10 Free Summer Camps for Kids around Boston in 2016

Tennis, sailing, performing arts, educational enrichment, and more.

Summer is heralded as a long-awaited, blissful escape from confining school days. But for parents who are looking for free summer camps in Boston in 2016, an idyllic summer experience for their children might seem hard to achieve, given how often much camp can cost. We’ve got your back. Whether your kids are looking for arts, sports, or academic enrichment, Boston has free or affordable options.

Boston City Lights

A volunteer-run organization offering classes 7 days a week, Boston City Lights is a performing arts haven. The organization brings aspiring musicians, singers, dancers, and actors to the stage, as well as training anyone interested in working behind the scenes in sound and film editing, scene design, and photography. Call for more information on specific offerings and class times.

Free, for inner city kids, classes offered year-round, Boston City Lights Performing Arts School, 1154 Washington Street, Boston, 617-451-903, bclperformingarts.org.

Junior Achievement Summer Academy

Are your students eager to prepare for the future? Classes about financial literacy, career exploration, and entrepreneurial spirit will inspire the graduates of the Junior Achievement Summer Academy towards better economic practices—an education that many adults could use. Apply as soon as possible for the best chance of admission.

Free, high school students, August 15-19, 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Northeastern University, Boston, janewengland.org.

Youth Engaged in Action

Is your 13-year-old a burgeoning activist? YEA centers on leadership skills and community awareness. Participants study topics such as the workings of the government and environmental stewardship, and learn how to put their knowledge into action for greater change. Apply as soon as possible to claim one of the few remaining spots.

Free, 13-year-old Boston residents, July 18-August 5, various locations, apply by June 30, bostonabcd.org.


Fitness or education? At Tenacity, you don’t have to choose. The unique program combines reading activities with tennis lessons to combat the summer achievement gap and encourage healthy lifestyles for Boston-area youth. Most locations still have spots left; register online to reserve yours.

Free, Boston kids ages 6-16, July 5-August 12, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. for ages 6-10, 1 p.m.-4 p.m. for ages 9-16, various locations, 617-562-0900, tenacity.org.

Franklin Park Tennis

More tennis options! Curious about the sport but never got a chance to learn to play? These lessons welcome all ages, with separate sessions sessions for younger kids, teens, and adults. Bring water and comfortable clothing, but everything else is provided. Register online in advance if you can, but the lessons offer on-site registration as well.

Free, kids ages 5+, various times and locations, registration.

Camp Harbor View

This camp has it all. Looking for arts? You’ll find dance, cooking, theater, and painting, to name a few. Sports? Try out football, yoga, and everything in between. Think aquatic options are limited to swimming? Fishing, sailing, and more abound at this camp. Academic classes in the sciences and literary arts are a bonus option, as well. Who would ever want to leave? Kids 15 and older who haven’t gotten their fill can apply to the leadership in training (LIT) program to stay connected to camp life. Note that while this camp isn’t technically free, the $5 fee covers round-trip transportation, t-shirts, three meals each day, and school year programming at no extra cost.

$5 per month, Boston youth ages 11-14, July 5-28 or August 2-26, Monday-Friday, Camp Harbor View on Long Island in Boston Harbor, 617-369-5500, chvf.org.

Piers Park Sailing

Get your kid out on the water with Piers Park Sailing! The program offers options for all ages. Younger kids can take part in the full-day Harbor Explorers Program where they will interact with marine life directly through activities like setting lobster traps, watching jellyfish swim, and taking photos with an underwater camera. Older kids have more options. The half-day summer sailing program offers lessons to help sailors of all levels improve and meet individual goals. This year will also debut the Science of Sailing, a classroom-based program that explains the mechanics of sailing through lessons in subjects like engineering, mathematics, and technology. Note that each of these programs goes throughout the summer in weeklong sessions. Due to extreme popularity, each person may only participate in one week.

Free, Boston area youth ages 6-18, July-August, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. for Harbor Explorers and The Science of Sailing, 9 a.m.- 12 p.m. or 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. for Sailing Sessions, Piers Park Sailing Center, 99 Marginal St., East Boston, 617-561-6677, piersparksailing.org.

East Boston and Moakley Park Drop-In Sports Centers

With locations in Memorial and Moakley Parks, the sports centers offer a range of directed activities for any type of camper. Dance, sports, games, and arts and crafts are included in the offerings. Pre-register to ensure a spot, and to soothe your worries for your child’s summer fun.

Free, kids ages 7-14, July 6-August 12, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Moakley Park in South Boston or Memorial Park in East Boston, leagues.bluesombrero.com.

Generation Next Academy Teen Center

With access to a swimming pool, quiet homework spaces, a music studio, and more, the Teen Center is the perfect place to spend time this summer. Make art, get education help, ask a mentor for leadership advice, or take advantage of the facilities. This space is open for drop-ins, so stop by at any time.

Free, kids ages 13-18, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 1 p.m.–8 p.m.. Wednesday and Friday from 12 p.m.–8 p.m., Generation Next Academy, 1353 Dorchester Ave. Dorchester, 617-740-2231, dorchesterhouse.org.

Summer Fun Stops

Through this drop-in program, your child can frequent summer fun stops throughout the entire summer, or just visit for a couple days. Featuring games, sports, and art projects, the Fun Stops promises to keep kids engaged, active, and constantly learning throughout the summer months.

Free, kids ages 8-18, starting July 5, weekdays, 12-6 p.m., various locations, cityofboston.gov.