Would you believe it? With the cold temps and our recent blanketing of snow, it finally feels like winter—and it’s time to sign up for summer camp again. MoCo kids are fortunate to have a great variety of camps to choose from, including a number nearby that operate on beautiful private school campuses.
Calling All SciKidz
Club SciKidz offers science and technology camps at Seneca Academy, 15601 Germantown Road in Darnestown, for kids ages 3.5 through 15. The one-week camps, which focus on a wide variety of fun topics from paleontology to the cosmos, computer coding and chemistry, run from June 17 through Aug. 9.
“The kids are learning, but they don’t really know it,” co-owner Andrea Gibble said. “The camps are a great combination of learning and fun.”
Each thematic camp offers 20 hands-on activities each week, or four each day. After a cool science all-camp demo at 9 a.m., individual camps complete four hour-long labs throughout the day, broken up by outdoor activities, lunch and snacks. “We’re a bit more structured than other camps,” Gibble explained, but since kids choose to enroll in a camp with a specific theme, “they like camp more and are more engaged.”
Gibble was a classroom teacher in Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) for 10 years, and she stressed that the summer slide is real. Some parents try to counteract the summer learning loss with tutoring and more traditional classroom work, but Gibble said that in her experience this more drill-based approach doesn’t work. When learning is active and kids are engaged, “learning stays fresh in the mind,” she said.
While working for BCPS, Gibble spent summers as a camp director for Club SciKidz. Club SciKidz was founded as Summer Science Day Camps, Inc. in 1997 by two teachers in Georgia. The company now has franchises in Maryland, Kentucky and Texas.
Victor Bowman, a BCPS teacher, started the Maryland Club SciKidz 10 years ago, and he retired last month. Bowman left the Maryland franchise in the hands of Gibble and another teacher, Matt Bogusz. Bogusz has taught in Howard County for four years, Gibble said.
Maryland Club SciKidz operates out of 15 locations in the state. All locations are heavily staffed with certified teachers. “The better our staff is, the stronger our programs are,” Gibble said.
Maryland Club SciKidz is entering its fifth summer at Seneca Academy, a location that Gibble said has really taken off. The 3.5- to 5-year-old camps at Seneca Academy are especially popular, she added, because they are taught by Seneca Academy
preschool teacher Sue Ann Salimbene.
For more information, visit www.clubscikidzmd.com/programs/camplocations/#location-84.
Butler Brings Good, Old-Fashioned Fun
At Butler Camp, kids “enjoy a great, old-fashioned kind of campy summer,” said Heather Pelkey, camp director. Parents can expect kids to arrive home hungry, tired and dirty—with a few tall tales, she added. “I love to express to parents that if I’m not sending them home hungry, tired and dirty, I’m not doing my job and please let me know.”
Pelkey is entering her fourth season as camp director, and she is joined this summer by Amy Hughes. “I’m a parent also. If they’re on this campus, I’m taking care of them like they’re my kid,” Pelkey said. “And Amy is very much the same way. The moms in us really come out and we take care of the kids while they’re here. Safety comes first and fun comes second, but that fun is right behind the safety.”
Butler camp sessions for kids ages 3 to 16 run in two-week sessions, with the exception of the equestrian program sessions that are three weeks. Fun is age-appropriate and emphasizes learning and exploration in an outdoor environment.
Older campers challenge themselves with Butler’s high ropes course, climbing wall, challenge/team building courses, archery, canoeing, tubing and fishing. Younger campers enjoy Butler’s 22 acres of wooded land by creeking, hiking, exploring nature and playing in the fields.
Butler’s equestrian summer camps work to develop well-rounded equestrians in a fun and safe environment. Certified instructors provide riding instruction on Butler’s experienced school horses. “We have an amazing equestrian program that campers can join at 6 years old. Many equestrian campers return year after year and enjoy wonderful relationships with our horses.”
Butler’s two- and three-week camp sessions give kids more time “to make those best friends, which makes it so much more legit and comfy,” Pelkey said.
A camp open house is planned for Sunday, March 24, 2 to 4 p.m. Butler Montessori is located at 15951 Germantown Road in Darnestown. Visit www.butlercamp.org for more information.
