Summer camps in 2023

ArtStart summer camps for creative kids


Arts and creativity camps

ArtStart ( is an innovative arts nonprofit in St. Paul that combines artmaking with art appreciation, cultural studies, history and – recycling? (See ArtScraps on their website.) Registration is open now for summer programs, which center on studying and being inspired by the art and culture of Egypt and Turkey. The teaching artists include many honored veterans of In the Heart of the Beast, including Julie and Gustavo Boada and more.
The Loft Literary Center will once again hold its summer Young Writers’ Program in person at Open Book in downtown Minneapolis. Designed for burgeoning writers and their huge imaginations, the Loft’s Summer Youth classes can help kids discover their creative voices and create writing that is meaningful to them and their communities. Go to to download their Young Writers brochure with class offerings in everything from writing science fiction and fantasy, script writing, romance novels, thrillers, poetry, and even essays for college applications.

Summer camp options abound at MacPhail Center for Music.

Performing arts camps

Circus Juventas, the famed circus arts school in St. Paul, has not opened registration yet for summer, and now you need to pre-register in order to get an invitation when that happens. So if you have a kid who wants to fly through the air with the greatest of ease, head over to and do that.
Great River School has scores of one-week day camp modules for four grade level groups in dozens of subject areas. Two interesting ones in this category: for grades 1 to 3, a choice of character creation, future stars of theater, or music and movement; for Pre-K to K, puppetry camp!
If your kid is into music, consider MacPhail Center for Music’s summer camp program. They offer such a vast array of camps for all ages (including adult summer camps and family camps) that we can only skim the surface. Ukulele, Brass, Music Production, Songwriting, World Music – these are just a few of the many offerings. Registration is open, there are scholarships available, and all details can be found here:
The Guthrie Theater Summer Camp program is confined to the month of July, with grades 6 to 8 in the first two weeks, and grades 9 to 12 in the second. These can be taken as a single week or combined, in which case there is a discount. There are also scholarships available.

Camp Lake Hubert for girls and Camp Lincoln for boys offer water sports and much more.

Sports and games camps

Great River School summer camps mentioned above also include sports. Ultimate, Goaltimate, Urban Biking, Hiking, Swimming, and Sailing (on Bde Maka Ska) are among the offerings for grades 7 to 10, while Ninja Warrior Training is one of the modules for grades 1 to 3.
Classic TaeKwonDo Studios at 5253 Chicago Ave. in Minneapolis offers full-day programs all summer long as well as on school release days. The day includes a field trip, mostly outdoors, lunch time, free time, snack time and an hour of TaeKwonDo.
Inner City Tennis runs tennis camps called Summer Tennis in the Parks from June 19 to Aug. 4, except for the Fourth of July. This program is available in 21 Minneapolis parks, and registration opens March 1. St. Paul Urban Tennis offers a smaller but similar program for two weeks in August at four parks. Email [email protected] for more information.

Groves Learning Summer Programs help kids prepare for success in the upcoming academic year.

STEM and academic camps

iDTech is back at Macalester College in St. Paul this summer with its wildly popular career-oriented summer camps. They have a big focus on robotics, coding and engineering. Start at to find specifics.
The Science Museum of Minnesota also offers summer camps that comprise a full day to accommodate working parents. I like their offerings because unlike many STEM programs they go beyond the usual coding focus. They include things like veterinary medicine, archaeology, “planet protectors,” space travel, a magic-themed module for grades 1 to 3, and Sci Girls in the National Parks for grades 4 to 6.
Groves Learning offers academically-focused summer programs for kids going into grades 2-8 who have dyslexia, ADHD, and other language-based learning challenges. Their summer community provides a nurturing, fun and transformative experience to help students gain confidence and success, by giving them the tools they need for a successful start to school in the fall. Go to to learn more.

Kids discover their creative writing voices at the Loft’s Young Writers’ Program.

The Minnesota Debate and Advocacy Workshop (MDAW) offers a Summer Speech and Debate Camp for middle and high school students held in person at Augsburg University in Minneapolis. Their sessions include one-week, two-week, and extended camp experiences, with a wide range of topics, including Quick Start camps for debate beginners, on up to high school level sessions in areas such as policy debate, argumentation, and public address. See a full schedule at

Backyard Camp at OYNA

Mixed activity and overnight camps

A mixed activity day camp is offered by OYNA (formerly known as Twin Cities Adventure Play). Called “Backyard Camp,” OYNA’s week-long summer day camps allow children to choose their own adventures while being physically active, spending time with nature, and unplugging from technology. At Backyard Camp, kids ages 4 to 11 can do handicrafts with a wide array of materials, practice building new worlds and relationships, and learn new skills through concentrated exploration of their environment. Campers make their own decisions about how to spend their time, supported by trained staff on site.
Steve and Kate’s Camp in Minneapolis is another mixed activity day camp that allows kids to choose their own adventures with, as their website says, “just enough guidance to make sure nobody does anything totally senseless,” (and their definition of “totally senseless” doesn’t mean making mistakes, because “mistakes are how you learn.”) You can buy day passes or a full summer pass for Steve and Kate’s Camp, and unused days will be refunded at summer’s end. They’re open all hours from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with lunch and snacks provided. Check out their activities at

Happy campers at Camp Fire Minnesota

For overnight camps, it’s a whole other world. These camps combine all the themes above into one experience, plus sleeping in a tent, communal living, and being away from your family for a week or more. Some great options for staying in Minnesota or the surrounding states are YMCA of the North, which operates eight metro area day camps and several overnight camps in Minnesota and western Wisconsin (, Camp Pillsbury, a venerable and well-loved co-ed camp in Owatonna (, Camp Foley, Camp Chippewa for Boys, and Camp Lincoln/Camp Lake Hubert.
Camp Foley is a co-ed, family-owned, residential camp in Pine River, Minnesota, dating from 1924, and currently led by a mother-daughter team. It’s an all-activities camp with loads of physical activity along with some art, cooking, music and other enrichment. They offer sailing and other water sports, plus rock-climbing, archery, tennis and paintball. Camp Foley attracts campers from all over the world and offers counselor training internships for older teens. See for details and registration.

Paddleboarding at Camp Foley

For boys between the ages of 8-17, Camp Chippewa in Cass Lake, Minnesota, offers adventures in a wilderness setting with a focus on campers’ physical and emotional growth. Activities include sailing, archery, fencing, climbing and more, fostering individual achievement and mastery, as well as lifelong strengths like confidence and resilience. Camp Chippewa also has a unique canoe tripping program which progresses by age, from an overnighter to a multi-week trip, giving campers a taste of the trail. Visit their website at to learn more.
For over a century now, Camp Lincoln for Boys and Camp Lake Hubert for Girls have provided thousands of kids with memorable sleep-away camping adventures. The two camps are located on opposite sides of Lake Hubert near Brainerd, Minnesota. Both camps are family-run with a ton of

Great River School offers camps for kids from pre-K to high school seniors.

activities, including all kinds of water sports, rock climbing, mountain biking, music and drama, wilderness and ecology, and many more. Check out all they have to offer at

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