How many days left until school is out?
Oh my goodness. What are you going to do with your little ones during those 3 glorious months off?!
Last year was the first year that I kept the Cupcake home instead of full-time care and she was ecstatic (except that I made her go to reading camp). We loaded up on camps galore, but I’ll be honest, the planning was a mind-bending pain in the you know where. I definitely discovered a strategy to summer camp planning, created a massive spreadsheet, and found a few duds and a few gems along the way. The key to it all is to ask your mom-friends what they recommend – they’ll give you an honest evaluation that can help you weigh which are worth the money.
In case you haven’t started your planning yet, below you’ll find a list of MY go-to sites to get you started on your planning summer camp 2016 activities for your little ones. While the camps on the list are mostly DFW related, the list will still get your brain moving in the right direction when searching outside of Dallas and Fort Worth. And because all the options will make your head spin, I’ve put together a summer camp 2016 planner to help you keep it all organized! It’s a digital download to keep track of the camps and dates you like, your budget, which friends are also attending and who has carpool, as well as a spot for important contact info. FREE for the first 100 downloads.
So let’s dive in!
SPORTS Summer Camps:
Golf Camps – Lots of the golf clubs in our area (and we have a ton) will feature golf camps for kids. Check with your local course, or view PGA junior golf camps here.
Soccer Camps: A personal favorite of ours is the UK Elite program. Consistently great for skills development and offers both indoor and outdoor ½ day and longer. I’ve had friends do the SMU camps as well and spoke highly of them. Here’s a link to the boys camps and a link to the girls camps.
Sports facilities and teams: There are a number of mega sports complexes around DFW and pretty much all of them offer summer camps. Here’s a link to the two we find to be pretty solid within our circle: PSA Plano and Frisco Fieldhouse USA. You can also check with your favorite professional sports team, like the Dallas Mavericks summer camps, the Texas Rangers camps and clinics, and the Dallas Stars hockey camp.
Ninja Camp (martial arts) with Chamberlain Studios of Self Defense. Chamberlain Studios’ team of expert instructors will lead students through a fun packed martial arts program that will safely introduce new students to the martial arts and also polish and expand the skills of those with previous experience. The camp features the acclaimed 3-Steps to a Great Kid™ character development program. Activities cover all the important areas of training, including: · Basic Karate skills, rolls and falls · Self defense techniques, sparring and forms, · Wrestling/ground work and Brazilian jiu-jitsu · History of the Martial Arts, personal safety tips · Chanbara padded weapons drills & competitions ·Board breaking, karate weapons (wooden sword & staff) · Swimming safety, (Bachman -Love Field- camps only) · When it is appropriate to use these new skills, and much, much more! Children are divided in each activity by age and ability. 4-6 and 7 & up. Discounts for additional camps and siblings! Full day and full week camp opportunities available. Register here.
ARTS and CULTURE Summer Camps:
Theater: While I don’t have direct experience with these, I’ve been impressed with the offerings from Dallas Children’s Theater. Check out their summer classes here. I’ve also had the pleasure of watching a performance at the Genesis Children’s Theatre and they have a number of opportunities this summer that your budding actor/actress could audition for here.
“Annie” the movie camp at Park Cities School of Music – During this week long camp, young singers (8-11 boys & girls), actors and dancers can gather together and have the best time growing as performers. They will be cast as characters to prepare scenes and songs from the 2014 “Annie” movie. Parents will observe a final performance on last day of camp. Register here and see more camps.
Dance: If your daughter (or son) is a student of a dance theater, I can guarantee that their studio has a summer program. If you’re just dipping your toe into the world of dance, check out a local dance studio like Dance Institute of Dallas, or Texas Ballet Theater for Dallas or Fort Worth camps.
Art: Have an arty kid? Check out Kids N Art’s huge list of summer camps here, or many of the painting party places and similar art events have summer opportunities in your area. If a full morning/day isn’t your thing, Michaels stores have a really nice program called Camp Creativity this summer. It is inexpensive and hey, you can shop while they’re creating!
