Top 10 Smart Kid Camps in Southeast Michigan
Think your child's summer shouldn't be squandered? There are plenty of A+ camps in Michigan that allow kids to learn, grown and achieve when school is out.
Throughout metro Detroit and Ann Arbor, camp purveyors are offering an increasing number of "enrichment" programs – with a hearty focus on academics, learning and continuation of school-year studies.
"Parents are interested in making sure their kids are well-rounded," says Sue Griffin, director of special and summer programs at Cranbrook Schools in Bloomfield Hills. "They want their kids to have more going on than just soccer."
Adds Brookfield Academy regional manager Christine Kulp, "Our families really want some academic something to be happening in the summer."
If you've got a little "Tiger Mom" in you, check out this roundup of 10 high-achieving summer camps in computers in southeast Michigan the summer of 2011 – from engineering to test prep to empowerment programs.
Led by teachers and the director of Franklin Academy, the weeklong sessions, at $125-$156 per week, aim to develop literacy, math and art skills during the summer. On the Road to Reading teaches kids ages 4 1/2 to 6 vocab development, letter-sound correlation, reading, writing and early comprehension skills.
Marvelous Math, for ages 3 1/2 to 6, builds math readiness skills using manipulatives and everyday objects. Be Your Own Picasso is a weeklong camp teaching the 4-9 set about famous artists, their personal styles and hands-on art experimentation in the same vein as the artists they study.
"A lot of parents feel it's a good use of their time for children not to get totally separate from the experience of learning – and, at the same time, acquire skills they don't otherwise have," says headmaster Jack Faxon.
Its Language Adventure Day Camp devotes mornings to intense foreign language study and afternoons for more camp-like, play-based activities. Campers range in age from 5 to 13, and the camp runs for four weeks.
Programs for young authors, a summer arts studio, robotics and theater school are all popular at Cranbrook's expansive campus every summer. The theater school brings in theater professionals to give kids a "true sense of what theater professionals are all about," says Sue Griffin.
"We sell camp by the week, and we moved to that model in response to parents' requests for more options," she adds. "We have seen an increase in the popularity of these enrichment-based activities."
The four Brookfield Academy campuses offer a Montessori-based day camp with mornings devoted to academics and afternoons for looser play-based activities. Ages range from preschool through fifth grade.
Regional manager Christine Kulp says many Brookfield students pull from international families, who expect more academic-focused programs for overall achievement than American-born families.
"Everyone can write," EMU's website asserts. "Writing can be taught." And this writing camp is an incubator where kids in middle and high school hone their chops in a variety of genres. Two sessions are offered: July 11-15 for kids entering grades 6-8, and July 18-22 for kids bound for 9-12.
Students write, share and publish their stories. But this camp goes beyond polishing prose. Kids tap into their opinions and ideas, harnessing the power of words to express them. They draw inspiration from a real campus, too.
Writers are grouped with peers and must apply. The $140 fee includes a hardbound journal, T-shirt, daily snacks and anthology with select writings from the week.
This day camp for children ages 6 to 12 can be found in a variety of local spots, including Novi, Bloomfield, Birmingham and Macomb Community College. Computer Explorers teaches hands-on skills in engineering, robotics, programming, video-game design and animation.
"They teach basic engineering skills and how they are applied in everyday life," says Sonia Pillar, teacher and account manager at the Madison Heights-based parent company. "Our programs are designed to teach hands-on skills and teamwork." Children work in groups of two or three, learning how to share and delegate.
This nine-week summer program for kids ages 3 to 12 combines learning with fun, according to Shelley Boatright, parent and public communications coordinator.
"The majority of the day is spent doing something academic," says Boatright. The session focuses on a theme: This year it's science, so every week features a different science project, activity, research and presentations. There also are field trips.
Parents increasingly want their children to be more academic in the summer months, she adds. "Parents want them to stay ahead. Our summer program is a natural continuation of the school year. Everything we do has a purpose."
This ballet academy offers a summer intensive for ages 4 and up, so children can gain technical and professional instruction during the summer months and not lose their edge in the competitive field of ballet.
The summer intensive, which runs for three weeks in August, features classes taught by nationally renowned dancers. Campers must be age 8 and older, with previous dance training only. The extended summer program, in July and late August, offers introductory dance classes for preschool on up, for boys and girls.
This Michigan Opera Theater-based summer program offers a variety of classes, including opera workshop, opera camp, dance education, an American Ballet Theater summer intensive and audition, inner city dance, ballet and more – right in the cultural heart of downtown Detroit.
This unique school, designed by Michigan Architect Laureate Alden B. Dow, offers a variety of academic summer programs for kids in grades 6-12, including weeklong sessions in The Art of Problem Solving, SAT prep, Writing the College Essay, Forensics, ACT prep, forensics sampler and more.
For an intense environmental edge, its Wilderness Expedition focuses on skills needed for backcountry travel, topped by a trek in the Porcupine Mountains in the U.P. or Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. Open to a max 10 upper-school students, the fee is $675. It's usually the first two weeks of August.