While summer camp is a tradition, the camps themselves have become not-so-traditional in their programming.
The camp day has transformed from its static schedule: an hour for kickball — an hour for arts and crafts — an hour for this activity and an hour for that one — to an experience customized for each camper, who can finger paint ponies, design a video game or learn to be a pastry chef.
With plenty of summer camp options, finding a location and schedule that works for you as a parent isn’t difficult. But while weighing tuition prices, consider giving your little camper a say — placing them in a program that sparks their area of interest.
For a list of camp activities, visit MomsMiami.com. Here’s a guide to local summer camp happenings:
Stay in school, kids
University School, Nova Southeastern University
Whether your kid is an athlete, an artist or a techie, they’ll find their niche at Camp Nova in Davie, which offers a “camps-within-a-camp” experience.
Each camper can choose one “specialty core session” in addition to daily swimming lessons and weekly field trips. For the athletes: archery, basketball, cheerleading, dance and martial arts provide kids with practice and skill lessons. For the creatives: arts and crafts, scrapbooking, robotics and animation and video game design allow campers to paint and program products to take home at the end of each day.
“Our counselors work hard to ensure that each camper’s summer experience is action packed and filled with fun activities, new friends and memories,” said Bryon Rostanzo, director of summer and extended programs at University School of Nova Southeastern University.
Two, four, six and eight-week options are available for kids K-11, ranging from $575 to $2,060. Camp days run from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with before- and after-care options at an additional cost. University School of NSU is located at 3375 SW 75th Ave. Call 954-262-4528 or visit uschool.nova.edu/summer.
American Heritage School
American Heritage Summer Day Camp
American Heritage School also offers in addition to its traditional day camp: sports, drama, science, robotics, video production and art camps at its Plantation and Boca Delray campuses.
“We have created our speciality camps because it hones in on the campers’ interests,” said Sally Schleifer, assistant camp director.
Theater camp has been around for 10 years, while Science Adventure Camp is kicking off this summer.
“Day camp is still our most popular, however, because it offers a little bit of everything,” Schleifer said.
Ages vary by camp, but each have three three-week sessions running from June 9 to Aug. 8. The typical camp day runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., with early morning care and central bus transportation for areas surrounding the camps at no extra cost. Sessions range from $1,080 to $1,140. Theater Camp is six weeks for $2,430.
The Plantation campus is located at 12200 W. Broward Blvd. and the Boca Delray campus is located at 6200 Linton Blvd. Call 954-472-0022 or visit www.ahschool.com.
Kids and Teens Summer College
Students turned campers can also continue their academics. With Broward College’s Kids and Teens Summer College program, campers can choose courses in academics, creative arts, leadership, technology and water sports.
Students can enroll in classes like Spanish Immersion, Practical Art with Recyclables and Duct Tape and The Path to Millionaire and CEO — there are 18 to choose from.
Alan Nichols, program manager, said the program’s academic enrichment and recreational classes “improve participants’ academic and life skills, enhance creativity and expand personal and career interests.”
Central, North, Pines and South campuses will offer two tracks each week. Each class runs half-day — four hours — for one week. The Tigertail Lakes Center offers a full-day water-sport program.
Courses range in price from $149 to $299 a session. Students can register online at www.broward.edu/ce, in person at Central, North and South campuses or by calling 954-201-7800.
Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science
Hi-Tech Summer Camp
If your child thrives on challenges in math and computer science, a session or more at the Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science’s academic camp might save them from an otherwise stultifying summer and lend them even more academic edge.
Children can take stand-alone classes from the specially designed IMACS curriculum or partake in full-day camps. In the latter, kids start their days with computer lab classes where they learn to program computers and virtual robots, before they move on to the electronics lab where they build circuits — some even advance to soldering. The kids then wrap up with “an exceptionally fun class called logic puzzles,” according to IMACS President Terry Kaufman.
The strength of IMACS lies in its curriculum and instructors, Kaufman says, who pushes students to really grow and hone their deductive reasoning skills. “The [logic] puzzles get harder as the week goes on — but the students only seem to get better at it.”
