Free Summer Camps In and Around Austin

Camps for eligible campers at no cost

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.

  • 2018 Camp Session Dates: June 11 - August 3, 2018 , *No camp on Wednesday, July 4, 2018
  • 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: 512-974-3922 or SummerPlaygroundsProgram@austintexas.gov
    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.

  • 2018 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.

  • 2018 Camp Session Dates: Session 1: June 5 – 9, Session 2: June 13 – 17, Session 3: June 21 – 25, Session 4: June 28 –  July 1, Session 5: July 6 – 10, Session 6: July 14 – 18, Session 7: July 22 – July 26, Session 8: July 30 – August 3
  • 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.


 Find the Austin YMBL Summer Sunshine Camps in our Camp Guide.





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.


Find the CODE @ TACC DesignSafe CI camp in our Camp Guide.






Camp Erin Central Texas (formerly Camp Brave Heart) 


Camp Erin Central Texas (formerly Camp Brave Heart) is a free bereavement camp for children and teens ages 6 – 17 who are grieving the death of someone close to them. It is a traditional, fun, high-energy camp combined with grief education, peer bonding, and emotional support led by grief support professionals and trained volunteers. Camp Erin Central Texas is a program of Hospice Austin and part of The Moyer Foundation’s national Camp Erin program.

Swimming, hiking, campfires, archery, sing-a-longs, crafts and a low-level ropes course are just a few of the activities that campers enjoy. Over the course of three days and two nights packed with recreational and therapeutic activities, campers hear each other’s stories, explore their grief in a safe and understanding environment, and learn ways to help them cope with their loss.


Find the Camp Erin Central Texas in our Camp Guide.




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.

  • 2018 Camp Session Dates:
  1. Texas Lions Camp for children with Physical Disabilities: Session 1 - June 10-16, 2018; Session 2 - June 17-23, 2018, Session 3 - June 24-30, 2018, Session 4 - July 1-7, 2018, Session 5 - July 8-14, 2018
  2. Texas Lions Camp for children with Down Syndrome: Session 6 - July 15-21, 2018, Session 7 - July 22-28, 2018
  3. Texas Lions Camp for children with Type 1 Diabetes: Session 9 - July 29 - August 4, 2018, Session 10 - August 5-11, 2018
  • 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.


Find the Texas Lions Camp sessions in our Camp Guide.

 

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.


Find the Camp Kesem camp sessions in our Camp Guide.




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.


FInd the Camp Agape Bereavement Camp in our Camp Guide.





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.



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.


Find Camp CPals in our Camp Guide. 





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!


 Find Camp Cell-A-Bration in our Camp Guide.





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.

  • 2018 Camp Session Dates: July 22-28, 2018
  • 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.


Find Camp Discovery in our Camp Guide.

 



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.


Find Camp Ailihpomeh in our Camp Guide.




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.

 

Camp Registration


Registration for 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.


Other Camps in the Live Grow Play Austin Camp Guide


For other camps, including Academic and Education Camps, Adventure and Outdoors Camps, Art Camps, Music Camps, Religious Camps, Special Needs Camps, Sports Camps, STEM Camps, check out our Camp Guide. You can search by interest, camp type (day or overnight), location, age, dates, and price.

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