BY DEBRA KEEFER RAMAGE
The outlook for the third summer of COVID
In 2020, virtual summer camps were born. But when we published our piece on summer camps in early March 2020, we had no idea what was to come. And neither did the organizations offering summer camps, many of which simply had to be canceled at the last minute.
In 2021, both the summer camp industry and this writer knew, to some extent, what to expect. So the distinction between virtual and in-person summer camps entered the lexicon. Here again, there was some diversion between the outlook in March and the actuality in June through August. In the height of summer 2021, we actually thought the end was in sight. I don’t think we’re going to be so incautious this time.
The outlook for summer of 2022 is who-the-heck-knows? Virtual options in summer youth camping are now just that – an option. The summer camp universe is back to “normal,” sort of. Whatever that is. That being said, although some organizations offering summer camps in the past have stopped doing so, and a few have disappeared, there are a lot of offerings this year.
Art camps for performing arts – music, theater, circus arts
Songs with Sarah Music School in the Field neighborhood offers music day camps for school-aged kids with a variety of interests: jazz, nature, wizarding and more, as well as ensemble classes for guitar, ukulele, piano and drumming. All camps include movement, singing, instrument play and outdoor activities. Check out their offerings at https://songswithsarah.com/summer-2022-1.
MacPhail summer music camps range from those for absolute beginners hoping to try out multiple instruments to advanced players, in genres like jazz, rock/blues, chamber music, composition and music production, and more. Both in-person and online camps are available. See their full schedule of camp options here: https://www.macphail.org/meta/summer-camps/
The Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies will offer three week-long summer camps for beginning to advanced strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion. Half-day sessions led by GTCYS conductors will take place in downtown St. Paul, capped by a final performance at the Landmark Center. https://gtcys.org/programs/summer
The Children’s Theatre Company has a wide variety of week-long day camps June through August, each with a different theme and grade level for participants. See childrenstheatre.org/education-and-engagement/for-children-and-families/camps.
Circus Juventas offers three types of summer camp options: performance week-long camps, daily sampler camps, and teen high-flying adventure camps. Camps are for ages 6 through 18, where students are assigned groups based on age. See circusjuventas.org/summer-camps.
Art camps for making things – arts and crafts, pottery, fire arts
It’s impossible to sum up briefly what Summer Adventure Camps from Adventures in Cardboard are like, “where ‘wonder’ is the preferred path to igniting a passion for design, construction and playful exploration of the natural world.” See adventuresincardboard.com/summer-adventure-camp-2022 for more.
Articulture, a South Minneapolis community arts nonprofit, offers a wide variety of week-long, all-day art camps for kids over 5 years old entering grades K through 6 in the fall. See articulture.org/pages/child-summer-camps for details.
Northern Clay Center provides myriad ways to keep the kids in your life engaged in ceramics. They offer summer camps, after-school clay club, weekly Teen Boot Camp, one-day workshops for families, and take-home virtual camp kits. Check it out at /northernclaycenter.org/education/clay-for-youth-families.
Another local arts organization now offering summer programs is Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center in the heart of George Floyd Square. Registration opens Feb. 25 and class details were not available at the time of writing, but will be found on this page: https://www.cafac.org/.
Sport camps for every sport
Classic TaeKwonDo Studios in South Minneapolis is now enrolling for summer camp with all-day camp sessions from June through August. Camp includes TaeKwonDo lessons and classes, a uniform, snacks, field trips and other activities – plus, you pay only for days needed. Discounts for additional family members. https://www.classictkdstudios.com/
Vertical Endeavors offers indoor Climbing Camps, giving children the opportunity to learn proper climbing techniques in a controlled and fun atmosphere. Choose between Base Camp and Peak Experience for a fun and age-appropriate option for your child. The Climbing Camps are offered as week-long or single-day sessions. Visit www.verticalendeavors.com/programs/climbing-camps/ to register.
There will be a Nike basketball camp offered at North Central University in the Elliot Park neighborhood of Minneapolis. Coach Travis Bledsoe, head coach at De La Salle High School, and Coach Khalid El-Amin, former Chicago Bulls player, will lead this coed basketball camp for all ability levels, where kids can learn fundamentals, build on existing skills, and take their game to the next level. More info at www.ussportscamps.com/basketball/nike/nike-basketball-camp-north-central-university,
Both Minneapolis and St. Paul have their own youth tennis summer programs. Minneapolis’s program is presented by the sports nonprofit InnerCity Tennis and is available at 20 Minneapolis parks. To register, go to https://innercitytennis.org/youth-tennis/summer-parks-22. For St. Paul, the program is administered by the parks department and is called Urban Tennis or SPUT. Search “Urban Tennis St. Paul.” Although SPUT offers classes year-round at many locations and for all ages, the summer camp is only in August at Eastview Recreation Center, for ages 5 to 12. Registration was not yet open at press time.
