Affordable Alternatives to Summer Camp

Can’t afford summer camp? Want your child to have fun and learn this summer? Here are some inexpensive ways to keep children happily occupied without breaking the bank:

Create a Cooperative Summer Camp of Your Own

Team up with neighbors and friends this summer to create your own camp for kids. Parents can take turns being “counselors,” offering activities such as arts and crafts, science, games/sports, cooking and more. Each parent or caregiver can choose activities that match their abilities and interests. Set your camp schedule based on each parent or caregiver’s availability. Be sure to get emergency contact information, gather each child’s allergy and medical information, and have a first aid kit and sunscreen available.

Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Programs

The City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks runs 174 parks in L.A. County, and many offer free or inexpensive programs for children beginning at birth during the summer. The Universal Play program offers sports, fitness, dance, cheerleading, and gymnastics classes for ages 0 to 12 throughout L.A. County. Missing out on free school lunch? The L.A. Department of Recreation and Parks offers free lunches to kids ages 1 to 18 at 100 parks throughout the summer. You can also get more information on summer programs at your local park.

Do a Museum Day — Free!

Did you know that more than 20 museums in L.A. County offer free admission on certain days? Take a trip to explore and learn about science, animals, art and more with your children one day this summer. Tip: Let your child choose museums to visit based on their interests. For example, are you raising an aspiring artist? Visit LACMA. Young car enthusiast? Test drive Petersen Automotive Museum. Have a budding green thumb? Visit the Arboretum or Descanso Gardens. Don’t forget, museums often offer programs for children and families that are included with admission. First 5 LA also has coupons for some local museums.

Go Camping As a Family

L.A. County offers a dozen inexpensive and beautiful sites to set up camp, experience the great outdoors, and teach children first-hand about nature and other valuable life lessons. Find a camping spot today! Remember, spots tend to fill up fast during the summer months, so try to plan your trip ahead of time and make sure that you pack proper camping and safety gear — including extra layers of clothing for when the nights get cooler.

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