When it comes to summer camp, your kids may feel like they’ve been there, done that. That’s why we’ve rounded up a list of new summer camps in the D.C. area for 2019. From brand-new programs to new themes at longtime favorites, there are fresh options for every type of kiddo.
For young ones
Georgetown Day School is introducing a new Little Hoppers Camp ($475) for rising pre-K and kindergarten students. The one-week program, offered throughout the summer, will be structured like a typical school day to help prepare little ones for the fall, and gives young kids a summer activity. “We had many parents last summer who were looking for opportunities for their 4-year-old children, as well as an opportunity to expose them to new situations with new people and new places before they started pre-K or kindergarten,” says Natalie Clinton, director of summer studies and break camps at Georgetown Day School. “We are hoping that campers will be exposed to a wide range of new experiences and begin to understand what it means to follow directions, work with other children, explore, create and learn.”
For kids wanting to learn survival skills
Got a middle schooler who needs to learn some independence? Check out the life skills boot camp ($500) at BASIS Independent School in McLean, Va. Running from June 24-28 for sixth- through eighth-graders, the camp will cover such topics as cooking a simple meal, doing laundry and managing finances.
Meanwhile, the Fairfax County Park Authority is offering a new orienteering and leadership camp (June 17-21, $495) for 11- to 15-year-olds that teaches them how to navigate with maps and compasses, complete ropes courses, and develop leadership skills through team-building activities. It’s also running a new survival camp at Burke Lake Park (June 24-28 and Aug. 19-23, $510) for the same age group, where kids learn how to fish, build a fire and construct a shelter.
For pop culture buffs
Got a Harry or Hermione fan at home? Sign them up for Smithsonian Summer Camp’s new two-week camp Hogwarts at the Smithsonian: OWLs and NEWTs ($635 member/$735 non-members). Offered June 24 through July 3 for fifth- through seventh-graders, it takes a deep dive into the mythology, history and science behind the “Harry Potter” books and films through visits to sites like the National Portrait Gallery and National Zoo. It even culminates in its own version of the Triwizard Tournament.
The Fairfax County Park Authority similarly wanted to tap into kids’ interests when planning camps for summer 2019. That’s why it’s offering new camp experiences like ACTion! JAM-ILTON (multiple sessions, $280) — where kids can make like Lin-Manuel Miranda and write their own American Revolution–themed songs and scenes — and camps inspired by popular Food Network shows like “Chopped” and “Cupcake Wars” (multiple sessions, $379). “We want children to be excited about the camp that they’re going to,” says Ellen Werthmann, youth services section manager for the park authority. “So we looked at incorporating the terms and components that they’re into every day and are familiar with.”
For video gamers
Lavner Camps will be rolling out new esports camps at its locations around the country, which include George Washington University’s Mount Vernon campus locally. Weeklong camps focused on “Fortnite,” “League of Legends” and “Overwatch” (multiple sessions, $609) will offer 13- to 15-year-olds tips on game-playing strategy, combined with instruction on how to use technology in a healthy way that includes time management skills, sensitivity training and stretches they can do during long gaming sessions.
For wannabe sports stars
Do your kids think they could take on the Salmon Ladder or Warped Wall? Then sign them up for the new Ninja Warrior Parkour camp (July 29-Aug. 2 and Aug. 12-16, $395) offered by Montgomery County Recreation. They’ll learn tumbling, rope climbing, balance and other obstacle course-conquering skills. Montgomery County is also offering a new flag football camp ($350) in partnership with the Washington Redskins. Kids ages 7-14 will develop skills and sportsmanship during the camp (July 15-19).
Meanwhile, at the new St. James sports and entertainment complex in Springfield, Va., kids can sign up for the Ultimate Sports Camp (starting at $310), offered all summer. Young athletes can compete in different sports at the complex’s FIFA-regulation soccer pitch, NBA-regulation basketball courts, NHL-regulation hockey rinks and Olympic-size swimming pool.
For fans more interested in delving into stats, check out Georgetown Day School’s new Sports of DC camp ($505). Offered July 29-Aug. 2 for grades four to six, it examines the history of local sports teams, analyzes their coaches and players and tours area stadiums.
For future scientists
For 2019, Headfirst Summer Camps, which offers camps at four D.C.-area locations, is unveiling its new Innovators Inc. camp experience ($479-$499). Developed by a former elementary educator, the program for rising second- through sixth-graders (ages vary by location) features a different theme-based challenge each week. On a given day, campers might time travel to learn about important inventions from the past or work as city planners to develop solutions to environmental and traffic problems. “What I saw in the classroom were a lot of missed opportunities for exploratory hands-on learning,” says Sarah Rae, associate of content and curriculum for summer camps at Headfirst. “The learning is fun, purposeful and meaningful and sprinkled in there in a way that doesn’t feel like school.”
Georgetown Day School is offering an array of new STEM camps ($490-$510) this summer where kids can make tabletop pinball machines, learn about 3D printing and coding or try their hand at robotics. “We have not had anything like this in the past, and we know these will be very popular,” says Clinton.
For junior chefs
The Red Bandana, a gluten-free bakery in Bethesda, will be offering summer camps for the first time this year, with sessions Aug. 5-9 for ages 9 to 13 and Aug. 12-16 for ages 5 to 8 ($300/week for half-day). Participants will explore food science, the food system and culinary history while baking and decorating healthy goodies that are gluten-free and often vegan, dairy-free and/or low in fat and sugar.
At Sidwell Summer’s Bethesda program, the Handwork Studio will offer new Sweets, Treats and Eats camps ($275) where participants can spend a week learning all about how to make a certain fun dessert, including cake pops, cookies, cupcakes and candy.
For creative types
For the past decade, the Handwork Studio has been running arts-related camps for Sidwell Summer’s program. This year, it’s introducing a new woodworking camp ($575) where kids in grades four through 10 get to measure, saw and hammer all the pieces for their own projects. “We know that kids have the answer to everything in their hands, but they’re going to need to learn in a different way to be successful,” says Laura Kelly, owner of the Handwork Studio. “They’re going to need to be able to physically understand how to construct things, to think critically and to analyze.” The one-week woodworking camp is offered throughout the summer. The Handwork Studio is also offering a new costume design camp (July 8-12 and Aug. 5-9, $575), where kids create a theatrical costume for characters of their choosing, and a new quilt-making camp (July 22-26, $575), where they design and machine sew a quilt made from favorite T-shirts.
Smithsonian Summer Camp’s new camp Music of Note ($635 member/$735 non-members) for fourth- through sixth-graders explores the evolution of African-American music. Running June 24-July 3, the camp includes visits to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, where campers learn how songs are connected to historical and cultural changes.