Summer Adventures to Write Home About
by Lauren Johnson
Going to camp can help turn the lazy days of summer into stimulating experiences filled with learning and adventure. Not only do these programs present a wonderful chance for kids to try something new, they also implement skills and foster friendships that will last a lifetime.
For many kids, camp is one of the first times away from their family or daily social environment, making it a great opportunity to practice decision-making skills in a supportive setting. Being able to make choices is an excellent way for kids to develop confidence and independence—both valuable traits to acquire at a young age. Additionally, learning how to achieve something new as a group helps build camaraderie rather than competition.
Being away from electronic devices helps encourage kids to interact with the world around them, whether that be connecting with nature, engaging socially or simply having a chance to indulge their own curiosity without distraction. With so many camps to choose from, there’s something to satisfy almost everyone. Here are our top picks to help your child have the best summer ever.
Science and Sustainability
Adventure Treks with the Schuylkill Center
Teens and preteens start their expedition at the 340-acre Schuylkill Center before venturing out to state parks and forests along the East Coast.
When: July 11–Aug. 17
Where: The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, 8480 Hagy’s Mill Road
The Franklin Institute
Future scientists get a hands-on approach to learning through projects such as building circuits, making chemistry concoctions, studying the solar system and more.
Ages: Kindergarten–ninth grade
When: June 11–Aug. 31
Where: The Franklin Institute, 222 N. 20th St.
William Penn Charter School Science Camp
Steven Wade (aka “Science Steve”) teaches campers topics ranging from robots and electrical inventions to baking-soda rockets, how to make slime and more.
When: July 9–13, July 23–27, June 25–29
Where: William Penn Charter School, 3000 W. School House Lane
The Academy of Natural Sciences
Weekly themes include learning about dinosaurs, insects, mythological animals, and reptiles of the past and present.
When: July 9–Aug. 31
Where: The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Penn Museum’s Anthropologists in the Making
Penn Museum offers a variety of anthropological themes for children, such as exploring cultures from around the world, learning about ancient artifacts, and discovering how perceptions are shaped by myths and legends.
When: June 25–Aug. 17
Where: Penn Museum, 3260 South St.
The Waldorf School’s Nature Makers Camp
Weekly themes include beekeeping, herbal tea making and urban farming, with opportunities to meander through forests and hike the Wissahickon Trail.
Ages: First–third grade
When: June 18–July 13
Cost: $300 per week
Where: Penn Museum, 3260 South St.
Seaport Summer Camp
History and adventure combine as kids explore both on and off the water. Campers learn to row and kayak, and will discover the history of the city’s waterways while aboard the cruiser Olympia and submarine Becuna.
When: July 25–Aug. 17
Cost: $330/week (non-members until April 15); $355/week (non-members after April 15)
Where: Independence Seaport Museum, 211 S. Columbus Blvd.
Inspire a future inventor to think creatively and scientifically to bring creations to life. This year’s theme is “Fast Forward!” and includes instruction on building a robotic pet, a self-driving bot and more.
When: June 25–June 29
Where: Harvey Sabold Elementary School, 468 E. Thompson Ave., Springfield, Pa.
Campers choose from four adventurous themes: Camp Katniss, Harry Potter Camp, Get Cooking in the Cope House Kitchen, or Advanced Wilderness Survival Skills.
When: June 18–Aug. 3
Where: Awbury Arboretum, 1 Awbury Road
Elmwood Park Zoo
Discover your wild side as you learn about the zoo’s inhabitants through crafts, activities and stories, along with getting up close and personal with unique creatures from around the world.
When: June 18–July 20, July 23–Aug. 17
Where: Elmwood Park Zoo, 1661 Harding Blvd., Norristown, Pa.
Tech-savvy kids get savvier with classes that teach coding, robotics, 3-D printing, virtual reality, video game programing and more, hosted by the Ivy League campus of UPenn.
When: June 18–Aug. 24
Where: University of Pennsylvania, Houston Hall and Irvine Auditorium, 3417 Spruce St.
