Local Summer Camps that Shine
by Mel Selcho
What to Look For When Looking
After scouring options, parents can find it overwhelming to choose which camps their kids might enjoy. When your child is already engaged in art, science, a language or sport, choosing a summer camp can seem like a no brainer. But experts agree that one of the benefits of day camps is the ability to expose kids to new ideas and activities. Successful camp experiences begin with the design and strategy of the programming. Laura Haass, the owner of Icing Cake Design and Sweets Boutique, said Camp Cupcake considers the size and ages of the campers when creating the activities in order to set them up for success and fun. “We designed the camp curriculum carefully to work best with the age ranges. We take things like the child’s size and manual dexterity into consideration.” Choose camps that engage the kids as they develop skills. Amy Bryant, Head Coach of Emory Women’s Tennis, said it’s important to use positive reinforcement and creative teaching strategies. “Making kids feel good about what they are doing is very important – especially a camp centered around a skill,” she said. “If your kids are happy when they get in the car at pick up and can express that they learned something new that day, mission accomplished!”
Several local camps offer different flavors of adventure for kids this summer. Past successes and a behind-the scenes look at what’s new for 2019 can inspire your calendar for the summer.
The collections at the Michael C. Carlos Museum come alive during its summer camp where art, imagination and creativity are fostered through innovative experiences. The camp takes the approach of “see it, think it, make it” as campers learn about ancient cultures through the museum’s collections, enjoy field experiences that relate to the creation of them and then make their own art projects.
What to Expect
Artifacts gain new meaning as the campers delve further into the cultures and art of those who make them. For example, Animal Stories week includes a study of dolphins. Campers will experience the depictions of them in the museum, travel to the Georgia Aquarium to see live models, then discuss their features and why the depiction of them varies across time and cultures. Then they go on to create their own version.Other experiences have included learning the ancient roots of lacrosse through the collections that are then reinforced with field play of the modern game.
The camps appeal to those who are curious and want to explore. Camp Carlos is for the student who’s interested in making pottery but also learning how clay is created, sourced and used to create artwork by cultures around the world.
Check out these themes and activities on the schedule:
- Yorubaland (Spring Break) – art camp exploring life force of Yoruba art
- Grow It, Cook It, Eat It! – planting, cooking and eating indigenous food with a trip to Three Sisters Garden at New Echota
- Animal Stories
- Earth, Water, Fire, and Air (Teen Camp) – exploration of clay culminating in firing own pieces using various methods
- EPIC! The Life and Times of Gilgamesh – the oldest known written story comes to life through storyboarding, costume-making and acting.
There is a Spring Break session along with several week-long summer sessions that run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Michael C. Carlos museum on the Emory campus. After care is available until 5 p.m. for an additional fee. There is also a two-week teen camp in July from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information, visit carlos.emory.edu
Campers get to literally create the sweetness of summer in this multi-disciplinary camp, where they make and take sweets home to show and share every day and an art project each week. The joint endeavor between Icing Cake Design and Art on the Go won Best Camp awards in Gwinnett County before coming to the Avondale Estates area.
“Parents are often surprised at how impressed they are with their child’s creations,” says Haass, who has been creating cakes and designs since 2004. Haass’s business is inspired by her own childhood watching her talented mother make designs after taking classes by Wilton. Art on the Go’s Sheri Snyder agrees, and says she loves to see parents’ reactions to all their child has created in a week’s time.
What to Expect
The scrumptious experiences include:
- Making and decorating with American buttercream, using offset spatulas and piping bags with tips,
- Rolling and cutting and modeling fondant elements for decoration,
- Creating novelty treats with candy, and
- Working with various art media, such as clay and acrylics, using a variety of techniques to create art and craft projects.
The camp is divided into half of the day working with sugar art or sweets, and the other half other traditional mediums to create based on the theme.
The camp is structured into themes and separates campers into ability levels. “I look at what’s being ordered for birthday cakes in these age ranges and base the themes off of that. They appeal to both boys and girls,” says Haass. “We live in such an image-rich society, it’s special for kids to be able to create something that’s from their world.”
Themes this year include:
- Harry Potter
- Star Wars
- Christmas in July
- Gaming (Legos, Fortnite, etc.)
Week-long sessions run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily at North Clarendon Baptist Church. There are intermediate camps available as well for those who have already developed decorating techniques.
For more information, visit artonthegoatlanta.com/camp
Color Wheel Studio
This art-based camp has been tried and tested over the course of 17 summers. Spencer brings a degree in art history and child psychology to the mix as she leads a team of degreed artist teachers to build the nine weeks of programming. You could say they have camp design and organization “down to an art.”
What to Expect
Budding artists and those who are new to creating will work in a wide range of areas including:
- Drawing and painting
- Mixed media
In addition to the art projects, sessions will include walking field trips and appearances from guest artists.
In 2018 one of the favorites was the Sew, Stitch, Glamp Camp. “It was like a giant sleepover where you learn to sew,” said Spencer.
Some of the new featured themes this summer include:
- Epic Art Challenge – a whirlwind of team artistic collaboration
- POW! – for all those graphic novel lovers
- Fashion House – a week of fashion design challenges
- Splat! – messy, old-school art fun.
Week-long sessions run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily at Color Wheel Studio on Howard Avenue in the city of Decatur. Extended hours are free with drop off at 8:30 a.m. and pick up at 5:30 p.m.
For more information, visit colorwheelstudio.com.
Emory Total Tennis Camp
The camp caters to kids who like to be on-the-move and takes a non-traditional approach to learning the game. Though tennis has a stereotype of being a frustrating game, Coach Bryant plans a camp where drills, games and activities build skills and techniques “almost by surprise.” As one of the few people in NCAA history to earn a national title as both a player and coach, camper families appreciate Bryant’s hands on approach to the camp.
What to Expect
The camp is based on 20 years of experience. Ratios are guaranteed to top at eight students to one counselor and the schedule is designed to keep campers active and involved. Unique drills are designed for every age group and skill level. “Some camps stick kids in long lines -so there is more waiting than doing. Waiting around is boring for kids,” said Bryant. “Every minute has been thought out with a plan, and campers are moving and engaged the entire day.”
The big highlight last summer was the addition of glow-in-the-dark tennis during the afternoon Olympics competition. Nets were set up on the racquetball courts and the teams decorated themselves with glow-in-the-dark paint and wore glow sticks. They played under black lights using a glowing badminton shuttlecock and neon-painted rackets.
In addition to fostering a love of the game, campers learn life values such as responsibility through keeping track of their items, sportsmanship by experiencing wins and losses, perseverance with a point system and several awards and a healthy lifestyle from take-home tennis tips.
Several week-long sessions are available for either half, full or extended day at the Emory campus.
For more information, visit bryantcamps.com