Build Your Best Summer at Whitman
Whitman Summer Camp, located at the Mary of Nazareth Catholic School campus, 14129 Seneca Road in Darnestown, is all about empowering campers to “be their true authentic selves,” according to Jenn and Doug Whitman, camp owners.
Longtime Montgomery County Public School educators—Doug Whitman is PE teacher at Rachel Carson Elementary— the Whitmans founded their camp 10 years ago. “Over the past decade of running camp, we have found that the campers who come back year after year to our camp have a sense of independence and ownership of their camp experience,” the couple shared.
Whitman Summer Camp runs for five weeks (July 8-12, July 15-19, July 22-26, July 29-Aug. 2 and Aug. 5-9) and offers five camps in one location—Day Camp, Sports Camp, Camp Open Road, LEGO Engineering and Mad Science.
Kids who enroll in the Day Camp can pick one class from seven options three times a day. That’s a total of 21 classes to choose from each and every day. With a variety of choices like yoga, dance party, nerf battle, sketchbook, tie-dye shirts and mini-chefs, campers can build their best summer. Each day includes a sports-related activity and cooperative game, followed by water play with giant water inflatables.
Sports Camp encourages kids to try a new sport or strengthen skills in a familiar sport. A variety of sports are played using indoor and outdoor spaces, including basketball, soccer, floor hockey, Wiffle ball, kickball, tennis and more. Each Friday features inflatable water play.
For those craving adventure, Camp Open Road takes campers grades 4 through 8 to new and exciting destinations like Zava Zone, Hershey Park, Terrapin Adventures, Sandy Spring Ropes Course and more.
LEGO Engineering Camp with PlayWell TEKnolgoies encourages campers (ages 5-7 and 8-12) to build, build, build while teaching the fundamental principles of engineering and physics. This half-day camp can be paired with the Day Camp or Mad Science Camp for a full day of fun.
Campers create, build and assemble to learn Mad Science skills at Whitman’s half-day Mad Science Camp. Each week features a different scientific topic for ages 5-7 and 8-12. This half-day camp can be paired with the Day Camp or Lego Camp for a full camp day.
Visit whitmansummercamp.com for more information.
Spend a Bucolic Summer at Barnesville
Located on 30 acres in Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve, Barnesville Summer Camp encourages campers ages 3.5 through fifth grade to experience art, music and outdoor play. The campus, complete with greenhouse, an outdoor classroom, music wall, pollinator garden, outdoor reading circle, Explorer Woods, low ropes course and more, facilitates outdoor fun and learning.
Sessions run for one week, beginning June 17 and concluding Aug. 9. Each week features a theme—like Deep Blue Sea and Outer Space—and includes field trips, free play and a visit to the local pool. Experienced art, music, physical education and academic enrichment specialists lead art, science and nature activities.
Barnesville Summer Camp has a pickup location in Kentlands at the LDS Church parking lot, 16 Kent Gardens Circle, at 8:40 a.m. Campers are dropped back off there at 4:50 p.m. The camp is located at 21830 Peach Tree Road in Barnesville, a 20-minute drive from Kentlands.
Small Groups at CES Summer Bring Big Results
Located on the campus of Christ Episcopal School, 22 West Jefferson St. in Rockville, CES Summer is informed by the school’s mission—to nurture students to become kind, confident, well-rounded individuals prepared to contribute to their community and thrive personally, spiritually and academically. Three half-day camp programs 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. offer summer learning and fun in small groups, with before and aftercare available to extend the day from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Little Cardinals for children ages 2 to 5 is a 10-week, inquiry-based preschool program running June 10 through Aug. 16. Each week features a different theme like Outdoor Explorers, Camping Adventures and The Enchanted Forest, built around developmentally appropriate activities, team building and fun.
Camp Cardinal for campers ages 6 to 10 offers weekly themes, swimming at Woodley Gardens pool, art, drama and field trips. Small group size enables campers to develop a strong sense of self and make friends that last a lifetime.
Older campers can enroll in one of CES’ specialty camps. Outdoor Acrylic Painting, July 8 through 12 for ages 10 to 14, focuses on acrylic painting techniques and color theory. Origami Art Installation, Aug. 5 through 9, for ages 8 to 14 teaches the art of Japanese paper-folding. Students will learn about the meaning and history of origami and create an art installation by the end of the week.
Visit cesrockville.org/cesummer for more information.