Free Summer Programs for Queens Kids in 2012

Photo by Nina Hale

School’s almost out for the summer. If you are concerned that junior’s brain might drain, you need to get a’planning. One way to retain the brain is by registering your little one in a program this summer. If you are concerned about being able to afford a good program, take a look at the free programs below.

Big Apple Games

This program is sponsored by the Public School Athletic League (PSAL) and works with children from grades 4 through 12. The Junior High School Program runs from 9 AM to 3 PM and is open to grades 4 to 8. The Teen Recreation Centers operate from 1 to 5 PM and 6 to 9 PM, from Monday to Thursday. In addition to arts and crafts and game room activities, these programs offer sports skills and the opportunity to try a number of sports including handball, hockey, and gymnastics. Registration is ongoing at the sites during program hours. If junior prefers to work, the Big Apple Games are hiring. Click here for the high school student recreational assistant application.

When: July 9 to August 9

Where: See sites here

Who: Grades 4 through 12


Chess-in-the-Schools Summer Chess Camp

This program offers kids a chance to learn to play or to improve their game. While students that already participate in Chess-in-the-Schools programming have priority for this program, non-participants can be added to a waiting list for empty spots.  Call Ms. Carmen Morales at 212-643-0225 extension 238 for more information.

When: July 6 to August 4 (Monday-Thursday) from 9AM to 2PM (register by June 24)

Where: Wagner Secondary School, 47-07 30 Place, Long Island City

Who: Students 7 years and up


City Parks Foundation

City Parks runs a number of amazing free sports programs, including tennis, track and field, and golf in parks throughout the five boroughs. Hurry! These programs place students on a first-come basis.

When: The 2012 schedule is not available yet but the exact times and dates depend on the park

Where: Parks across Queens and the rest of the city

Who: Boys and girls between 5 and 17, depending on the program


City University of NY College Now Program

The City University of New York (CUNY) offers free college classes over the school year and summer through their College Now Program. York College, for example, has both a Jazz program and an Aviation program.

When: Various

Where: CUNY campuses

Who: NYC public school students, some programs have academic requirements


The Fresh Air Fund

The Fresh Air Fund provides free summer experiences for NYC-kids, who meet their income guidelines. They have two programs. One offers a one or two week visit with a volunteer host family. The other program provides a sleep away camp opportunity. You can sign your child up at a community agency or at a registration event. For more information, call 800-367-0003.

When: Throughout the summer

Where: Varies by program

Who: Children between the ages of 6 and 15, depending on the program


New York City Department of Youth and Community Development Programs

Over the summer, schools and organizations that contract with the city for Out of School Time and Beacon Center after school programs run summer camps. Find the school or organization closest to you by looking here.

When: Varies

Where: Varies

Who: Varies


The New York Junior Tennis League

Through their Community Tennis Program, the New York Junior Tennis League works with kids ages 6 to 18. The program offers free tennis instruction with trained coaches as well as match play, educational support, and special events, during the spring, summer, and fall. Registration is ongoing. Just pick the location nearest to you here and register in person during program hours. For more information call 347-417-8156.

When: Program begins on July 9

Where: Several locations

Who: Kids ages 6 to 18


NYPD Summer Youth Police Academy

This program is designed to create a positive relationship between the Police Department and city youth. Students participate in lectures, role-plays, and demonstrations by police officers, as well as field trips to police departments or city parks.

When: Six-week program from 8:30AM to 2PM (the application deadline is June 22)

Where: IS 145, 33-34 80 Street, Jackson Heights

Who: Students between the ages of 10 and 16


Oasis @ Queensborough Community College

Oasis is known for offering quality programming across the city. While most of their programs are not free, there are a few funded programs that are open to students from specific schools. This campus-based program introduces youngsters to college life, sports, and the arts. Email or call 646-519-5072.

When: July 2 through August 17 (register by May 11), from 9AM-5PM

Where: Queensborough Community College, 222-05 56 Avenue, Bayside

Who: Students from JHS 189 Daniel Carter Beard, IS 5 Walter Crowley intermediate School, IS 204 Oliver W. Holmes, IS 238 Susan B. Anthony Academy, or IS 192 The Linden School


Parks and Recreation Summer Learn to Swim

This free instructional program runs at the city’s public outdoor pools. Participants are chosen through an online lottery in mid-June.

When: This program has three sessions throughout the summer

Where: Astoria Pool Park (19 Street and 23 Drive, Astoria), Fisher Pool (99 Street and 32 Avenue, Jackson Heights), and Liberty Pool (173 Street and 106 Avenue, Jamaica)

Who: Tots (ages from 1.5 to 5) and children (ages from 6 to 17)


Police Athletic League Summer Play Streets

This program has been closing off streets for safe and supervised play for almost 100 years. Along, with sports and games, Play Streets offer prevention and life skills education.

When: July 5 to August 19 from 9AM to 5PM

Where: Throughout the city

Who: School-Aged children


Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation

This Woodside-based program is designed to fill the summer learning/fitness gap among low-income youth. There are several sites at schools in Queens.

When: July 5 to July 8 or 9

Where: Several sites in Queens

Who: Varies

If none of these programs strikes your fancy, make sure to inquire about financial aid at other programs. Also, look for programs at local organizations such as churches and libraries. If your child is a teen, he or she can also create his/her own program by looking into volunteering, at hospitals, local churches, libraries, etc.


By: Sandy Jimenez