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Photograph: Courtesy City Sail

11 summer camps NYC kids can’t wait to attend

Your little adventurers will have a blast at these summer camps. NYC kids, get ready for the best break ever!

Written by
Jennifer Picht
&
Paulina Jayne Isaac
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School’s out for summer! Now what? As a parent juggling, well, everything, you may wonder how to keep your tots entertained—and off the couch—during their three month’s of freedom. There’s always playgrounds and parks, but if you want something a bit more engaging with enjoyable learning opportunities to boot, look no further than the best summer camps NYC kids love. 

No surprise, the city has a lot to offer. With so many amazing opportunities for outdoor fun, how’s a parent or kid to choose? We did our best to whittle down the options to create a diverse, well-balanced list, which includes programs at some of the best New York attractions for kids. Want to get in on the action too? Check out the best family camp programs in the city.

It's time to make summer 2021 one for the books!

Summer camps NYC kids love

  • Things to do
  • Camps
  • Brooklyn

The in-person New York Aquarium Camp is back for 2022 and offers aqua-based activities on weekdays for campers from 9am to 3pm. Kids in first and second grade can enjoy Super Sea Creatures where they’ll learn about sea otters and have up-close animal encounters. There’s also Shark Week sessions (sick!) where kiddos can get a behind-the-scenes view of the exhibit with the aquarium’s shark keepers. Third, fourth, and fifth-graders get an equally cool experience: Campers will put their detective hats on to solve ocean mysteries or play architect by designing, building, and testing their own exhibits. And calling all sixth and eighth-grade ocean activists! Work with scientists to create a research investigation centered around the conservation of local marine species. Grades 1-8. Prices start at $440+/week

  • Things to do
  • Camps
  • The Bronx
  • price 2 of 4

If you’re a parent to a young animal lover then you can’t go wrong with the Bronx Zoo Summer Camp option. There’s educational and fun experiences for grades kindergarten through eighth grade—and programming for toddlers (with a parent or caregiver present) too. The campers are split up into adorably and aptly-named groups like Kinderzoo: Animals A to Z, Zoo Detectives, and Little Zoo Vets. There’s options for either a 5-day camp or a two-week program that allows children to explore the 265-acre attraction and up to 8,000 animals. The zoo is also taking COVID-19 safety precautions by requiring campers 5 and over to be vaccinated. (Grades pre-K-8. Prices start at $190 for toddler camp, $600 for 5-day camp, $1200 for two-week programs.)

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Camp Corlears focuses on giving kids space outdoors to play, learn and laugh with their friends. The counselors at the camp are primarily Corlears School teachers, and they bring their expertise in the classroom to keeping kids engaged in a nurturing environment of education and friendship. The Chelsea elementary school offers a number of different options throughout the summer that are a great fit for children of all ages, including a Super Saplings camp for ages 3-4 that’s available as both a half-day camp and a full-day camp. Your kid can also join the Budding Branches camp for ages 5-6 or the Outdoors in NYC camp for ages 7-11. At all the options, children will be inspired by nature and their own artistic creativity to join in a vibrant and welcoming community.

  • Things to do
  • Camps
  • Chelsea
  • price 3 of 4

If a summer full of sports or arts and crafts doesn’t seem like the right fit for your kid, then try the National Museum of Mathematics’ MoMath Summer Camp. Don’t worry, the campers don’t just work on math problems all day. It’s just as fun as any other camp. The Epsilons (first through third graders) focus on nurturing a love for math. The Deltas (fourth through sixth graders) let campers explore their individual interests within math and The Gammas (rising seventh through ninth graders) tackle advanced math knowledge and skills. (The camp offers one-week sessions, Monday through Friday from 9am to 3pm at the museum. Ages 6–12. Prices start at $1,300 per one-week session.) 

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  • Things to do
  • Camps
  • Upper East Side
  • price 3 of 4

When it comes to Asphalt Green’s summer day camps, there are two locations to choose from. The Upper East Side and Battery Park City locations will provide an abundance of activities that will surely satisfy and exhaust your kid’s pent-up energy! There are opportunities to learn a variety of recreational sports, work on their swim skills, get creative with arts and crafts, and more. If a day camp isn’t the right fit, mini-camps, sports camps, and soccer camps are also offered. (Ages 4.5-13. June 28-August 19.)

Downtown United Soccer Club
  • Things to do
  • Camps
  • West Village
  • price 1 of 4

Great soccer players aren’t born—they’re made. Even Cristiano Ronaldo and Megan Rapino had to start somewhere, right? If you spot greatness in your kid (or if they just really like kicking a ball around), Downtown United Soccer Club is a place where they’ll thrive. The day camp offers a full-day option for older campers and a half-day option for younger campers. Having been around for more than 25 years means that they know how to teach kids skill work, ball mastery, coordination, and movement. (Ages 5-13. Prices start at $335 for ages 3-6, $595 for ages 9-5.)

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  • Things to do
  • Camps
  • Chelsea

For those youngsters who can’t resist an American Ninja Warrior marathon, this offering is a kid-friendly version of the reality show, complete with fun obstacles in a safe environment. Campers will take breathers during the day to enjoy lunch and recreational activities before embarking on an athletic challenge. Kiddie not interested in parkour? You can check out the rest of Chelsea Piers’ options here. One aspect that sets Chelsea Piers apart from the rest is that they’re offering special rate promotions now through March 31. (Ages 6–13. June 20–Aug 29: Mon–Fri 8:45am–3:45pm; 1-3 week enroll rate starts at $890+, 4-week enroll rate starts at $845+.)

  • Things to do
  • Camps
  • Queens

Your child will learn first-hand about nature and animal life at Queen’s Botanical Garden. Living in New York doesn’t always offer a lot of greenery, so this is a chance for your child to learn about planting, playing, and observing in what’s dubbed an “urban oasis,” where people, plants, and a variety of cultures are celebrated through gardens and educational programs. One thing’s for sure, your little botanist will come home knowing so much more about the natural world after each weekly session. (Ages 5–12. July 5–August 15. Prices start at $400+.)

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Safety is paramount during the pandemic. One of the best ways to stay safe when you’re around other people is to meet outdoors. City Sail has successfully incorporated CDC, American Camp Association, and US Sailing COVID-19 safety protocols to ensure camper safety once again for 2022. The kids will set sail in small groups and maintain social distancing while sailing on the Hudson River. The summer program runs from 9am to 4pm, Monday through Friday in Chelsea snd Inwood. In both locations, campers will learn leadership skills and build sailing knowledge. (Ages 14–17. Prices start at $695/week.) 

When it comes to Mill Basin Day Camp, the options are endless. The camp offers five different programs: Pioneers for the youngest campers, Adventures, Stars, Explorers, and Teen Quest. Kids are split up into age-appropriate groups and led by multiple teachers and counselors, depending on the specific group’s needs. Mill Basin prides itself on offering innovative programming and careful staff selection to make sure that your child has the best possible summer experience. Grades Pre-K-9.

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If your little camper is looking to get their hands dirty, then send them to Play:ground. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to reimagining urban life as a place where children can freely explore, play, and create. “The Yard” is a place where kids play in the hidden nooks, muddy paths, and on the kid-built structures. There’s a place for kids to work with tools, building materials, and fine art. This is the camp for kids who like to get their hands dirty. Ages 6–12.

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