Stage a musical after one week of practice. Uncover the secrets of a city and culture. Discover famous artists and be inspired by their techniques. Travel through rivers and mangroves among native wildlife.
Those are some of the adventures that Miami-Dade kids can experience in summer camp this year.
Here are a few local summer camps that offer both leisure and learning for kids of all ages. For a searchable database of local summer camps, visit momsmiami.com and click on Summer Camp.
Broadway Musical Theatre
On May 31, Mica Einhorn won her third grade’s music award and, last summer, she was given a lead role in a play during her stay at an award-winning musical theater camp in Maine.
And she said she owes it all to Angelica Torres, the director of the Broadway Musical Theatre in Key Biscayne.
Torres offers an eight-week Broadway Triple Threat Summer Intensive Workshop for children ages 5 ti 16.
For three hours a day, the campers practice their singing, acting and dancing led by professionals. The campers also learn about the choreographer, composer, story and style of one or two musicals every week. On Friday of every session, the students put together a performance with pieces from the musical they studied that week. This year, the repertoire includes selections from Newsies, The Phantom of the Opera and Wicked.
“It’s very challenging for them,” Torres said. “We push the bar.”
Mica, who has been involved with the theater for about seven years, said Torres has taught her how to stop being shy on stage, along with a variety of other skills.
“I think I’ve learned how to use my stomach and project and act, because she teaches acting techniques for getting into the moment and really being the character,” said Mica, 8.Mica and 11-year-old Isabella Peña, who both want to be Broadway performers when they’re older, love the community aspect of the camp. Mica particularly enjoys everyone’s reactions after a student steps on stage.
“When you’re done auditioning, everyone supports you and everyone claps for you,” Mica said. “Even during a show, after someone does a song or something, everyone gives you hugs when you get offstage.”
Broadway Musical Theatre’s summer workshops run from June 11 to August 10 and require no audition. Each one-week session costs $200 for members and $235 for non-members. To sign up, visit broadwaymusicaltheatre.com.
From sailors and pirates to 1950s rock ’n’ roll to the 2012 Olympic Games, campers at HistoryMiami’s Tropical Adventures summer camp will get to experience an array of history and culture straight from their backyard.
“In addition to exploring a wide variety of history relating to the U.S., we always come back to Miami and South Florida,” said Thuvia Martin, HistoryMiami’s family programs manager. “Just the fact that we really try to bring it back to the community engenders this sense of pride of where we’re living.”
For example, during the third week of the camp, campers will discover the traditions and lifestyles of Native American tribes around the country. But the curriculum is infused with local flavor: The campers will get to explore South Florida’s Miccosukee Indian Village.
Along with other field trips to Zoo Miami, Pinecrest Gardens and other local spots, campers also do arts and crafts, science projects and even yoga during the weekly sessions.
Amanda Jacobs’ favorite memories at the camp include visiting the mysterious Miami Circle, where she learned about bones, and Miami International Airport’s air traffic control tower.
For her, learning about history and culture is important “because we need to learn these things in order to live.”
The 10-year-old has found learning about the government and its branches to be the most interesting during her three years at HistoryMiami.
But for Phoenix Thrasybule-Pierre, history is inspirational in his writing.
His dreams of being an author are supplemented by his experiences at HistoryMiami, where he has enjoyed learning about Miami by “seeing animals that live in Miami, the monuments and all the historical sites.”
“History gives me better ideas about how to think about a way of life,” said Phoenix, 10. “I can’t exaggerate it. Instead, I can tell the full story.”
In his five years at the camp, Phoenix’s favorite memories include dodgeball and an encounter with a mischievous ibis that ate his sandwich during his first field trip.
HistoryMiami’s summer camp in Downtown Miami runs from June 8 to Aug. 17. It is open to children ages 5 through 12 and is divided into 10 themed one-week sessions. Each week costs $165 for HistoryMiami members, and between $190 and $210 for non-members. Register online at historymiami.org.
Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami
Before he found art, 21-year-old Tim Rush used to “do a lot of stupid things” and got into trouble often. But once he got involved in the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami’s teen art program, he started learning “useful skills.” Now, Rush is experimenting with film and animation as a student at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.
Every summer, MOCA offers a Creative Arts Summer Program for children ages 6 to 12 and three intensive teen programs for those ages 13 through 19.
In the Creative Arts Summer Program, every week has a theme, whether it is multi-dimensional art inspired by the circus or creating artwork from recycled materials. While learning about the basics of color and design, the campers also learn to emulate styles and techniques of renowned artists from Pablo Picasso and Alexander McQueen.
“We like to introduce art history as a concept, then take them into the galleries to evaluate real artwork,” said Valerie Ricordi, a MOCA spokeswoman. “While the students are working and building their artistic skills, they’re also working on socialization and organizing their creative thinking processes."
Also, Ricordi said, every week an artist from the community visits to talk about their work and creative process.
When Kimberly Hagerty was in the Creative Arts Summer Program, she said her painting became her best skill, when it used to be her worst. She also learned to sew, a talent that she still uses today.
Now a counselor for the children’s camp, Hagerty, 16, enjoyed meeting new people, especially professional teachers. She remembers learning origami from a Japanese artist.
“It’s so creative,” said Hagerty, who was in the children’s camp for about six years. “Different people make different things, and you get to see what other people think. Then, it brings ideas to you and you can make things as well.”
The teen program is more focused on journalism and portfolio development. The summer program is divided into three sessions: journalism, photojournalism and summer studio, where students work in order to hone their skills.
Last year, the photojournalism students worked on a project called “Portrait of 125th Street,” in which they documented the various businesses, business owners and customers of shops on the street, which includes mid-century furniture stores, a tattoo parlor, a martial arts studio, and a shoe repair shop.
“It was not just how to frame a shot,” Ricordi said. “It made them really stop and ponder how they can express the life around them.”
Rush said that MOCA’s summer programs offer students an outlet for expression.
“Art is essentially a part of everything,” he said. “A person who can write a poem is an artist, a person who can write a script is an artist, people who are able to make special effects and show people’s blood and guts, that’s an art. Even my brother who designs guns in his spare time – to him that’s his art.”
The Creative Arts Summer Program runs from June 11 to Aug. 17; the teen summer programs run from June 18 to Aug. 17. Each Creative Arts Summer Program session costs $150 for a MOCA member, North Miami resident or city employee and $200 for non-members. Grant scholarships are available. The summer teen program is free. Visit mocanomi.org for more information and to register.
Oleta River State Park
At Camp Live Oak at Oleta River State Park, campers get a change of pace from being confined to a classroom during the school year.
“The best thing about the camp is that it allows kids who don’t really like school or have a hard time in school to come to this kind of environment that’s different for them and they’re engaged,” said Susanna Coleman, the administrative director of Camp Live Oak. “Because it’s outside and not as restrictive, they open themselves to be learning a lot more.”
Through science projects and arts and crafts, campers ages 3 through 16 learn about earth science, physics, the environment, conservation and recycling.
But for 9-year-old Alec Smith, the best part about Camp Live Oak is simply being outdoors.
“You get to experience more things outdoors than just sitting inside and playing video games, which don’t teach you anything,” Alec said. “It’s fun being outdoors because you can play with your friends and stuff.”
Along with canoeing and going to the beach, archery is one of Alec’s favorite activities, especially because of his first experience shooting an arrow at Camp Live Oak five years ago.
“All the counselors were helping me try and get a bulls eye, and on my first shot I got it,” he said.
Camp Live Oak runs from June 11 to August 17. The camp offers a Lil Sprouts program for those ages 3 and 4, the regular summer camp for children ages 5-13, and a Teen Eco Experience for 14- to 16-year-olds. There are three sessions of three weeks each. Prices vary per age group and the amount of weeks and sessions. Visit campliveoakfl.com for more information and to register.