Cranbrook Schools is a leader in academic experiences, so it’s little wonder the school approaches summer day camps for kids with the same focus on excellence. On Cranbrook’s 319-acre green and forested Bloomfield Hills campus, kids come from near and far to engage in all the traditional summer day camp experiences in a relaxed, fun atmosphere, says Weston Outlaw, director of special and summer programs with Cranbrook Schools Summer Camps.
For school-aged kids, summer camp is a time to try something new through the wide variety of activity-focused camps available at Cranbrook. Each camp is designed to blend the best of a structured environment with the important downtime that kids need during the summer. That’s something that, when done right, can be life-changing for kids, Outlaw says.
“I went to camp as a kid, and I loved it so much. The experience of attending camp helped form my decisions about where I went to school and now I’m so excited to be back in the camp industry,” Outlaw says. “I want to be able to pass this experience on to as many kids as possible. We’re working to create a big impact for kids by making summer camp happen as it is supposed to happen.”
Here, we share some of the best reasons to attend summer camp, with highlights from the Cranbrook Schools Summer Camps experience.
Where else can kids try archery and canoeing?
In Michigan, summer is made for spending every waking moment in the fresh air and warm temperatures. At Cranbrook Camp (for boys, grades two through nine) and Kingswood Camp (for girls, grades two through nine), campers make full use of the expansive Cranbrook educational campus to explore canoeing, team sports, drama, yoga, arts and crafts and much more.
“These are more traditional camp experiences with multiple activities,” Outlaw explains. “There’s no specific focus on a particular activity, but there is a big focus on connecting with other kids, connecting with counselors, and having a lot of fun.”
Kids experience these camps in small, age-specific cohorts led by a camp counselor who is consistent throughout the week of camp. Specialized counselors work with the campers at each activity area. “The kids might canoe and then play tennis and try lacrosse and then do arts and crafts,” Outlaw says.
Summer is for swimming, too
In a typical summer camp year at Cranbrook, campers would swim every day. In a COVID pandemic year, activities must adhere to a capacity mandate of 25%. “We know it’s a big thing to go swimming in Cranbrook’s natatorium, and even though this year we can’t promise kids will get to swim every day, there will be some swimming throughout the week of camp,” Outlaw says.
In addition to Cranbrook’s dedicated staff of fully trained lifeguards, a year-round pool manager is at the pool every day to maintain safety for campers.
Specialty camps give kids a chance to dig in
For campers in grades two through nine, Cranbrook’s specialty camps allow kids to pursue their passions and spend dedicated time exploring interests with like-minded peers. While campers spend much of their time focused on their activity, they also have a summer camp experience.
“We make sure to have a well-trained staff that knows how to intermingle summer camp with a focused activity,” Outlaw says. “If they attend art camp, for example, they’ll focus on art for most of the day, but they do swim and they do engage in activities to enhance that feeling of belonging while building connections with their peers and counselors, who are role models for the campers. We blend the social aspect of camp with the specialty.”
At Summer Art Studio, campers get a good introduction to the classics of drawing, painting and sculpture. They also try illustration and photography.
Robotics Camp gives kids the chance to try coding LEGO and VEX IQ systems for fun.
Theatre School is a fun place to learn theater arts and grow confidence right on the stage of the historic outdoor Greek Theatre, tucked right into the woods on the Cranbrook campus.
Young Authors Camp gives kids the chance to explore the genres of poetry, fantasy, graphic novels and more, while they explore the impact of language, character development and plot.
STEM Camp is just one of the few camps in the country to offer modules developed by the Edgerton Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Summer camp is about fun, but there’s so much more
During the rest of the year, kids are encouraged to achieve through academics, sports and music. At summer camp, they can practice their social skills by making new friends. They can also begin to imagine the types of young adults they will become, as they build mentor relationships with camp counselors.
At Cranbrook, counselors are selected for their demonstrated leadership skills and ability to relate to kids, Outlaw says. Some are graduates of Cranbrook and are now attending college nearby or across the country.
Parents want their kids to have enriching experiences during summer camp, but they also want them to be safe. The entire Cranbrook Schools Summer Camps program is accredited by the American Camp Association, which means it adheres to the highest standards for safety, Outlaw says. Cranbrook will adhere to all CDC, state and local health guidelines to make sure all campers are safe throughout their camp experience.
“The summer camp experience here is meaningful — for both campers and counselors,” Outlaw says. “We are intentional about that. Regardless of where parents choose to send their kids, we want them to know that camp is important for kids. Camp is a place to focus on social experiences and belonging in a fun environment. Where better to be?”
Learn more about Cranbrook Schools Summer Camps at schools.cranbrook.edu.