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Portland Parks & Rec and a variety of other organizations are hosting free and low-cost summer programs for children this year. (Photo by Ben Brink courtesy of Portland Parks & Recreation)
By The Skanner News
Published: 30 May 2019

The last day of school for Portland Public Schools is June 12. Fortunately, there are many free and low-cost programs offered around Portland to engage students creatively and socially throughout the summer. Many programs and organizations also offer free lunches during the summer break to support the roughly 50,000 children in Portland struggling with hunger on a daily basis. For more information, visit the Summer Food Service Program official website.

Multnomah County Library Summer Reading Programs

Multnomah County libraries will reward children and youths for their extracurricular reading through the free summer reading program (June 14 through August 31). Multnomah County libraries will also offer creative outlets such as arts and craft workshops, live musical performances and more. The program adds a gamification element to reading. Participants can sign up online or use the game board available at any Multnomah County Library to log their daily reading (including listening to books on tape) and participation in other Summer Reading events. The 2019 Grand Prizes and runner-up prizes will be awarded for top performers in each range (high school, middle school, elementary school and children 4 years of age and under).

Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland and Gresham

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland offer a series of affordable summer camps available for children and young adults (grades 1 – 12). Summer in the Clubs programs include creative arts, organized sports, fitness and more. Themes change weekly to keep children engaged throughout summer programming. Summer membership is $65. Afternoon Club (12 p.m. - 6 p.m.), Morning Club (9 a.m. - 12 p.m.), and Sunrise Club (7:30 a.m. – 9 a.m.) rates vary. Remember, there are also daily and weekly rates available for individuals who would like to drop-in for activities. Learn more and register at https://bgcportland.org/summer/#register.

Portland Parks & Recreation Summer Free for All

  • Nature Day Camp 2019

Children and youths between the ages of 4 and 12 are welcome to participate in Portland Parks & Recreations ecology focused summer camps. Daily outdoor activities will include, scavenger hunts, crafts, hiking, games designed around nature and more. Youths ages 13 – 17 are encouraged to apply to the Junior Naturalist Volunteer program. Partial-day Nature Camps are $185 for residents and $252 for non-residents. The Nature Day Camp, Nature Skills Camp and True Nature Summer Camp are $260 for residents and $364 for non-residents. All camps are open Monday through Friday. Portland Parks & Recreation offers pre-camp care (7:45 a.m. – 9 a.m.) at no additional cost. Aftercare is not provided. Scholarships are available to help cover camp costs.

  • Pools and Swimming Lessons

Portland Parks pools will be open June 18 – Aug. 25 to keep kids active this summer. Admission prices and additional pool schedules vary. Pricing and schedules vary. Learn more about Portland Parks & Recreation pool locations and pricing online. Registration for free swimming lessons will be held on Saturday, June 15 from 8 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

  • The Free Lunch + Play

The Free Lunch + Play program also offers recreational activities and free, nutritious meals for children during the summer months. Lunch, reading, musical lessons and more will be available Monday through Friday 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. at locations around the city. Learn more about specific locations and programs at the Portland Parks & Recreation website.

  • Movies and Concerts in the Parks

Throughout the summer, Portland Parks and Recreation will also how free movies and concerts. The concerts and pre-film entertainment including local musical performances and free popcorn will begin at 6:30 p.m. Movies will start after dusk. For a full schedule of all summer movies, concerts and locations visit the Portland Parks & Recreational website.

Oregon Zoo Camps and Day Programs

  • Summer Camp 2019 and Discovery Days

This summer, the Oregon Zoo is hosting a series of camps to engage children with wildlife and provide them with a greater understanding of animals and habitats from around the globe. Discovery Days offer campers the option to try out a day camp before going all-in on one of the more extensive week-long Oregon Zoo summer camps. (Learn more about pricing and specific camps at the Oregon Zoo Discovery Days website.

Portland Audubon Society

  • Summer Camps

The Portland Audubon Society offers summer camps with guides trained in tracking, bird identification and other wilderness skills to help children and youths connect with nature. Learn more and register online. Camp scholarships are available. 

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