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.

    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.

    “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.

    Photo courtesy
    of YMCA

    YMCA Day Camps encourage old-fashioned outdoor play and help reacquaint kids with Mother Nature in a safe, caring, fun environment away from TV, texting, video games, and passive activities.

    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.



    Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth

    Spend time on stage as part of our theater class, play sports before analyzing them from a scientific point of view, put on a smock and paint all afternoon, or try your hand at being a newspaper reporter in the Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth’s ExplorSchool Program from June 15 – June 26, geared toward students in fourth – sixth grade. For more information, call 651-696-6590 or visit 1600 Grand Ave., St. Paul, MN 55105.

    Northland College’s Lake Superior Pathfinders

    Lake Superior Pathfinders is a summer residential environmental leadership program for high school students. As a participant, you live and learn on Lake Superior, the world’s largest freshwater lake! Learn more about your personal leadership style using low and high ropes courses and climbing walls that offer safe but challenging activities. Kayak into the sea caves, learn about the lake’s cultural and historical significance, and investigate Lake Superior’s critical issues based on a sustainability model that balances social, environmental, and economic perspectives. Two sessions—July 12-18 and June 19-25— are open to high school juniors and seniors. Enroll in one or both. For more information, call (715) 682-1699 or visit 1411 Ellis Ave., Ashland, WI 54806.

    Tesseract Summer Camp

    Preschool or elementary, one week or all summer, Tesseract makes learning FUN! Certified Teachers combine academics, fun and field trips around exciting weekly themes for three-year-olds through sixth Graders in morning, afternoon or all-day classes. Before and after care and individual tutoring are also available. See for catalog and registration, or call 651-454-0604. 3800 Tesseract Place, Eagan, MN 55122.


    Minnesota Zoo Camp

    Go wild this summer at Zoo Camp! Kids ages 2-18 explore the rainforest, travel under the sea, encounter amazing animals up close, and learn about important wildlife and wild places around the world! Our trained naturalists will change the way your child sees the world. Registration begins Feb. 14, 2009. Visit or call 952-431-9320 for more information. 13000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley, MN 55124.


    The Art Academy

    The Art Academy offers year-round classes and camps for students ages 5-adult. Improve drawing and painting abilities in a safe, fun, noncompetitive environment. A Create Your Own Schedule option provides flexibility to allow families to build our program around other planned activities. Classes and camps take place at our school’s location. The Art Academy’s summer session begins June 15th and runs through August 22nd. Visit for over 100 examples of student artwork. Call 651-699-1573 for a free brochure. 515 S. Albert St., St. Paul, MN 55116.


    The International School of Minnesota’s International Kids Camp

    International Kids Camp is offered weekly at The International School of Minnesota (ISM) from June 22- August 14 for children ages 3.5 (and potty trained) through sixth grade, and a Counselor in Training program for grades 7, 8, and 9. Experience the “flavor” of different cultures—Japanese, Greek, Swedish, and Arabic—in Around-the-World Fun as we explore unique food, sports, songs, games, crafts, literature, and customs. The Explorers program is for the youngest campers (3.5 to first grade) and includes a mix of hands-on learning and summer fun, The Pioneers Program is for second through sixth graders and includes language labs, arts and crafts, swimming, and games, and The Sport Adventurers program is a great opportunity for lively, action-seeking second through sixth graders. Weekly Sports Camps include Teambuilders, Nature’s Water Wonders, Soccer, Fishing, Golf, Outdoor Adventures, Ball Sports, and Basketball. A non-refundable $75 deposit is required with registration and applied to the overall balance. Sign up before April 1 to take advantage of the Early Bird Discount. For more information, call Angela Ponto at 952-918-1828, send an email to, or visit 6385 Beach Rd., Eden Prairie, MN 55344.


