Take Back the Joy of Summer With These Free Virtual Camps for Kids
Parents, we see you.
The days have been long without school, play dates, grandparent visits, family vacations and summer camp. You’re trying to balance child care and work (or attempts to find work) — all while dealing with a pandemic. And day after day, you’re met with cries of “I’m bored!”
Thankfully, in response to all our collective cancelled plans this year, various organizations and businesses have created virtual summer camp experiences to keep the kiddos entertained.
We’ve rounded up eight of these options, and they won’t require you doling out hundreds of dollars per week like traditional camps. In fact, your kids can enjoy any of the virtual summer camps listed below without you paying a cent. Most of these camps also don’t have traditional enrollment so you can participate anytime, except where specific dates are noted.
Find a free virtual summer camp option that fits your child’s interests or try out a few to really fill up the calendar for the remainder of summer.
1. Camp by Walmart
The retail behemoth tapped celebrities, including Neil Patrick Harris, Drew Barrymore and LeBron James, to serve as camp counselors for its virtual summer camp platform within the Walmart app.
The celebs — along with others — guide kids through interactive activities, such as making slime, painting, creating friendship bracelets and doing family challenges.
Camp by Walmart, which launched July 8, starts off with 50 free activities, but about 200 more will be rolled out on the platform throughout the summer.
Download the Walmart app for access. If you already have the app, you might need to update it to see the virtual summer camp activities or search for it by clicking on the “services” tab from the bottom navigation.
With #CampYouTube, your kids can view content geared toward topics like adventure, STEM, the arts and sports.
This platform also includes campfire talks, crafting how-tos, recipe videos for summer snacks and virtual field trips.
Families can download a bingo sheet to cross off the different activities they complete throughout the summer.
3. Camp TFK
The editors of TIME for Kids have curated dozens of kid-friendly activities and created a four-week schedule of events to do virtually as part of Camp TFK.
Each week includes arts and crafts, sports and games, STEM enrichment, performing arts and storytelling. Many of the activities can be done with little to no parental involvement and using common household items — a big plus to parents who need to work or just need a little break.
4. Met Opera Global Summer Camp
If your child is a fan of the performing arts, check out the Metropolitan Opera’s virtual summer camp.
Now through the week of Aug 3-7, the famous opera house will provide free weekly streamings of performances, including Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” and Lehár’s “The Merry Widow.”
In addition to the shows, campers can participate in arts and crafts lessons, storytime sessions, artist chats and more via live broadcasts on Facebook and YouTube. Families can also download activity sheets that are related to each week’s opera.
5. REI Virtual Family Summer Series
Join outdoor company REI as it hosts a week of special live programming via Facebook July 27-31.
The Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority will be teaming up with REI to conduct the live broadcasts from 10 to 11 a.m. PT each day. They’ll also post links for related activities you can do at home.
Each day of the virtual family summer series will have a different theme. Kids can solve a mystery involving bones, learn about cat behavior, enjoy the games their grandparents used to play, check out how scales help certain animals and explore nocturnal life.
6. Camp @ Home with UNICEF Kid Power
UNICEF Kid Power brings the summer camp experience home with dozens of kid-friendly videos covering activities like sports, arts and crafts, cooking, campfire songs, macrame, water fun and more.
With each video they watch, campers earn points that unlock donations to help children in need all around the globe. The videos are also designed to encourage campers to have some off-screen fun, trying out what they’ve learned in the videos in real life.
Sign up for Camp @ Home with UNICEF Kid Power to participate in this virtual summer camp.
7. Camp PBS Kids
PBS Kids is always big on finding fun ways for kids to learn — and the learning doesn’t stop in the summer.
Camp PBS Kids provides information and prompts for parents to engage their little ones in subject matter like reading, science, art, animals, social skills and more. The programming includes characters from popular kids shows like Sesame Street, Daniel Tiger, Wild Kratts and Ready Jet Go.
Families can sign up for a daily newsletter and download a summer activity book for more ideas to keep the kiddos busy.
8. Camp DIY
Camp DIY is all about creativity and experimentation. Kids can choose summer projects to tackle in categories like science, art, cooking and outdoor adventure. Most projects require basic household items to complete, so you don’t have to worry about buying a bunch of supplies.
While this virtual camp isn’t technically free, you can try it out for two weeks at no cost. If your kids have gotten their fill, cancel before you’re charged.
If you don’t cancel, you’ll pay about $15 to $25 per month depending on what subscription package you choose. Still a steal over typical camp prices.
Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.