Ah, summer camp. Bonfires, s’mores, archery, swimming, and… climbing the tallest mountain on Mars? Summer camp isn’t what it used to be. While there are still plenty of traditional summer camps, many are branching out and providing unique programs that cater to kids with specific interests. Seriously, try Googling “motocross summer camp,” “manga summer camp,” or better yet, “zombie survival summer camp.” Go ahead, I’ll wait.
See, there really is a camp for that. To give you an idea of what fantastic options abound, I’ve compiled information on some awesomely nerdy camps, below.
What kind of nerd would I be if my article about unique camps didn’t include Space Camp? Since June 1982, Space Camp, based out of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Hunstville, Alabama, has been the camp for nerds. It is a paradise for lovers of STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Campers (referred to as “trainees”) get to experience 1/6th gravity, construct model rockets, participate in simulated shuttle missions, and, on the Mars climbing wall, feel the burn as they attempt to scale the tallest mountain on Mars. Space Camp is for children ages nine through eleven. Your nerdy tween doesn’t have to be disappointed, however, because a more advanced program, Space Academy, is offered for twelve through fourteen year olds. If you have a STEM-loving teen who still wants to be an astronaut after all these years, Advanced Space Academy, for ages fifteen through eighteen, will be their Nerdvana. Oh, and don’t worry, parents. If your inner child is pouting because Space Camp didn’t exist when you were young, I have good news for you — they offer an Adult Space Academy. Are you packing yet?
For more information, check out their website at: http://www.spacecamp.com/
Cub Creek Science Camp
If your child loves science, but prefers biology to technology, it is a good bet that they will enjoy Cub Creek Science Camp, which is located at Bear River Ranch, in Rolla, Missouri. Seriously, this camp has its own zoo — it’s an animal lover’s dream! Cub Creek offers an Adopt an Animal program, a week-long program during which each child chooses their favorite animal, and takes responsibility for all of its care, feeding, and maintenance. For the nerdiest (and least squeamish) of animal lovers, they offer a Jr. Vet program. The kids in the Jr. Vet program get to do some pretty cool (and occasionally gross) stuff, like learn to identify, and treat, internal parasites, learn how to give injections by practicing on an orange, learn how to suture, and even watch a real spay or neuter surgery be performed by a local veterinarian.
If you think your seven through seventeen year old child would get a kick out of Cub Creek Science Camp, you can find out more at: http://www.bearriverranch.com/
Hollywood Stunt Camp
Do you have an active nerdling who isn’t too interested in mainstream sports? Or perhaps your kid is not as active as you would like him to be, because he spends so much time watching television and movies? Hollywood Stunt Camp, a specialty program at Pali Adventures in Running Springs, California, may be just the camp you’re looking for. The instructors, who are professional stuntmen, will teach your child swordplay, hand to hand combat techniques, how to choreograph a fight scene, and how to safely fall from very high places. The campers even get to perform their own stunt show for the rest of the camp. Honestly, my words can’t really do the activities justice; check out the video on the Hollywood Stunt Camp website (listed below) to see the amazing stunts, falls, and fight choreography for yourself. My favorite part of the video is where the campers practice controlled falls from the roof of a building. Yeah, that’s right. They jump off a freaking building.
Pali Adventures also offers some other unique options, such as Broadcast Journalism, Flying Trapeze and Aerial Arts, Movie Make-Up Camp, and Secret Agent Camp, just to name a few. The website for Pali Adventures is: http://www.paliadventures.com/. For more information specifically about Hollywood Stunt Camp, check out http://www.paliadventures.com/specialties/hollywood-stunt-camp/.
Role Playing Games Camp
Dungeons and Dragons is to nerds as popcorn is to movie theaters. You can go to the movies and not get popcorn, but the whole experience is not as satisfying. Likewise, you can be a nerd and not play Dungeons and Dragons (or any other role-playing game), but you are missing out on part of the traditional geek experience. Role-playing games teach strategy and teamwork, and require an active imagination and story-building skills. If your young nerd is into RPGs (the tabletop kind, not the video game kind), or if you would like to expose your child to the glorious nerdiness of RPGs for the first time, consider sending them to Role Playing Games Camp at Independent Lake Camp, in Orson, Pennsylvania. Small groups of campers play games such as Dungeons and Dragons, Star Wars, and Magic: The Gathering. Being a young nerd can sometimes be lonely, but rest assured, if you send your kid to Role Playing Games Camp, they will be in good company. Among like minds, your child will feel comfortable enough to really let their geek-flag fly. Campers will go on quests, fight monsters, and become heroes together, forming friendships to last a lifetime.
For more information about Role Playing Games Camp, take a look at https://independentlake.com/tour/rpg.aspx
Emagination Computer Camp
Okay, Nerds With Children, fess up. Is your kid better with computers than you? Don’t be embarrassed; it happens. Kids today are using technology from an early age, and often have an easier time picking up new technology than us old, stuck-in-our-ways, fuddy duddies. If your kid’s life revolves around computing and video games, consider sending them to Emagination Computer Camp this summer. There are four different Emagination locations, on college campuses in Illinois, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. Campers get to choose three different technology workshops to take during their two-week stay. These workshops range from creating images with Photoshop, to creating iApps, and even designing video games. Instead of letting your kids stagnate in front of video games this summer, send them to camp to make their own!
Information about Emagination Computer Camp can be found at http://www.computercamps.com/.
Was your child’s favorite activity not listed among the camps above? If your kid has a specific interest, you can always Google it. However, for a more focused search, you can input detailed information about the type of camp you’re looking for at http://find.acacamps.org/, the website of the American Camp Association. If you don’t find what you’re looking for right away, change the search parameters and keep looking. Most likely, you will find a camp for that.