Campers can take a single class, half-day or full day week-long camps. 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. Classes are offered from June 9 to July 3 in Weston and from July 7 to Aug. 15 in Plantation. Open houses are being held in April and May. Call 954-791-2333 or visit www.imacs.org/summer.
Put on a show
Broward Center and the Performance Project School of the Arts
Summer Theater Camp
Young performers and aspiring actors can start their Broadway training with one of the Broward Center and the Performance Project School of the Arts’ camps offered at different skill levels, in three sessions at three locations.
Jill Kratish, director of programming for the Broward Center, said the program prides itself on the flexibility it gives parents, offering sessions for the first time at the center’s Rose Miniaci Arts Education Center, in addition to the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center and the Old Davie School.
Sessions are available for students 6-18 at different skill levels, accommodating 25-50 campers each. This year’s productions include The Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland and Les Misérables School Edition.
“Kids get to perform on a professional stage, which is really exciting because they were once in the audience,” said Kratish, whose daughter was a camper for 13 years. “It’s the full experience with professional training and details like body mics and lighting.”
Tuition for all camps is $880 per session, which includes two tickets to the camper’s performance. Each location will have an open house: Broward Center for the Performing Arts on April 26, Old Davie School on May 10 and Aventura Arts & Cultural Center on May 17. Call 954-462-0222 or visit camp.browardcenter.org.
Inside Out Theatre Company
Performing Arts Summer Conservatory
Kids can also build their own show from the ground up: writing, staging and acting in a one-of-a-kind performance in the Inside Out Theatre Company’s Performing Arts Summer Conservatory.
With classes taught by professional artists, campers 9-14 not only learn the basics of acting, dancing and singing, but also Shakespeare, stage makeup, improvisation and audition techniques.
Lori Lipkin, a parent whose three daughters have participated in Inside Out Theatre, said each performance is “based on virtues and characteristics every parent hopes their child will emulate.”
“I hope my daughters reflect on the plays they have participated in when they are faced with circumstances where doing the right thing is not always the easiest choice to make,” Lipkin said.
One session is offered June 9 to June 27 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day at the Sagemont Upper School at 2585 Glades Cir. in Weston. Tuition is $625 and the program accommodates 42 students who participate in an end-of-the-session performance at Susan B. Katz Theatre in Pembroke Pines. Call 954-385-3060 or visit insideouttheatre.org.
Emerald Hills Studio of Performing Arts
Performance Summer Camp
For something with a little more jazz, Emerald Hills Studio of Performing Arts in Hollywood offers a summer worth of dance classes.
In addition to jazz, tap, ballet and hip-hop, campers participate in drama classes, musical theater, costuming, makeup and scene design.
“Campers have the opportunity to learn all the different aspects of being a professional performer,” said instructor Jodi Taylor.
The camp even offers résumé writing classes.
“Campers will get the ability to perform for a live audience in our camp shows and enjoy all of this in a safe environment,” Taylor said.
The camp is divided into two sessions from June 11 to Aug. 3 with full and half-day options for kids 6-17. For one session for a full-day camper, tuition is $580; a half-day is $440. Call 954-989-2226 or visit emeraldhillsstudioofperformingarts.com.
Paint a picture
Young at Art Museum
No matter the medium, campers are sure to find a camp to suit their tastes at the Young at Art Museum in Davie. Kids 3-14 can choose from over 20 one-week or two-week sessions to explore art that’s digital, traditional and three-dimensional.
Kids taking sessions at YAA’s ceramics and sculpting camps get to throw clay and fire their creations in an onsite kiln or experiment with the museum’s very own 3-D printer. At the digital cartooning camp, kids can learn to animate short films, design digital cartoons or build a retro video game using an iPad. And for kids who simply want to draw and paint, there also are studio art classes in portraiture and landscape art.
“What’s special about YAA camp is that it’s both an all-hands-on art environment and museum. The kids get to be immersed in the art, and contemporary practicing artists serve as the teachers and as special guests,” said YAA Institute manager Marie Berlin.