A different sort of sports camp is Trail Kids Mountain Bike Camp, presented by the Loppet Foundation, and utilizing the single-track bike trails at Theodore Wirth Park. “Trail Kids offers nine weeks of half-day (8 a.m. to noon) mountain bike camps for beginner to advanced riders ages 7 to 13. The focus of the mountain bike camps is to have fun, meet new friends, and build confidence riding the single-track trails. The camps will have mixed gender groups split up by age and prior experience. Non-binary and trans youth are welcome to join any group in which they feel most comfortable.” See www.loppet.org/programs/tk/summermtbcamps to register.
Finally, if you have a kid who loves sports but can’t really decide which one, AKA All Sports Camp might be the answer. This is for kids grades K-6 and runs June 6 through Sept. 2. Camp sessions will feature a different sport and field trip each week, with a focus on keeping kids healthy and active, as well as making new friends and building confidence and self-esteem. See akasport.org/all-sports-camp for details.
Academic camps – STEM and more
There are so many STEM programs with summer camps, we had to pare it down a bit and just focus on two or three of them. Although there is considerable overlap, there are two private providers that target slightly different age groups, with a wide focus of programs.
The first, which skews slightly younger at ages 5 to 14, is Code Ninjas. There are four Minnesota locations, the closest being in Edina. Offerings are either one-week or two-week (Boot Camp) in length. Topics range from building robots to making movies, from coding arcade games to coding websites. Start at www.codeninjas.com.
The second, which is geared to ages 7 to 17, is iD Tech. This year they are back to campus-based in-person intensives, but also still offering the Virtual Tech Camps which were a mainstay last year (and are probably here to stay). For Minnesota kids, the in-person summer camp will be held at Macalester College. Visit www.idtech.com/locations and choose Minnesota to get specifics. For virtual tech camps, use www.idtech.com/virtual.
The University of Minnesota is offering STEM camps too, but they had not finalized their offerings at press time. However, they are also offering a very interesting summer camp called the National Summer Transportation Institute. At first glance, that seems like an arcane subject for kids, but it really looks like fun. See www.cts.umn.edu/education/k-12/nsti. It’s two weeks in July, it’s FREE, and it’s for kids entering grades 7 through 9 in the fall.
Summer Speech & Debate Camp for middle and high school students is now open for registration, with early bird discounts if you enroll before April 1. Sponsored by the Minnesota Debate and Advocacy Workshop (MDAW), there are both online and in-person camps available for three sessions in June and July. In-person camps will be held at Augsburg University’s Minneapolis campus. For complete details, go to https://www.augsburg.edu/urbandebateleague/mdaw/.
Traditional, specialty and unclassified camps
Discovery Day Camp, offered by Camp Northern Star, is a week-long program open to all K-8 youth. Each fun-filled day will include things like swimming, hiking, climbing, archery, STEM activities, outdoor skills, crafts and more. They offer multiple sessions at a variety of metro locations. Go to https://camp.northernstar.org/Article-Detail/discovery-day-camp for full information.
Great River School’s summer camps provide kids aged 4-17 a fun way to spend a week exploring, building, learning, moving, creating and having a blast. Choose from sessions focusing on art, nature, robotics, cooking, ultimate frisbee, bookmaking and more. Great River School strives to make summer camp possible for all kids, with early-bird pricing, sibling and multi-program discounts, and scholarships available to all. See www.greatriverschool.org/summercamp for all the details.
YWCA Minneapolis is offering summer camps all summer for kids in grades K through 5 this school year. Curriculum is all-inclusive of STEM, arts, outdoor play, indoor quiet time, and even includes both breakfast and lunch. Check out www.ywcampls.org and navigate to the summer camps page.
Camp Tanadoona in Excelsior is operated by Camp Fire, one of the oldest camping organizations around. Tanadoona hosts both day camps and a two-week residential camp, and offers an array of choices including outdoor activities, sports, arts and crafts, and more. They also have scholarships. See campfiremn.org/camps/tanadoona.
Finally, if it’s a residential camp you want, there is another trusted name in Minnesota. Camp Pillsbury, located in Owatonna, is a co-ed camp for ages 5 to 17. Although they do operate a day camp for kids within driving distance, it’s mostly known as a residential camp, with dorms, a movie theater, horseback riding and a lake. Check out camppillsbury.com.