Tag: summer camp

Baltimore Clayworks Summer Camps

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Ceramists know something very important. It’s that clay, any way you slice it, is fun. And while for many adults, thinking of pottery making still recalls the famous scene from the movie Ghost (could be worse, right?), there’s an entire world of history, ecology, and craft that goes into making things out of clay. Baltimore Clayworks has been the local hub for Baltimore ceramics enthusiasts for the past 36 years. Through their Mt. Washington campus and community sites in under-resourced neighborhoods across the region, Baltimore Clayworks has brought the joy of clay to adults and children alike through innumerable classes, workshops, events and exhibitions. This summer, Baltimore Clayworks will be offering ten 1-week long summer camps for kids and teens, each with a different theme. They’re open to kids ages 6-15, and believe us, they’re all awesome.

Summer Camp at the Zoo

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catch of the day fish (2)Today we’re focusing on the furthest thing from this weather: summer camp. Early as it may seem, it is in fact time to start thinking about how the kids will spend their days once school is out. One great option to check out is the week-long summer camp offered by the Maryland Zoo. It’s a great way to get the kids outside, and to give them an amazing experience interacting with and learning about the zoo’s amazing animals. The zoo’s camps work for kids from grades 2-8. And with each age group, there’s a slightly different focus– from crafts and zoo exploration for the youngest campers to wildlife conservation for the older campers.

Ready for Summer? (We are)

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Despite temperatures barely breaking the single digits these days, yes, it’s time to start thinking about summer – Gilman Summer.

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Gilman School offers an exciting range of enrichment and skill-building experiences for girls and boys in grades 1 through 12 on its North Baltimore campus. Last summer, 370 kids from 57 different schools attended Gilman Summer programs, which range from one to six weeks in length.

Campers can enroll in more than 40 different offerings including outdoor education, 3-D video game and mobile app development, baseball statistics, SAT prep courses, college application and essay writing, and art enrichment programs. Courses are designed and taught by Gilman School faculty and field experts.

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“The most important thing is that kids have fun while they are learning something new and being challenged in their abilities,” said Maryann Wegloski, director of Gilman Summer. “Academic courses give students a boost before their next school year, while some of our other programs are designed to let our campers explore their personal and creative interests.”

Among the courses taught by Gilman’s award-winning art instructor David Anderson is Surf and Skate Art – back for its third year by popular demand – in which students examine the unique design elements of surf and skate culture. A skater himself for the past 30 years, Anderson shares his passion and knowledge as students design a series of skateboard graphics, create ocean paintings on canvas, and more.

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Photo by Thomas Rowe

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Anderson also offers half-day sessions in clay modeling, storytelling through art, studio drawing workshops, and painting with pastels and acrylics.

During the summer classes, kids are able to build their portfolios of work and expand their technique. Anderson says the real advantage to summer art programs is the length of time the kids get to spend on each project – time they don’t often have during a typical school day.DSCN4939

“We have a huge range of artists every summer – both in age and ability,” said Anderson. “The dynamic of how they learn from each other and encourage each other is always really inspiring to watch.”

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Sessions run June 16 through July 25. Learn more at www.Gilman.edu/GilmanSummer

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When the Kids are Away, Moms Get to Play

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Photo courtesy of Oprah.com.
Photo courtesy of Oprah.com.

You’ve said your goodbyes, maybe wiped away a few tears and pushed down the lump in your throat–especially if it’s your child’s first time at sleep-away summer camp. But now, with the hard part over, it’s time for some fun. Your own.

Few moms enjoy, on any regular basis, the luxury of a good long breather from the daily grind of motherhood: Shuttling kids back and forth to school and activities, doing endless loads of laundry, whipping up a few solid meals every day (and wiping away the crumbs). You know the drill.

Needless to say, sleep-away camp can be as liberating for moms as it is for their kids who are spending a week, a month or more sleeping in cabins with their new BFFs, taking to the woods and the water for days on end, and singing Kumbayah around the campfire. In fact, I spoke to some local women whose summertime hiatus from mommy duty made them feel like they were the ones at camp.

But for some, guilt and worry come first. A friend of mine whom I’ll call Jane recalled to me the scenario a few weeks ago, as she dropped off her little guy for a two-week stint at sleep-away camp for the first time: “Because he’s my youngest, I was so nervous for him,” she said.

That quickly changed when her little guy scrambled up on to his bunk bed, plunked down with his favorite stuffed animal, and asked her in blasé fashion when she was leaving. That gave her the green light she was waiting for.

Once Jane got the mounds of laundry out of the way, the expert gardener got to work in her yard—clearing out weeds, beautifying her flower beds, even building in a little time away with the hubby (Note: this woman wisely signed up her other son for sleep-away camp during the same time). With both kids away, the couple enjoyed a romantic weekend getaway without the highly orchestrated, detailed and complex schedule shuffling of children typically required to make even a short ‘adult-only’ trip happen.

