9 cool and unusual summer camps that teach more than campfire songs

Pali CampSpring is in the air (hooray!) which means summer can’t be all that far behind. And while the word “summer camp” still fills my head with images of gimp and campfires, your kids’ options now go way beyond the camps of my youth, with specialty camps for just about any interest.

Here are some of my favorites that look like so much fun, I wish I could sign up myself. -Christina

Science camp

Science Camp
Little scientists can spend their days learning about outer space, solving their own CSI-style mystery, or even figuring out a cure for zombies at Colorado’s Keystone Science Camp. I love how each week encompasses a different theme so your child can pick the one that interests him or her most, and that you can attend by the day, the week or the whole summer depending on what suits your needs. Plus, zombie camp?!?! How can that not be awesome?


Curious Jane Day Camp


Art and Design Camp
My creative, hands-on girls would love to spend a week at Curious Jane day camp. Themes range from Toy Design to Life Science, with lots of time for free play and exploration, and the all-girl atmosphere is meant to be supportive and empowering for young girls. There are nine locations including Philly (which also offers a new one-week overnight camp), NYC, New Orleans and a new location outside of Boston. Check out Curious Jane Jr. for younger girls who want in on the action too.

(Mention Cool Mom Picks when you register for camp at their new Brookline, MA location and receive a 10% discount; not to be combined with other discounts or offers.)


Pali Secret Agent Camp


Secret Agent Camp
After a week (or two) at Pali Adventure’s Secret Agent Camp near San Bernadino, CA don’t be surprised if your camper’s favorite color is camo. I love how active my kids would be all day long between the paintball battles, obstacle courses, martial arts sessions, and archery lessons. Though don’t expect them to tell you much: They are learning to be secret agents, after all. (photo here and at top) 


Robotics


Robotics and Tech Camp
My kids’ tech-loving hearts would be so fulfilled at one of iD Tech Camps Junior Camp Courses offered around the country, with classes in robotics, programming and game design. But, I also appreciate that their days would also include unwired time like playing strategy games or doing teambuilding activities. And maybe they can teach me how to do cool things on my computer when camp is done.


Circle F Dude Ranch


Dude Ranch Camp
If your horse-loving child is ready for sleep-away camp, Florida’s Circle F Dude Ranch looks like so much fun, you may have a hard time getting them back home again. Along with horseback riding lessons, kids can sign up for skateboarding, archery, or just catch a banana boat ride in the big sandy-bottom lake. 


Aloha Beach Camp


Surf Camp
Whether or not they can already catch a wave, the Aloha Beach Camp in LA has day camp options for kids as young as four who love the ocean, as well as a High Action camp for tweens and teens. Along with surfing, kids may go tubing, play sand games, and ride the waves on a boogie board. I didn’t see any “rainy day” activities listed but, then again, we are talking about Southern California.


Mt. Hood Summer Camp


Summer Ski Camp
Not into the beach? Your tweens and teens can actually ski this summer at Mt. Hood overnight summer camp. Yes, they really do have snow, even in August! Snow sports obviously rule here, though during their off-time, kids can skateboard, play pool or even go whitewater rafting. With a laid-back vibe and loads of instruction on the slopes, I can see why someone would trade in their bathing suit for snow pants for the chance to go to this camp.


School of Rock


Rock n Roll Camp
Though your garage may be turned into a band studio after the summer is through, I think your rock-star-in-training will love you for the chance to spend a week at School of Rock. And yes, that’s real thing and not just a movie. Locations are found all across the U.S. and kids of all ages and abilities are invited to come and rock out for a week or two.


Kroka Expeditions

Ourdoor Immersion Camp

Though most camps get the kids outside for a good chunk of the day, I am intrigued by NH’s Kroka Expeditions summer camps’ total-immersion-in-the-outdoors approach. From their Adventures for Small People day camp which is scaled down for little kids’ abilities and energy levels, to their more intensive overnight camps which can include foraging and fire building, this is a great way for kids to really become one with nature. Sorry about all the laundry.



Please research all summer camps thoroughly to make sure they are a good fit for your child. If you love a theme above but not the location, do a search closer to home—you may find just what you are looking for in your town.

Also check out the information we found about the cool (and free) Apple Camp coming soon.

Christina

Senior Associate Editor Christina Refford loves homeschooling, running, cool kids’ music, and coffee. Not in that order.

1 Comment

  • Reply June 28, 2012

    Sandy

    I love that you selected some middle of the road, but still pretty darn cool summer camps. We are trying to decide on one for a late summer session and definitely want something out of the ordinary.

    These are more in our wheelhouse (and budget) than some of the other unusual summer camps we found, especially like those over at http://www.ranker.com/list/most-unconventional-summer-camps/chelsay790. Hard to believe that some people pay $10-25K for their kid to get out of the house for a few months at some of those camps. Anyway, thank you for the suggestions!

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