It’s that time of year—school’s out, the holidays are wrapping up—when many parents stuck in town collectively ask themselves, What the hell are we going to do now? The allure of new toys only lasts so long, there are whole days to fill, and the nanny might even take a few days off. Playdates are a great option, if playmates aren’t off jaunting on beaches or schussing down slopes. Luckily, there’s an under-the-radar, extremely affordable (three days, $100) winter camp run by the Central Park Conservancy. Drop the kiddies off at the North Meadow Recreation Center at 8:30 a.m., and they’ll spend the morning scaling an indoor climbing wall, venturing out on the ice at Lasker Rink (skate rental included), and hiking in the North Woods. Then they’ll head back indoors for nature-related craft projects until pickup at 3 p.m. “It’s cold, kids are bored—it’s a good way to stay active and not just in front of the TV,” says Kate Sheleg, the Conservancy’s manager of public relations. Campers bring their own lunches, and the camp provides a snack—usually a granola bar and hot chocolate (perfect post-skate). There’s one counselor for every six kids, all childhood-education-trained Recreation staffers. “You forget you’re in New York. Right above the Recreation Center, there’s a small waterfall. We call that area the pool. They see wildlife—a lot of the birds might still be in the area—and explore the woodlands.” As of press time, there were eleven spots left. Families who don’t snag one of them should mark the weekend of February 18 on the calendar now; that’s the next session.
12/26 to 12/28, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Camp Central Park, North Meadow Recreation Center, mid-park at 97th St. (212-348-4867 or firstname.lastname@example.org); $100.