Free Summer Camps In and Around Austin

Summer is coming...soon...well, in a few months. But, it's never too early to start thinking about summer camps. Especially when registration for some summer camps are already open and when they're free.

Free camps? Yes, there is such a thing as free camps. We've done quite some research to find camps in and around Austin (up to a 2.5 hr radius) that are not a financial burden to families, especially families that already have enough to worry about.

Please pay special attention to the age and other eligibility requirements. If your child does not qualify for any of the camps listed below, please share with those who do and/or consider volunteering or donating to any of the camps.

 



Summer Playgrounds by Austin Parks & Recreation

Summer Playgrounds is a free drop-in program for children to participate in fun, supervised, outdoor activities during the summer months. Summer Playgrounds staff provide quality recreational experiences that promote creativity, teamwork and healthy lifestyles. Activities include organized sports, arts and crafts, games, team building and nutrition lessons.

  • 2017 Camp Session Dates: June 12- August 4, 2017
  • Ages: 4-12
  • Locations: Bartholomew District Park, Barton Hills Elementary Park, Chestnut Pocket Park, Davis-White Northeast District Park, Dick Nichols District Park, Franklin Park, Garrison District Park, Oak View Neighborhood Park, Quail Creek Neighborhood Park, Ramsey Neighborhood Park, Ramsey Neighborhood Park, Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park
  • Contact: 512- 974-3915
    Website: https://www.austintexas.gov/department/summer-playground-program (Registration is required onsite on your child's first day of attendance.)


Family Clean Creek Camp by the City of Austin Watershed Protection Program


One week of fun for children and their parents/guardians exploring water in Austin’s creeks or Edwards Aquifer.Watershed 4 Day Camp includes hiking and exploring Colorado River with a scavenger hunt challenge, wading in the creek and find out how bugs tell us about water quality, cleaning up and floating on Lady Bird Lake, learning green gardening for clean water.Watershed & Aquifer 3 Day Camp includes wading in the creek and finding out how bugs tell us about water quality, getting down into the aquifer through a local cave, paddling and cleaning up Barton Creek.

  • 2017 Camp Session Dates: TBA
  • Ages: 9-14. Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
  • Location: Colorado River, Lady Bird Lake, Barton Creek, Edwards Aquifer.
  • Contact: 512-974-3540
  • Website: http://www.austintexas.gov/CleanCreekCamp


APD Youth Summer Camp


The Joint Juvenile Gang Unit (J.J.G.U.) works within the City of Austin to deter juvenile gang violence and the impact it has on the city and its residents. The Annual Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) youth summer camp works towards empowering Austin area 4th graders and their families to become both physically and emotionally active members in their community.
The camp focuses on goal setting, anger management, anti-bullying, fitness, healthy eating habits and pride in the community. The campers receive daily exercise and nutritional tips which will provide them with healthy alternatives.  




Austin YMBL Summer Sunshine Camps

Eight sessions of camp are offered free of charge at both Zilker Park and Lake Travis throughout the summer. Each camp session runs for six days, with campers staying overnight in cabins. Transportation to and from camp is provided. Campers check in for camp and are picked up at the end of camp at the Zilker Park location. Camp activities include swimming, hiking, orienteering, canoeing, team building and challenge course activities as well as arts and crafts. Additionally, nutritious snacks and meals are prepared and served each day by the camps’ kitchen staff. Note that campers must qualify for the Texas public school free and reduced lunch program to be eligible to attend camp.

  • 2017 Camp Session Dates: Session 1: June 7 – 12, Session 2: June 16 – 21, Session 3: June 25 – 30, Session 4: July 6 – 10, Session 5: July 13 – 18, Session 6: July 22 – 27, Session 7: July, 31 – August 5, Session 8: August 8 – 12
  • Ages: Zilker Camp 7-11, Lake Travis Camp 12-15. Campers must qualify for the Texas public school free and reduced lunch program to be eligible to attend summer camp.
  • Locations: Zilker Park near Barton Springs Pool, Lake Travis between Lago Vista and Marble Falls
  • Contact: 512-472-8107 or info@sunshinecamps.org
  • Website: http://www.sunshinecamps.org
  • get involved: Volunteers and donations always appreciated.

