Austin’s free summer playground program starts Monday


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Starting Monday, June 11, parents in Austin can drop off their kids, ages 6-12, at 11 parks around the city for a day of free, supervised activities.

The Summer Playgrounds Program has been around for more than 90 years, and thanks to a grant expiring at the end of this summer, four sites will also accept 4- and 5-year-olds as well. 

Staffed by temporary city workers, not volunteers, each playground camp maintains a 12-1 ratio of kids to adults, said Davin Bjornaas, recreation program manager with Austin’s Parks and Recreation department.

Find a list of participating parks, recommendations, and how to register here.

Families can expect programming to focus on character building, teamwork, active play, healthy living and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities.

The program is meant for families who might not be able to afford a day camp for their kids during the summer but still want them to have the experience.

“But it’s also intended for just the stay-at-home mom who needs some activities for her kids to do during the day or needs a couple hours to run some errands,” Bjornaas said.

The camp runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every weekday between now and Aug. 3, except on July 4. Most sites offer free lunch, and those that don’t offer snacks, Bjornaas said.

The city recommends sending kids with a water bottle and sunscreen, but they’ll provide those for anyone who doesn’t have them. You can register your kids online before showing up, or once you arrive at a park for the first time.

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