Rembrandt Camp at Lakewood Conservatory of Fine Arts – Campers are taught the theory of color, shapes, and lines. They do pencil drawing illustrations. Introduction to the parts of the face (eye, lip, nose, cheeks, etc.) to crate self-portrait using light and shadow techniques. Price includes supply fee. Age: 6 – 8 years old June 13-17, July 11-15 More info here.
Sewing: The Cupcake took a sewing camp last summer from Sew Fun Studios and it might have been her favorite of the season! She has been begging to enroll her again this summer and I’m all for it. Sew Fun has locations all over, but locally I highly recommend Kaityn Baten’s programs. I’ve even scheduled her for a girl scout meeting. The girls LOVE it. Check out their classes and programs here. They even have classes for grown ups!
CHURCH Summer Camp:
We also put a vacation bible school on our summer rotation. They’re so plentiful, you could likely get your kid into one nearly every week! And they’re typically very inexpensive as well. Whichever flavor of Sunday service you prefer, there’s probably a camp for that.
Last year we participated in the Bent Tree Fine Arts Day Camp. The Cupcake was slightly overwhelmed by the magnitude of the camp, how many kids, and the production itself so we will pass this year, but I thought it was a great experience for her. During it, she loved it. On this side of it, she’s not so excited to do it again (but as a mom, I’d recommend it). Word of advice, it’s REALLY competitive to get in. Be online here when registration opens to guarantee your spot.
LEARNING Summer Camps:
Camp Invention is
Camp Invention is the only nationally recognized, non-profit elementary enrichment program backed by the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Several of the teachers from our school are involved with the STEM camp so it has to be good! Learn more at campinvention.org or their YouTube channel here.
Club Science – Summer camps for kids age 4 – 15 in soooooo many STEM related areas. Last year we did the robotics camp, and came home with a tin can robot and snap circuit truck. The Cupcake loved it and it was really well organized. We’ll be checking these out again. Here’s where you can learn more.
Engineers Camp (featured on KERA) – Campers will design and build their own architectural creation. The teacher directs and helps without changing children’s design. At the end of the Camp students will have a display of a unique model building. The buildings are done with paper but the teacher introduces kids with various building materials and explains the basic rules of building. Price includes supply fee. Age: 6 – 10 years old June 20-24, July 18-22 Learn more here.
I hesistate to tell you about these camps, because I know how fast they fill up and I am dying to get the Cupcake into one or all of them, but… your local Apple store has lots of summer camps too. And they’re – gasp – FREE. More info here.
I’ve always been impressed with the programs offered by Greenhill School. Called, “Summer on the Hill,” there are an impressive number of fun camps and courses offered for kids age 3 through high school. Check out their well-organized offering where you can search by age or date here.
Everyone loves the Zoo. Check out Dallas Zoo’s inexpensive WILD Adventures Summer Camp here. Back in the day, I used to volunteer to work during these camps and I can attest that they’re tons of fun! And while I haven’t experienced them first hand, the Fort Worth Zoo also has summer camp opportunities. Visit it here.
I’m putting this on the list even though it’s not a camp, like a drop off camp, but the Dallas Museum of Art has a number of fun FREE family summer activities that you can check out with your kiddo.
Have a budding gardener or naturalist? The Dallas Arboretum has a number of summer camps perfect for their green thumb. For ages preschool through 10th grade, they can explore nature and science at this amazing garden. See their list here. Over on the Fort Worth side of the metroplex? The Fort Worth Botanic Garden also offers Green Thumb Club Camps, visit here for more info.
Who can forget the Perot Museum? Prepare to be overwhelmed with opportunities at their Summer Discovery Camps here. There’s something for everyone with programs featuring paleontology to super sleuths.
Fort Worth Museum of Science & History has a mega list of weekly classes for your kids that include fun topics like space troopers and chemistry mysteries. I wonder if I can get in on that action? View their brochure here.
Head spinning yet? Here are a few other ideas to consider:
Don’t forget the Scouts! If you have a girl or boy scout, your options just multiplied exponentially.
And let’s not forget the online camp opportunities! Here is a link to my favorites from last year.
I’m sure my list is only the tip of the iceberg. Below are a couple links to some mega camp lists that you may find useful for DFW readers:
What are your favorite summer kids camps? Share with other moms in the comments below!