 



CODE @ TACC: DesignSafe Cyberinfrastructure (CI)

Summer High School STEM Program at the Texas Advanced Computing Center of The University of Texas at Austin

CODE @ TACC DesignSafe CI is an innovative and exciting summer program to exposes students to the nation's civil infrastructure and communities to prevents natural hazard events from becoming societal disasters. Students will foster their talent and creativity by being introduced to the principles of high performance computing and engineering that utilizes cloud computational tools from the natural hazards research community. Students will work in a project-based learning environment, engage in team-building that will prepare students for the workplace of the future, use sensor networks to collect data, tour the Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure at UT, get a private tour and work at the TACC Visualization Laboratory (Vislab) and data center, interact with TACC's cutting-edge technology systems, collaborate with peers, college students, scientists, researchers and engineers.





Camp Brave Heart


Children who are grieving can experience a sense of isolation as they struggle with deep and complicated feelings. Often, these children know no one else who has suffered a similar loss. Camp Brave Heart, staffed by counselors experienced in child and adolescent grief support, helps campers ages 6 to 17 discover that they are not alone. The free, 4-day/3-night camp is held every summer at John Knox Ranch outside Wimberley in the heart of the beautiful Texas Hill Country. Thanks to funding from a generous donor, we have added an extra day! Bus transportation to and from the camp is provided from a location near Hospice Austin’s main office in northwest Austin. Campers are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis after determining that the child is emotionally ready and able to participate and benefit from the camp. Campers may attend one time unless they experience another loss after they have attended camp.

 



Texas Lions Camp

Texas Lions Camp is a residential camping facility for children with physical disabilities, type 1 diabetes, Down Syndrome, and cancer. The goal of the camps is to help children become more independent, improve self-image, social adjustment and self-reliance. The camps have two main components: a medical education program that focuses on teaching campers to care for their special health needs and a recreation program that teaches a ‘Can Do’ attitude, encouraging youth that they can achieve any goal they set.

  • 2017 Camp Session Dates:
  1. Texas Lions Camp for children with Physical Disabilities: Session 1 - June 4-10, 2017; Session 2 - June 11-17, 2017, Session 3 - June 18-24, 2017, Session 4 - June 25-July 1, 2017, Session 5 - July 2-8, 2017
  2. Texas Lions Camp for children with Down Syndrome: Session 6 - July 9-15, 2017
  3. Texas Lions Camp for children with Type 1 Diabetes: Session 8 - July 23-29, 2017, Session 9 - July 30-August 5, 2017
  • Ages: Children with Physical Disabilities ages 7-16, Children with Diabetes ages 8-15, Children with Down Syndrome ages 12-16
  • Location: 4100 San Antonio Hwy., Kerrville, TX 78028
  • Contact: 830-896-8500 or tlc@lionscamp.com
  • Website: www.lionscamp.com
  • Get involved: Donations always appreciated.

 

Camp Kesem


Camp Kesem runs over 90 weeks of fun, action-packed and 100% free-of-charge camps from coast-to-coast every summer. Serving children ages 6 to 16, our campers experience a warm and loving environment with other children who have similar life experiences. This community – as most of our campers experience – provides the foundation for confidence building, improved communication skills, enhanced life outlook and attitude.


Camp Agape


Camp Agape Bereavement Camp for Children serves children ages 7 through 12 who have experienced the loss of a loved one.
Camp Agape Texas is a unique and innovative faith-based summer camp program with all the fun of a normal summer camp including swimming, archery, and fishing, along with group-therapy activities to assist the children with their bereavement process. These activities incorporate the use of art, music, games and play therapies all with the theme of offering true HOPE for their future.




