If you’re one of those people who savored every precious moment you spent at home with your children over the winter break, then stop reading now. But if all that lovely time spent cooped up inside PLUS a snow day thrown in at the end just for good measure made you frantically start thinking how you are going to keep your kids occupied and yourself sane over the summer, then by all means read on, friend.
Summer camp registration doesn’t take place until later in the spring, but it’s not a bad time to start thinking about options. My kids are too young still for sleep away camp, which I did during middle school at a traditional “Parent Trap”-esque, six girls to a cabin, archery and songs-by-the-fireside camp. However, this area is rife with activities and opportunities for the littles to stay active and engaged and help mama pace herself over summer break.
A poll of some area moms revealed the following options, listed here for your consideration. A big summer camp fair will also be held at Quaker Bridge Mall on Saturday, Jan. 18 from noon to 3 p.m. at the lower level Macy’s court. These are listed in no particular order but are grouped by theme. Readers, feel free to add your favorite summer camps in the comments section (especially those for the preschool set!).
For the Budding Artist
Summer Camp at Art Sparks in Hopewell Boro provides theme-based creative experiences during which children ages 4-11 get to explore a variety of media such as acrylics, collage, watercolors, pastels, crayons, printmaking, sculpture, photography, colored pencils, clay and much more. Weekly sessions are led by a primary art teacher assisted by counselors. Weather permitting, kids spend part of each day outdoors. The summer culminates with an art show as the studio is transformed into a gallery of work produced by the campers throughout the summer.
Art in the Park is a summer fine arts camp held daily from 9 to noon in Pennington’s Kunkel Park. Children will experiment with a variety of media that may include watercolors, printmaking, sculpture, photography,acrylics, colored pencils, collage, pastels, crayons, and more. Local artist and teachers lead the program along with special guest artists.There are five primary one-week sessions for children who have completed Kindergarten to age 12, and one week-long session for children ages 8 through 14. Check the Hopewell Township Recreation Department website for more information and registration forms later this spring.
Children with very basic sewing skills attend a one-week camp, during which they create their own quilts to take home at the end of camp. Campers are not required to have their own sewing machines.
For the Nature Lover
Howell Living History Farm offers a variety of camp program for children ages three to fifteen. Young children participate in the “hatchery” program where a parent helps out as a farmhand while the preschoolers attend camp. Older children get hands on experience with animal care, helping with chores, feeding, gathering eggs and more. In the garden campers will plant, cultivate and harvest seasonal vegetables. Each day focuses on a different farm highlight in a 1900’s setting.
For children entering grades 1 through 9, a variety of camp programs aim to connect kids to nature through exploration of this wonderful local resource. Shorter parent/child programs are available for the preschool set.
Located at John Hart Farms on Titus Mill Road, these week-long camp sessions introduce kids to horse riding techniques and include arts and crafts and group trips to the creek. It is a fun camp for kids who enjoy “hanging out on the farm” and being around the horses.
For the Rising Kindergartener
Hopewell Valley Regional School District offers an annual kindergarten day camp for all students entering kindergarten in the district in the fall. The program, held at all four elementary schools if there is sufficient enrollment at each site, is designed to help students familiarize themselves with their schools and meet some of their future classmates. Activities include songs, art projects and outdoor play.
Brought to Hopewell Valley by the MOMS Club two years ago, the program offers rising Kindergarteners in the area hands-on safety education. Dates for this summer’s program are TBD. Parents involved with the camp describe it as offering “valuable life lessons regarding fire safety, bike riding and school bus safety. The cost is low and the teachers and presenters are/were amazing. And the volunteers were fabulous with the kids.”
For the Older Camper
For children in grades 1-7, PEAC’s summer camp is designed to provide a fun, motivational and enriching environment for children grades first to seventh. KidsKamp includes recreational sports activities, youth fitness classes, arts & crafts and special events. PEAC’s KidsKamp runs Monday through Friday offering Full-Day enrollment from 9am-3pm, and Half-Day enrollment from 9am-12pm. Before and after care is offered with the Lakeview ChildCenter for campers ages 6-8.
Hopewell Township’s Department of Parks and Recreation hosts an annual teen travel camp each summer. Youth sign on for a week (or more) of daily adventures. Last summer campers visited local landmarks including Belmar Beach, Mountain Creek Water Park, Six Flags Great Adventure, Madame Tussaud’s in New York City, and the Lakewood Blueclaws minor league baseball stadium. Check the parks and rec department’s website later this spring for details, or look for the department’s brochure sent to all township households for more information.