Summer is almost here. That time of year when our kiddos will be ready to put their school books away and fill their backpacks full of snacks, sunscreen, bathing suits, and whatever else they need to accompany them on their adventures and explorations.
Though the featured summer camp choices in this story are by no means all inclusive of the wide variety that are offered province-wide, each camp provides so much opportunity for our kids to engage their minds and imaginations, learn new skills, while also building upon their social and emotional skills.
OVERNIGHT SUMMER CAMPS
Let’s start off with overnight summer camps as they have always been a highlight of summer break. Kids can spend a few nights to a few weeks diving into endless thrill seeking and social experiences – from water sports to ziplines, from nature hikes during the day to fun games, activities, and collaborative projects in the evenings. Of course, one unforgettable moment is the magic of sitting around the campfire and sharing songs and stories with youth leaders and new friends.
When considering an overnight summer camp, one option that I can share with you is my past family experience at Camp Qwanoes. I recall the special memories made here with my daughter and her entire daycare class. Laughter and conversations linger in my memory of shared cabins and meals and bus rides to beautiful outdoor spots where we embarked on many adventures on land and in water. Our evenings often ended with gatherings full of high energy youth music and stories. It was a wonderful shared family and community experience.
ANIMAL SUMMER CAMPS
Land or sea, kids love to pet, play with, and depending on the size and nature of the animals, possibly even ride, making for amazing memories and experiences that might not be offered to them in any other environment.
One place that offers endless opportunities for children to move through their progressive programs is the Vancouver Aquarium. Starting at the tender age of 5 years, my own daughter was eager to start camp as soon as she could. She attended every summer until she aged out at age 12.
At 9 years of age, she entered into the Family Volunteer Program. Acting primarily as her ride and chaperone, I completed the training program alongside my now aspiring shark biologist. During our shifts she would proudly set up exhibits of her favourite animal – the great white shark! Next we would walk around and provide information to guests before ending our days at Clown Fish Cove where Haylee would guide children and their families on how to safely handle small sea creatures. Annual sleepovers and visits to the Mammal Rescue Centre were some of the most precious memories of her childhood.
As for land animals, there is something really special about the connection between a child and a horse. I first learned of Timberline Ranch during a school field trip years ago and was blown away by the immense offerings – from the beauty of the property and its facilities to the friendly and knowledgeable staff, and of course, to the beautiful horses for the children to engage with.
At the time of my visit, I was not aware of the wide range of camps that are offered at Timberline Ranch and how much more is involved than just horseback riding. Ideal for ages 9+, camp choices include, the newly added, day camps for the campers that aren’t ready for overnight to the week long overnight camps. Days are packed full of riding and bonding with the horses along with CYOA (choose your own adventures) with many other extra activities including archery, rock climbing, zipline, and so on.
Gaining attention as a safer option for kids to engage in-person during COVID, outdoor programs have now become a favourite choice of parents for both camps and formal education during the school year. One such program, that started off as an outdoor preschool and school-aged program years ago, has gained so much attention and merit resulting in them now also operating as a BC Independent School in North Vancouver for grades K-5. Saplings Outdoor Programs and Nature School are both offering summer camps at many of their locations.
While visiting their nature centre a few years back, I was dazzled by the trained forest educators while witnessing the way they inspired the children to explore the wonders found in our local forests and beaches. What most impressed me was how the educators fostered the relationship between child and nature. This to me is a huge opportunity to help kids grow their self-confidence as they learn to become risk assessors and decision makers while doing things like building shelters, hiking, and going on nature treasure hunts.
If your children love nature, two other nature based camps worth checking out this summer are Burns Bog in Delta and Stanley Park Eco Camps. Both camps are committed to nature conservation and are beautiful tourist attractions in themselves.
SPORTS SUMMER CAMP
From team sports to dance, yoga, bicycling or scooter clubs, to the very unique experiences of learning archery or even joining the circus at camp for the week, the choices available for the sports category are extensive. The ones that stood out to me were two soccer camps that focused on character development and sportsmanship as their main achievements.
