Guide to Summer Camps & Enrichment Programs
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Those who have never been to a summer camp or enriched their lives through a summer class can’t really appreciate how life changing the experience can be. For some, feelings of nostalgia surface when they smell campfire smoke in the air; for others the nostalgia occurs when sharing memories with friends who will last a lifetime. The benefits of a camp experience are immeasurable.
Camps help children grow by providing a supervised, positive environment. They can help broaden a child’s social skills (kids meet all kinds of different people in a camp setting) and, when the camp involves the great outdoors, can heighten a child’s awareness of the relationship between people and nature.
YMCA Day Camps promote a healthy spirit, mind, and body in safe and exciting environments. All camp programs emphasize the YMCA’s core values of caring, honesty, respect, responsibility and faith.
There are six Minneapolis and five St. Paul Day Camps for kids ages 4 to 14, with a typical camp day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (before and after care is available from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.) Traditional camp activities such as arts and crafts, swimming, canoeing, archery, games, hiking, outdoor cooking, songs, and skits are offered at all Day Camp locations. Bus stops are available at most locations each day.
Specialty Camps, available for kids ranging from 6-14, are available based on each site of location. For example, Camp Manitou in Monticello has 1,200 acres of property with four private lakes (including Lake Bertram and Long Lake), and with the help of a donated boat, YMCA is able to offer water skiing and tubing, summer activities that are hugely popular with the campers.
Another well-attended program is the Wee Backpacker program for 4 and 5-year-old campers, including campers entering kindergarten in the fall.
Most YMCA Day Camps offer Leaders-in-Training for teens in grades seven through nine, learning confidence building skills, responsibility management, and group development through planned activities.
While traditional camps like the YMCA will always be popular with both kids and parents, today’s camp experience goes beyond roasting marshmallows and now includes a specialized focus on music, dance, sports, community service, special needs programs, academic enrichment, and visual and performing arts.
At The Art Academy, located on Summit Avenue in St. Paul, students can refine their artistic skills this summer by taking a painting and drawing session from June 14 – August 21.
“I have yet to meet a kid who isn’t talented,” says Jim Robinson, founder of The Art Academy. “Every child can draw and paint well if they’re trained how to do it. I’m a fanatic about that.”
The Art Academy teachers work to encourage a positive atmosphere where students can relax and enjoy learning in a noncompetitive environment. Simple classroom rules in the children’s classes establish guidelines that assure a safe, fun workplace; while the adult classes foster camaraderie amongst like-minded individuals working to develop craftsmanship and creativity.
“Art is the greatest gift you can give children. It improves every other aspect of life,” Robinson says. “Our goal is to improve students’ drawing and painting abilities dramatically in a short period of time. We accomplish this by teaching time-honored techniques in classes with very low student-to-teacher ratios.”
The Music Industry eXperience (MIX) workshop, held Aug. 17-22 through the McNally Smith College of Music, gives young students a clear picture of the different “moving parts” of the music industry and what goes into a music career.
Participants choose between a focus in Recording Technology (the basics of creating music), Music Business (the ins and outs of promoting a group, creating an electronic press kit, music publishing) or Performance (performing with an ensemble, creating songs, and recording in a studio), then spend about half of their time at the workshop in their focus group. The camp culminates in a final concert where the recording technology students play their recordings in public, performance groups play with their ensemble, and the music business students promote and manage the event.
“The MIX Workshop shows students there is more to the music industry than just playing a guitar and cashing a check,” says Sean McPherson, summer programs coordinator. McNally Smith’s state-of-the-art sound stage and lighting systems, recording facilities and talented faculty make the workshop a perfect choice for the aspiring musician.
The aspiring actor, dancer, or singer will benefit from the Lundstrum Center for the Performing Arts’ Musical Theater Summer Camps: Annie (ages 8-12) and Bye Bye Birdie (ages 12-19), and Sing and Dance Classes for kids ages 3-8.
Students of all ages and skill levels can learn more about dance, voice, and drama through Lundstrum Center camps and classes. The environment is challenging yet nurturing, providing endless opportunities for students to hone their craft, express themselves creatively, and ask questions of their instructors (who happen to be seasoned theater professionals with years of Broadway experience). Musical theater workshops include dance technique and choreography, vocal warm-ups and repertoire, and intensive scene study.
“We love what we do and feel compelled to give back to the craft that has given so much to us,” says Amy Ellis, executive director. “As artists we know that beauty, discipline, and expression are ageless qualities that leave a lasting impression on a child’s spirit.”
Adults can nurture their spirit as well, with classes in tap, ballet, jazz, audition preparation, private voice, and private acting.
Campers at the International Kids Camp, offered weekly at The International School of Minnesota (ISM), will experience the “flavor” of different cultures by exploring the unique languages, food, games, music, sports, songs, crafts, literature, and customs in a variety of Japanese, Greek, Swedish, and Arabic-speaking communities. With energetic camp counselors and weekly “specialists in residence” as tour guides, Kids Camp is guaranteed to be a memorable, fun-filled adventure.
The FOSS Swim School is another fun camp for the budding tadpoles in your life. Progress Builder Camps maximize a child’s learning momentum from attending eight consecutive swimming lessons (rather than just once a week).
“Our Progress Builder Camps are very popular,” says Susan Foss, co-owner of FOSS Swim School, Inc. “June weather in Minnesota can be unpredictable—sometimes even cool and rainy—but the water temperature of our indoor swim camps is always 91 degrees, and our classes are never cancelled because of rain!”
The consistent quality and convenience of the camp allows busy moms to fit in all of their kids activities during the busy summer months. For FOSS summer Progress Builder Camp schedules, pricing, and registration information, visit www.fossswimschool.com.
Parents often seek out Kumon Math and Reading Centers to help their children for remedial or enrichment purposes; however, they soon learn that the benefits of the program extend beyond academics.
“In Kumon, students learn to achieve on their own and become self-motivated,” says Deven Klein, vice-president of franchise recruitment. “These life skills build character and help children gain the confidence to solve problems independently.”
Kumon supplements the school curriculum—helping to enhance a child’s existing skill level—but isn’t, by any means, a ‘quick-fix’ solution. Worksheets apply a “learning by doing” principle, motivating students to become independent learners. The Kumon instructor will provide guidance, praise, and assistance, but the program encourages students to think for themselves, resulting in stronger study habits, better concentration, and higher self-esteem. The program is open to children of all ages and abilities with the cost varying from location to location, ranging from $85 to $115 per subject, per month.