At Sugar Cube Candy Camp, campers decorate treats like candy sushi, above. (The Sugar Cube) At Sugar Cube Candy Camp, campers decorate treats like candy sushi, above. (The Sugar Cube)

What do you do if your kids would rather be interviewing coaches on the sidelines than lining up on first and goal? Send them to camp!

Instead of eating premade desserts or wearing clothes off the rack, some kids prefer to bake their own cupcakes and design their own outfits. Some even like to grab some juggling oranges and entertain their friends.

For these kids, we present to you camps where they can learn to do some really cool stuff.


Sugar Cube Candy Camp
CAMPERS: Willie Wonka wannabes ages 4-13 (approximately)
LENGTH: Two-hour classes offered three days a week, register for each class separately
LOCATION: The Sugar Cube (1218 King St., Alexandria)
THE VIBE: Kids work in teams to make the recipes and then individually put together and decorate their own candy treats.
WHAT IT’S LIKE: Each class has a different project — such as “candy seashore,” a summertime riff off of “worms in dirt,” with vanilla pudding and crushed up vanilla cookies for the sand, blue sprinkles for the sky and candy sea creatures. All those lucky kids get to eat the treats and take some home too.

Tiny Chefs Summer Camp
CAMPERS: Ages 4-14 (varies by location)
LENGTH: Half- or full-day, weeklong sessions
LOCATION: Twenty community centers and schools in Virginia, Maryland and the District
THE VIBE: Hands-on cooking and baking for all levels of expertise.
WHAT IT’S LIKE: Kids learn to make four or five dishes during themed weeks such as “Breakfast for Dinner!” and “Let’s Make Everyday a Holiday!” Activities and recipes are modified based on age and experience. During the “Baking Bootcamp” week, for example, older kids will learn to bake and decorate cakes with buttercup and marzipan flowers and fondant. The younger ones might instead make cupcakes, whoopee pies or granola bars. The cherry on top: Not only do campers get to eat what they make, they leave camp with a cookbook of the recipes they learned to make their savories and sweets at home for the rest of the family.

Cookology Summer Camp
CAMPERS: Budding chefs ages 5-17
LENGTH: Partial-day, three- to five-day sessions, June through August
LOCATION: 21100 Dulles Town Circle, Sterling, Va.
THE VIBE: Kitchen-newbies and Top Chefs alike learn by doing in this aprons-on cooking camp.
WHAT IT’S LIKE: Overheard at the camp: “Pizza and cupcakes? I did that when I was 4!” These young foodies leave camp with the ability to take a simple piece of chicken and whip up a velouté (translation: fancy gravy) to make a fabulous meal. This summer, campers (ages 8 and older) will get to show off their creations in “Cupcake Wars” and “Iron Chef” competitions.


Circus Camp Stars
CAMPERS: Ages 7-15
LENGTH: Weeklong sessions from mid-June through mid-August
LOCATION: Fourteen schools and community centers in Maryland
THE VIBE: Clowning around is serious business, except, of course, on pie-in-the-face Wednesdays.
WHAT IT’S LIKE: Juggling, plate spinning, stilt walking, hitting someone over the head with a foam hammer … Even Fizbo could learn something new at Circus Camp Stars. On top of all the technical skills, kids also build confidence. They each perform a solo at the end-of-week variety show, and regardless of whether they get it quite right, they still proclaim, “Tada!” — a great thing to say the next time you trip in front of strangers, says camp owner and comedy juggler Michael Rosman.

Mystery Academy
CAMPERS: Ages 5-10
LENGTH: Half- and full-day, weeklong sessions, June through August
LOCATION: More than 20 locations in Arlington, Reston, Va., Anne Arundel County, Md., Montgomery County, Md., and Glen Echo National Park, Md.
THE VIBE: Hogwartsians-in-training learn how to perform magic, make their own props and have some circus fun.
WHAT IT’S LIKE: There’s no Sorting Hat, but kids do get to make their own magic wands at Mystery Academy. By the week’s end, they can perform wizardly acts like card and sleight-of-hand tricks. Muggles can opt to do circus activities and puppetry.


Animal Welfare League Of Alexandria Summer Animal Camp
CAMPERS: Rising third-eighth graders
LENGTH: Each one-week session is for a designated grade level, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 a.m., late June through August
LOCATION: Vola Lawson Animal Shelter (4101 Eisenhower Ave., Alexandria)
THE VIBE: Arts and crafts, kids learn about domestic and wild animals, and they get playtime with the resident animals.
WHAT IT’S LIKE: Dogs and cats are a given, but campers also get to know less obvious animals such as lizards, turtles, rats and sometimes even chickens and roosters. It all depends on which feathered, furry or scaly friends are taking up residence at AWLA at the time. Kids get to play games like “dog bingo” and make toys to help the animals enjoy their time at the shelter.

Camp Wannadog!
CAMPERS: Ages 9-12 (approximately)
LENGTH: July 14-18 and August 18-22 from 9 a.m. to noon
LOCATION: Fairfax Station Railroad Museum (11200 Fairfax Station Road, Fairfax Station, Va.)
THE VIBE: Everything a kid needs to know about adopting and caring for a dog.
WHAT IT’S LIKE: For families that are considering adopting a dog, kids will learn about the different breeds of pooches and how to find a good fit. They’ll hear from veterinarians and other pet experts, visit with dogs looking for homes and even tour a shelter.


Play-by-Play Sports Broadcasting Camps
CAMPERS: Ages 10-18
LENGTH: June 23-27
LOCATION: College of Notre Dame (4701 N. Charles St., Baltimore)
THE VIBE: An aspiring sportscaster’s utopia.
WHAT IT’S LIKE: For a young sports junkie, this camp has everything: tours of professional stadiums like Baltimore’s Camden Yards, discussions with pros like Comcast SportsNet’s Brent Harris, and, of course, on-air time. Some activities include making sports anchor/reporting and play-by-play tapes and voicing over ESPN highlights.


A Kid’s Needle Arts And Fashion Camp (The Handwork Studio)
CAMPERS: Ages 3-16
LENGTH: One- to three-week sessions throughout the summer
LOCATION: Twelve schools in Virginia, Maryland, and the District
THE VIBE: Crafty fun!
WHAT IT’S LIKE: Five different camps are offered depending on location: Fibercrafts (ages 3-5), Fashion and Machine Sewing Camp (ages 10-15), Fabric Design (ages 10-15), Handwork Day Camp (ages 5-12) and Teen Fashion Bootcamp (ages 12-15). The little ones can make their own stuffed animals and dolls and the serious fashionistas will sketch, drape, sew and model their designs.

Bits of Thread Fashion Design Camp
CAMPERS: Ages 7-18
LENGTH: In July, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday, with half-day and before/after care hours available (Different sessions are offered based on age.)
LOCATION: 1794 Columbia Road NW., Suite #6
THE VIBE: From design to runway, campers do it all.
WHAT IT’S LIKE: Everyone leaves at the end of the week with at least one creation: a skirt, a pillow, even a complete outfit. Working in groups with a ratio no larger than five campers to one instructor, they might use sewing machines or mini dress-forms to fashion their fashions, or even dabble in decorative techniques such as beading, embroidery and fabric dying.