Spend one, two, or three weeks in East Texas filled with friendly competition and all the activities a kid could ask for. Learn the ins and outs of sports broadcasting. And for children and teens dreaming of the big screen, take the first steps in starting an acting or filmmaking career. These are just a few unique camp ideas to help your camper’s summer extra special.
YMCA summer camps are all about fun and discovery. Kids and teens can explore nature, try new activities, and meet new friends at three properties in the DFW area. The Y offers outdoor onsite camps ranging from a few days to a few weeks, with day or overnight options. Campers have the chance to unplug from technology and forge meaningful memories with days full of outdoor activities.
Dallas area schools don’t close their doors when classes end. In fact, their doors are wide open and ready for a summer of fun with little ones as young as three years old, and kids all the way up to high school seniors.
Art, sports, and adventure camps are among the most popular options. The studious can also get a head start with courses for school credit during the summer. Here is a quick guide to a few area schools ready to make your child’s summer exciting.
Hannah Wimberly, 17, likes to take charge at two high school campuses, so attending a camp focused on leadership seemed like the logical thing to do.
The senior takes her classes at Jack E. Singley Academy and serves as Junior ROTC logistics officer for the Cardinal Battalion at MacArthur High School in Irving.
Last year, she attended Camp 43: Leader of One, Leader of Many at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum at SMU. She recently answered questions about her experiences at that camp.
Why did you decide to apply?
I decided to apply because I have always had a proclivity for leadership. I wanted to learn more about the art thereof. I am known for habitually taking charge in most situations presented to me. I wanted to improve my efficiency and capabilities. My AP U.S. History teacher is a docent at the Bush Library, and told me, and my class about Camp 43. He thought I would greatly benefit from the knowledge gleaned during my attendance. I also love history so getting to spend three days in a museum fascinated, and excited me.
Don’t count on meeting George W. Bush during Camp 43. Don’t count it out either.
The former president puts the free day camp for older teens on his schedule and likes to surprise participants if it works out, Sharon Brannon, education specialist for the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, said.
While there’s no guarantee of a presidential encounter, camp participants can count on meeting government and industry leaders, working on leadership skills, and role-playing top decision makers during a national crisis simulation, she said.
“We want to help create informed citizens who are doing more and may evolve into government officials we can put our trust in,” Brannon said.
Sometimes camp is about getting away for the summer — but sometimes it’s just as great to stay close to home. If you have a little scientist, engineer, or adventurer on your hands and you’re looking for a camp that doesn’t require leaving the city, Dallas has plenty of answers. Club SciKidz is a one-stop shop for all things science, offering a variety of camps that show how science works in the real world through fun-filled experiments and activities. For the tech-savvy or robot-obsessed, UT Dallas offers computer programming and coding camps for students K-12. For animal lovers, summer camps at the Dallas Zoo give students the chance to explore their wild side with furry friends in the animal kingdom.
While some kids spend the summer before their freshman year of high school away at camp, Matthew McCall spent his summer planning one.
McCall’s baseball camp, Matt’s Bats, gave around 20 kids the chance to play in the sun and enjoy baseball tips from professionals at the Johnny Oates Baseball Field at Mercy Street Sports Complex July 25.
The idea came when McCall, an incoming Highland Park High School freshman, was asked to host a children’s sports camp for Brother Bill’s Helping Hand, an organization that provides medical services, work training, and donations to West Dallas families in need.
McCall and his family had been volunteering for the organization about six months when assistant director Adair Neely suggested Matt host a basketball or soccer camp. McCall instead proposed a baseball camp, a sport he has played for five years.
In a converted Sears distribution center in the Southside on Lamar building, families can now visit the creative learning wonderland called SPARK on Saturdays.
For the past year, SPARK’s 11,000 square-foot facility — with its indoor playground, arts and crafts studios, giant Lite-Brite, music studios, stage, and Lego creation area — has been open only for scheduled field trips, events, workshops, and summer camps, co-founder and CEO of SPARK Beverly Davis said.
The aim: to foster future generations of arts and culture “appreciators and patrons” by teaching the creative process in a fun and interactive way.
“There’s a lot of perceived risk in here,” Davis said. “After this play … after pushing themselves and overcoming fears, we bring them together for their classes and we push them in developing their creativity. … It’s really cool to watch.”
When it comes to a kid-run business, the lemonade stand and neighborhood car wash markets are covered. However, when brothers Ryan and Blake Lieberman concocted the business venture of a sports summer camp as a junior and sophomore, respectively, at Greenhill, they decided to push the status quo.
Now in its fifth year of operation, Camp SPARK was born from the Liebermans’ idea of a sports camp “for kids, by kids.” Now, both honors business students at the University of Texas at Austin, they have passed the torch to a younger generation to keep the camp’s motto alive.
Campers have already begun signing up for the week of June 6 for the sports day-camp. Each day, boys and girls will meet separately to participate in skills training and sports competition with their counselors.
Camp SPARK includes a variety of sports for kids to participate in, from basketball to swimming to wiffleball to cheerleading. Around 14 high school counselors, called city partners, will lead approximately 60 campers in exercises at Episcopal School of Dallas this year. In the past, the camp has been held in the Liebermans’ back yard and at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.
“Parents can sign their kids up now, all the way up to the day of the specific camp day they want to attend,” Blake said. “We found it best to set it up that way. Some kids only come for one day, and some kids only sign up for one day to begin with and end up signing up for the rest of the week, too.”