Jane seemed to accomplish just about everything a gal could want to do in her free time. In addition to alone time with hubby and getting the house and garden in order, she caught up with old friends and stopped at historic monuments when she was on the road because there was no one in the back seat protesting. But she still wanted to squeeze in more. “You get real idealistic about all the things you want to do when they’re away, but there’s never enough time,” she said.

Summer Camp Sign-Up, 101

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Signed up your kids for summer camp yet? If not, you’re probably not alone.

I, for one, typically operate on a day-to-day, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants mode. Panic sets in when I have to schedule a week, or even a few days, in advance. So when billboards around town, brochures in the mail box, and emails in my in-box began to bombard me with reminders about summer camp—at least three whole months away—I initially tried to shut them out.

But, realizing this would only result in my kids getting shut out (desirable camp slots fill-up quickly), I finally relented, scrambling to find some suitable scheduled activities to fill my kids’ otherwise unscheduled summers. Seems sort of counter-intuitive, right? But that’s another subject, for a different day. For now, we’re sticking to the topic of summer camps or, more precisely, how to pick them.

I may not be forward thinking when it comes to summer camp, but I have a good memory of what’s worked in past summers for my kids—and which mistakes I hope to avoid in the future. So when you’re sorting through the dizzying array of summer camps out there, these tips may help you decide which options are right for your kids.

Avoid procrastinating. Much like summer beach rentals, many if not all slots in prime camps get filled by February or March. So, even if you have a tough time wrapping your head around a seemingly simple child experience that will not happen for months, remember: it behooves you to focus now.

Girls Rock Baltimore Takes Shape

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Know any girls who rock, or girls who have always dreamed of rocking, or girls who have the potential to rock? Point them toward Girls Rock Baltimore, a “non-hierarchal, women powered, not for profit rock camp for girls in the Baltimore area” that’s gathering its resources now with hopes of empowering young women by teaching them to rock out.

By the Time I Got to Woodstock

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University of Baltimore Asst. Prof. and Bohemian Rhapsody Columnist Marion Winik looks back on the summer camp that helped define her sense of self — she even pays the director a visit.

Last week I made my annual pilgrimage to the Woodstock Writers Festival. Arriving in town moments after the news broke of the death of Levon Helm, I found the populace in tears. Somehow they rallied for the story slam scheduled that night at Oriole 9. Sponsored by Woodstock’s popular TMI Project, a relation of Baltimore’s Stoop storytelling series, the slam had the following rules: the stories had to contain the line “By the time I got to Woodstock” and had to be exactly three and a half minutes in length. The organizers had a gong that could have woken Angkor Wat, and were not afraid to use it.

We heard from a sweet older lady who had been Jerry Garcia’s girl on the side; from a slip of a thing who had peed her pants rather than visit the infernal port-o-potties at Woodstock ’99; from a young man raised in a local religious cult where rock and roll was forbidden. The bright spot of his childhood was when the cult was engaged to pick up trash at the concert grounds.

Later in the weekend, another delicate-looking senior citizen told me she’d like to work on an essay about a party her husband’s band gave in 1969 in New Jersey. Dubiously I said, “Do you think readers will be interested in that?” “Well,” she ventured, hesitating, “the band was the Velvet Underground.”

JHU Summer Camp for Engineering Geeks

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If you happen to know any teenagers who would rather spend the summer building robots and spaghetti-bridges than lifeguarding or sleeping in, be sure to point them toward Johns Hopkins’ Engineering Innovation. Over the past decade, the program has hosted enthusiastic high school math/science buffs who spend a month “develop[ing] the skills to think and problem solve  like engineers.”

Clearly, this program isn’t for everyone. For one, participants have to have completed Algebra II and Trigonometry, as well as be comfortable using a spreadsheet program like Excel. For another, they have to be stoked at the idea of spending the summer with like-minded — and we mean this in the most celebratory, positive sense possible — nerds. Those who are so inclined will spend their time crafting elaborate mousetraps, elegantly complex spaghetti bridges, an listening to lectures on dimensional reasoning, digital systems, and something called “truss analysis.” And presumably making friends, developing crushes, talking nerd talk, etc. Check out these photos for evidence of how much fun these kids must have.

Financial aid — including full scholarships — is available for those who need it, and kids who leave the summer class with an A or B grade can get three college credits from Hopkins. Perhaps unsurprisingly, ninety percent of program grads go on to study engineering (or science) in college. The deadline is March 15. Alert your favorite nerds.

Summer Camp Revamp

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Summer camp—that annual repository for poison ivy and mosquito bites, gimp friendship bracelets and macramé plant hangers, homesickness and summer love—has gone boutique.  These days, kids can put a new twist on textiles at art camp, trade rock climbing for rock and rolling, and become Broadway—rather than Outward—bound.  And for kids who couldn’t get enough of school, there’s an academic camp just like it.

Theater Camp

Does your daughter recite lines from movies she’s seen only once?  Does your son still like to play dress up?  Gloria Krutul has a camp for that.  The piano teacher and choir director runs Three-Ring Theater, a year-round musical acting camp and after-school program.  Summer sessions for kids age five through teen are two-to-three weeks long.  With the help of experienced student assistants, Gloria teaches campers to sing, dance, and act—all toward the goal of performing in an end-of-season musical. 