Sandy Hill Farm
Animal lovers learn the basics of horseback riding in an intimate small-group farm setting. Campers also learn how to care for other farm animals such as ducks, chickens, goats, pigs and bunnies.
When: June 11–Aug. 10
Where: Sandy Hill Farm, 1918 Sandy Hill Road, Plymouth Meeting, Pa.
Arts and Culture
Culinary Arts Summer Camp
Dig into the world of pastry and artisan cuisine as you learn how to masterfully prepare dishes while experiencing a regional gastronomic tour of the United States.
Ages: Ninth–tenth grade
When: July 16–17
Where: The Restaurant at Walnut Hill College, 4207 Walnut St.
Miquon Day Camp
Located in a 10-acre wooded valley, this classic summer camp is complete with swimming, arts and crafts, and freedom to experience the great outdoors.
When: June 25–Aug.17
Cost: $415 for one week, $3,320 for all eight weeks. See website for additional pricing.
Where: The Miquon School, 2025 Harts Lane, Conshohocken, Pa.
Mud & Music on 50th
Keep an eye out for more details about this collaborative summer camp with the Green Tambourine Music Studio and Black Hound Clay Studio.
When: Aug. 6–31
Where: Black Hound Clay Studio, 711 S. 50th St.
Theme-based classes teach students how to work in 2-D and 3-D while using a range of artistic mediums such as sewing, ceramics, comics, drawing and painting.
When: June 11–Aug.17
Where: Philly Art Center, Cherry Hill Location, 1721 Springdale Road, Cherry Hill, N.J.
Rock to the Future
Unleash your inner rock star as you learn to write, play and perform music. Campers collaborate with others, then perform live for friends and family.
When: July 24–28
Cost: $250 per week; free for low-income Philadelphia youth
Where: Rock to the Future, 2139 E. Cumberland St.
Philly School of Circus Arts
Aspiring performers learn how to juggle, walk a tightwire, spin plates or defy gravity while swinging from a trapeze.
When: June 18–Aug. 31
Where: Philadelphia School of Circus Arts, 5900A Greene St.
WHYY Summer Filmmakers
Learn how to tell your story through film. This program explores all aspects of filmmaking including shooting, editing, screenwriting and casting.
Ages: Middle school and high school programs available
When: July 9–27 (high school program); Aug. 6–17 (middle school program)
Cost: $1,800–$1,950 (high school program); $1,100–$1,250 (middle school program)
Where: WHYY Studios, 150 N. 6th St.
Watch your creative ideas come to life as you learn everything from stitching a button to constructing your own clothing and accessories.
When: July 18–Aug. 24
Where: Butcher’s Sew Shop Junior, 1912 South St; 800 S. 8th St.
Learn the basics of woodworking and gain experience in proper tool use while creating functional wooden crafts to take home.
When: Weeklong classes in July and August. 2018 dates TBD
Cost: $299, plus materials
Where: Philadelphia Woodworks, 4901 Umbria St.
Beginners learn the basics of ballet, jazz, hip-hop, modern dance, and how to move creatively and confidently.
Ages: 7 and up
When: July 16–27
Where: Wissahickon Dance Academy, 38 E. School House Lane
Music Theatre Philly
Campers learn voice technique, how to act through song, storytelling skills, costume and set design, and more.
Ages: 4–7; 8 and up
When: 2018 dates TBD
Where: 262 S. 12th St.
Spanish Summer Camp
These classes are taught entirely in Spanish, allowing for full immersion in the language. Art, theater and craft-making aid in the fun. Beginners are welcome.
Ages: up to 10
When: July 16–Aug. 17
Where: Bilingual Butterflies, 627 S. 2nd St., 2nd Floor
Summer Clay Camp
Learn how to use clay in several ways, including sculpture, pottery, animation and more. These small classes offer lots of hands-on fun.
Ages: 6 and up
When: 2018 dates TBD
Cost: $160–$360 (2017 pricing)
Where: The Clay Studio, 137–139 N. 2nd St.