As the school year comes to an end, many kids and parents are wondering what the summer will bring. For working parents, especially, child care can be a top priority during the summer months — but kids are mainly concerned with the fun that awaits them. Luckily, summer camps are the perfect compromise!
Parents have to look no further than the Parks and Recreation department of Orange County to find an interesting summer camp program.
“We put on half-day specialized camps mostly within the STEM or STEAM theme and they run from eight o’clock to 12 and then from one to five,” said Christopher Sousa, recreation superintendent for the department.
“We provide free lunchtime, they bring their own lunches and we provide free stuff for kids that will stay over and go to a morning camp and an afternoon camp.”
The half camps include everything from theatre, cooking and painting to sports like baseball and soccer. The types of camps offered each week are also based on the different age groups to which the programs cater.
“In my 19 years of experience with this, kids are more interested in summer camps when they have more of a say in what it’s about and if it fits what their likes and desires are,” Sousa said. “We have had this model for five years and we have kept prices low and kept different genres or different types of camps so there are different opportunities for kids.”
There are several specialized camps for children over the summer that focus on specific hobbies and activities. For example, Ballet School of Chapel Hill offers different workshops throughout the summer focusing on types of dance such as jazz, hip-hop and even fencing. Trinity School of Durham and Chapel Hill is also holding summer camps that introduce special topics, such as movie-making, pottery, robotics and sewing.
The Carrboro Recreation and Parks Department, along with local schools and organizations, are offering a variety of summer camps this season. Photo by Gabrielle Palacio.
Another great opportunity for kids this summer can be found at Camelot Academy, where academics are combined with recreational youth groups for ages 6 to 12.
“People drop their kids off and they play games until around nine o’clock, then they do an hour of math, take a break and then work on English,” Scott Mitchell, director of admissions at Camelot Academy, said. “After that, it’s lunch time, and around 12 we take a bus to go swimming, bowling or roller skating.”
The program provides individualized work for each student based on feedback given from their parents at the beginning of each week.
“We’ve been doing this for 25 years, and it’s a unique program,” Mitchell said. “We get the academics out of the way in the morning, so by lunch they have forgotten that they even had to do it.”
Camelot Academy also has a summer exchange camp that allows students from China to come to the United States and tour cities like Boston and New York. After visiting these cities, they come to the academy and stay with American host families while they learn.
“We have different programs like teaching English as a second language and Chinese teachers to teach them American culture,” Mitchell said. “We also include American students who learn calligraphy and Chinese language with the Chinese teachers so that all of the students benefit from the program.”
Both of these summer programs have already begun registration and are continuing to take students throughout the summer as long as they have not reached capacity.