For most parents, August brings with it the reality that summer is soon coming to an end and the time has come to start thinking about getting kids ready to go back to school. Of course, kids typically don’t want to even think about the start of school and are still hanging on to and relishing in the fun of end of summer vacations and enjoying all of the adventures and excitement of those beloved summer camps!
Yes, those summer camps. Who could forget going to day camp – singing songs, making crafts, playing games, hiking, swimming, and hanging out with friends. For those kids who were lucky enough to be sent off to sleep-over camps, the memories are probably even more vivid. Those weeks away from our parents tested our independence and forced a journey of learning how to grow and discover who we were. It wasn’t always easy to be away from our rooms, our TVs, and the security of knowing mom and/or dad were within calling distance. But the fun and excitement of forging happy memories and lifelong friendships made up for the nervousness of being away from home. As with day camps, sleep over camps provided memories of games played, sports participated in, campfires and swimming in pools and lakes etc. But there are also those recollections of whispering at night to our bunk mates about a guy or gal we had a crush on, lots of giggling, secret telling and planning ways to play pranks on the kids in adjacent cabins.
For those adults who now have kids of their own, the options of day and sleep over camps available to them are a world apart from decades ago. The choices and specific types of camps can actually be overwhelming. Whatever really interests your child, there is probably a camp geared toward that interest. Below are 8 creative and interesting camps that are now available in the United States:
- Westchester Circus Arts Camp – Katonah, NY
Got a kid who wants to run away and join the circus? First he’s got to learn the tightropes. Although many camps offer the flying trapeze these days, this particular day camp offers instructions on what little kids need to know to be a big top bigwig: aerial arts, acrobatics, contortion, balance, juggling, stage presence, clowning, and more. Every week-long session ends with a show where campers reveal their brand-new circus skills, complete with lights, music, and popcorn machines!
- Wizards & Warriors Camp – Salem, MA
Prep your potions and powers! At this myth-inspired educational camp, run by Guard Up! Family Swordsmanship, kids invent their own characters to role-play in an ongoing, interactive story. No video games or dice here – campers act out the epic tale using their magical skill set, their smarts, and a variety of foam weapons. In addition to battling evil on their quest for treasure, kids will get a chance to participate in spell casting, alchemy, riddle solving, potion making, treasure hunting, and more. They’ll also gain a basic knowledge of subjects like chemistry, mythology, physics, critical thinking, and Latin.
- New York Film Academy Musical Theatre Camp – New York, NY
Hosted by the New York Film Academy, this four-week musical theater camp is for kids and teens who dream of performing on Broadway. Campers learn everything from performance skills to self-expression, helping them become “triple threats” with singing, dancing, and acting. They even work one-on-one with Broadway-level professionals! The New York Film Academy also offers summer camps for film, broadcast journalism, 3D animation, screenwriting, photography, game design, and more.
- Hollywood Stunts at Pali Overnight Adventures – Running Springs, CA
Pali Overnight Adventures offers 28 camp specialties like Girl Power, Culinary, Fashion, Secret Agent, Comedy, and Wacky Science – but Hollywood Stunt Camp will really catch the attention of little daredevils. Athletic (and brave) kids learn how to tumble, duel, stage fight, and fall from 30 feet – all under the direction and guidance of experienced professionals. Safety is the number-one priority: Mats are omnipresent and the equipment is state-of-the-art. The camp ends with a stunt show spectacular, where the kids show off what they’ve learned by directing and choreographing stunts.
- Camp All Star – Sheffield, MA
A program offered by Nike, Camp All Star lets boys and girls choose one of four specialties: basketball, soccer, volleyball, or ice hockey. Campers spend several hours each day participating in drills, training, and games with a college coach. Afternoons are designated to adventurous activities ranging from hiking to rock climbing to yoga – with the exceptions of Wednesdays, when campers head to the local lake! During the evenings, everyone gets together for social activities like campfires and capture-the-flag. Nature enthusiasts will love the views of Mount Everest and surrounding trails – and parents will love the camp’s proximity to Boston, Albany, New York City, and Hartford.
- Writopia Camp – Honesdale, PA
Bookworms and writers will adore Writopia lab, a 12-day sleepaway camp in the Poconos. Published authors and playwrights host literary workshops in the morning. In the afternoon, campers take artistic electives to improve skills – think poetry hikes, role playing games, literary sports, zine making, and more. At night, activities like scavenger hunts and campfires give kids a traditional summer camp experience.
- Digital Media Academy – Locations across the country
As a STEM summer camp, the Digital Media Academy caters to future designers, filmmakers, programmers, musicians, developers, engineers, animators, and creators. Colleges across the country offer the one-week or two-week camp to kids aged 7-17. Those of all skill levels are welcome, and overnight housing is available for teenage students.
- School of Rock – Brooklyn and New York, NY and also in Hoboken, NJ
Does your child fantasize about being a rockstar? Enroll them in one of School of Rock’s music camps in Brooklyn, Manhattan, or Hoboken! No matter his/her skill level, your child will improve skills in guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, or vocals. Fun class options include Best of 90s Rock Camp, Queen Performance Camp, 10-Day Songwriting and Recording Camp, and Led Zeppelin Camp. Most sessions end with a live rock show, where campers can show off their newfound skills.
This list is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more specialized camps to choose from including fire fighting and prevention, virtual on-line, weather, photography, cooking, foreign languages and engineering. And there are also camps that are offered only to kids with special needs and medical conditions. I can only imagine that after going to one of these specialized camps, kids will be getting an early start on knowing what they might want, or not want, to do with their lives one day, or possibly learning skills on how to deal with life. And while this is awesome to think about, I am sure decades from now there will still be wonderful memories of playing games, singing around the campfire, having crushes, missing mom and dad and playing pranks on campmates!