Most of us are just now managing to forego our parkas for lighter outerwear but, summer will be upon us before we know it and with it, the need for summer care and camps for the kids. While it’s hard to imagine swimming, creeking and making braided lanyards at this time of year, many Columbus summer camp registrations opened up on February 1st and the rest follow closely behind. The most desirable camps fill up quickly so now is the time to start considering your options. In order to help, we’ve put together a four-part series to highlight the many camp options that exist in or near Central Ohio.
This week, we’ll examine summer mini-camp offerings in the area. Next week, we’ll offer up suggestions for full-day camps. After that, we will survey overnight camp options and finally, we’ll explore family camps. While we certainly can’t highlight every possible camp offering that exists in the Columbus area, we hope to provide you with some great ideas and insight about some fun and educational options that you might not have considered before.
Most people think of ‘summer camp’ as either the type of all-day affair that kids get to engage in during the summer while parents are at work or the ‘sleep-away’ adventures that they took part in during their own childhoods. A mini-camp, however, is neither of these! Rather, it’s an opportunity for kids to participate in a specific activity or type of recreation for several hours each day. These camps are great for younger kids who might not be ready to be away from home all day but need a chance to engage in new activities. They are also perfect for older kids who have a parent at home during the summer but want to explore specific interests. Mini-camps usually take place daily for a week at a time and span 2-5 hours each day. Lunch and before and after care are generally not provided. Mini-camp themes span the gamut from soccer clinics to princess parties and may focus specifically on one skill or interest (think: horseback riding mini-camp) or a variety of skills and interests (think: sports mini-camp where a different sport is explore each day.) While day camps are often restricted to school-age children, mini-camps are often offered for those as young as 2 or 3 years old and may even offer the opportunity for a parent to attend with his/her child.
One trend that is currently on the rise is that of school districts offering mini-camps led by local teachers during the first or second week after school is out. Most of these camps are educational in nature, last 3-5 hours per day and are only offered during one specific summer week. Generally, they’re priced quite reasonably, are well-managed and offered to students both in and out of the offering district. Slightly higher registration fees are usually charged to students from outside of the district, however. While these camps won’t keep your child busy all summer, they definitely have a ‘don’t miss’ list of activities for kids so be sure to start with your local school district when beginning your search for mini-camps this year. Everything from ‘Learn to Play Ukelele’ to ‘Geocaching’ to ‘Playing with Food’ can be found in district offerings throughout the city. Most elementary schools and district offices will have information about what the district plans to offer for the summer by this time in the school year.
Outside of school-based offerings, most mini-camps tend to fall into particular categories. Let’s look at some of the many types of mini-camps offered here in Central Ohio:
Sports mini-camps are abundant in Central Ohio and range from the specific to the general. Specific mini-camps for football, golf, soccer and even synchronized swimming are offered in the Greater Columbus area as well as more general ‘sampler’ sport mini-camps. Some examples of the types of sports mini-camps you might find are listed here:
- JumpBunch mini-camps: Offered through many of the local parks and recreation departments, JumpBunch camps add structured sports and fitness programs to their curriculum and introduce young children to a range of sports in a fun, positive manner. Website: Click Here
- Second and Seven Football Camp: Allows kids to enjoy three days of drills, contest and speakers with a focus on having fun. Kids will learn the fundamentals of football and be introduced to the concepts of teamwork, goal-setting, positive attitude and commitment. Website: Click Here
- Raymond Memorial Junior Golf Camp: Offered for boys and girls ages 5 to 17. . Camp will take place from 9:00 A.M. to 12:00 P.M., Monday through Thursday and 7:30 A.M. to 12:00 P.M. on Friday. Website: Click Here
- Synchronized Swimming Camp via Hilliard Parks and Recreation: Ohio Synchro Swim Club coaching team teaches swimmers the basic of synchronized swimming and helps campers create a brief routine and performance. Website: Click Here
Arts camps in Columbus take in a whole range of artistic endeavors. From drama to dance to the visual arts, Columbus offers a wide array of mini-camps that will allow your child to engage her creativity. Examples of some of those offerings:
- Columbus College of Art and Design Creative Summer Workshops – Half day workshops that teach age-appropriate studio art fundamental for younger children and single-subject workshops for teens. Mini-camps are offered by CCAD factulty, alumni and art professionals. Website: Click Here
- Uptown Art Camp-Weeklong, two-hour sessions that culminate in a gallery showing for all participants. Website: Click Here
- Fancy Nancy Camp at New Albany Ballet Company – Step into the world of Fancy Nancy as she prepares for her studio’s underwater Mermaid Ballet! This camp is designed for the youngest dancers, both boys and girls. Dancers will perform for their parents and enjoy a special tea party at the end of the week. Website: Click Here
- Columbus Children’s Theater Junie B. Jones Half-Day Camp – Mini-camps are offered to help unlock the creativity and confidence in every student through fun and interactive theatre education. Students will learn new skills, meet new friends and have an enriching experience. Website: Click Here
Nothing says summer like the opportunity to romp and play outside. Check out these outdoor mini-camps:
- Grove City Parks and Recreation’s Summer Play Zone – Children develop self esteem, independence and social skills through highly active games, outrageous play, special activities, free choice art and adventurous off-site trips at Summer PlayZone. Website: Click Here
- Hilliard JumpBunch Play Camp – Campers participate in various sports that are featured in this summer’s Olympic Games. Each day a different country and sport is explored. Activities include active games, music, crafts and stories. Website: Click Here
- Ohio Wildlife Center: Wildlife Summer Day Camp – Kids uncover thee mysteries behind wildlife at Ohio Wildlife Center’s camp. Owlets enjoy three (3) half-days (choose from either AM or PM sessions) of hands-on and engaging activities that will have them exploring different habitats, learning from a new study pond area and beubg up close with animal ambassadors. All camps include presentations, animal encounters, crafts, hikes and daily snacks. Website: Click Here
Mini-camps can also be a great way to promote learning throughout the summer. Some of the options that exist for making learning part of your child’s summer fun are:
- The Works Summer Camps – Campers discover the fun of history, art, science and technology. Each inventive program captures fundamental education concepts and presents them to campers in unique, engaging and relevant ways that spark imagination and creative thinking. The Works offerings include Magic Camp, Jr. Archeologist, Art, Artist and Curator, Coding and Engineering and Mini-Vet Camp. Website: Click Here
- Junior Achievement BizTown Summer Camp – Mini camps offering role-playing games focused on business ownership, investing, spending and charitable giving. Website: Click Here
- Math Plus STEM Camps – Weeklong half-day camps in topics like LEGO robotics and engineering, Math Mysteries, computer programming, entrepreneurship, chess, ACT/SAT math prep and more. Website: Click Here
As you can see, opportunities abound for kids to explore their interests, learn and play throughout the summer through a variety of mini-camp offerings.
Don’t forget to check back next week to learn about day camps and the amazing list of potential summer adventures that exist for kids in Central Ohio this year!