Earlier this week, I posted a tidbit on how to keep your family’s summer full of science. One other way to add a splash of learning fun to your kids’ summer is to look into the day camps offered in your area. Since I live in Pittsburgh (and I must say, we are spoiled with the resources we have in this city!), my suggested camps are a bit biased to the general Western PA area. However, some quick searching online will most likely reveal some exciting opportunities no matter you are. Start with your local museums and even universities. They often partner with organizations for fun educational camps.
If camp costs are in issue, which they most certainly can be, check to see if scholarships are offered before going another direction. Many of the camps listed below have funding ready to help families with the cost, especially if multiple kids are involved. And if that doesn’t work out, I will say this: Don’t Underestimate Your Local Library. Besides Vacation Bible School, I only went to camps a few times as a kid myself, but we took part my local library’s activities on a very regular basis. In Pittsburgh, we have the fantastic Carnegie Library that offers classes and programs for all ages—toddlers, kids, teens, and adults. Take advantage of that! Even if you go to camp!
Pittsburgh Camps with A Science or Nature Theme
Pittsburgh Park Conservancy— Go outside! Get muddy! Learn about the habitats of western Pennsylvania! It will be glorious J Their camps run for 3 years olds up to kids just finishing 7th grade. http://www.pittsburghparks.org/summer-camps
Carnegie Museum of Natural History—I’ll admit, I love animals and I love the outdoors, but the museum has a lot of local institutions beat when it comes to variety. Offering different-themed camps almost every week—plus nature camps out at their field station, Powdermill Nature Reserve in the Laurel Highlands—I would be willing to bet my Wonder Woman mug that there is something for everyone through the museums camps. http://www.artandnaturalhistory.org/camps/
Carnegie Science Center—Like the natural history museum, the science center features a variety of different camps focusing on anything from Mars to robotics to the chemistry of the kitchen. There are different topics every week for the different age groups (ages 4-12+), and they do a fantastic job of showing how science is mixed into so many tiny corners of our everyday lives! And they do it with games and snacks. Really hard to go wrong with snacks. http://www.carnegiesciencecenter.org/programs/summer-camps/
Animal Friends— A creative approach to teaching children the responsibility of taking care of animals, the Animal Friends shelter offers a day camp that invites children ages 4-17 to learn about the care and training of companion animals. Mixed in with crafts, games, and age-appropriate activities, the camps sell out quickly, but, I’ll be honest, sound awesome! http://www.thinkingoutsidethecage.org/site/c.elKWIeOUIhJ6H/b.8627157/k.74A8/Camps_for_Young_Pet_Lovers.htm
National Aviary—As the only bird-focused zoo in the country, the aviary’s camps have a strong focus on avian conservation with a good dose of adventure mixed in! The camps are built beginning with 4 year olds who will learn what makes a bird a bird, and continue up to 18 year olds who will go in-depth with avian veterinary science and hands-on bird care. http://www.aviary.org/Summer-Camps
iD Tech Camp (CMU)—This goes a little out of my comfort zone, but if you have a budding young computer scientist, and she just can’t get enough of programming, the iD Tech Camps at CMU would be worth looking into. A part of a network of universities catching the future generation of computer scientists, the camp is an intensive program on CMU’s campus. The notable drawback is the tuition, which probably very limiting for families. However, I do believe they offer scholarships. https://www.idtech.com/locations/pennsylvania-summer-camps/pittsburgh/id-tech-carnegie-mellon-university/
Phipps Conservatory— Campers age 2-13 will learn all about caring for plants, uses for plants, conservation, and sustainability at the day camps of the Conservatory. Ok, well, the toddlers probably aren’t quite going for sustainability yet, but they will love playing with dirt and bugs 🙂 https://phipps.conservatory.org/classes-and-programs/for-children/seasonal-camps
Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium—If your kids love animals and maybe already have that little spark of passion for conservation, try zoo camp! Every day they’ll meet new animals, play games, sing songs, and learn about how they can help protect wildlife. Older campers will get to go behind the scenes at some of the animal exhibits and meet with keepers to learn about what it’s like to work with animal ambassadors. http://www.pittsburghzoo.org/Education/ZooCamp