BY DEBRA KEEFER RAMAGE
The state of the COVID-19 pandemic is still pretty uncertain for summer 2021. Therefore, not surprisingly, there are more virtual options than ever before available. But there are still some in-person day camps and even residential traditional camps. There is actually a huge variety of choices, and so though we’ll cover (briefly) a lot of them, we’ll also provide you some tips for searching for exactly what you want in a summer camp.
Of course, you can always just Google for it, but as you may have noticed, paid advertisers now hog all the top pages of search results, no matter what you’re searching for, and sometimes you might not have the time to get down to what you really need. So here are some tailored searchable “directories” online dedicated just to summer camps.
The biggest database is probably at www.summercamps.com, with its straightforward, easy to remember name. Once on this site, which covers the whole U.S., you can enter a search term like “swimming,” “college prep,” or “arts,” or you can enter a location, or you can enter both, and get targeted results. Here again, the paid ads have a link to click right through, but if your preferred result is unpaid, just Google its name for the link. If your kid wants to explore the Pacific Northwest and also learn coding, for instance, this can take you straight there.
The next three are close to home. There’s Minneapolis-St. Paul Out and About for Kids (msp.kidsoutandabout.com/). To find the summer camp section, use the menu bar to navigate to LOCAL LISTS>CLASSES & CAMPS>In-person Summer Camps, and click. (It actually contains two lists, in-person and virtual.) Then there’s Family Fun Twin Cities, which offers year-round guides for all kinds of free, cheap, unique or fun things for kids. The dedicated summer camp guide is at www.familyfuntwincities.com/guide-twin-cities-summer-camps. And then there is SummerCamp.org, which, as its name suggests, is nothing but Summer Camps. They have two separate websites, one for each city area: minneapolissummercamps.org/ and saintpaulsummercamps.com/.
Finally, here’s a guide that’s only free and virtual summer camps. The search site at summercamphub.com/free-online-summer-camps has an amazing variety of ideas like Camp YouTube, Target-sponsored Maker’s Camp (a combination of tech and crafts), Wonderopolis (indescribable—you’ll just have to check it out) and Virtual 4-H Camp.
For the rest of the options, we’re only giving the name of the camp or program and the city, to save space. But we have spot-tested that Googling the name as given should take you straight to the web page to get more information, including a phone number if you prefer to talk to them first. We recommend calling the organizations if there are any doubts about the information offered here, especially for scheduled in-person camps, just in case there are changes.
Both cities offer summer tennis day camp and/or tennis coaching for kids through their parks departments (or a partnership, in the case of Minneapolis). For Minneapolis, look for Inner City Tennis, and for St. Paul, it’s called Urban Tennis.
Classic TaeKwonDo on Chicago Avenue is now enrolling kids for Summer Day Camp, which includes not only daily classes in the Korean martial art of TaeKwonDo, but also daily field trips, craftsand other activities. Attendance options include all-day sessions Monday through Friday, or only pay for the days you need.
Twins Baseball Camps are happening again in summer 2021, as they had a safe and successful run in 2020. In fact, a lot of the more popular sites are sold out. They’re offered in many cities around the state as well as the metro area.
This one could have gone under performing arts, but I decided to put it in sports. Circus Juventas in St. Paul offers a world-renowned summer day program in all manner of circus arts. There are two choices of camps for ages 6 to 15 and the high-flying adventure camp for ages 13 to 18.
Arts including Performing & Music
Articulture is an arts nonprofit linking art with healing and growth for all ages and abilities. They are offering summer day camps in week-long modules over three age cohorts. Their fees are very reasonable, and they have a great variety of themes.
Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis offers a virtual class this summer called Clay-Along. After registration, you’ll be given a date window to pick up a kit, and then the instruction will be live and online. It looks like there will be adult, youth and kid versions.