The new YAA facility is located at 751 SW 121st Ave. in Davie. Programing runs from June 2 to Aug. 22, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. One week sessions cost $235 for members and $260 for nonmembers; two-week sessions are $500 for members and $550 for nonmembers. Extended care and catered lunches are available for additional fees. Call 954-424 5031 or visit www.youngatartmuseum.org for more information.
Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art at NOVA Southeastern
Creative Summer Art Academy
For kids serious about honing their art skills, The Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art’s Autonation Academy of Art + Design offers curriculum-based summer programming for budding artists in grades 1-12.
The Academy “isn’t just a make-and-take,” said director Anthony Lauro. It requires students take at least one 10-day drawing and painting session to hammer home the fundamentals of image-making before going on to specialty classes.
Specialty programming includes sessions in digital graphic design, ceramics, printmaking, set design, musical theater, Photoshop and Illustrator.
“We have a lot of middle schoolers that come here to increase their portfolios to get into [DASH and New World], we had one last year that got accepted to New World and they told her it was the best portfolio that they had ever seen,” Academy Registrar and Programs Manager Erin Bassett said. According to Bassett, DASH and New World often encourage unsuccessful hopefuls to train at the Academy before re-applying.
Academy alums have gone on to some of the best art colleges in the state and country, says Bassett, including Ringling, the Maryland Institute of Art, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the Art Institute of Chicago.
The Academy is located at 4 West Las Olas Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale. The five 10-day sessions run from June 9 to Aug. 15, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and each cost $575 per student. About 100 students are accepted per session. Need and merit scholarships are available, and the Academy is holding a merit scholarship competition April 26 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Call 954-262 0239 or visit www.moafl.org/art-academy.
Coral Springs Museum of Art
Summer Camp ArtShops
Fledgling artists ages 6-16 in Coral Springs can also get a hands-on art education this summer at the Coral Springs Museum of Art’s Summer Camp ArtShops. Kids can learn from local, practicing artists at the museum’s on-site studio and draw inspiration from current exhibits.
Choosing from daily, weekly, and two week-long morning or afternoon sessions, kids can learn to draw, papier mache, make stop-motion animation films, design comic books or practice photography. All new classes in the digital arts teach kids programming with Greenfoot or digital editing with Photoshop.
“It’s a great program, the kids have a lot of fun, and a lot of the classes end in a little art show for the parents in the museum — the kids get to exhibit themselves,” said assistant museum director Sheri Adanti.
The museum is located at 2855 Coral Springs Dr. Week-long and two-week long morning (9 a.m. to noon) and afternoon (1:45 to 4:45 p.m.) sessions start June 9 and end Aug. 15. Fees vary according to session; generally, for museum members, the cost is $135 per camper for week-long sessions and $255 for two-week sessions. For nonmembers, fees are generally $150 for a week and $270 for two. Call 954-340-5000 or visit www.coralspringsmuseum.org.
Buehler Planetarium and Observatory at Broward College
For kids ages 8-12 with their heads in the clouds, Space Camp is an option at the Buehler Planetarium and Observatory in Davie. There, campers will familiarize themselves with key concepts in space and aerospace science — and then apply those concepts by building something each day.
Kids will learn about forces — lift versus gravity, thrust versus drag, for example — and build a series of rockets.
“We do everything from the air pressure rockets to fizzy rockets to chemical rockets, so we increase in complexity each day,” planetarium director Susan Barnett said.
Campers explore what it takes to live on a planet, and then get to design their own aliens. More traditionally, they also learn to recognize constellations, and then build a simple telescope to take home.
Instructors are all full-time Buehler staff members, and the planetarium typically brings in a guest speaker from NASA.
The planetarium is located at 3501 Davie Rd. The first session will run from July 14-18 and the second from Aug. 4-8; both are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Each session costs $230. Call 954-201-6681 or visit www.iloveplanets.com.
Museum of Science and Discovery
Fort Lauderdale’s Museum of Discovery and Science offers two kinds of summer programming: a one-day and several five-day camps to introduce science to kids ages 6-12 with fun hands-on experiments; and one five-day marine science camp for seventh and eighth graders held in part at Florida Atlantic University’s Dania Beach SeaTech oceanography center.