Camp Glimmer


Every summer, Camp Glimmer gives over 500 disadvantaged youth the opportunity to experience the joys of a first-class summer camp, absolutely free. We aim to create a unique experience that allows children to be themselves and learn in a safe and supportive environment. We encourage kids to know that just because they’re born into a situation doesn’t mean that they need to stay in that situation.

  • 2017 Camp Session Dates: mid-June until the first week of August. Exact dates TBA
  • Ages: 7-12. Participation is offered by invitation only to nonprofit organizations currently funded by A Glimmer of Hope Austin. Check with A Glimmer of Hope Austin for eligible nonprofit organizations.
  • Location: Camp Glimmer is located on 30 acres of Texas hill country adjacent to beautiful Lake Travis in Austin, Texas. To request the physical address, please contact us at austin@aglimmerofhope.org.
  • Contact: austin@aglimmerofhope.org
  •  Website: http://www.aglimmerofhopeaustin.org/organization/camp-glimmer
  • Get involved: Donations always appreciated.


CAMP CPals

Camp CPals is designed for families living with cerebral palsy as a way to relax and enjoy time as a family for a weekend. You will have fun, forget the stresses of daily life, and enjoy the company of other families.

 


Camp Cell-A-Bration

Camp Cell-A-Bration is a week long camp for 50+ campers ages 6-14 with Sickle Cell Disease. Many of our children with Sickle Cell Disease have suffered strokes, jaundice, pain crisis, chronic blood transfusions, surgeries, acute chest syndrome and damage to their internal organs. Although these children battle this life-threatening disease every day, we want to make sure they enjoy being KIDS!

 


Camp Discovery

Camp Discovery is a unique camp experience for children affected by cancer. During Camp Discovery children will experience perhaps the best week of their life by swimming, fishing, climbing, canoeing, laughing, dancing, singing, horseback riding, and simply being with other people who can relate to their situation.

  • 2017 Camp Session Dates: July 16-22, 2017
  • Ages: We are open to children ages 7-16 from any of the following hospitals* in Texas: Childrens’ Hospital of San Antonio, Methodist Childrens’ Hospital, Dell Children’s, San Antonio Military Medical Center, Wilford Hall Medical Center, University Hospital. *If your hospital does not offer a camp, please contact us regarding a special application to come to Camp Discovery.
  • Location: 4100 San Antonio Hwy., Kerrville, TX 78028
  • Contact: contact@visionworkscamps.org 
  • Website: http://visionworkscamps.org
  • Get involved: Volunteers and donations always appreciated.

 


Camp Ailihpomeh

The mission of Camp Ailihpomeh (Hemophilia spelled backwards) is to serve the needs of boys from age seven to seventeen with bleeding disorders, providing a camping experience for a group of children who have traditionally been excluded from participating in other summer camp programs. The experience of camping with other children in a natural outdoor setting strengthens the child’s ability to cope with the daily physical and emotional challenges of a disability and/or chronic illness.

  • 2017 Camp Session Dates: July 16-21, 2017
  • Ages: 7-17 (Camper must be followed at one of the participating Hemophilia Treatment Program (HTP) listed at http://www.camp-ailihpomeh.org/links.htm.
  • Location: Camp John Marc, 3247 County Rd 1105, Meridian, TX 7666
  • Contact: info@camp-ailihpomeh.org 
  • Website: http://www.camp-ailihpomeh.org
  • Get involved: Donations always appreciated.



Camp Grace


Austin Oaks Church hosts Camp Grace, a free day camp for kids with special needs and their siblings. All campers with special needs are paired with a volunteer ("pal"), and the siblings are grouped by age and assigned to sibling group leaders. We have several activities ranging from quiet to energy-expending throughout the entire event, and it's completely camper driven.



Registration for some of the camps is now open. All camp information is subject to change. Before applying for any of the camps above, please review the camp websites for camp details and potential changes. And again, if your child does not qualify for any of the camps, please share with those who do and/or consider getting involved with any of the camps.

If we missed any camps, please let us know at hello@livegrowplayaustin.com.

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