Adventures in Cardboard is the local organization that combines two things the Twin Cities are known for—fantasy and cheap art. Kids of all ages imagine their own fantasy worlds and then build them, mostly from cardboard. It’s wildly popular, and it’s outdoors for the most part.
School of Rock in St. Paul operates year-round. They do virtual classes for kids and youth, teaching Rock 101, songwriting, performing and specialist classes. For 2021 they will have short half-day in-person day camps. Register on their website.
Cooks Camp for Kids is offered by Cooks of Crocus Hill in St. Paul. Their Teens and Kids Summer program offers modules like Global Top Chef, Restaurant Copycat, and Baking and Decorating.
Technology & Academic
Snapology is a private company with franchises in various cities including Minneapolis. They offer online classes year-round, private parties with kids, and week-long day camps in the summer. Since it’s mostly playing with Legos, albeit mixed in with learning about technology and science, it’s more for the younger ages.
Saint Paul College offers career exploration day camps on campus for high school students, in areas such as “scrub camp” for kids interested in health care. There are camps for video game design, cosmetology, and more.
Groves Academy is a specialist school that supports bright students who struggle with learning disabilities and attention disorders, as well as promoting evidence-based literacy instruction for all. They will have a summer camp program in 2021.
iDTech usually has a campus-based program at Macalester College in a wide range of tech and STEAM areas. Their website says: “With the ongoing uncertainty surrounding COVID, most of our university partners are delaying their decisions about on-campus programs until later this spring. We’ll keep you informed as plans unfold. In the meantime, we invite you to join us for 1-on-1 or small-group online learning.”
If you have an “indoor kid” who actually misses school in the summer, look into the virtual enrichment classes offered by the Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth. At the time of writing, the class list for the Summer Session for grades 5 through 7 was not up yet, but the older cohort, grades 8 through 12, is only summer, and is open for registration now. Some of the classes at this level include creative writing, forensic science, and genocide and human rights.
This one isn’t local, but it’s virtual. Idea Camp 2021 by an organization called Female Strong is just for girls, and Idea Camp is for budding young entrepreneurs.
Outdoors & Nature
Camp Fire Minnesota operates Camp Tanadoona in Excelsior. They will have summer day camps with a few modifications there. They are also accepting applications for Junior Counselors. Camp Fire Minnesota spent the COVID year renovating their Tanadoona facility.
Dodge Nature Center in West St. Paul is planning to have summer day camps. Their website says registration information will be available in March (so not in time for this article).
Minneapolis Parks Department does not appear to have 2021 summer camp information up yet, except for a single event in early June. If you’re interested in that, I would suggest just checking back now and then, or maybe call your nearest park.
YMCA North is offering an array of day camps in several locations in the outer metro. The further out ones include bus transportation from selected stops.
Cultural & Traditional
Minnesota JCC at the Sabes Center in Minneapolis offers Camp Olami for campers entering grades K through 6. Registration is open now. They also have “partner camps” for older kids, which include ArtRageous Rock of Ages, Snapology, Timberwolves & Lynx Basketball Academy, and more.
Camp Woodbrooke is a traditional countryside camp near Richland Center, Wis., colloquially called “Quaker Camp” as it is owned and operated by a Quaker-oriented nonprofit. They describe it as “Simple outdoor living in a non-competitive, ecology-oriented camp.”
Korean Culture Camp is a local institution that was started in order to serve Korean adoptees cut off from the birth family culture, but now is a part of the Korean-American family tradition. They posted the following COVID-19 notice: “We’ve held the dates of July 19 – 23 at Minnehaha Academy North Campus (3100 W. River Pkwy., Minneapolis) for Korean Culture Camp.” The website will be updated when they open registration.
Tamahay Camp for Girls is our last item. As the name suggests, this is an all-girls camping experience. Located in Akeley, Minn., it was founded by four women in 1969. The camping is all-residential, and immersive, with no cell phones or other electronic devices. There are two-week or four-week sessions and registration is now open.