9 Summer Camps Your Kids Will Love
Register now for options ranging from sports, cooking, coding and theater to old-fashioned outdoor fun.
As the vaccine rollout continues and students return to in-person classes, there is hope on the horizon for summer camps. Local camps are gearing up to welcome kids back with a variety of in-person, virtual and hybrid options, with specialties ranging from theater, coding or martial arts to traditional outdoor camps with swimming, fishing, archery and crafts. Families can safely assume that in-person camps will be following CDC and Virginia health department guidelines, with stepped up social distancing and disinfection protocols. Here are a few local favorites that are open for registration now.
Ages: Rising junior kindergarteners to rising 9th graders
Location: 3229 Sleepy Hollow Road, Falls Church
Congressional Camp, aka “Congo Camp” will resume in-person camp with a mix of intellectual and physical activities to keep kids stimulated, from archery to karate. Horseback riding will return, as will swimming. Kids in the pool will be separated into small groups at each end with an empty “buffer zone” in the middle.
Although certain activities (e.g., swimming) are not conducive to mask wearing, other instances in which campers are unable to maintain three feet of social distance will require masks. Campers will be sorted into small cohorts of about 12 to 14 kids to reduce the risk of community spread. These same groups will stick together throughout the entire camp session.
Looking back on last summer’s move to smaller, self-contained groups, camp Director Dan O’Neil says there were some positives. “We saw a lot of benefits for the kids socially—the level of friendships and relationships they form with each other and with the staff—from keeping the same groups of kids together every week.”
Pentagon Mixed Martial Arts
Location: 1041 S. Edgewood St., Arlington
Pentagon Mixed Martial Arts has camps for kids at all levels of kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai. The largely indoor facility is composed of several separate gym rooms. Masks will be required, along with regular hand washing and social distancing. Owners Diana and Vivek Nakarmi are excited to welcome more kids back after last summer’s sparse attendance and shift to partial virtual instruction.
“We had in-person camp last summer but with very limited numbers, because of the governor’s order in terms of capacity for facilities,” Vivek says.
This summer, each camp session will host 25 to 30 kids, with campers organized in small groups of 10 that rotate through different mat rooms at different times to ensure safe distancing.
Encore Stage & Studio
Location: Multiple area locations
Encore Stage & Studio summer camps cater to kids interested in drama and performing arts, with workshops on acting, improvisation, costume design, choreography, singing and more, culminating in orchestrated performances. For safety purposes, this summer’s camps will be held entirely outdoors in locations throughout Arlington.
“We thought this would be a comfortable place for the students, parents and teaching staff,” says education programs director Madaline Langston. “Our main rule number one is that everyone must wear a mask, even though we are outside.”
The drama camp will run daily temperature checks. Campers will be asked to bring blankets that staff members can place six feet apart on the ground, allowing for freedom of movement in a safe, physically distanced capacity.
Arlington Arts Center
Format: In-person or virtual
Location: 3550 Wilson Blvd, Arlington
Arlington Arts Center’s 2021 summer programming will include a mix of in-person and virtual camps. Participants can learn about different artists and work on their own contemporary art projects in a variety of media. The camp anticipates it can accommodate between 8 and 10 in-person students per session, plus more campers in virtual classes.
“We’re a small organization, so we are only able to offer shorter camps than we typically would be able to,” says education coordinator Lia Ferro. “In the future we hope to move back to what we think of as more traditional camps.”
During in-person sessions, campers will wear masks and maintain social distancing. Each camper will have their own set of supplies to avoid spreading germs, and classrooms will be sanitized between sessions. The building has large studios with large, operable windows that can be opened for ventilation.
Educational Theatre Company
Format: In-person and virtual
Location: Multiple Arlington locations
Educational Theatre Company (ETC) offers 28 sessions for kids of all ages, with activities such as improvisation games, acting and movement exercises, rehearsals, filming and editing. ETC does not have one designated space; camps will be held in various locations, some of which are still being confirmed, with a focus on keeping kids outdoors. Masks will be required.
For families that aren’t yet comfortable with a return to on-site activities, ETC will also offer virtual programming. Virtual performances will be recorded separately and stitched together into a final video.
After a tumultuous 2020, managing director Ashley Hammond is looking forward to welcoming many campers back for in-person fun.
“There’s just something about having a musical theater performance that is totally different when you’re singing with a group,” she says. “Having an audience adds a whole new level of intensity and engagement with the actors.”
Ages: Grades 3-10
Format: In-person and virtual
Location: Marymount University, 2807 N. Glebe Road, Arlington
Boolean Girl is a nonprofit offering both in-person and virtual camps in which girls learn coding, engineering and how to build computers with an emphasis on hands-on projects. In-person safety measures will include masks, social distancing and enhanced cleaning protocols, but the organization will allow campers to switch from in-person to virtual, or vice versa, to suit their comfort levels. Flexibility is key during this summer of transition, says board member Brian Moran.
After previously operating in local elementary schools, Boolean Girl is moving to a larger venue—Marymount University’s campus on Glebe Road. “The experience kids get on a college campus, with bigger classrooms and a brand-new building, we think it will be a better experience,” Moran adds. “There’s a big outdoor space and tons of room for social distancing outside.”
Arlington Independent Media
Format: Virtual only
Location: 2701 Wilson Blvd. # C, Arlington
Arlington Independent Media will continue to play it safe this summer. Its popular Movie and Animation camps will once again be hosted on virtual video conferences, during which campers can learn storytelling, shooting, character development, sound design and more.
“The very nature of what the kids are doing is collaborative and requires kids to be in close proximity,” explains Jackie Steven, director of community programs. “We just don’t think there’s a way to do that safely in person until at least this fall.”
Location: 4238 Wilson Blvd., #3110, Arlington
Do you have an aspiring Top Chef in the house? Here’s a chance to hone those culinary skills in classes ranging from bread-baking and plating/presentation to food preservation. Cookology’s summer camps are organized into two age groups: 8-12 and 13-17. Campers are placed in groups of no more than 10 per kitchen, with masks and room to spread out. The facility has 6,000 square feet of space spread out across six kitchens.
Arlington Parks and Recreation
Format: In-person, with both indoor and outdoor options
Location: Multiple locations throughout Arlington
Arlington Parks and Rec has released its summer camp catalog with a veritable bonanza of indoor and outdoor sessions for kiddos of all ages. You’ll find camps focusing on history, nature, fishing, cooking, tennis, dance, mountain biking, soccer, engineering, computer coding, arts and crafts and a whole lot more. Temperature checks, masks and social distancing measures will be implemented. For more details, click here to access the catalog and registration materials.
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