If your “inner camp counselor” hasn’t yet pulled it together to figure out ways to keep your child occupied during the summer months—don’t worry—it’s not too late to sign them up for summer camp. And in addition to more traditional-style camps, there are plenty with specialties to choose from, so they can spend time surfing the waves as opposed to channel surfing!
Back to Nature
Even if you live in the city, summertime often means getting back to nature. 4-H camps offer the ability to learn specifics, ranging from environmental upkeep to taking care of animals. Programs are available in rural, suburban and urban communities and expenses are kept to a minimum for campers. Peconic Dunes Camp on the Long Island Sound, for example, gives campers both day camp and overnight options, with meals, lodging and all-day schedules that include snorkeling and environmental science among the 25 course offerings. They also allow campers to stay overnight for as little as one week. It’s a great way to allow children their first experience away from home, but for a limited time. Check out the 4-H website to find programs in your area.
The Skudin Surf camp at Rockaway Beach, New York, teaches kids ages 5-15 from beginner to experienced surfers. Their goal is not only enjoyment for the campers, “but to learn how to safely work their way in and out of the ocean.” Campers can sign up for single days or weeks at a time. Other surf camps can be found by contacting park and beach organizations in your area and asking for recommendations.
Summer of Art
Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts in Huntington, Long Island, states its mission is to “provide children with the arts as a lifetime companion.” Campers from ages 5-18 take buses daily from throughout the New York metro area to Long Island, where they may choose from more than 40 courses that include cartooning, sculpture and metal crafts just for starters. The campus has 70 studios located on its hillsides. Campers are also treated to “Festival Concerts” which in the past have included Yo Yo Ma, The New York City Ballet and Broadway actors. Admission is based on interest (although some select programs may require an audition).
Actors In Action
Do you have a budding Brando? An overactive Angelina? If so, you may want to consider a camp that emphasizes the theater. Check with local theater companies in your area to see if they’re holding summertime camp classes for children or teens. Not only do many of them offer this option, they may even have grants from large corporations that allow them to charge less during the summer than they do for similar classes during the rest of the year. Creative Theatrics/Whitebird Productions, in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park area, enrolls children from third to seventh grade who spend full days each week working with professional actors and teaching artists to put on a show, soup to nuts, within five days. With a different theme for each week, the kids learn a range of skills from acting and movement to arts and scenic design. Each Friday, they perform the show for a live audience of family and friends. For kids seventh through tenth grade, a continuing program is offered as well.
Sing Through the Summer
If singing beside a campfire isn’t quite your youngster’s idea of a good time, but they love to sing, consider looking into a summer camp that specialize in choir. The Brooklyn Youth Chorus, for example, has various options for children six years and up at a range of skill levels. Your child may learn to write a ten minute musical, gain an introduction to vocal jazz, or create a string quartet. Some of the summer camp courses require auditions, but there are plenty open to all, regardless of ability. Look to the youth choir groups in your city to see what they may offer.
With summer “brain drain” being a genuine concern for many parents, there are plenty of interesting camps combining activities along with forms of academic “enrichment”.
Check out your local library to see what summer camp specialties they may have in store. Many colleges and universities, Fordham University in New York for example, offer camp classes for those as young as 4 up through 11th grade in which they can enhance their reading skills, further develop a love of books, or review topics including phonics, study skills and speed reading.
The Beam Camp, in Stratford, New Hampshire, encourages “creative problem solving and collaboration through fine and manual arts.” Kids 7-17 work along with a “big thinker on a spectacular endeavor.” Building, engineering, design and imagination go into some truly amazing works, in which the campers have a chance to work with professional artists, designers, architects and others on a mountain campus of more than 700 acres. While this summer camp is not cheap, more than 50 percent of its campers receive reduced tuition or scholarships.
Do you want your child to stay close to home? The local Y is often a spot that offers plenty of options for the community at large. But come summer time, Y’s are all about kids of all ages being able to go swimming, take educational trips, play sports and more. Whether activities take place at the Y buildings themselves or at local schools, the summer camps they offer are generally reasonably priced (with tuition assistance for those who need) and aimed to develop youngsters towards learning aspects of “healthy living and social responsibility.”
It’s worth noting many overnight camps that traditionally required a minimum stay of one month have reduced the minimum stay to as little as one week (although two is more common). If you ask, most camps have a range of scholarships and tuition assistance to those in need.