Top Smart Kid Camps in Southeast Michigan

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, former director of special and summer programs at Cranbrook Schools in Bloomfield Hills. “They want their kids to have more going on than just soccer.”

Check out this sampling of local high-achieving summer camps in southeast Michigan – from engineering and technology to language immersion.

1. Franklin Athletic Club Specialty Camps

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Five-day sessions, at $260-plus, aim to develop skills for kids ages 7-13 during the summer. Franklin Athletic Club’s LEGO Robotics Camp introduces kids to the basic methods used in building and coding robots. This camp encourages collaboration and problem-solving, culminating in a competition that places each team’s robots against one another.

2. International School Language Adventure Day Camp (Farmington Hills)

Four-day sessions are offered starting at $260 for a full day and $175 for a half day for ages 4-6.

“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. Foreign Language Immersion takes place in French, German, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.

3. Cranbrook Schools (Bloomfield Hills)

Four-day camps starting at $395 per camper include young authors (grades 2-9), a summer arts studio (grades 2-9), robotics (grades 1-12) and theater school (grades 2-12), which 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, who retired in early 2016.

“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.”

4. Brookfield Academy’s Summer Camp (Livonia, West Bloomfield, Troy, Rochester Hills)

The four Brookfield Academy campuses offer a Montessori-based day camp. The Montessori morning classroom will be a blend of individual, small and large group activities. Children can look forward to working with the Montessori classroom materials. The afternoon session promises to be filled with a blend of Montessori lessons and recreational and creative activities that encourage social and physical development.

Junior Camp for ages 2.9-5 is offered at all four campuses, while Senior Camp for ages 7-12 is offered in Troy and Rochester Hills.

5. Eastern Michigan University Inkstains (Ypsilanti)

This writing camp is an incubator where kids in middle and high school hone their chops in a variety of genres. Middle school camp will meet July 10-14, 2017 and high school camp will meet July 17-21, 2017; cost is $225 per camper. 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.

6. Dearborn Heights Montessori Center

This nine- or 10-week summer program for kids ages 18 months to 12-years-old will start on June 19, 2017. The camp combines learning with fun, says Shelley Boatright, the parent and public communications coordinator. “The majority of the day is spent doing something academic,” says Boatright.

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.”

7. Geiger Ballet Intensive Summer Camp (Bloomfield Hills)

This ballet academy offers summer programs 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 takes place July 31-Aug. 11, 2017, features classes taught by nationally renowned dancers. Campers must be age 8 and older, with previous dance training only.

8. Learning at the Opera House (Detroit)

Try out singing like an opera star at the Operetta Workshop, a three-week camp July 10-28, 2017 for ages 13-18. For $500 per student, participants will learn about acting, singing, stage movement, healthy vocal technique and how to audition, cumulating in a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Sorcerer.”

9. The Robot Garage Summer Camps

Summer camps here let kids work on meaningful projects and form new friendships while learning about robotics and technology. The Robot Discovery camp (starting at $346.50 for members) is offered for grades 1-9 and focuses on robotics and programming using LEGO Mindstorms, WeDo, bricks and more. Locations in Birmingham, Rochester Hills and Grosse Pointe Park.

10. IT Day Camp of Ann Arbor

Five-day technology courses for kids are offered in coding, Minecraft, animation and more. Camps are open to ages 9-13 and no experience is needed. Camps run June 19-Aug. 18, 2017 and are $485 per camper.

“The kids always have a good time learning something that’s extremely valuable,” says James Graham, owner of IT Day Camp. “Kids are not just using the computer but really using the computer as a creative tool to be able to do something that they want to do, whether it’s playing a game or building the game. They’re having fun and they’re learning to build some pretty intricate framework.”

11. Detroit Zoo Summer Camps

The Detroit Zoo divides its camps up by grade level and has a different program for every child in grades K-12. Kids entering second grade have a chance to feed animals, while those entering eighth grade learn more about veterinary medicine. The camps run Monday-Friday, June 26-Aug. 14, 2017; prices range from $130 to $370, depending on grade level and zoo membership.

This post was originally published in 2011 and has been updated for 2017 by Amanda Rahn.