Cassidy Vogel has been a student director for three years, but she was an eight-year-old camper when she first joined Three-Ring seven years ago.  What she likes best is how it creates independence.  “We learn to do all the things on our own; there’s not a bunch of adults doing it for us.  We learn the tech stuff, costuming, sound—everything.”  And all campers participate as much as they want.  There’s even a little theater for kids 5-8.  ($690, Little Theater—$325)

The Spotlighters Theatre runs the Young Actors Academy, with a five-week day camp for middle to high-school students and a three-week program for younger kids.  The older kids enjoy courses in stage combat, makeup design, and improvisation, while young students study what the Academy calls “FUN-damentals.”  These programs are Monday through Thursday; on Friday, a local theater pro teaches master classes.   (Middle & High School—$575; Little School—$375; three Fridays—$35)

And don’t forget local colleges, which often feature interesting outlets to occupy your kids’ days.  CCBC gives kids 8-13 lessons in all things theater—singing, dancing, makeup, costuming, and critiquing.  Plus, if your child has ever threatened to run away and join the circus, you can make her trek more likely to succeed with one-week circus camps that teach the fine art of clowning around. (Three Weeks—$629; Four Weeks—$786; Circus—$259)

Sailing Camp

Ahoy, matey!  If your kids can’t get enough of the water, whet their appetite for adventure on the not-too-high seas of the Chesapeake Bay at sailing camp. During one of the week-long Downtown Sailing Center day-camp sessions, children learn techniques on both wet and dry land that will nurture love and respect for the water and its crafts, while encouraging safety above all else–which feels especially important, in light of the recent tragic death of the Annapolis sailing student.  At the end of each session, campers test their skills in two-seater dinghies.  For a more extensive ride, kids can live on a sailboat with a Coastguard captain for a week, while learning the ropes—from steering to anchoring and everything in between.  (Day Camp-$400; Overnight—$950)

KidShip Sailing School, part of the Annapolis Sailing School, also makes sailors of 5-to-15-year-old campers.  (About $495/week)

Academic Camp

Brainiac kids—those who score above the mean on your SAT or ACT tests (and don’t have to look up the alternate definition of “mean”)—can join their bookish buddies at the Johns Hopkins CTY camps. 

CTY camp is like regular school, it’s also a lot like college.  Mia J. Merrill, a junior at Park starting her fifth season, appreciates the imaginative course variety. “Instead of just English or just biology, you can take Utopias and Dystopias (a lit course),” Mia says, or you can take Neuroscience.  What Mia likes best about CTY camp are the far-out courses and comforting/quirky traditions.  For instance, near the end of every dance, “Stairway to Heaven” streams, and “American Pie” is always the final song.  “During ‘American Pie,’ everybody holds hands in a huge circle in the beginning, but then we all run into the center.  Everybody knows all the words, plus we have callbacks and gestures.”  One of the few things she hates about CTY is that cell phones are off limits everywhere but the dorms.  Hey, they may be your brain surgeons tomorrow, but they’re still your teenagers today. (Prices vary; inquire via the website.)

Music Camp

If you’ve caught your kids playing air guitar or singing into the hairbrush at least as many times as they’ve caught you, forget the camps with rocks and find a camp that rocks. At DayJams, kids and young adults 8-25 take instrument lessons (guitar, bass, drums, vocals, keys, and horns), write songs, design logos and posters, and go to band practice.  Guitar hero and shredmaster Tobias Hurwitz founded the camp more than a dozen years ago.  (One Week—$600; Two Weeks—$1,140)  Likewise, School of Rock, with sessions in Baltimore and Annapolis, has similarly structured camps, though each is focused on a particular band or, for the more experienced musicians, the crafts of songwriting and recording. (Music—$495; Recording or Songwriting—$795)

Music camp isn’t limited to rock.  Check out other note-worthy programs, such as the Drumset and Percussion Camp at Goucher College, Bethesda’s Bach to Rock, the Baltimore String Orchestra Camp at Garrison Forest School, and music camps at McDaniel College in Westminster. 

Art Camp

You may have enough friendship bracelets, but you can never have too many magic lanterns.  Visionary Art Museum’s summer camp can light up summer days and nights, with week-long workshops in Magic Lantern making, screenprinting, and stop-motion animation.  (Call for pricing: 244-1900 x232) And if those courses don’t float your kids’ kinetic sculpture boats, enroll them in the Young People’s Studios Summer Art Camp at MICA.  First through twelfth graders can choose from courses like “Lines, Dashes, Dots! (Grades 1-3), “Kinetic Art: Kites, Mobiles, and More (Grades 3-5),” and “’Scapes’ from Observation and Imagination (Grades 6-8).” High school kids can take courses designed to help them prepare their portfolios.  (About $290-$320 per course.)  For more artsy craftsy summer sessions, check out the Walters Art Gallery and the BMA, as well as other local museums and universities.

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