    11th Annual Allegro Orchestra Camp

    Day camp for music students currently in grades 3-12. Three levels of orchestras, beginning to advanced. Staff includes 4 conductors, 8 professional sectional coaches & 13 principal musicians from Minnesota Orchestra and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. June 15 – 25, 2009. Final registration deadline: May 15. Call 952-258-0394 or visit for more information. Wayzata Community Church, 125 E. Wayzata Blvd., Wayzata, MN 55391.

    Angelica Cantanti Youth Choirs Summer Day Camp

    Calling all kids in second through fifth grade who love to sing! Join us for a week filled with singing, music games, and art activities. This camp will serve as a springboard from which singers will explore their vocal potential and increase their confidence in singing. Taught by the professional artistic staff of the Angelica Cantanti Youth Choirs program July 27 – 31. 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Visit or call 952-563-8572. 1800 W. Old Shakopee Road, Bloomington, MN 55431.

    Sing Minnesota

    August 10-14, 2009, 8:30 a.m – 4:30 p.m. Sing Minnesota is a day camp for girls and boys, ages 8-12 (completed grades 2-6) sponsored by the Minnesota Boychoir at Saint Paul’s Concordia University. While focusing on choral singing, campers also participate in other creative arts – drama and movement, visual arts, optional piano lab, and outdoor fun and games! $250, scholarships are available. Visit or call 651-292-3219 for more information. Sing Minnesota Day Camp site: Concordia University, Buetow Music Center, 300 Hamline Ave. N., St. Paul, MN 55104.


    Tamarack Nature Center Summer Camp Adventures

    Is your child suffering from “nature deficit disorder?” The only known antidote is a summer of outdoor fun and adventure! We offer weekly half and full day camps for preschoolers through eighth grade, Friday art classes, and special field trips. Call 651-407-5350 or visit us at 5287 Otter Lake Rd., White Bear Township, MN 55110.

    Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center’s Summer Camp

    Immerse yourself in the Great Northwoods at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center—the perfect summer camp atmosphere. Nestled on a mountain-like ridgeline overlooking Lake Superior, the Wolf Ridge campus offers nearly 2,000 acres to explore the forests, rivers, and lakes of the North Shore. Our programs, for children ages 6 to 18, range from day camps to four-week academic programs for high school students and wilderness canoe, kayak, and backpacking trips. For more information, call 218-353-7414 or visit 6282 Cranberry Rd., Finland, MN 55603.

    YMCA Day Camps (Twin Cities area)

    This is a great introduction to camping in a safe environment. Full week of day camp activities including canoeing, archery, camp crafts, cookouts, swimming and more! Kids are home each night. Bus transportation available. Specialty Camps: horses, fishing, climbing, kayaking, outdoor living, orienteering, farming, arts, drama, wheel park, rollerblading, golf, tennis, soccer, mini-biking, water skiing and MORE! Specialty Camps vary by location.


    Cool School: Minnesota Life College Summer Day Program

    The Summer Day Program “Cool School,” is for high school students with learning disabilities or related conditions such as Aspergers Syndrome and ADD/ADHD. It’s a wonderful opportunity for youth and their families to begin the process of transition and determine if Minnesota Life College would be a good fit after high school. We offer two sessions: “My Social Life” June 15 – 19 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. where students will learn to build and maintain friendships, community observation, rules of personal safety, hobbies exploration, and dinner party etiquette, and “Get A Job” from June 22 – 26 where the focus is on job readiness, how to create a resume, workplace rules, appropriate work conversations, and interviewing skills. One session is $349 / $749 for both. Students need to include their IEP with the registration form. Contact MLC for possible transportation options or extended hours. For more information, call 612-869-4008 ext. 16 or visit 7501 Logan Ave. So., Suite 2A, Richfield, MN 55423.


    The Children’s Theatre Company Theatre Arts Training

    CTC’s Theatre Arts Training classes ignite the imagination and creativity of youth ages 3–18. With leading professionals as teachers, TAT classes build performances skills in the areas of acting, music and dance, while teaching important life skills that allow youth to think critically, express themselves clearly, and work well with others. For more information, call 612-874-0400 or visit 2400 Third Ave. So., Minneapolis, MN 55404.

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