Sleep away camps aren’t for everyone. Sunburns, dirty cabins and bunk beds can make a child dread summer vacation more than Monday mornings. Luckily Northern Virginia has many options for every kind of child, from the computer savvy to the future Nicklas Backstrom. Take advantage of being close to D.C. and sign your children up for the National Digital Media Academy’s summer camp or the Washington National’s summer camp. We found some of the best camps in the area for arts, technology, sports and science.
By Anne Elsea
The Art League
Alexandria Annex Art League, 305 Madison St., Alexandria; theartleague.org
Some children need a creative outlet to devote themselves to when school is out. Develop young artistic talent in a wide range of classes from drawing basics to drawing Manga comic characters with expressive eyes and creative costumes. There are many artistic mediums to choose from that would interest 5- to 13-year-olds. Art camps help teach children and teens how to channel their creative energy into a project and come up with something completely new. The Art League studio spaces in Alexandria can inspire campers to be more creative by meeting new friends also interested in art and teachers who are artists themselves. The League was founded in 1954 as an educational non-profit organization. It is now a multi-use facility that houses an art gallery, art supply store and a year-round art school.
Starting in June, the five-day camps have a different project to focus on each day, including painting, drawing, printmaking and sculpture. From June 16 through August 22, children have the opportunity to use a variety of crafts to design and create something they will be proud to show. The syllabus changes each week and the schedule is flexible for anyone who wants to sign up for a half day or full day in different art mediums. Week-long half day camps are $155 and week-long full days are $345 for general art camp. The campers are separated into groups of 5- to 7-year olds for general art camp and 8- to 13-year olds for other specialized camps. Materials are provided in all camps. Campers should bring their own lunch for the full-day camp.
Potomac Arts Academy
George Mason University, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax; potomacacademy.gmu.edu/summer/summercamps
The Potomac Arts Academy at George Mason University is an exciting mixed-medium camp that has options to appeal to a wide variety of children. Dance, music, film and video production, singing, computer game creation and acting camps are all under one roof at GMU.
For the musician in the family, try the strings, jazz, guitar, piano, woodwind or brass camps that can teach the basics of the craft or bring a camper to a new level of performance. For children who naturally take the spotlight or who might need some encouragement to get there, acting for young people camps run weekly June 30 through August 1. Or learn the song and dance of Broadway shows in the summer musical showcase camp June 23-28. Both camps are led by working professionals in the theater and acting industries who will teach children how to improve their acting and singing abilities in a fun, no-pressure environment. Both camps will be topped off by a finale performance for friends and family in George Mason University’s TheaterSpace.
Older children who want to learn a cool, new skill can learn how to produce films or create video games. In the film and video production camp, campers will get hands-on experience using video equipment and Final Cut Pro. By the end of the summer, campers will produce a short film that they have created from start to finish. Last year’s program was visited by faculty from George Mason’s Film and Video Studies department. The computer game institute shows teens what goes into app creation and how to code for a website and video game. Creativity, critical thinking and problem solving skills come together for an engaging summer camp in an exciting college setting.
Active Learning Camp
St. Stephens & St. Agnes School, 1000 St. Stephens Road, Alexandria; activelearningcamps.com
What’s the best way to get a teenager away from their video game consoles? Lure them to a camp where they can make their own video games.
Active Learning Camp is a national chess and video game creation program. There are three different kinds of camps to choose from at the Alexandria location. First is the Gamebuilder Video Creation Intro camp where trained camp leaders teach children ages 8 to 16 how to create classic arcade-style games like Asteroids and PacMan.
At the Gamebuilder Video Creation Cell Phone App camp, children will learn how to make more modern games for smart phones and tablets like Doodle Jump. The camps teach the children how to design their game world, create characters and enemies, develop a scoring system and move between levels. The camps are held at the St. Stephens & St. Agnes School in Alexandria. The camp goes from June 23 through June 27 with a morning and afternoon camp option, both camps are three hours long for $290.
