Traditional camps may be closed (though Parks & Rec camps are opening July 6th, with modifications), but there’s still time to get kids of all ages involved in meaningful summer activities. We talked to leaders in Philly’s youth programming and nonprofit worlds to find a mix of activities for every age, and every interest—including several that do good, too.
PS: Have you heard of a great activity that’s not featured here? Send it our way—we’ll continually update this list.
FOR THE KID WHO LOVES…
ArtWell, the nonprofit that provides underserved youth and communities in Philadelphia with empowering, multidisciplinary arts programs, is introducing a new summer program: Called JumpstART, its mission is “to create an outlet for joy, wellness, connection, and creation amidst the racial tension and injustice in our world and the pandemic,” explains ArtWell’s founder and executive director, Susan Teegen. The series will include regular online performances, children’s workshops, a social action project, and Instagram spotlights on Black Philadelphia Artists and community arts organizations. All proceeds will go to support ArtWell’s mission. For dates, details, and to register, go here.
Ages 5 and up
Main Line Art Center is offering virtual camp for the entire summer, Monday through Friday from 9 to 10:30 am, with all supplies included; fees are $125 for members and $141 for non-members.
Pre-Teen and teen Studios are currently virtual but will move to onsite camp beginning July 13th. For now, virtual pre-teen and teen studios run Monday to Friday, from 10 AM to 1:00 PM; supplies are included, and fees are $240 for members and $266 for non-members. Onsite studios will include morning and afternoon sessions in a variety of mediums including ceramics, painting, drawing, comics, digital photo and more. This year’s camp theme: Exploring New Worlds (something we all can relate to these days…). The vibe is social, encouraging and fun. Go here for details.
The Handwork Studio in Narberth is selling these at-home creativity kits.
Association for Public art has these free activities like coloring prompts, mazes, connect the dots, and more.
Ages 3-12 (Adult programs too!)
Kitchen Wizards has suspended its in-person programming, but it’s offering tons of virtual classes and camps (for kids and adults). “Children develop confidence working in the kitchen, learn a life skill, and share the ‘fruits of their labor’ with the family,” says KW owner and president Kathy Wolper. “Taking pride in what they’ve created helps their self-esteem, too.” Individual classes start at $10; for more info, head here.
Dancing Classrooms Philly is working with its affiliate in NYC to offer new online dance opportunities. Its Summer Intensives are open for returning and new students anywhere in the U.S. and provide a diverse lineup of one-week dance intensives for children ages 10 to 18, at all skill levels. Taking place July 13th to 17th and July 20th to 24th, students can choose from one-hour courses in a range of styles, from lindy hop to salsa to tango. The weekly rate is $125, and families can build a schedule with multiple classes per day, with sibling discounts and package rates available. For full course descriptions, times, and to register please go here. For more information, including requests for financial assistance, email [email protected].
Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, the Bala Cynwyd-based initiative that has raised hundreds of millions of dollars to support pediatric cancer research, encourages supporters to host socially-distant lemonade stands to raise money for the cause—they’ll host their annual Lemonade Days, a week-long, national effort rallying people to host stands nationwide, from August 1st to 9th. And in addition to Lemonade Days, they’re hosting their virtual Million Mile fundraiser in September, which encourages supporters to collectively walk, run or bike one million miles for childhood cancer. Plus, they have a new gaming program that encourages gamers to fundraise online.
Snapology, the Philly play spaces that fuel fun with LEGO, K’Nex, and all kinds of tech, is continuing to offer online classes as well as a few in-person camps. Info about both lives here and here. Online classes are $10 each with discounts for signing up for a five-day package, and in-person camps are $300 per week, per camper.
LITERACY FOR BLACK AND BROWN STUDENTS
Online program for rising 1st-3rd graders; volunteer opportunities for all ages
The Center for Black Educator Development will be hosting its Freedom Schools Literacy Academy online this year, for rising first, second, and third grade Black and Brown students. The African-centered program, which boasts a faculty of master Black educators and gifted Black student-teachers, will run for four weeks, from July 13th to August 7th, from 8:30am to 10:30am—enrollment is free, but space is limited (and the deadline is Monday, June 29th). Participants will cultivate even greater pride in being a Black and Brown child, potentially jump two phonics levels, grow a home library, and experience calming mindfulness, read-alouds, movement breaks, Harambee “Pull-Together” Circles, and much more. Register here, and find out about volunteer and donor opportunities here.
Open to all students in grades 3 and up who attend Philly schools
Rock to the Future is offering free online programming Monday through Thursday, from workshops on remixes and sampling, to beginner guitar, music theory, keyboards, vocals, and more. Go here for the complete schedule and info.
The Free Library is presenting its Summer of Wonder. From June 1st until August 31st, kids, teens, and adults can sign up online to collect points and earn badges for Summer of Wonder activities and time spent reading. There will also be Virtual Programming for fun craft and maker activities, storytimes and book clubs, gaming and STEM programs. And, for easy-to-do, literacy-rich activity ideas, check out their Reading Champs Guide and weekly blog posts with activity ideas, videos, and online program highlights from neighborhood libraries.
Grades 1 – 4
United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey (UWGPSNJ) is piloting a free virtual summer reading program to help students stay on track with reading goals ahead of school re-openings this fall: The Vello Summer Reading Program will run from June 22nd through August 27th and pair children with trained virtual reading mentors. Together, students and volunteers will read e-books using encrypted Zoom screen sharing and audio twice per week. The deadline to register your child is Monday, July 13th. For more information and to register, visit here.
Join the Free Library’s Field Teen Center for its virtual reading lounge and ‘zine-making here.
