Summer smarts: Nine educational camps your kids shouldn’t miss

ID Tech Summer Computer STEM Camp. Photo: Courtesy camp ID Tech Summer Computer STEM Camp. Photo: Courtesy camp

When school lets out, capitalize on Charlottesville’s amazing camp offerings to make this summer one your kids will remember. From outdoor survival to modern dance to computer programming, the following camps are guaranteed wins.

Nature and outdoors

Triple C Camp

An area favorite for 25 years, TCC has options for day and overnight campers ranging from ages 2 to 14. With the bulk of the camp’s counselors being former attendees, that lengthy history breathes, begetting cool legends—like rumors of an underground cave where the resident wizard lives—that are passed down from year to year, decade to decade. Situated on over 40 acres, activities emphasize the outdoors and include pony rides, go-karts, sports, swimming, inflatable obstacle courses, art and crafts and weekly field trips.

Living Earth School. Photo: Courtesy Living Earth School
Living Earth School. Photo: Courtesy Living Earth School

Living Earth School

Located at the foot of Afton Mountain, owner Kate Hubb describes LES as “a nature-based educational organization with programs drawing from both ancient and modern wisdom.”

“We help students connect with the natural world and empower them to become better caretakers, mentors and leaders,” she says. Featuring a variety of summer programming for children ages 4 to 17, LES offers pre-school, day camp and overnight options. Its trademark overnight camp, Earth Roots, allows kids to explore forests, swim in mountain streams and, Hubb says, discover “the magical world of nature through building natural shelters, making fires without matches and preparing wild edible plants for food.”

Virginia Outside’s Charlottesville Outside Camp

Specializing in week-long adventure camps and conducted in conjunction with the American Canoe Association, the COC offers an intensive outdoor experience for fourth- through eighth-graders. “From fishing, to mountain biking, to kayaking, to snorkeling, to just picking up rocks in the river to see what’s there,” says camp instructor Josh Hage, “we encourage our campers to explore.”

Science and learning

Space Explorers Residential Camp

A program of James Madison University’s John C. Wells Planetarium, camps are three weeks long and geared toward students in second to 10th grade. “We seek to inspire and excite the next generation of scientists and engineers,” says Shanil Virani, the planetarium’s director. “The goal is to demonstrate to students that science is constantly changing, constantly uncovering new clues about why our universe is the way it is…We’ll ask questions and then use the scientific method to try to answer them.”

Mountaintop Montessori Summer Seed Camp. Photo: Courtesy camp
Mountaintop Montessori Summer Seed Camp. Photo: Courtesy camp

Mountaintop Montessori Summer Seed Camp

Mountaintop’s educational camp seeks to connect kids to the food they eat in a fun and adventurous way. The program has a variety of two-week-long offerings catering to a broad range of campers from pre-K to high schoolers. “Attendees will enjoy the special flavors of food cooked with friends,” says Patricia Colby, head of school. “Seed campers will explore topics in zoology, botany, art and geography.” Counselors, Colby says, “offer gentle guidance that comes from years of experience.”

ID Tech Summer Compute STEM Camps

Hosted jointly with the University of Virginia, this summer’s camp will mark its 13th anniversary. ID Tech offers elementary schoolers and older students with a passion for technology the ability to explore structured courses in coding, game design, app development, web design, videography, photography and much more using brand-name products like Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, Google and Microsoft. With a student-teacher ratio of 8:1, the camps emphasize hands-on instruction.


Light House Studio Summer Camp

Founded in 1999, this award-winning filmmaking education center offers summer workshops for 8- to 18-year-olds as well as a weeklong intensive camp for high schoolers interested in film and videography. The workshops range from basic to advanced techniques and provide access to skilled professionals and top-notch equipment.

“We seek to develop students’ artistic vision,” says education director Amanda Patterson. “We believe in fostering collaboration and community, the creativity of young minds and the benefits of a hands-on, mentor-based approach.”

Wilson School of Dance Summer Camp. Photo: Courtesy camp
Wilson School of Dance Summer Camp. Photo: Courtesy camp

Wilson School of Dance Summer Camps

Founded in 1977, WSD features summer offerings for kids ages 3 and up. “Whether students hope to become professional dancers or are looking for a fun physical outlet, we offer excellent instruction in a friendly, inspiring atmosphere,” says founder and director Juanita Wilson Duquette.

The camp’s teachers offer individual attention at all levels of experience, with dance styles including jazz, ballet, tap, pointe, lyrical, Broadway, hip-hop, contemporary and princess ballet.

The Virginia Consort Choral Academy Summer Camps

This weeklong camp offers high school-aged students the opportunity to study and explore musical opportunities at a professional level. Guided by local choral directors, students will prepare and perform a choral masterpiece with soloists and an orchestra under the direction of veteran music director and conductor Judith Gary. According to Gary, the staff is “dedicated to creating an exciting and enriching educational experience that helps students more fully understand music theory, vocal production, music history and conducting technique.”

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