Living in a beach town, there was little impetus to leave in the Summers for camp. Instead we spent our days at the beach or pool with our nanny. After moving to Philadelphia as an adult, I soon learned that there was a huge camp culture I had missed out on as a child. There are many reasons a child may attend Summer camp. For some, it is a necessity due to a dual working household. For others it provides enrichment to prevent the academic Summer slide. While for others it may provide an enrichment of experience: city kids going to the country, country kids going to the city. Or it may balance your child’s academic interests: a bookworm may attend a sports camp, or an athlete may attend an art camp. Whatever the reason though, the Philadelphia area has you covered with many, diverse options.
I recently attended the Philadelphia Family & Main Line Parent Summer Camp Fair at the Franklin Institute. Below is a partial (sorry if your camp was excluded) list of local camps with a few highlights that I learned at the Fair. There are many factors to consider, such as location, cost, timing, content, etc., so view their individual websites for details and talk to your child to find the best fit.
Monroe Township, NJ
Ages: Pre-K to 6th grade
I know a lot of kids who love this camp and I have to admit it looks exactly like what I imagine summer camp to look like. Imagine 66 acres of sports fields, a giant pool with a waterslide, a lake full of kayaks, a ceramics studio, theatre, mini golf, zip line, and archery. Located in the New Jersey Pinelands, so as a pediatrician, I have to advise that you watch out for ticks! Also, Tall Pines is nut free, Celiac friendly, and has vegetarian options.
3000 West School House Lane, Philadelphia
Ages: 3-14 for day camp; 5-15 for varsity camps
Programs include specific camps for sports, chess, animation, film-making, robotics, Spanish language, sports broadcasting, and business. My son was excited about the Codecraft Academy Camp- Learning to Code in Minecraft, which unfortunately for him is only for 9-15 year-olds. I was excited to see Salvemos El Medio Ambiente, a Spanish immersion camp exploring environmental issues through hands-on science projects.
Ages: 6 and up
An 80-acre camp to learn hands-on experience in breaking and training young horses, preparing for horse showing, building jumper courses, daily riding lessons, and games. Students do not need to own a horse, but need to bring their own riding helmet and paddock boots.
2501 Lombard Street
Ages: Grade 1-6
TPS has weekly themed camps where kids explore sports, swimming, and gardening. I was particularly interested in their June 19-23 Survival Skills themed week, where students learn to pitch a tent, build a fire, hike safely, and practice orienteering skills. They also offer an overnight Wilderness Survival Camp for the middle school age. Or if wilderness isn’t your thing, they have a Hamilton themed camp July 10-14th. Save $5 with coupon code FI5OFF.
319 Lombard Street
Themed enrichment weeks for the Pre-K to 5th grade crowd include Global Friends (exploring cultures and histories around the globe), Mad Scientist’s Lab, and Battle of the Bands. Your 3rd-5th grader can join a Specialty Camp like the Mini United Nations the week of June 26th or learn about architecture by researching and exploring the city in Touch the Sky the week of July 31st. Students play on a turf field with playground and cool off in wading pools in between adventures.
Their slogan is “summertime the way it used to be” and from what I have heard, the days here do resemble my childhood. Innocent, unplugged, and magical are some of the words that Miquon uses to describe it’s camp. Highlights include swimming, crafts, drama, music, and nature. Located in a 10-acre wooded area, children jump with frogs in the creek, climb a rustic playground, and swim twice daily.
3260 South Street
Anthropologists in the Making is a camp that embarrassingly reminds me of the anthropology courses I took my first year in college, but for elementary school students! My favorite weeks are July 17-21st Body Art theme (“scars, tattoos, and piercings… oh my!”) and July 31-Aug 4 Medicine: Ancient and Modern (“discover ancient Egyptian cures that are still used today.”). Campers get to go behind the scenes at the museum and interact with professionals in archaeology and anthropology. I wish I could sign up!
1101 City Avenue
Ages: Pre-K to 12th Grade
Camps here include the standards of swimming, music/drama, arts and crafts, sports, and nature, but also opportunities to explore robotics, 3D printing, and fabrication. For students in grades 7-12, a Summer Scholars camp offers specialized, yet informal instruction in SAT prep, applied math for physical sciences, college application essays, and mathematics. Save with code TFTB10017.
1635 Market Street
Themed weekly camps include a field trip (Wissahickon Park, Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia Orchestra, etc), Dilworth Park splash play, dress up days, and a “snacktivity.”
271 North 21st Street
Ages: Pre-K to 9th grade
Focusing on the three S’s: “silliness, smiles, and science.” Campers get behind the scenes at new exhibits and do hands-on STEAM projects. What kid doesn’t want to spend their Summer exploding things? Of note, camps run until 4PM (which is late for Summer camp) and through the end of August (which is rare).
Camp here includes two studio sessions per day with playground breaks. Tweens can opt for ceramics, sewing, comics, and more as well.
500 Kenilworth Street
Know someone who might like a ninja or jedi camp? Themed weeks here include gymnastics, rock climbing, slack lining, dance, obstacle courses, yoga, group games and more.
1651 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
A highlight of this camp includes swim instruction in an indoor pool. For the 9-13 year-olds, there are Lego Robotics, Drone Making, and CSI themed camps. There is also an on-site playground, tennis courts, and turf field, which is amazing for its Center City location.
We have picked our Summer camps for 2017-2018 based on location, theme, and cost. I have chosen things that I think will help challenge my son so that he remains engaged academically over the Summer, but that also allow him to play, explore, and get messy. It is also important that there is enough time for us to connect as a family, so we’ll be taking some vacation time as well. It may be 40 degrees outside, but it is never to soon to start planning your Summer!
[I was NOT compensated for this post. I have no affiliation with the above camps. All opinions are my own. I am not responsible for the content of external sites. You should use your own informed judgement when making decisions for your child.]