Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) Nature Camp
Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) Nature Camp

George Mason University

Potomac Arts Academy at George Mason University, Fairfax

Right around the corner, you’ll find George Mason University, a college that has been deemed “up-and-coming,” especially over the past few years. The NoVA-based university offers a wide array of camps and programs for your child to partake in this summer ranging from academics and arts to athletics and nature camps.

The vast majority of camps offered at GMU are under the Potomac Arts Academy umbrella.

The Potomac Arts Academy is the community arts division of the Fairfax campus of GMU. With over a dozen camps—ranging from film and video to art, music and computer game design—to choose from under PAA, as well as a number of freestanding programs, there’s definitely a perfect fit for your child to be a Patriot this summer.

This summer, the Potomac Arts Academy will be offering three photography workshops in July. These workshops allow participants to experience the excitement of watching a photo transform before their very eyes. Campers will get to work in a darkroom, learn photography techniques through a number of hands-on activities and so much more. No camera or previous experience is required for the camp.

Courtesy of Potomac arts Academy
Courtesy of Potomac arts Academy

Does your child have a knack for creativity? Maybe it’s time you take a peek at one of the four arts camps that PAA has in store for the summer. Whether children want to learn to express themselves by exploring various art mediums such as drawing, painting, collage, bookmaking and crafts and learning new technical skills each day, or they want to take an imaginative trip around the world to be exposed to diverse cultures and experience multiple art media, the Potomac Arts Academy has them covered. With camps for ages 6-18, there’s an option for everyone.

If dancing his or her heart out is your child’s idea of time and energy well-spent, look no further than the Summer Dance Intensive offered through the School of Dance. SummerDance at Mason is a two-week dance program for high school students interested in preparing for college dance programs and future careers in dance. From July 12-26, the School of Dance faculty will coach and inspire SummerDance students through the Make the Leap from Student to Artist! program. Mason SummerDance is dedicated to inspiring artistry and cultivating the unique gifts of each dancer. Dancers will have the opportunity to train in a wide variety of techniques under the direction of the School of Dance’s esteemed faculty members who have worked with famed choreographers such as Mark Morris, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Lar Lubovitch, George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. This program is ideal for rising juniors and seniors who are interested in auditioning for college dance programs. Attendees receive first-rate dance training with an authentic taste of college life at George Mason University.

Courtesy of Potomac arts Academy
Courtesy of Potomac arts Academy

Think you have a potential future Academy award-winner on your hands? Allow your child to hone in on his or her acting skills with Acting for Young People, a camp that has been running for 15-plus years and focuses on professional-level training in a supportive and fun environment. The theater programs start at age 5 and go through age 18. They run weekly for six weeks and culminate in a performance for friends and family on Fridays. Each one-week session has a separate theme that determines the activities that will be held throughout the week, which allows returning campers to experience something new each time they participate.

Or perhaps your child would rather be behind the camera than on stage? No worries; there is a Film and Video Production program as well. In this program, kids will learn story development, scriptwriting, preproduction, production and post-production and create their own short film.

Do “Minecraft” and “World of Warcraft” dominate your kids’ free time? Do they have a love for all things video games? Perhaps it’s time you introduce them to the world of game design with camps offered through the Mason Game and Technology Academy. The courses range from “Minecraft” modding, which teaches kids how to modify games, to java programming, game art and animation and much more.

The Potomac Arts Academy will also be offering a wide array of music programs this summer. From Music Recording and Musical Showcases to a variety of instrumental workshops, children will have the opportunity to strum, drum and sing their hearts out to the tune of these courses.

And, as aforementioned, there are a few camps—ranging from athletics to nature—outside of those that are under the partnership with the Potomac Arts Academy. Not all details are listed at this time, so you must keep an eye on the homepage for updates.

However, for those that are listed, especially if your child is an animal lover, be sure to take a peek at the FONZ Nature Camp. Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) Nature Camp provides a space for campers ages 13-18 to become one with nature. Through a number of outdoor activities and nature explorations, campers are able to become more scientifically inclined when it comes to nature and the environment. -Rebecca Norris


Click to see the programs


(March 2015)