Summer camp is no longer just a place to park your kids between school sessions. Today’s camps help kids expand their minds, try out an artistic talent or get back to nature. They teach kids how to do magic tricks, sing with a rock band or maneuver a stand-up paddleboard.
And even if they’re learning, “It’s not like school. They’re having fun,” said Terry Kaufman, president of IMACs, which runs technology camps. “And it keeps their minds sharp.”
If your kids need a break from academic pursuits, there are plenty of nature and exploration camps to discover Florida’s lush tropical landscapes, diverse habitats and beautiful beaches. Take surfing camp.
“It’s about sending them home with smiles on their faces, and having them learn to enjoy and appreciate the ocean,” said William “Skeeter” Zimmerman, who runs Living Water Surf School.
For a round-up of summer camp activities in South Florida, visit MomsMiami.com. Here’s a round-up of a few unusual camp offerings in Broward:
Get into tech
If strapping on goggles and soldering electronic components gets your child’s motor running, then the IMACS Hi-Tech Camps in Weston and Plantation may be a good fit.
Started 20 years ago, these math and science camps typically attract motivated, above-average kids who don’t get enough time during the school year to experiment, said Terry Kaufman, president and co-founder.
A computer programming and virtual robotics class has kids learning how to program computers and control virtual robots. An electronics class teaches kids how electricity is conducted, and has campers setting up simple experiments using wire, LED lights, resistors and other components. A logic puzzles class uses math puzzles to teach strategic reasoning, Kaufman said.
“They’re having fun, plus a lot of these kids end up majoring in electrical engineering and computer science,” Kaufman said. “If you get kids excited about technology when they’re young, they’re more likely to get into STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.”
Most campers are third- through eighth-graders, though advanced camps for high school students are available. Campers can take a single class, half-day or full day camp. Hours are 9:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., and fees range from $99 to $544 a week. Classes are taught at 2585 Glades Cir. in Weston and 7435 NW Fourth St. in Plantation,. Call 954-791-2333 or visit www.imacs .org/ florida camp.
Getting your hands, feet and clothes dirty is part of the fun at the Nature Detectives half-day camp at Fern Forest Nature Center in Coconut Creek. Campers will slog through creeks and waterways with their scoop nets as they explore the terrain, said Nikki Hochberg, the nature center’s naturalist and manager.
Two weeklong sessions, June 24-28 and July 15-19, help kids ages 8 to 11 explore a different habitat each day.
On Mondays, kids begin by taking a walk through the tropical hardwood hammock and the cypress maple swamp, she said.
“We climb over the boardwalk, so the kids get wet,” Hochberg said. “It’s not the regular place a park visitor would be able to see.”
Using their nets, the kids catch mosquito fish, minnows, water beetles, frogs and tadpoles.