RICHMOND, Va. -- As the school year winds down, Richmond and Petersburg are hoping to keep kids busy and their minds occupied by offering several free and affordable summer programs.
This is the first year since 2019 that Richmond Parks and Recreation has offered a full range of summer camps.
Starting July 5, Richmond will offer a pair or three-week summer programs that cost $200 a child. Those camps run from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. There are scholarships available for those who can't afford that cost, and breakfast and lunch will be provided.
In addition, the city is offering a teen specialty summer camp where each week has a different theme.
For example, Capital One will teach a coding camp one week, and there will be a basketball and textiles camp another week.
Those week-long camps run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and cost $100 a week per child.
For those who can't afford or can't commit to a week-long option, Richmond will run nine free pop-up summer camps at different community centers across the city. Those will also include free breakfast and lunch and run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
"We understand that there is a need," Melanie Ramos, program services supervisor for Richmond Parks & Recreation, said. "We understand that parents have to work, and we understand that not every child needs to participate in summer school. And so we are here for them. We offer them a whole free, full experience."
In Petersburg, city leaders also want to keep children engaged this summer.
The small city has recently seen a spike in teen violence, and city council has enacted a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew for those under the age of 18.
"We need to make opportunities in place within all of the departments to see how we can come together to keep our kids off the streets," Marquis Allen, director of recreation, special events, and volunteering for Petersburg, said.
Allen said most summer programs typically stop after children turn 13, but this year, the city wanted to make sure programming was provided for kids all the way up to age 17.
Parks and Leisure Services will be holding a free summer camp from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Lakemont Elementary. After camp ends for the day, summer league basketball starts at 6 p.m.
"We want to keep kids engaged sun up to sun down," said Allen.
Allen also said donations from the community, like a recent $10,000 donation from the Petersburg Kiwanis Club, have allowed them to provide the summer at no cost to families.
The basketball league is $20 for residents and $30 for non residents, and the city hopes to have as many kids as possible participating in both camps.
"We want to be a resource, and the City of Petersburg wants to be a resource," said Allen. "So we got to come together and just try to figure it out."
The Boys & Girls Club will also provide programming for kids at Petersburg High School.
Sunday, June 12, Petersburg Parks & Leisure Services will hold a free event from 3 to 6 p.m. where families can come out to learn about summer programming options. That event will feature food, a bouncy house and a petting zoo and more.
Registration for Richmond's summer camps (and other programs) can be found here.
For more information about Petersburg's summer camps, click here.