Guide to Camps and Enrichment Programs
Avoid hearing the dreaded “I’m bored!” this summer by finding a fun summer camp or class for your child, teenager, or even yourself through our informative camps and classes guide.
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Whether it’s a general camp or one with a specialty, a day camp or overnight camp, going to camp can be an integral part of a child’s educational and social development—an experience that can’t be replicated anywhere else. Photo courtesy
“Camp provides children with a community of caring adults, who nurture experiential education that results in self-respect and appreciation for human value,” according to the American Camp Association. “All of the outcomes — self-identity, self-worth, self-esteem, leadership, and self-respect — build personal competencies. These personal competencies are reflected in the four ‘C’s’ of the camp community: compassion, contribution, commitment, and character.”
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.
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. with before and after care 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. 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, 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.
“Sometimes their backpacks are bigger than their little bodies,” jokes Kathy Marker, Minneapolis Day Camp product manager. “Both of my girls started out as Wee Backpackers and did amazingly well. They were tired babies by the end of the night, but what a great experience.”
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. If a LIT receives a reference from a camp counselor, then they may apply to be a Counselor-in-Training or Junior Counselor.
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 near the corner of Hamline and Randolph Avenues in St. Paul, students can refine their artistic skills by enrolling in a painting and drawing Summer Class or Camp from June 15 - August 22.
“Art is the greatest gift you can give children. It enriches every aspect of their lives,” says Jim Robinson, founder of The Art Academy. “Our goal is to improve students’ drawing and painting abilities dramatically in a short period of time. We accomplish this by teaching time-honored methods in classes with very low student-to-teacher ratios.”
Art Academy teachers create a positive atmosphere where students can relax and enjoy learning in a non-competitive environment. A special Manga Class taught by professional comic book artists also provides instruction for children interested in Japanese Anime.
“I have yet to meet a child who isn’t talented,” says Robinson, “Our classes are specifically designed to unlock that talent. Everyone can draw and paint well if they’re trained properly. The consistent quality of our students’ artwork shows the success of our philosophy and methods.”
An additional Adult Program based on Renaissance Principles helps adults master traditional drawing, watercolor and oil painting techniques.
Photo Courtesy of Angelica
Cantanti Youth Choirs
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 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.
“I think one of our biggest draws is the land our camp resides on,” says Angela Ponto, co-director of the camp. “We have 55 acres of nature just waiting for the kids to explore.”
The weekly camps begin June 22 and run through August 14 for children ages 3½ through those entering sixth grade. Full or half day options are available.
For students interested in theater, the Children’s Theatre Company offers Theatre Arts Training (TAT) classes and camps, with weekly spring classes in March and April and one, two, and three-week summer camps and classes in June.
“Our classes range from creative storytelling for ages 3–5, to author-and book-themed classes for ages 6–8, to senior musical theatre for ages 13–18,” explains Louise Thoreson, the director of the Center for Innovation in Theater and Education at The Children’s Theatre Company. “Our classes focus on two key areas: building skills in acting, music and dance; and developing important life skills that allow youth to express themselves, work well with others, and become active, informed citizens of the world. Participants can expect to emerge from a TAT class or camp empowered in the ability to perform and able to think critically, creatively, and objectively.”
One really interesting aspect of CTC’s TAT is this summer’s “Senior Musical Theatre Production Intensive” for ages 15–18. Participants must first audition for the show that will be performed (Fame in 2009) on the Cargill stage, directed by Laurie Sales, associate director for CTC’s fabulous Fashion 47, and choreographed by Ivey Award-winning Michael Farrell, who choreographed Disney’s High School Musical.
“This is a rare opportunity for serious theater students to focus on every aspect of a musical production from the rehearsal process to costumes to performance to marketing,” Thoreson explains.
Students must register online or call for an audition time and date on either Saturday, April 18 or Thursday, April 23 at 5 p.m.
The Minnesota Zoo Camp, from June 1 – September 4, is another fun and educational camp experience for kids ages 2-18.
“We offer an incredibly diverse set of experiences from hands-on farm camps to marine biology that can’t be found anywhere else in the state,” explains Grant Spickelmier, assistant director of education. “Our teachers are all trained professional naturalists with degrees in biology or environmental science and years of experience working with kids.”
All of the classes are age-appropriate and allow students to explore the natural world and the Minnesota Zoo through games, activities, crafts, animal demonstrations, and behind-the-scenes tours.