I know it’s crazy when kids are out of school for the summer and you all of sudden feel like you might just go insane. But something that struck me as completely crazy was in an article that I recently read about how parents are so sad that they can’t afford to send their kids to camps because they know those experiences are amazing and their child is being left out.
Y’all that’s crazy, but I get it. I grew up watching Salute Your Shorts wishing for a summer camp experience like theirs because I never went to a summer camp. Heck, I don’t even know what a summer camp looks like beyond that TV show! But you know what? I’m okay. I’m no better or worse off because my parents couldn’t afford to send me to summer camp and you’re kids won’t be either.
So, don’t worry that you can’t send your kids off to summer camp because there’s plenty of fun things to do that are either free or cheap (but don’t seem cheap) that you can fill up your summer calendar with!
Most municipalities host free events during the summer and one of the most common events is a movie under the stars night where you can come out with your lawn chairs and blankets and watch a family friendly movie under the stars.
Even some businesses will host a movie night some time during the summer in their parking lot – I know Chic-fil-a commonly does this.
VBS, also known as Vacation Bible School is usually a week long fun event held at churches for kids ranging from preschool ages to tweens and can be a great time for your kids to meet new friends and learn a little bit more about Jesus and the Bible.
Most VBS’ are either free or cost a nominal fee to cover snacks or learning materials. And if you have a child that is older, most VBS programs need volunteers so it could be a great way to instill the attitude of service in your children. If your church doesn’t offer a VBS program in the summer you can ask around or perform a quick Google search to find a church near you that does.
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Yes, yes you can go to the zoo for free or close to free! Most local public libraries have a DVD that you can either checkout or watch while in the library in exchange for free tickets to the zoo. Most policies allow for families of four to enter under general admission for FREE!
How it works (or at least how it works with the Atlanta Zoo) is that you must have a valid library pass within your state, you head out to your public library, check out the DVD, then watch it at home, then return the DVD. Once you return the DVD you’ll receive a receipt that is good for 14 days after you’ve returned the DVD for a family of four to enter the zoo under general admission.
***Some libraries won’t allow you to take the DVD home and will require that you watch the DVD while in the library and then they will give you the receipt when you’re done. If you have a family larger than four, you’ll have to pay for admission for the other family members. You can read more about Atlanta Zoo’s policy here.
Okay, so we’re a family that LOVES to camp and by camp I mean, really camp, no “glamping”. So we already have tents and all the camping gear so if you don’t have any camping gear this may not prove cost effective for you. But if you do have at least a tent, you can have an amazing family vacation for cheap or even free!
Most campgrounds are cheap – we can camp at our local campgrounds on the lake for $60 for the weekend! Or, you can load your gear on your back and go hiking and camp out under the stars for free (just make sure that where ever it is you’re hiking that you’re allowed to camp!). And if you think camping isn’t a form of “family vacation” think again! Camping was our family’s go-to vacation growing up and some of mine and brother’s fondest memories are camping at Lake Allatoona!
Related post: Camping on a Zero Budget
Most public libraries during the summer months host all kinds of amazing fun and FREE activities for your children to do. I know my boys’ favorite event is when the firetrucks come to visit. They even have a farm that comes for a visit! Not to mention good ol’fashioned story time! My library after story time is over has a fun activity or craft for the kids to do that is related in some way to the theme – like the letter “A” or a certain shape.
Okay, so this is a small list, but the fact that most libraries offer many free activities and events during the summer could easily fill up your summer calendar! And don’t forget that most municipalities will host many other free or nearly free events during the summer like concerts or shows that are family friendly. So be sure to check your local cities website for events often!
What is your favorite free or nearly free thing to do in the summer as a family?
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