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6 free and low-cost virtual summer camps for kids

From coding to activism to opera, these affordable online camps can help keep kids engaged once school ends.

Girl hands on computer keyboard on white background.
Girl hands on computer keyboard on white background.kwanchaichaiudom - stock.adobe.com

While the future of many traditional summer activities remains up in the air, some camps for kids and teens have pivoted to virtual programming. These free and low-cost (with financial aid) camps have created online sessions to provide a world of interactive fun, learning, and adventure.

All about the drama

Winchester’s Kidstock! is bringing its theater programs online beginning June 22. Programming is available for kids ages 4-14, and spans creative coursework, like Improvi-Zoom-Ation and Monolog-In Class, and morning-long Sleep at Home “camp. Kids can participate in ready-to-be-written parody musical productions, aptly titled “How to Succeed Online Without Really Trying” (about a too-good-to-be-true website that guarantees success) and “A Chorus Online” (fame-seeking influencers). Weekly rehearsals and performances are conducted via Zoom, edited into a streamlined production, and officially premiered on YouTube at the end of each session. Programs start at $100 and financial aid is available. www.kidstocktheater.com

Youth on the rise


YEA’s (Youth Empowered Action) leadership training camp for students age 10-17 goes virtual starting July 13. The 1- to 4-week program focuses on a series of progress-driven sessions, including Amplifying Your Message and Careers for Changemakers. The next generation of advocates, allies, and activists can participate in practical skill-building workshops and recreational activities, including yoga, breakout sessions, and open mic night, via Zoom. Call-in options will be available for anyone without Internet access.. Sessions start at $300, and financial aid — up to the full fee — is available . yeacamp.org.

Little Divas

New York’s Metropolitan Opera is offering an 8-week Global Summer Camp free of charge. Hosted via Zoom and Google Classroom, the Monday-Friday program encourages campers (divided into age groups, 8-12 and 12-18) to explore the layered art of opera with hands-on learning activities, planned around common household materials, and interactive, live chats with professional stage artists. The program will focus on one opera per week — all activities are available a la carte — starting with “Hansel and Gretel” on June 15 and ending with Mozart’s “Così fan tutte” on Aug. 3. Learn more at www.metopera.org/education/


Game, Set, Read

Tenacity will continue to offer its Boston and Worcester-based reading and tennis programs free of charge starting July 6. The 20-year-old organization plans to provide virtual sessions for 2020, but depending on state guidelines, they hope to offer on-court tennis skill activities in partnership with Boston Parks and Recreation, as well. Tennis stars-in-training ages 6-16 will split their time between virtual classes, Zoom parties, and fitness drills, while the Tenacity team and AmericCorps Fellows touch base weekly to uplift campers and check in on access to food, Internet, and computers. Learn more at tenacity.org.

Code quest

Destinations Career Academy has two-week, tuition-free online coding programs for rising students grades 8-11 this summer. Campers can pick between Video Game Design and Programming (June 15-25) or Virtual Reality (July 6-16) and learn block-coding and HTML basics while developing original digital creations — including a multiplayer sports game and an interactive VR world. Rising students grades 9-11 can also sign up for a monthlong, credit-available Career Explorations course to learn more about opportunities and concepts for jobs across tech, health care, or business and marketing. Learn more at www.destinationsacademy.com

Access to fun

Children with life-threatening and serious illnesses can find recreational refuge via a virtual camp experience from SeriousFun. Spanning the globe, several locations from Paul Newman’s always free-of-charge, all-ages camp provide online programming through the summer — including California’s The Painted Turtle, New York’s Double H Ranch, and Roundup River Ranch in Colorado. Expect traditional camp fun in the comfort of your own home — no hands lunch, make your own ice cream, and circle sing-alongs. Virtual support programming for parents and caregivers is also available. seriousfun.org