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Free summer camp for all NYC kids? This City Council bill could make it happen

By Oliver Strand
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Could summer camp be free for all New York City kids? Yesterday, two City Council members introduced legislation that will make camp cost the same as a visit to Central Park or a ride on the Staten Island Ferry: Absolutely nothing.

The proposed Universal Summer Youth Programs sets out to accomplish at least two tasks: One, it firms up the budget for current free summer camp programs—right now, that funding is approved as late as June, which leaves families uncertain about what camps are available, and scrambling to apply for spots at the last minute. Two, it will bring free community-based summer camps to all NYC youth by the summer of 2022.

This comes at a time of the year when many families are strategizing about what to do with the summer. If you're a NYC parent, you're working out schedules (and budgets) for what your children will be doing in June, July and August—this is when you start enrolling your little ones in academic summer camps NYC kids love, and cool science camps 2020 has in store. In the near future, Universal Summer Youth Programs could be one of your options, offering something like a play-based extension of the school year only with tons of outdoor summer activities for kids: Your little New Yorker would be engaged, learning and having fun all year long.

The legislation was introduced by Debi Rose (Staten Island) and Ben Kallos (Manhattan). According to Rose, "Summer programs are invaluable experiences that build self-esteem, social skills, leadership skills and friendships in a safe, constructive environment. They also help curb summer learning loss," she said in a statement. "It is time we build on our successes with early childhood education in the city and give all students seeking a spot in a summer program the opportunity to participate." 

The proposed Universal Summer Youth Programs will benefit all New York families, but it will be particularly important for those who can't afford pay-based day camps. The legislation comes on the heels of hearings called by Rose, Kallos and Mark Treyger (Brooklyn) to explore making after school free for all students

All of this brings up a crazy question: Is parenting becoming easier in New York? 


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