After recent media coverage on the debauchery that is The City of Toronto Day Camp Registration, we decided to look at a number of other options available in the city, and give you a condensed list on what’s what. Specifically, we’re looking at stuff with actual availability that don’t require you to line up… at 6am… in the snow… with a lawn chair.
Be forewarned, a few of the following are a bit on the pricier side, BUT if you have ever been to Wonderland with a family of four, YOU KNOW the price for some of these weeks can be used up in one day of non-roller coaster riding (because, obviously, your kid is still too small for any of the fun stuff, so you just end up walking around with a $12 slushie and $25 dollar slice of pizza).
So, even if summer is a few months away, any of you who have tried to book through the city or otherwise know that now is the time to start researching and booking. So here’s to planning for July and August, when Spring literally just hit yesterday.
Swimming twice a day. Options that grow with age. Leadership training. Family nights. This one is a great one. It offers an Arts and Sports Program as well. The facilities are top notch (my daughter just participated in their March Break camp, and LOVED it). There is even a registered nurse on site. And if you have an older kiddo, there is an overnight camp as well. It’s the most expensive of the bunch, but it’s literally an all-inclusive for kids (sans alcohol).
Prices: start at around $1300 for two weeks (including Door-to-Door transportation, all food, Knap Sack, T-Shirt, daily towel service, and more); prices are cheaper for the ½ day program for littler ones.
If you’ve ever been to the Brickworks for the Saturday morning farmers market, or Libretto pizza and salad for $5 during the summer, then you know this little spot on the Bayview Extension is a gem. It’s close to everything, and you are guaranteed to have your kid be one with nature and away from an iPad during the summer days.
Bonus: There is a focus on creating environmental citizens – win!
Prices: $375/week, extended care from 3:30-5:30 for $25 for the whole week.
Who doesn’t love being by the lake during the summer? It’s not Muskoka, but this camp has a ton of options for whatever your child is into. (And I’m not kidding… they even have circus camp!) And if you find the research overwhelming, have your camper do her own research.
Bonus: Subsidies are also available for those in need (up to 50% off the price).
Prices: Starting at $250/week
Explore nature in one of Toronto’s best parks. Kids learn about ecology, nature, preservation, and work on some scientific skills too.
Bonus: If your kiddo is of high school age, participation in High Park Rangers contributes to their 40 hours of community involvement required by the Ministry.
Price : $290/week
Longo’s is looking to feed your little ones this summer. With daily classes in Mad Science and a Journey to Disney, to name a few, you get a bit of a later drop off (10am) and pick up your kids after lunch – win!
Bonus: Lunch is included in this cooking adventure. After all, the kids are cooking!
Ages: 7 and up
Okay, on a personal level, I love this camp! Not only did my daughter come home HAPPY every day, they offer affordable sessions at a variety of locations and ALWAYS have a special. Last year, I booked two weeks and got the third FREE! These folks make tennis super fun, and offer a variety of services including packages for tennis equipment (at a reasonable price, too). Also, the ratio of camper to teacher is pretty great. You can choose half day or full day. And if you really like it, they offer year round programs, too.
Bonus: Before and after care also provided.
Ages: 4 -16
Prices: $199/half day to $339/full day
*UPDATE: Lytton Sports Camps saw this post and was kind enough to reach out to us and request that we hook our wonderful readers up with $25 off EACH programme you sign your little ones up for. Please note that the promo code is UNLIMITED so feel free to use it on as many programmes as your heart desires. PROMO CODE: REBEL25
I mean, you can drop your kids off and then head to the Shops at Don Mills for a coffee with this go-to-favourite during any school break. And the perk? You don’t have to stay through the chaos! If your little scientist (4-5) can only handle a half day, not to worry, they’ve got you. And if your bigger one needs a leg up on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), your innovators have things to explore too. Hot lunches are extra if you want ($9.99/day), if not, it’s the Science Centre, so pack a litter-less lunch.
Prices Range from: $150/week – $300/week
If you live anywhere in Toronto, you know there is a Loblaws or a Real Canadian Superstore within 5 minutes of your house. And if you have been to these places you know each has a cooking school. They take culinary stars starting at the age of 2 and there is everything from cupcake decorating to ultimate nachos. Even better, you can do one day adventures if you so choose!
Ages: 2- 16
Prices: Starting at $14/day
Seneca College has summer camps for kids!?! Who knew? This camp offers sports, technology, arts, and much more. This locale is at the Newnham Campus (404 and Finch), but I know families who come from near and far for the experience.
Bonus: AH-MAZING bang for your buck.
Prices: $225/week to $335/week
I love science. I also love camps that foster this in young girls, too. And while Steam Labs has tech camps for everyone, the fact that they have one specifically designed for girls is AWESOME. So if your kiddo likes Robots or Minecraft, this place is for you. Camp is from 9am-4pm.
Prices: Starting at $500
So, a bit out of the city but if you have a child with autism, or children with varying abilities, this is the right place for you. The staff is special education trained and have direct autism therapy experience. Not only do they do yoga and no bake baking, but they also work on social skills development too! Camp runs from 9am – 4pm, with extended care available.
Prices: $250/week with 15% discount per additional sibling registered.
An awesome camp for children 4-16, UCC Summer Day Camp takes full advantage of the day school’s stellar facilities to offer a top-notch program for all kiddies in the summer. The camp day starts a 9:00am (you can drop off at 8:30am), and an extra-added bonus is that while the camp finishes at 4:00pm, they provide FREE after care until 5:30pm. They offer nutritious lunches (vegetarian, if that’s you, too), recreational and instructional swimming, and activities ranging from Theatre Arts to Land Sports to Film Camp.
Ages: 4 (upon attending) – 16
Prices: $390/weekly to $780/bi-weekly
I picked this one because it offers an Integration and Accessibility Option. What’s great about the Y is that there are a number of locations, so if you live out of the city you can find a location that works for you.
Ages: 4 – 15
I learned about Zodiac last year when I won a gift card at my daughter’s school Fun Fair. You might recognize them from their year-round swim programs. They have 10 day, 9 day, and 5 day sessions respectively, and kiddies who are six (in 2015) can take specialized programs, like Robotics, Culinary Arts, Dance and more. They are on the pricier side of camps, but your kiddo will love it. You have the option of a food plan, and bus service. And P.S., if you live in their bus districts, they’ll do pick up and drop off AT YOUR HOUSE.
Ages: 2.5 – 15
Prices: $365/5 day to $1120/10 day
There are SO many more camps available, so use these as your starting point (or ending, up to you). A good rule of thumb is to check your local community centre, they may have something up your alley – literally. Also, elementary school Fun Fairs usually have week passes (discount or full) to these places, so take advantage of supporting your school and getting a wicked discount in the process. And remember, if camp is not your thing, there are about a million and one FREE things you can do during a summer in The 6ix – don’t worry; we’ll hook you up with those bad boys when the time comes!