The Best Summer Camps And Enrichment Programs
A Guide For All Ages
(page 1 of 2)
Summer is the perfect time to explore personal interests, gain valuable skills in a specific field, and have an adventure. The added benefits of going to a camp or taking an enrichment class include a boost in self-confidence and self-esteem, broadened social skills, and the ability to learn how to get along with different types of people. Camp can be a defining life experience.
For more than 100 years, YMCA camps have provided a safe, thriving environment in which young people can explore and grow. The YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities offers hundreds of action-filled and enriching summer programs for kids from the young age of 2 to pre-teen and teen. The camp programs include 10 different day camps, three traditional overnight camps, one single gender overnight camp, two teen wilderness camps, and one family camp.
Day camp is not only great fun for kids, it can be the perfect childcare solution for parents who work full-time throughout the summer months. Bus stops are available at most locations each day.
YMCA day camp programs serve as a great introduction to camping, says Connie Rodosovich, general manager, Camping Services of the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities. “Kids participate in traditional camp activities like canoeing, archery, and cookouts, and are home each night.”
Many of the overnight camps offer three-day samplers and progress into one, two, or three week sessions. Summer Power, with over 50 locations across the metro area, is a flexible three to five day enrichment program serving preschool to fifth grade.
“Each week features a different theme and exciting field trips to museums, water parks, sport events, and more,” says Rodosovich. Summer Uproar and Summer Extreme, for kids grades 6 to 8, builds leadership and team work skills through adventure and group activities.
“Every day at camp is an adventure,” comments Rodosovich. “Kids learn to be honest and caring, and to be respectful and responsible for themselves, others, and the environment.”
These lifelong values, she says, make camping different from other experiences.
“Campers are encouraged and empowered to grow and gain independence through trying new activities. We emphasize personal growth, skill development and relationships that give campers adventures and memories they’ll treasure for a lifetime.”
For those who want a family experience, there’s Camp du Nord, located on the southern edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (the program is so popular there’s a lottery to register). Take a break from TV, cell phones, and the Internet and become reconnected with Mother Nature the ‘old-fashioned’ way, in the Great Outdoors.
Camp du Nord is a week long camp with age-specific activities in the morning, hiking, canoeing, sailing, swimming, volleyball, or arts and crafts in the afternoon, and sing-alongs and s’mores, games, saunas, and night hikes in the evening. Families stay in either cabins or tents, and can sign up for an optional meal plan. According to summercamps.com, Du Nord is “A place where families play together in the beauty of the spectacular lake country of northeastern Minnesota … the perfect wilderness destination to gather your family and spend time together without having to be concerned with how to entertain the variety of ages and interests.”
Specialized camps are a popular way to learn in a fun, noncompetitive environment, refine skills, make new friends, and get a unique behind-the-scenes view of music, dance, sports, academic enrichment, community service, or performing arts.
At MacPhail Center for Music, there are 55 summer camps offered for kids as young as three on up to adults. Some of the camp choices include “Create a Musical” for ages 4-6; instrumental camps for piano, percussion, brass, and woodwind; voice; jazz; string and chamber camp; rock camp; hip-hip camp; “Songwriting for Kids;” “Composing for Video Games;” and more.
“Each camp is specially designed to meet the needs of campers and to create a nurturing environment that promotes cooperation, creativity, and self-discovery,” explains Melissa Falb, director of group instruction at MacPhail Center for Music.
Most of the instructors are MacPhail faculty, but every now and then well-known Twin Cities’ professional musicians and teachers are invited to the class, so campers have opportunities to learn from a wide variety of instructors.
Another popular camp for kids interested in music is Sing Minnesota, a week-long camp with a focus on choral singing as well as creative arts. Hosted by Concordia University in St. Paul, the camp offers spacious rehearsal rooms, a comfortable working space, and culminates with a final performance showcasing what the campers have learned.
Over 10 million American kids go to camp every summer. As one camper stated of her overall experience, “I have come to the realization that my camp friends are my closest friends in the world and the experiences that I have had at camp have taught me more about myself and life than anywhere else.”
For a full list of camps, visit the American Camp Association at www.campparents.org, or My Summer Camps at www.mysummercamps.com.