Good deals don't come easy, but if you're willing to put in the time, you can find a great buy on summer camps. Before registering your child, be sure to ask if the program offers early-bird, sibling, multiple-week or refer-a-friend discounts. If you think your family might qualify, inquire about financial aid or sliding-scale tuition. Of course, you don't necessarily have to haggle; some camps are amazingly inexpensive or even free.
Asase Yaa Children's Arts Camp
As they refine their performing talents, kids learn about African-American culture and history. Daily activities involve dance, music, theater and art projects, all of which are incorporated into an end-of-summer production. P.S. 335, Granville T. Woods. 130 Rochester Ave, Crown Heights, Brooklyn (347-581-2385, asaseyaaent.com). Camp runs July 9–Aug 17, Mon–Fri 8am–5pm. Six-week session $600. Ages 4 to 12.
Goddard Riverside Community Center
This nonprofit runs a trio of camps. Two paid programs cater to elementary schoolers, who spend the summer dabbling in gardening, dance and swimming. Another provides middle-school kids similar fare—and it's totally free. • Bernie Wohl Center, 647 Columbus Ave at 92nd St (212-799-9400, goddard.org). Camp runs July 2–Aug 16, Mon–Thu 8am–5pm. $800. Ages 6 to 10. • St. Matthew's and St. Timothy's Neighborhood Center, 26 W 84th St between Columbus Ave and Central Park West (212-799-2369, goddard.org). Camp runs July 2–Aug 16, Mon–Fri 8am–5pm. $800. Ages 5 to 12. • Beacon, 154 W 93rd St between Columbus and Amsterdam Aves (212-866-0009, goddard.org). Camp runs July 2–Aug 16, Mon–Fri 8am–5pm. Free. Ages 11 to 13.
NYC Parks Experience Summer Day Camp
Twenty rec centers and parks in all five boroughs offer seven weeks of full-time fun for 500 bucks. The key to getting in is knowing the day sign-up starts—this year it's March 9—as spots go fast. Various locations (nyc.gov/parks). Camp runs July 9–Aug 24, Mon–Fri 9am–5pm. Seven-week session $500; Mon–Fri 8am–6pm $575. Ages 6 to 13.
For more low-cost camps try:
Boys Club of New York
Children's Aid Society
Junior Rangers Day Camp
Riverbank State Park