It’s time to start planning affordable summer activities for your kids. If you’re anything like I am, you want your kids to have a great summer, but not at the expense of breaking the family budget. Finding cheap or free summer fun for your kids takes some time, but the savings is worth the effort! As a mom who homeschools and works from home, I need scheduled summer activities to keep my son active and allow me to get my work done in the summer.

We’ve found a plethora of local activities that are cheap or free in our area. Read on to see what we’ve done and to get ideas about what may be available in your community.

Community Organizations

Over the past two summers, my son has gone to Junior Deputy Camp, which is organized by our local sheriff department. The kids were able to see K-9 dogs in action, go inside a Life Flight helicopter, ride inside a SWAT tank, explore the inside of a fire truck and an ambulance, learn about fingerprinting, detective work, and more. At the end of the four day camp, each child was sworn in as a Junior Deputy. To see if your local sheriff or police department has such a program, visit their website or call them. In our area, there is also a Junior Firefighter Academy, so check with your fire department to see if they offer such a camp.

Summer Movie Clubs and Camps

Many national theater chains offer movies at a discounted cost, either daily or weekly ,during the summer. AMC Theatres usually posts their summer movie camp offerings in May, Regal Cinema calls their program Summer Movie Express. Be sure to check with the movie theaters near you to see what they offer. My kiddo loves going to the movies and I love the price!

Vacation Bible School

Many churches offer Vacation Bible School for free or a very nominal cost. Last year my son attended three Vacation Bible Schools. One of his favorites has been a VBS that has a sports theme. As he gets older and becomes too old to attend VBS, he can volunteer at them and still keep busy. If your child is too old to go to VBS, see if the church needs youth workers. Volunteering teaches your child valuable skills and helps them learn to give back to their community.

State and Local Parks

State Parks often offer fun activities and camps for free or at a nominal cost. Search your state Parks and Wildlife website to see what is available and interesting. Ditto for your local parks- our local parks offer free family movie nights, fun fishing events, and splash pads or pools for cooling off in the summer. Registration may be required.


Our local libraries keep us hopping all summer long with fun crafts, summer reading club activities, demonstrations, musical performances, and more. Library programs are free so the price is definitely right! Registration may be required.

4-H Summer Camps

Did you know that 4-H offers summer camps? To see what summer camps are being offered, you can go to the 4-H Camps website to look up what is offered in your state. Not all camps are listed, so be sure to contact the extension service in your county to see what they offer. Costs vary and some counties have scholarships for their camps. Your child may not have to be a 4-H member to attend 4-H camps. My son will be attending three different 4-H day camps this summer. There is a cost in our county for each day camp, but at $25 per day, it’s an affordable option for our family.

Facebook Events

Another great resource for finding low-cost or no-cost summer activities is to search for local events on Facebook. Last summer my son attended a couple of local sports camps that I found on Facebook. Many of the events are free. Registration may be required.

Kids Bowl Free

We’ve done Kids Bowl Free several times and really enjoyed it. Your child can bowl two games for free each day of the summer. They also offer a family pass so parents can bowl with their kids. There is a cost for the family pass and you may have to pay shoe rental. You can find a participating bowling center and register at

Summer School

And don’t forget that a little homeschooling during the summer is great for keeping kids learning throughout the summer! We always do a bit of math and reading activities every day. You can make it fun so it’s an enjoyable part of the day rather than a chore.

I hope that these ideas for planning affordable summer activities for your kids gives you a great start on creating a fun and memorable summer break for the whole family.