The Ocean Explorers program allows middle school kids the opportunity to explore the coastal and coral reef ecosystems at John Lloyd State Park alongside the marine scientists and engineers who work at the oceanography center. Participants will conduct field work, get introduced to marine science careers and FAU’s facilities — including their unmanned submarines — and design, build and race a solar-powered boat.
The camps for younger kids are aimed at making science fun, interactive and accessible.
“In our Florida Pirates Expedition, for example, kids will be building their own boats and then they’ll have a challenge to build so much treasure in their boat and get from point A to point B,” said camp coordinator Mindy Peddycoart.
In another camp favorite — Chef Scientists — kids get to cook meals and learn about the science behind taste.
The museum is located at 401 SW Second St. in Fort Lauderdale. Programming runs from June 9 to Aug. 15, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Before- and after-care is available. Fee for one-day camps is $50 for members, $55 for nonmembers; five-day camps are $200 for members and $225 for nonmembers. The Ocean Explorers Camp is $300, and is offered three times throughout the summer. Space is limited. Call 954-467-6637 or visit http://www.mods.org/camps/summercamps.htm.
Tree Tops Park
Science Eye Safari Camp
For kids ages 7-12 who love science and hands-on learning, the Science Eye Safari Camp at Tree Tops Park in Davie might do the trick. The camp offers five weeks of programing — kids can do as many weeks as they like, and jump in for any week — each focusing on a particular branch of science.
For every week, and every branch, kids adopt the persona of a corresponding type of scientist, conducting experiments, doing field work, and making crafts. Every week culminates in a different Friday field trip — the first week’s trip takes place in Everglades wetlands, the second at the Secret Woods Nature Center, the third along the coast at the John Lloyd Beach State Park, the fourth at Batten’s Farm, and the last at the Dania Beach Fishing Pier.
“The biggest underlying aspect of the camp is teaching conservation and getting people to understand their surroundings so that they can eventually help preserve the world around us — after all, you can only do that by being knowledgeable about science,” said Science Eye owner Dawn Miller-Walker.
Tree Tops Park is located at 3900 SW 100th Ave. in Davie. Camp runs Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., June 16-20, June 23-27, July 7-11, July 14-18, and Aug. 4-8. The fee is $300 per week per camper, and includes a daily lunch and snack. After-care is available from 4 to 5 p.m. for an additional fee. There are multi-week, multi-child and early registration discounts available. Call 954-680-7977 or visit http://www.scienceeye.com/summercamp.php.
Acts2Acres Equestrian Center
Summer Horse Camp
Acts2Acres offers a horse camp with not only traditional riding and barn management lessons, but also a crafty twist like its “Paint the Ponies” parties where kids get to finger paint the horses.
Campers saddle up for trail rides and learn grooming and tacking techniques, with an emphasis on crafts and brain games. Michelle Alvarez, who owns and runs the camp with her husband, said the program is a learning experience.
“The kids learn the anatomy of a horse and the different breeds,” she said. “It’s fun and educational.”
The center is located at 4000 NW 43rd St. in Coconut Creek, and the camp starts June 9 and runs through Aug. 18 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at $250 a week. The Alvarez’s can accommodate 15 kids per day ages 5-17. Deadline to register is June 1. Call 954-326-2528 or visit acts2acres.com/kids-programs/camp.
Tradewinds Park and Stables
Summer Horse Camp
If your 9-16 year old wants some equestrian fun this summer, they might want to check out the horse camp offered over at the Tradewinds Parks and Stables in Coconut Creek. Kids can get introduced to the fundamentals of riding and caring for horses in a series of one-, two-, three- or four-day programs.
One-day camps teach the basics of riding and care — grooming, saddling, steering, and balance — and longer camps progress in depth and complexity. To help kids bond with their horses, they’re even allowed to paint them. In week-long camps, participants ride with increased speed, learn the basics of the English-riding style, and can even get into vaulting.
But with more difficult riding also comes a more in-depth education about horse care includes kids learning to take vitals sign like heart and respiration rates, for example.
