC. HoopEd Nation offers traditional day camps with a variety of sports and games, basketball camps, and splash camps at the pool for kids ages 4-15. Day camps start at less than $350 per week for full-day programs from 9am-3pm.

13. YMCA of Greater Washington Summer Camps

Sing it with me... it’s fun to camp at the Y-M-C-A! With locations throughout the DC metro area, the Y is a great place to find affordable summer camps for kids ages 4-15, though it's important to note that camps may require families to be full or program members. Camp hours are 7:30am-6:30pm, longer than most other day camps and perfect for working parents. At around $300 per week on average, that's a steal. Day camp themes include animals, sports, cooking, STEM, and more. If you’re looking for a sleepaway camp that’s more affordable, the YMCA's Camp Letts starts at around $900 per week and offers flexible payment plans and need-based scholarships.

14. Apple Camp 

If your kid can't let go of the screen for outdoor excitement, why fight it? This camp is a two-hour session at your local Apple store where kids  learn how to create a comic book on an iPad. This isn't a drop-off opportunity, however: Apple makes it very clear that all campers must have a parent or legal guardian on-site for the duration of Apple Camp. With free wifi and often a Starbucks within eyeshot, of course, that's not much of a sacrifice. Pre-registration is required, and these usually fill up early.

15. Girls Who Code Virtual Summer Camp — FREE

Girls Who Code offers a free—yes, free—virtual two-week or six-week STEM summer camp for high school students. Students in the two-week program can even apply for a stipend of up to $300 per week to offset income they might have otherwise earned. The two- or six-week programs run for up to five hours per day and teach web development programming languages. Students must apply by late March.

All photos courtesy of the camps or organizations

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