University offers year-round programming for families, children

Be amazed by a faculty science lecture, explore the University's green spaces, listen to a children's concert, or come and relax in the gallery of our children's library. There's plenty for families to do at Princeton University.

The University offers a variety of quality programs — many of which are free and open to the public — in areas such as the arts, athletics, literacy and science. Under the umbrella of "YouthCampus," the Office of Community and Regional Affairs lists these programs online and sends email alerts about upcoming programs to subscribers.

"Princeton University offers many exciting programs for children in our community. We wanted to have all the information in one place so families could easily find a program that's right for them. From story time to science, it's all there," said Erin Metro, associate director of community relations.

Youth Campus Matilda Luk painting of kids on campus

The Princeton University campus is open to youth and families for exploration and play, as illustrated in this scene by Henry Moore's "Oval With Points" sculpture near Cannon Green. (Painting by Matilda Luk, Office of Communications)Click to enlarge.

A sampling of the programs follows.

Art museum

The Princeton University Art Museum hosts a number of family-oriented programs, such as Art for Families, which involves a gallery activity and related art project; Artful Adventures, a series of self-guided tours and activities; Family Days, full-day programs held each October and May; and Homeschool Week, with tours and projects held the second week of January. Throughout the year, families and school groups can visit the museum; admission is free.

Youth Campus Community Staff Day coaching lacrosse to children

The University's student-athletes lead a youth sports clinic at Community and Staff Day, teaching children a variety of sports, such as lacrosse (above). (Photo by Denise Applewhite, Office of Communications)


Princeton offers a number of youth sports clinics and camps. The Campus Recreation department offers a summer day camp for children in first through eighth grades, and the Department of Athletics offers about 70 summer camps and clinics direct by varsity coaches. In addition, the University's Community and Staff Day in the fall includes a youth sports clinic, while the National Girls and Women in Sports Day consists of an interactive sports fair for girls ages 7 to 14.

Youth Campus Summer Lab Learning with Paul Rodriguez and Leslie Alexis

In summer 2014, high school student Raul Rodriguez (right), guided by graduate student Leslie Alexis (left), worked in a University lab, creating and testing specific gene mutations using yeast cells. "This was a good opportunity to get my feet wet in the research field," Rodriguez said. "It has definitely furthered my interest in science." (Photo by Denise Applewhite, Office of Communications)


Princeton, a research university, has opportunities for high school students to gain experience in the lab. The Laboratory Learning Program matches students with faculty, staff or student mentors to conduct research on ongoing research projects, and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory allows students to perform independent laboratory work.

Youth Campus Cotsen Children's Library

Cotsen Children's Library offers a wide range of activities in a playful setting. (Video still from Danielle Alio, Office of Communications)


Community House and the Cotsen Children's Library are the two primary groups offering literacy programming for youth. Community House's programs are aimed at strengthening the academic skills of students who are underrepresented minorities or the first in their families to pursue postsecondary education. Community House also offers an SAT preparation program for underrepresented high school students, with sessions twice a week.

Cotsen Children's Library has a whimsical reading gallery for children, and activities include story times, writing contests and feedback, book discussion groups, guest speakers, craft activities and blogs. Cotsen staff members also visit local classrooms through the Cotsen in the Classroom program.


Princeton University Concerts often includes children's concerts in its programming each season. This academic year, the concert series includes "My Brother Franz Schubert" on Saturday, Nov. 7, and "Baby Got Bach: Principally Percussion," an interactive concert, on March 20.


Annual events such as the Holiday Science Lecture, New Jersey Science Bowl and Youth Women's Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics complement regular programs around the University. Princeton holds a monthly open house at Peyton Observatory for observing the night sky; bimonthly public tours of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL); and Science on Saturdays lectures in winter at PPPL.


To learn more about Princeton's efforts to make the University more environmentally sustainable, school groups can take campus Green Tours, highlighting features such as green roofs and a stream restoration project. The Office of Sustainability also encourages K-12 summer camp organizers to schedule a visit to the Princeton Garden Project, a student-run organic garden where campers can learn about organic gardening.


During its run at the Hamilton Murray Theater on campus, Princeton Summer Theater produces a children's show and offers a six-week series of young artists' workshops for children ages 6 to 12, focusing on fundamentals of theater.

Youth Campus Prospects Gardens

A colorful array of 8,000 flowers ranging from geraniums to day lilies appear in Prospect Gardens, established in the mid-1800s. (Photo by Danielle Alio, Office of Communications)s

Walking on campus

Princeton's campus is always open to families who want to stroll through the gardens, view the outdoor sculpture collection, visit a Gothic courtyard, or say hello to the tigers guarding Nassau Hall. In addition to an interactive map, self-guided tours on gargoyles and campus art are available online.