“It’s insanely important for us to communicate to these kids that being around horses is about horsemanship. It’s not just about riding. It’s about knowing everything about your horse and what it takes to properly take care for it,” said stable manager Allison Shriver.
Campers are always on a two-to-one ratio with staff, and instructors are all full- time staff members with a minimum of 10 years experience.
Tradewinds Parks and Stables is located at 3600 W. Sample Rd. in Coconut Creek. Sessions start June 10 and end Aug. 15. Camp is from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day. Camp fees are $75 per day, $150 per two days and $300 or $400 per four days, depending on the level. Space is very limited. Call 954-357-8720 or 954-357-8870.
Get some fresh summer air
Fern Forest Nature Center
For curious kids ages 8-11 who don’t mind getting dirty, the Fern Forest Nature Center in Coconut Creek might be a good place to spend mornings for a week this summer.
The Nature Detectives summer camp there offers a hands on exploration of the many habitats found in the 247-acre park, according to Fern Forest center manager and naturalist Nikki Hochberg.
Each day involves the exploration of a new habitat — the park boasts a red maple sample, tropical hardwood hammock and prairie, among others — and culminates in the making of a related craft.
“When we go into the tropical hammock in the swamp, they learn how to identify the unique trees that are found there. We actually climb into the swamp and catch critters we later look at under microscopes,” said Hochberg.
On the last day, campers put all of the information they’ve learned and go on a scavenger hunt through the park.
The Fern Forest Nature Center is located at 201 Lyons Rd. South in Coconut Creek. The first session runs June 23-27, the second Aug. 4-8. Each day’s program runs from 9 a.m. to noon. The fee is $75 per child per week. Parents can register by phone at 954-357-5198 or in person at the center. Payment is expected at the time of registration. Space is limited.
Broward County Parks and Recreation
For kids and teens ages 6-17 looking for local, wholesome fun, there is the county parks division’s free summer recreation program held at six neighborhood Fort Lauderdale parks.
“Our theme in the summer is fun and fit, so really we’re looking to have fun outdoors — most of our space is outdoor space — and it’s structured programming,” said Recreation Coordinator Danielle Bachelder.
That structured programming includes arts and crafts, cultural activities, sports, fishing, game-room activities, and field trips. Each year, the parks department also partners with a local organization to offer development programs for teens, teaching things like life skills and child safety.
But “the biggest draw,” says Bachelder, is definitely the Broward Star Time Talent Showcase. Each year, kids are encouraged to work on their talents at camp — whether it is singing, stepping, dancing, or poetry reading. In the middle of the summer, auditions are held, and those who make it through perform at the end of the summer at the historic Parker Playhouse in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
This free summer camp — lunch is sincluded — runs from June 16 to Aug. 8, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The parks are the Boulevard Gardens Community Center at 313 NW 28th Ter., Franklin Park at 2501 Franklin Dr., Lafayette Hart Park at 2851 NW Eighth Rd., Reverend Samuel Delevoe Park at 2520 NW Sixth St., Roosevelt Gardens Park at 2841 NW 11th St., and Sunview Park at 1500 SW 42nd Ave. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis and space is limited. Registration takes place at the park the child will attend.
Leave room for dessert
Mia Cake House
Mia Cake House may satisfy your kid’s sweet tooth, with campers working with cake designers and pastry chefs to bake and decorate their favorite desserts to take home.
Sales manager Guy Iusim said the shop has taught baking and decorating to more than 500 students this year.
“After being asked by many parents, we have decided to hold a baking and decorating summer camp,” Iusim said. “Children will learn how to bake different pastries like cookies and cupcakes, and decorate using fondant, buttercream and royal icing.”
Campers will get their sugar fix with different projects like fondant animal cake toppers and cake pop making. They’ll also learn food safety tips; and there’s no need to pack a lunch on Fridays — they’ll cook their own.
The shop is located at 1739 N. University Dr. in Plantation with sessions starting June 9 through Aug. 1 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at $250 a week. Each session can accommodate 15 to 20 students ages 9-14. Call 954-319-0939 or visit miacakehouse.com/summer-camp.