Dealing with middle schoolers is tough on so many levels. They’re technically able to stay at home alone during the summer. But what will they be doing?
Playing video games
Eating junk food
Inviting (unsavory) friends over
A week of that is fine. But not eleven. A whole summer of vegging out = brain rot + excess pounds.
So what to do when your kid has outgrown General Day Camp? Princess dance camp, Superhero adventures, and Wacky Wednesdays just aren’t going to cut it.
It’s time to get serious.
Choosing a day camp for your tween is not about daycare. It’s about enrichment and skills development. For a well-rounded summer, there are several key areas to cover:
Job training and community service
The word "academic" implies sitting at a desk working math problems. Unless you're taking an SAT prep course, this is not going to happen in summer camp. They wouldn't get many repeat customers. Camps use lots of hands-on activities and games as their teaching methods.
These days it’s all about STEM. Technology camps aren’t just computer programming; you can learn about 3D printing and video game design. At Engineering camps you can build a robot, a rocket, or a quadcopter. Science camps offer the exploration of forensics, veterinary medicine, and culinary chemistry. Math skills can also be honed in unexpected places like chess or gaming camps.
View more on STEM camps with links to metro area pages.
Creative writing, foreign language, business, and living history camps are examples of other academic options.
Browse by Other Academic camps in your area:
If you excel at an activity you do year-round, summer is the time to dive in for intensive training. If you’re a dancer you take a summer intensive. If you’re an actor you do a two-week performance camp. If you’re an athlete you may do a sports camp plus a conditioning camp.
Note that many of these require applications or auditions, and you may need to apply in January or earlier.
Social Skills & Personal Development
Some camps help tweens deal with the trials and tribulations of middle school years. They are usually led by licensed counselors or psychologists or dedicated organizations like Michelle in the Middle (Charlotte).
Leadership-themed camps explore leadership qualities, styles, motivation, and may delve into personality assessments to help students understand their strengths and preferences. Select Other Theme, Leadership in your search criteria.
Job Training & Community Service
At Babysitting camp your tween will learn how to change a diaper and perform CPR. This credential will put them ahead of neighborhood competitors. Babysitting is very lucrative, so think of this camp as an investment.
Lifeguarding camps are great for kids who want to spend the following summer sitting in the sun twirling a whistle.
CIT (Counselor in Training) sessions allow middle school kids to learn the ropes and hopefully get a paying camp counselor position in the future.
--> Use the keyword tool at the bottom of the search criteria: enter a topic and select Session Name.
Community service camps offer the opportunity to do something useful, and can introduce kids to local organizations as well as career ideas. If you have a service hour requirement for school, you can knock out a good chunk over the summer.
Browse by Community Service camps in your area:
Try Something New
As kids mature they are less likely to want to try new things. If you’ve never swung a bat, you may not feel comfortable going to softball camp with girls who are already competent. However, there are some activities for which prior experience is not common or necessary:
Photography – Middle school students are capable of learning about shutter speed and picture composition, and they enjoy blending technology and creativity.
Pottery – Molding clay can appeal to talented artists looking for a new medium, or those who can’t draw but want to design something with their hands.
Rowing or lacrosse – Usually not sports one commences at an early age.
Cooking – A great way to start having your tween help out with dinner prep at home.