The third camp option is the half-day Kodu camp. Kodu is a video game creation software developed by Microsoft. In this camp, children create worlds with realistic scenery and characters. After designing their characters they can battle, interact or complete tasks within their games. As the camp progresses, children will use their creativity to build levels with enemy objects, timers, dialogue and health requirements.
The fun doesn’t end with camp. On the last day, teachers show the children how to download their game so they can continue playing and developing it. The cost for a half-day Kodu camp and half-day Intro to Gamebuilding camp is $480.
Digital Media Academy
George Washington University, 2121 Eye St., NW, Washington; digitalmediaacademy.org
The Digital Media Academy’s George Washington University location is all about art in a digital era. Geared toward children who want a pre-collegiate camp experience, the camp teaches skills that most middle and high schoolers don’t learn in school. The academy caters to children with a range of interests. Whether it’s filmmaking, acting, robotics, Java programming or music production, the DMA is sure to have a camp for any creative young adult to explore a new field.
Using the latest technology, children can brag to their friends about what they created and built during camp. Java, LEGO EV3, Minecraft, Unreal Engine and C++ are just a few of the professional technology programs that the camps will teach children, all the while looking great on college applications. The camp also allows children to get a feel for what college will be like, by eating in the dining halls, staying in the residence halls (overnight students) and being on the grounds of George Washington University. During overnight student’s downtime, they can explore and utilize the new West Hall, which includes a digital media center, high-tech studio and a 150-seat black box theater.
Each camp splits into two groups, the child’s camp is for 8- to 12-year olds and the teen camp is for 13-to 17-year olds. Camp sessions start July 7 and go through August 1 with an option for a one- or two-week camp throughout the summer. The price for a child’s camp is $890 per week and the teen one-week camp is $1,095 for day student, $1,620 for an overnight student. Teen two-week academies are $2,015 for day students, $3,125 for overnight students. Spaces fill quickly and all are first come first serve.
Washington Capitals Summer Camp
Kettler Capitals Iceplex, 627 N. Glebe Road, Suite 800, Arlington; capitals.nhl.com
It’s the year of winter. Polar vortexes blasted NoVA with a chill and the Sochi Olympics made everyone fall in love with the cold weather sports. Continue the spirit this summer by skipping the pool and jumping on the ice.
The Washington Capitals offer summer camps for ice hockey players who have some experience on the ice and who want to take their game to the next level. All camps are held at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington.
Take away the new sport jitters and skip straight to the excitement of a new skill. The Capital’s mascot Slapshot will be an honorary camp director to teach children that hockey isn’t all about the goals, but fun, too.
The Slapshot’s Hockey Fun Camp has two dates this year, June 23-27 and July 21-25. The camp is held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. The cost of the camp for skaters is $495 and for goalies is $375. This camp is for hockey fanatics ages 6-12.
The Mite ADM Camp is for beginning players age 4-6 held July 14-18 and August 18-22 from 10:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. for $250. Shooting, stick handing and skating will be taught by instruction guided by USA Hockey’s American Development Model curriculum.
The Goalie Competition Camp will be held July 14-18 from 2:30 to 5 p.m. for $425. For children age 6-18 who are brave enough to be the last defense of the game, daily skill development will be tested with game-like situations throughout the camp. Campers must have at least one season of goalie experience at the House level or above.
The Deke, Score and Defensive Skills camp will be August 4-8 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Skaters will be $495 and goalies $375. Ages- 6-14. This camp teaches the offensive and defensive skills to make a “complete” player. Players must have House Level, Travel Level or Tier 1 experience for this camp.
The Capitals Team Play Camp will be August 11-15 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Skaters are $495, and goalies are $375. Ages 6-14. Put skills learned in other camps and practice to use in simulated game experiences. This is a full-day camp with exercises on and off the ice. Players must have House Level, Travel Level or Tier 1 experience for this camp. All participants must have full hockey gear and basic hockey skating skills to participate.
Washington Nationals Summer Camp
Multiple locations throughout Northern Virginia; washington.nationals.mlb.com
Round the bases wearing the red jersey with the cursive “W” the Northern Virginia area knows and loves as the Nationals’. Each day at the National’s Summer Camp will combine the physical principles of baseball with the vocabulary of the game taught by a staff of professionally trained coaches with experience on all levels of playing.
