It’s no surprise that summer looks different for kids and families this year. With plans for camps, activities, and family trips and outings on hold, we want to be sure our kids can count on summer fun in a safe way, and parents can keep their work schedules during the day without major interruptions. Here’s an age-appropriate guide to digital camps and online resources full of great choices for summer fun with minimal parental involvement.

Preschool Ages (3-5)

Camp PBS Kids

Camp PBS Kids for Parents is designed to help parents provide creative experiences, inspire exploration, and make some fun for the whole family. The site is filled with ideas, tips, and activities around themes like dinosaurs or science or outer space with favorite PBS Kids characters.

From the home page thematic activities, families can click through to pages that feature character or show tie-ins, questions to get your kids talking about what they’ve watched to make learning connections to the show, additional activities, and articles.

Free printables also help provide structure to your summer. The PBS Kids Summer Bucket List is a great way to start your family thinking about the types of experiences you want to have this summer. Blank spaces let you add your ideas to make summer your own. The Summer Reading Chart is a great way to keep track of all the books read independently or together throughout the summer. Looking back at the list during the year will  provide a huge sense of accomplishment. Parents can also sign up for a daily newsletter full of activities and tips. 

Cost: Free

Level of Parental Involvement: Moderate

Camp Hullabaloo

Camp Hullabaloo is a 12-week at-home summer camp series based on books, adding on activities and simple kid-led crafts for ages 2-8. Designed by two childhood friends whose goal was to put the best books into the hands of kids, this book subscription series sends children a brand-new heirloom quality, culturally relevant book each week and gives them plenty to do to really dig into the story and content.  

Cost: Price starts at $15.95/week for 1 child and additional children can be added to each week’s box for a nominal price. You can sign on at any time during the summer and select your weeks.

Level of Parental Involvement: Low

Elementary Ages (5-9)

Camp Wonderopolis

If you have a kid who’s always asking how and why, Camp Wonderopolis is a free online summer learning destination that provides fun and interactive STEM and literacy topics that correspond with Maker experiments. The 6 self-guided experiences called camps are designed to keep kids and families learning together. Each camp in the Campground reinforces building vocabulary, background knowledge in science, reading comprehension, critical thinking, and other literacy skills important for elementary ages.

Kids of all ages can register as Campers while parents, teachers, and community members register as Counselors. The Camp dashboard helps kids track the wonders they’ve explored while providing a roadmap of activities to do next. The Wonder Wall serves as a virtual camp bulletin board where kids can post photos, videos, and thoughts about camp activities.

Cost: Free

Level of Parental Involvement: Moderate

Bake-A-Camp

For kids who already bake or for those who love cookies and cakes and want to learn to make them, Bake-a-Camp is a hands-on online summer camp that brings a 4-week baking camp right to your kitchen. When you sign up, you’ll get the Bake-A-Camp Baketivity kit, a themed box that includes 4 exclusive recipes and pre-measured dry ingredients that will take your mini-baker through progressively advanced recipes and techniques.

The online Bake-A-Camp Baketivity kit contains over 25 hours of baking fun, with plenty of hands-on-instructions, behind-the-baking tips, and easy-to-read guides that build skills, cooking confidence, and hands-on experience in the kitchen. Plus, you get a free t-shirt.

Cost: $199 for a baking kit.

Level of Parental Involvement: High

Brain Chase

Brain Chase is a 6-week massive online learning game wrapped up in a global treasure hunt. Designed for 2nd-8th graders, Brain Chase gives kids the clues, and they use their reading, writing, and math skills to complete online challenges, unlock more clues, and find the missing buried treasure that’s worth a $1,000 scholarship to the winner. This learning adventure is an incredible motivational tool for getting kids to do online academic work during the summer through a personalized learning platform that provides differentiated learning that’s just right for them.

Brain Chase provides a one size fits all model in that the bonus challenges and treasure hunt are the same for everyone, but everything else can be completely customized to meet the individual student’s level. If there are multiple children in a family, each sibling has their own Dashboard to complete academic challenges individually, working at the personal level that’s right for them (depending on where they are with reading, writing and math). Even though academic challenges are done independently by each child, siblings and parents can collaborate on the treasure hunt. Families and friends are encouraged to work together to figure out the clues to the treasure.

Cost: $99

Level of Parental Involvement: Low/moderate

Middle School/Pre-Teens (10-13)

MOCA Art Camps

MOCA Virtual Summer Art Camps introduce middle schoolers to mixed media, painting, drawing, and textile arts. Free workshops held via Zoom are led by professional art instructors on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-11:30 am from June 8-August 14, 2020.

Cost: Free

Level of Parental Involvement: Low

Connected Camps

For kids who are into gaming and coding and want to take their love of Minecraft to the next level, Connected Camps is the place to do it. These live week-long coed and girls-only online camps for kids 8 to 13 years old foster creativity, problem solving, and collaboration while kids learn coding, game design and media production.