Girls on the Run (GOTR), the nonprofit that empowers girls and helps them build confidence through running, has created Power Up, a new at-home activity kit and running curriculum. Designed to fuel a girl’s mind, body and spirit, the 16 lessons emphasize the important connection between physical and emotional health. Each activity helps girls learn important skills such as how to cope when things get difficult, demonstrate care for self and others, and practice positivity. For $49, participants will receive a Power Up Activity Book, a GRL PWR t-shirt, physical activity guide, completion certificate, plus a few other surprises, delivered directly to your door. Click here to purchase—kits are limited in supply and only available until August 1st. (Please complete this interest form if you are in need of financial assistance.)
SCIENCE & TECH
For more than 20 years, Science Explorers has provided kids with hands-on programming that helps them fall in love with science. And this summer, they’re offering interactive virtual STEAM camps and super-stimulating DIY, at-home STEAM kits. For the former, kids will spend between two and three hours each day, Monday through Friday starting the week of July 6th, enjoying live instruction and peer collaboration (AM and PM sessions are available). For the latter, kids will receive five or ten STEAM lessons with corresponding pre-recorded, instructor-led demos that they can conduct at their own pace (or yours). Visit here for more info, and use code “STEM” for $15 off.
iD Tech’s Virtual Tech Camps provide a home-based option for students who love tech, with structured, weeklong sessions with two hours of live instruction per day plus two hours of self-paced project development. Curriculum options include Python, Java, Minecraft, Roblox, AI, Unreal Engine, Adobe, 3D modeling, and more. There are five students max allowed per instructor, which provides a blend of personalized learning and team interaction. Online private lessons, where students can learn one-on-one through project-based course bundles or custom tutoring lessons, are also available. Virtual Tech Camps are $399 with code TOGETHER, and private lessons are $70, with discounted rates available. Visit here for info on camps and here for details on lessons.
Take a virtual tour of the heart, test science experiments, check out the International Space Station, and more, with Franklin Institute’s at-home resources here.
Girls Scouts of Eastern PA is offering Camp@Home, five week-long sessions with different themes, led by Girl Scouts staff with activities delivered both online and at your door. Fees start at $50 per week, and financial assistance is available. Complete info is here.
Incoming first graders on up
Boy Scouts of America is also offering virtual camps, which will enable participants to interact with fellow Scouts from across the country while learning new skills. Full info is here.
Campers must be at least 9 and have previous experience with Skate the Foundry
Middle school students
Interfaith Philadelphia will run a virtual version of their Interfaith Youth Neighborhood Mosaic Summer program for middle school-aged youth during the week of August 17th. The program aims to celebrate each student’s individual’s identity and cultural diversity of Philadelphia. Students will receive a kit with activities, art supplies, and culturally diverse snacks. Each morning students will meet for 90 minutes over Zoom and engage in guided art and dialogue activities, connect with fellow students, and experience local religious and cultural communities virtually. The program is free and they’ll have 40 spaces open with 20 reserved for youth who live in South Philadelphia. Register here.
Yes! And…Collaborative Arts in Germantown is hosting its summer programming online from July 6th to August 14th. Kids in grades K to 4 can participate in “Yes! And…Anywhere Screen Share,” in which they’ll gather each morning over Zoom to play games, meet characters, learn new skills, and imagine together. In the afternoon, they’ll enjoy recorded classes in subjects like music, movement, and visual art. (This program is being offered on a pay-what-you-want basis.)
Students in grades 5 through 8 can join “Theatre Camp 2D: This Time, It’s Virtual.” In these two-week sessions, middle schoolers will learn new skills, play games, create stories and characters, and celebrate their creativity with some of Yes! And’s favorite artist teachers. As always, camperships (financial supports) are available.
And students in grades 9 through 12 can join “Shadow Company.” Typically, the teen company creates and rehearses a performance to perform live during the Fringe Festival. This year, their stage will be online: Virtual Shadow Programming will include several scheduled Zoom discussions, group activities, and workshops, with personal work assigned in between. Teens will then rehearse and perform via Zoom and Social Media. Learn more about all our programs and register here.
Both Youth Volunteer Corp of Greater Philadelphia and The City of Philadelphia have resources to connect your kid with service opportunities. Download YVC’s free app for a complete list of current opportunities, and check here for the City’s updated database.
High school students
Vote That Jawn is continuing its work with interns from Philadelphia high schools and colleges to amplify youth voice and support youth vote. Volunteers are needed to spread the word on social media, show up at socially-distanced live registration events, and help with online campaigns from the urgent to the whimsical. Email [email protected] with details about the work you’d like to do to help get as many first-time voters to the polls as possible this November!
Online workshops for ages 2-17, and volunteer opportunities for ages 14-18
Mighty Writers is offering summer writing activities online all summer for students of all ages; for a complete list, see here. They’re also looking for teen volunteers: At the moment, student volunteers are taking on important work, like packing and sorting items (meals, diapers, formula) and assisting in handing them out to families. They’re also doing outreach to connect with their communities to spread the word about Mighty Writers’ programs. For more info on volunteering, email [email protected] with the subject line “teen volunteer.”
The Nest’s new online subscription service offers virtual field trips, yoga, art, science, and more.
Camp Kinda and Outschool are national programs offering online summer programming for every interest under the sun, from fashion design to baseball cards to zoology and more. And check out Lavner Camps and ESF’s online programming.
Many of independent schools are offering online summer programing, Check out
Germantown Academy, Friends’ Central Summer Programs, The Philadelphia School, St. Peters School, Friends Select, Germantown Friends, as well as summer program opportunities from the School District of Philadelphia.
Additional reporting by Sophie Borgenicht and Elena Musher Eisenstadt.