A nine-month school year leaves little time for kids to develop their passions outside of the classroom, but a week of summer camp can help fill in that gap. A variety of summer camps in Baltimore offer a range of activities for campers to discover new abilities and interests.
“We find that kids come into summer with a lot of different interests,” says Steve Cusick, the assistant camp director of Summer at Friends day camp, which is held on the campus of Friends School of Baltimore. “Kids will do sports camps for a week or two, and then they’ll be doing the drama program for a week.”
Summer at Friends offers 15 different day camps for kids between the ages of 4 and 13, Cusick says, which are offered in one-week, two-week and four-week chunks. The camp offers everything from a literary-inspired cooking classes to “Robots and Rockets,” where the campers build the models out of Legos.
“The camp experience is so great because campers can come in and try something they didn’t do during the school year,” Cusick says. “It’s learning without the kids realizing they’re learning. It’s very hands-on.”
Cusick himself was a camper at Friends, starting at the age of four and remembers participating in the soccer camp before transitioning to Robots and Rockets. Even though many camps only last one week, he says campers often attend multiple programs, such as the sports camp, which offers five different sports in as many weeks.
In other cases, “Mom kind of twisted their arm into trying the camp and then they come back and keep doing different levels of it,” Cusick says.
That same philosophy of “try everything” applies at Coppermine Fieldhouse, which provides year-round recreation for the whole family and offers summer programs in soccer, lacrosse, baseball, football, gymnastics, dance, tennis and squash.
Founder Alex Jacobs wanted to provide a place that offered multiple sports under one roof, so that parents would not have to transport their kids to multiple places around the city. Jacobs says this setup gives him an advantage: Campers who sign up for multiple weeks can easily develop a passion for a new sport.
“When they come into our facilities, they might have come in for soccer or gymnastics, and then they want to try lacrosse,” he says. “We encourage kids under the age of 12 to try as many sports as possible, and then after that, they can get more specialized.”
Coppermine Fieldhouse’s summer camps also include activities in addition to competitive sports, such as sailing and nature exploration. The “Kaleidoscope” camp includes rock climbing and archery as part of its lineup. Jacobs says many families send their kids to as many as nine different weekly camps each summer because of the large amount of confidence they put in the camp staff.
“They trust the counselors that are running those programs for them,” he says. “Their child may have done Kaleidoscope camp and the kids know their coaches from adventure camps, so they’ll break out of their comfort zone and say, ‘I’m going to try that,’” he says.
Campers between the ages of 6 and 13 who attend the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s summer day camp have the opportunity to practice every skill from martial arts to tennis. Camp administrator Gary Wohlstetter says participants rotate activities throughout the day, which include dance, fitness and two swimming sessions.
“We try to expose the campers to new activities and experiences that in the community they were not able to be exposed to,” Wohlstetter says. “Someone who says, ‘Gee, I didn’t know I liked dance’ ends up being there for multiple weeks.”