For most kids last year, there was no summer camp. But times have changed. Whether you’re looking for a camp that gives your child fresh air and a break from screen time, an opportunity to safely socialize with other kids, or a chance to be active and learn something new (in-person or virtually), there are many options. So we decided to spotlight the coolest, most unique summer camps for 2021.
That’s right, summer camps are happening, but with a slight twist.
“This year, families are registering for camp a bit later than usual,” says Peggy Chang, CEO and Co-Founder of ActivityHero, an online directory and booking service for camps and classes. However, they are booking after considering everything from a camp’s theme to COVID health and safety protocols, location (indoors, outdoors, or online), and cost.
We turned to ActivityHero to help us round up a handful of the most unique summer camps taking place across the country and online.
CSI STEM Camp (online)
If you’ve got a teen “dying” to learn how to solve a crime, then check out this CSI and forensics program. Taught by current and former law enforcement detectives, students in grades 6-12 use STEM principles to learn how science is used to solve crime. Students will solve a missing persons case, learn how to make a magnifying glass, lift and collect fingerprints, create and examine blood splatter patterns, identify unknown powder, cast footprints, and much more.
Aerial Circus Endeavor Summer Camp (Houston, TX)
Kids with lots of energy and a flair for flying in the air will flip for the chance to join a circus this summer at the Aerial Circus Endeavor Summer Camp in Houston, Texas. Kids ages 5-15 learn aerial and ground circus techniques on the trapeze, lyra (aerial hoop), rope and more at this full-day camp.
Not in Houston? A Google search for “circus school” or “cirque school” and your city name will likely turn one up nearby.
Daydreamer’s Academy Animation Summer Camp (online)
Kids ages 8-15 learn how to create one-of-a-kind characters and bring them to life using their own voices and Motion Capture Animation in this animation summer camp. Each week, campers turn a new idea into an animated cartoon to share during a screening with family and friends on Friday.
Millennium Starship Explorers Camp
(multiple locations nationwide)
Campers, ages 5-11, can join the Jedi Training Academy at this Destination Science STEAM camp. In addition to building and programming their own Millennium Jedi Starship, kids will learn about space while they compete in galaxy challenges to earn a light-powered science saber.
Fashion Design & Fashion Upcycling (Los Altos, CA)
DesignX gives kids a chance to design their own stylish wardrobe from start to finish. Campers will envision, sketch, sew (by hand and machine), and embellish their own creations, and then model them in a fashion show at the end of camp. Students who participate in the upcycling portion of the program will also make coordinated accessories out of re-purposed materials. They will learn about sustainability, as they use fabrics and materials collected from their community to bring their visions to life.
Mountain Biking Camp (Portland, OR)
Campers in grades 2-7 who are ready for adventure hit the trails of local parks to practice their mountain biking skills during this week-long program by Avid4 Adventure. Experienced instructors teach campers technical skills including bunny hops and braking and shifting, trail etiquette, and basic bike maintenance like solving gear problems and changing flat tires.
Not in Portland? Many cities offer outdoor biking camps, so do that Google search to find one by you.
Photo Camp for Teens (Princeton, NJ)
This outdoor program, from Princeton Photo Workshop, gives teens a chance to learn how to become amazing photographers in just one week. On their daily adventures, campers will practice using their cameras to take landscape, portrait, architecture, and street photography. They will learn the basics, including lighting and composition, and will also meet virtually to learn digital photo editing and turn their images into art.
As you continue to determine what’s best for your family this year, check out these camps or search ActivityHero to find one closer to home that will help your child feel the joy and magic of summer once again.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Parentology is an ActivityHero affiliate and may make a commission from links in this post. All images used in this article on the most unique summer camps are stock photos for illustration purposes only and do not necessarily reflect activities happening at that specific camp.