First, Free Kick, founded and run by soccer icon and pioneer of women’s soccer in Canada, Carrie Serwetnyk. As a former Canadian National team player Carrie has created a program for kids drawing from her love of sharing her extraordinary World Cup experiences with the younger generation. Her main objective is to instill the love of soccer through character development.
Another soccer camp, not to be missed, that shares similar goals of this game is Royal Soccer Club. This program has grown to be one of the largest across Canada because of its reputation for quality programming and is available in many communities across our province.
ARTS SUMMER CAMP
Starting off this category is iconic interdisciplinary arts organization, Arts Umbrella, offering top notch programs in all art disciplines – from visual arts to music, dance to performing arts. As a fellow early music educator, I have to also include a program that’s offering a beautiful foundation of conservatory music in age appropriate and playfully fun music camps for kids of all ages at Colourstrings Conservatory Of Music.
Next, another camp choice not to be missed this summer is at Gateway Theatre. This quality theatre company offers unique experiences that will leave lasting impressions. Kids who attend these camps are inside a professional theatre, taught by working professional artists who are passionately helping kids grow in a safe environment. Kids in these camps are set up for success by practicing Gateway Theatre’s philosophy of process over product.
Lights Up Musical Theatre Schools are also offering performing arts camps this summer with a similar philosophy of focusing on setting their kids up for success by teaching them theatre skills while instilling self-confidence in these young performers.
I love this because this way the kids are able to learn the hows of acting and singing and dancing before performing in front of an audience while still having parents and guardians attend to watch and encourage the progress they are making in developing their performance skills.
ACADEMIC SUMMER CAMP
Who said that STEM was only sought after during the school year? Definitely not kids who are into building Lego robotics. Daedalus Enrichment Programs offers such programs where kids can create their own ideas with constructive learning and exploration and have built up a strong reputation for doing so. Another summer camp worth mentioning that offers a very unique blend of STEM and environmental studies is at Petit Architect. Here kids build their own constructive creations while learning about the relationship between architecture, interior design, sustainability, and the environment.
PLAY BASED SUMMER CAMP
We would like to end off this story with a whole new world, or rather an 1800-square foot indoor city, at Kidtropolis. As a licensed early childhood educator who is a huge fan of dramatic play I can safely say that this level of imaginative play is nothing I have ever witnessed before and offers kids unlimited opportunities to play, explore and learn all at the same time. At Kidtropolis summer camps, kids enjoy a whole schedule of fun activities, experiments and games offered within this amazing environment! Read more about Kidtropolis in Strengthening Family Connections.
HERE ARE SOME MORE GREAT SUMMER CAMPS!
Dance Co’s Summer Camps are a perfect way to introduce new and aspiring dancers to different disciplines! Dancers will have the opportunity to try a variety of dance styles as well as make new friends through crafts and games! Camps are available for ages 3 and up. With unique camps each week, there’s no reason not to dance this Summer!
Summer Boost Camp by Fraser Academy
Provide your child with a two-week “boost” in skills development at our half-day Summer Boost Camp. Students in Grades 2-8 will build skills in an engaging environment through small group and 1:1 classes in curriculum areas such as reading, writing, math, outdoor education, science, music, and art. Summer Boost Camp runs from July 3-14 and July 17-28.
Play Play Play Free Kick Timbits Summer Soccer & Camps!
Play Free Kick Timbits Soccer! Our goal is to inspire boys and girls ages 4 to 12+ to love soccer and to stay active for a lifetime. We create a fun and learning World Cup atmosphere with music and country flags. Led by National Level coaches, the focus is skill touch and many fun competitive and fluid games to keep players moving, engaged and connected.
All players in all programs receive a Timbits Soccer Uniform, Soccer Ball, Socks and Medal!
SPACE IS LIMITED.
Spirit of Math Summer Camp
Vancouver, West Vancouver, 604/304-4032
Spirit of Math Summer Camps offer instruction on a wide range of topics including problem solving, shape counting, numeracy, integers, golden ratio, relocation, drills and more. A Spirit of Math Summer camp is a way to keep your child engaged in learning mathematics and help them to prepare for the upcoming school year!