Editor’s Note: We know, we know. It’s only January, and we’re already talking about summer camp. But if you act now, you can often take advantage of early bird registration discounts, and you won’t find yourself scrambling late spring, trying to figure out what to do with the kids this summer. Happy planning!
Not every child thrives on shooting hoops and batting balls. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t active options for kids who prefer art over soccer. From yoga and self-defense training to hiking and horseback riding, many camps offer a range of activities that encourage kids to find their groove and move.
“Because every child is different, and they are not all into sports or dance or art, it is important that camps offer many options for kids to choose from, but also have options for the kid to create their own activities,” says Ana Miro Herrans, an art education specialist and owner of The Artsy Wagon.
These diverse camps offer exciting activities for kids who need a little nudge to budge.
Host a mini camp
Kids can roll out of bed and jump into action when The Artsy Wagon pulls up to their home. A host family provides the space, and The Artsy Wagon staff brings a customized art curriculum based on space and children’s ages, interests and abilities. Activities include mural and liquid chalk painting, obstacle courses, stretching and freeze dance in their living rooms.
“We mix literature, math, science, art history, fine- and gross-motor-skill development and vocabulary acquisition with activities such as art and crafts, theatrical games, movement, music and STEAM activities,” Herrans says.
The maximum group size is 10, and kids should be within three years of age. All materials are provided, including furniture protection, and each child receives a keepsake apron. The Artsy Wagon provides fliers to help the host family invite other kids. The theme options for this year include “Pirates and Mermaids,” “Unicorns and Rainbows,” “Little Einsteins” and “Crazy Time Machine.”
Customize your camp
Youth in grades 1-9 go goo-goo over Gaga, Camp Los Encinos’ most popular activity, which is played like dodgeball but individually with 10 or more players in a circular walled-off area. It’s one of many activities they can choose during daily or weekly activities at the Encino camp. During registration, kids customize their camp experience with options such as sports, games, cooking and yoga.
“Mornings begin with singing and dancing to get the blood circulating,” says Jay Falk, Los Encinos School’s communications director.
In addition to organized sports, the camp provides hula hoops, balls, jump ropes, flying discs, tetherball, inflatable bounce houses, water slides and other activities throughout the day. Weekly field trips include visits to trampoline centers, bowling alleys, roller rinks and other spots to get the joints moving. Camp dates: June 13-July 29.
Camps for the curious
At the Pasadena Waldorf School Summer Camp in Altadena, kids entering grades 1-8 dabble in their areas of interest, from science and nature to art/design and more. The themed camps, which include gardening, games, puppetry, fine arts and crafting, take place mostly outdoors. Whether it’s an experiential activity, a structured game or exploring wooded acres, kids spend a lot of time outdoors and moving. Camp dates: June 13-July 15 and July 25-Aug. 5. The week of July 5-8 is a four-day camp; otherwise it is a five-day camp.
“It’s Time to Shine” is this year’s theme at Stratford School’s summer@stratford camp, which has locations in West L.A. and Altadena. The school tailors its academic, specialty and day camps to reflect its motto summa spes, summa res (“highest hopes, highest things”). Kids in grades 1-5 are encouraged to be curious and discover their skills and passions through the camp’s signature activity blocks that revolve around science and nature, creative and performing arts and sports and games. Camp dates: June 13-Aug. 13.
Empowering girls through self-defense
Empowerment Summer Camp for Girls teaches girls ages 6-17 self-defense skills and includes activities such as yoga, core workout, water sports and dance — all designed to empower girls in a supportive sisterhood environment.
They’re grouped by age for most activities but participate together for others during the 10-week camp (students can join for one or more weeks). The self-defense training teaches girls how to use their bodies to survive attacks, while empowerment workshops focus on a weekly topic, such as building self-awareness and confidence. “Through these activities, they will feel stronger physically, regardless of whatever physical abilities they started with,” says Nelson Nio, founder of SHIELD Women’s Self Defense System in Playa del Rey.
And while the main objective is to empower girls, it’s also about fun. “Oh, and we buy ice cream on the beach for everyone once a week,” Nio says. Camp dates: June 13-Aug. 19.
Nurture bodies in nature-based camps
Transportation (included in camp tuition) is provided to Cali Camp’s woodsy location in Topanga Canyon, where various activities await kids ages 3-15.
“We have a good variety of physical, creative and intellectual activities, which helps our campers have a balanced day,” Camp Director Kassandra Wilsey says.
Cali campers enjoy daily swimming and a variety of classic camp activities, from horseback riding to go-karts, rock climbing and zip lining. There’s also dance, arts and crafts and drama in addition to sports, pingpong, foosball and even some Harry Potter Quidditch. The most popular activities are horseback riding, backyard games and sports, the high-ropes course, martial arts and aerial arts. Camp dates: June 13-Aug. 12.
Situated at the base of Angeles National Forest in Altadena, the family-run Summerkids Camp offers ages 5-15 gardening, games, crafts, cooking, archery, sports, hiking and more on a 56-acre property with meadows, a stream, pool and lodge. “Campers are given the opportunity to choose what they want to do. In a day, your campers may have as many as 50 different choices,” Director Cara DiMassa says.
Depending on kids’ interests, they can hike on trails, harvest squash from the garden, build a fort in the nature center, swim and more. Kids eat lunch and snacks under 100-year-old trees near a stream. Camp dates: June 14-Aug. 6. Campers can sign up for two-week sessions.
Slip away to sleepaway camp
Rise and shine at the Webb Schools Junior Scholars Summer Program, ideal for ambitious seventh, eighth and ninth graders with a passion for discovery and exploration both indoors and outdoors.
Campers learn what makes the world tick through a mix of academic and physical activities during their stay at the boarding school, nestled at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains. They also engage with peers from around the world.
Webb offers four academic tracks — paleontology, science and engineering, digital and global ethics — that enable kids to work with paleontologists and visit Webb’s observatory. Field trips include beaches and tide pools and hiking in local mountains. Under supervision, students live in dormitories and have full access to the aquatic center, gymnasium, fields, tennis courts and more.
Campers can sign up for one or both two-week sessions (there’s a bridge program for those who stay between sessions). Camp dates: July 8-17 and July 19-28.
Not all kids are cut out to be athletes, but traditional sports aren’t the only way to stay healthy and fit. These camps are sure to entice even your most devout couch potatoes to get moving — and have a blast — this summer.
Mimi Slawoff is a Valencia-based journalist and mother of three adult children. Follow her on Twitter @Mimitravelz and Instagram @Mimitravels.