The camp schedule features camp themes like arts, exploration, technology, esports, and community that are offered each week during specific times of the day. Kids interact with other kids and experienced instructors in real time. Many programs are taught with Minecraft while others are on Outschool or conducted through Zoom and other free online platforms. Kids use text chat and voice chat to communicate, share their work with others in real-time, and collaborate on projects designed to fuel their imagination and build skills.

Cost: Free 

Level of Parental Involvement: Low 

Teens (14-17)

Camp Good Work House

This virtual summer camp for middle and high schoolers connects teens with others who want to make an impact on the world. Through the Becoming a Force for Good theme, campers will experience a combination of small group discussions and instructor-led sessions.

A wide range of instructor-led sessions will also be offered from the talented Good Influence Team of creators, influencers, artists, and entrepreneurs. Sessions include photography, videography, storytelling, songwriting, comedy/sketch-writing, drawing, cooking, growing an audience (YouTube, Instagram, TikTok), meditation, yoga, digital wellness, breathing work, entrepreneurship, virtual community service, and mental health awareness.

Campers meet throughout the week in counselor-led pods of 12-15 kids to share their experiences and get to know each other. Pods meet twice daily, in the morning and at the end of the day for a total of an hour and a half. There are three instructor-led sessions per day from Tuesday through Friday that last an hour each.

There are eight, one-week camp sessions from June 1 to July 24. The camp alternates between middle school (ages 11-15) and high school (ages 15-18) sessions. The full schedule can be viewed here.

Cost: $150/week

Level of Parental Involvement: Low

Project Scientist: The Virtual Lab

Project Scientist offers week-long immersive STEM experiences for high school girls on topics such as AI, aerospace engineering, water and food science, energy and climate change, viruses and the body, and more. Each week-long session runs from 9-6 pm and is led by credentialed teachers. Age-appropriate STEM curriculum and a STEM lab kit allows students to conduct five experiments from their own lab space. Sessions are limited to 25 girls to ensure a personal and intimate learning environment.

Cost: Prices vary per program.

Level of Parental Involvement: Low

All Ages

DigiPen Academy

DigiPen Academy is all about getting inside video games. Kids from 5 to pre-college can learn everything from the basics in video game animation to art direction to programming to robotics to music design all the way to more sophisticated applied math and computer science. DigiPen Academy custom tailors class format and content of guided online summer instruction for elementary, middle, and high schoolers for a great summer.

Cost: Weeklong programs start at $799. The full tuition breakdown can be found here.

Level of Parental Involvement: Low

Varsity Tutors

Varsity Tutors is offering week-long interactive summer camps for free. Geared towards children of all ages (K-12), these interactive camps offer an hour of live instruction from Monday through Friday. Families can choose to sign up for one camp, or multiple ones taught by expert instructors.

Cost: Free

Level of Parental Involvement: Low/moderate

Act One Theatre Camp

For some kids, the show must go on, no matter what. Act One Theater Camp brings an interactive theatre experience into your living room. Geared towards ages 6-15, Act One provides three-week sessions where students spend each day acting, singing, dancing, improv, and more online.

Cost: Each three-week session is $650.

Level of Parental Involvement: Low

Camp: ASPIRE

Kids ages 8+ can spend this summer with week-long, virtual robotics camp sessions that include REAL robotics kits. There are beginner-level courses for those new to coding and robotics and intermediate offerings for more experienced students. Each of the four fun camp themes allows kids to learn to build and code their own robots through a mix of live guided instruction and independent learning.

Camps run Monday-Friday and are led by accredited instructors who provide two hours a day of live instruction. Two hours per day can be spent doing independent guided learning with UKIT beginner or intermediate robotics kids that kids get to keep after the end of their session.

Cost: Each week-long session is $500 and includes the UKIT.

Level of Parental Involvement: Low

National Academy of Athletics Sports Camps

If you can get a great workout online with your favorite trainer online right now, so can your kids. National Academy of Athletics offers 5-day pre-recorded virtual sports camps for kids to keep them healthy, active, and having fun. They’ll get skills and drills for football, basketball, volleyball, martial arts, soccer, baseball, plus an All Sorts of Sports virtual camp. Each camp has an equipment list on their site that includes both equipment needed for the specific sport and everyday items. Virtual sports camps are designed for ages 5-18.

Cost: Pricing begins at $48.

Level of Parental Involvement: Low

iDTech Camps

Young gamers and programmers, get ready. Geared towards ages 7-19, iDTech Camps are week-long sessions in Python, Java, Minecraft, Roblox, Unity, Adobe, 3D modeling, and more. Classes are limited to 5 students to ensure personalized learning and the opportunity to make friends from all over the world. Each camp’s schedule includes two hours of live instruction and peer collaboration plus two hours per day of self-paced project development. Private sessions are also available.

Cost: Each week-long session is $399.

Level of Parental Involvement: Low

 

Start online to switch it up this summer. Focus in on your child’s interests, and find options available to keep them educated and entertained, while you use your time productively as well.