The head of curriculum of the Nationals Summer Camps is Roc Murray, a decorated baseball coach and professional scout from California. Murray designs the curriculum to benefit campers by giving them a “tangible skill set over a short period of time” that will provide players with a “springboard for future learning” according to the camp’s website.
This baseball lover’s dream camp is for the player of all abilities, regardless of gender, ages 5 to 13. There are three Northern Virginia locations this year. The Alexandria location is at Lee Recreation Center. The camp will be June 30 through July 3. Price for four-day camp is $465. The Oakton location is from July 14-18 at Flint Hill School. The McLean camp is held at The Potomac School held August 11-15. Price for the camp is $549.
Players must bring cleats, a baseball glove, sunscreen, a water bottle, lunch and the camp uniform to each day of camp. At the end of the camp, players will get to ride a chartered bus to the Nationals Park to get closer to the action than ever before. They will also receive an autographed picture of a Washington Nationals player.
SCIENCE & NATURE
Mad Science Camp
Multiple locations throughout Northern Virginia; dc.madscience.org
Forget boring classroom lectures and projects. Mad Science Camp takes a subject that gets a bad reputation as boring when taught by school science teachers, and makes it a fascinating and engaging way to spend the summer.
There are seven camps to choose from and additional specialty camps at certain locations. The camps are Crime Scene and Chemistry, Red Hot Robots, 321 Blast Off, Science in Motion, Eureka!, Secret Agent Lab and Earth, Space and Beyond.
Camp capacity is 10 to 40 children per camp depending on the location to keep the focus on the child’s learning. Children who love solving problems, seeing how things work and investigating will love the Mad Science Camp. Crime Scene and Chemistry teaches campers how cells and organs work and how the science behind life can solve a crime. Red Hot Robots is a full-day camp that takes a look into how different types of robots work. Campers will also build their own robot to play with at home. 321 Blast Off is a full-day camp that looks exclusively at rockets and the physics that make them fly. Science in Motion is a general science camp with a new syllabus each day. Eureka! is for campers 5- to 12-years old who want to learn how things work and look up to famous scientists. Secret Agent Lab teaches the science of solving mysteries and how to use spy equipment. Earth, Space and Beyond investigates outer space, the Earth and become a young astronaut for a week.
With locations in Alexandria, Arlington, Springfield, Chantilly, Fairfax, Herndon, Mclean and Vienna there is sure to be a camp close to home that makes the morning drop off easier on working parents.
The camps have a full-day option from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for $315 per week and a half-day option from 9 a.m. to noon or 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. for $185 per week. Campers ages 6 to 12 are welcoming depending on the camp.
SCIENCE & NATURE
Curiosity Zone, 43135 Broadlands Center Plaza, Ashburn; curiosityzone.com
Clever 4- to 8-year olds who need an intellectual outlet will love the Curiosity Zone’s summer camps. For children who are fascinated by magic, the Wizards & Magic camp will teach the science and fun behind tricks that can be performed long after camp is over. For the fish of the family, explore the sea creatures, vessels and mysteries of the deep sea in the LEGO/Ocean Adventure Camp. Campers will use LEGOs and other materials to build submarines, robots and underwater buildings while learning other fun facts about the sea and what lives in it.
The Curiosity Zone also has two camps that can help an elementary school child explore career options. Animal lovers and nurturing children can learn what it takes to be a vet in Veterinarian Camp. Doctor Camp will teach children about the bodily functions, and explore how an ear, eyes, reflexes and more work.
All camp tuition includes science gear so campers can continue playing and using the skills they learned in summer camp. Every camp is a weeklong and has options for half-day and full-day camps. Full-day campers get lunch breaks and playtime at parks, museums and indoor game centers. Half-day camps run 9:30 a.m. to noon or 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. and cost $189 plus $40 for materials. Full-day camps run 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and cost $315 plus $40 for materials. If a camper doesn’t have a Curiosity Zone membership, there is an additional $25 fee per family. Families that sign up siblings for a discount.