Youth Programming and Activities

Listed here are some community organizations providing programming for elementary-aged children.

Big Brothers Big Sisters BBBS of Central Iowa seeks to ignite the power and promise of youth through one-to-one mentoring relationships, serving youth and families in Polk, Dallas, and Warren counties.
Cub Scouts Scouts is all about encouraging boys and girls to make friends, be helpful to others, and do their very best no matter the outcome. With the help of powerful learning projects and exciting outdoor activities, we aim to teach children that doing their best can be a fun and rewarding experience—no matter the difficulty of the challenge. To learn more about the aims and benefits of Cub Scouting, follow the link!
Girl Scouts Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.
Camp Fire Iowa Camp Fire is an inclusive youth development organization founded with the intention of connecting kids with nature and helping them develop the skills needed for a happy, healthy life now and into the future. We offer a variety of youth and family programs including Community Clubs, Out-of-School Time Programs, Day and Overnight Camps, and Teen Leadership Development. Camp Fire Heart of Iowa serves approximately 3000 youth per year. 
4-H In 4‑H programs, kids and teens complete hands-on projects in areas like health, science, agriculture and civic engagement in a positive environment where they receive guidance from adult mentors and are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles. Kids experience 4‑H in every county and parish in the country through in-school and after-school programs, school and community clubs and 4‑H camps.
Boys and Girls Club For 60 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Iowa has been there for kids and families when they need us most: after school, all day in the summer, and even all-day for in-person, virtual learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our membership is open to all youth ages 6-18, and our Club members have access to a wealth of programming that has the power to positively shape and change their lives.
Des Moines Public Library Des Moines Public Library offers a variety of services and programming for all ages. Each location offers classes, resources, and services for each member of the family.
Des Moines Botanical Garden There’s a Botanical Garden event for everyone. Whether you’re looking for gardening classes, things to do with kids, art exhibits, concerts, fundraisers or a place to hold your wedding or meeting, the Botanical Garden is a perfect Des Moines destination for learning and fun.
Blank Park Zoo Blank Park Zoo offers several popular classes for young children and an adult they love: Zoo Tots, Zoo Tots Cooking, Polliwogs and Zoo Tunes all offer children fun hands-on activities.
Ruby’s Readers Book Club
Enjoy a world of books with Ruby the Reading Red Panda!
Safari Camps
Participate in camps offered throughout the summer, winter and spring school breaks.
Des Moines Parks and Rec Afterschool programming, youth sports, summer camps, and more.A partnership between Des Moines Public Schools and Des Moines Parks and Recreation seeks to expand youth services in the community and have all students involved in an extracurricular activity by the time they complete fifth grade.  Students enrolled in Des Moines Public Schools, who qualify for free and reduced meals, can opt-in to register for Parks and Recreation youth sports and swim lessons for just $5. To learn more about the “opt-in” program click here
Police Activities League The Police Activities League (PAL) is a non-profit organization that provides free or affordable after school athletic opportunities to community youth between the ages of 10 and 18 in a safe environment.
YMCA The Y is a great place to grow up. Youth can cultivate the skills and relationships that lead to thriving adults. We pride ourselves on meeting the needs of all different types of families, so no matter what your background, your financial situation or your schedule, there’s a place for everyone at the Y.
Central Iowa Aquatics Central Iowa Aquatics (CIA) takes the love of swimming to the next level with a year-round competitive program. Whether your swimmer is fresh out of swim lessons or an experienced competitive swimmer, CIA offers four levels of developmental swimming. As a CIA swimmer, your child will receive professional training in a competitive team environment.
Des Moines Swimming Federation The Des Moines Swimming Federation or DSMF was started in 1982 with the mission of helping kids of all ages and abilities reach their full potential in the sport of swimming.  A USA Swimming Club, DMSF trains kids to be great swimmers. It’s a community that loves swimming and helping kids reach their goals in the sport—whether it’s swimming in high school or college, or just getting started swimming competitively.
Girls Rock! Des Moines Girls Rock! lifts up the unique voices of girls and gender-expansive folx through creative expression. They believe each rocker should have a chance to celebrate their one-of-a-kind identity, their own inner strength, and creativity and connect to the world around them through music education, innovative programming, and performance. They encourage them to explore their inner rocker, develop creative habits, and discover what inspires them.  At GR!DSM, every rocker gets to share their unique voice with the world – because every voice deserves to be heard.
Skate DSM Skate DSM’s vision is that Greater Des Moines becomes a community where skateboarding is a celebrated activity, for people of all ages and backgrounds, that fosters community, creativity, health, perseverance and leadership.
Willkie House The Willkie House Summer Program has a large variety of activities for kids to take part in. From going to the park, volunteering in the community to venturing out to the zoo and science center, there is so much for the kids to do.
Young Women’s Resource Center The Young Women’s Resource Center is a non-profit organization that supports, educates and advocates for girls and young women* ages 10-24. Through small groups and individual support, the YWRC provides programming for all young women, no matter what they may be going through.