Summer Camps

Nix the days of TV and video games, the sweltering trips to the pool and the constant penciling in of play dates. The region is teeming with summer camps that are bound to enrapture your child in learning and fun.

Nix the days of TV and video games, the sweltering trips to the pool and the constant penciling in of play dates. The region is teeming with summer camps that are bound to enrapture your child in learning and fun.

By Lexie Ramage

Courtesy of Camp Horizons
Courtesy of Camp Horizons

Camp Horizons
Located in the Shenandoah Valley on 300 acres at the foot of the Massanutten Mountain range, Camp Horizons offers children (ages 6-17) a chance to live in cabins and, based on their program, choose between outdoor activities including: horseback lessons, golf lessons, scuba diving, canopy tours, rock climbing, canoeing, afternoon trips and more. “You can be yourself and be loved and accepted as part of the camp community just as you are,” says Kim Betts, the director of administration. “You can be silly and have fun without worrying about what others think of you.” Camp Horizons also has a weekly community meeting and “thank you” time, which help to foster long-lasting ties. “Relationships formed at camp often last a lifetime, and I am still in touch with many friends I met at camp over the years,” says Betts, who was a camper in 1988 and has since stayed with the camp as staff. Camp Horizons even provides a shuttle for campers to Northern Virginia, Maryland and Richmond. Campers can enjoy any of the six sessions from June 24 to Aug. 25. Sessions last for one to two weeks. Program costs vary. Camp Horizons, 3586 Horizons Way, Harrisonburg; 540-896-7600;

Modeling Camp
Courtesy of Modeling Camp

Modeling Camp
Modeling Camp is the perfect summer camp for girls, ages 7 to 17, interested in the fashion business or those wanting to increase their self confidence. The camp is broken down into programs including: fashion, modeling workshop, fashion design, behind the scenes, Miss Cotillion and photo shoots. Heather Cole, founder of modeling camp, says the camp’s “goal is really to help girls approach life with confidence and boost their self esteem. It’s a great way for girls to be themselves.” The different programs teach various skills like fitness, health, nutrition, grooming, etiquette, fashion, hair and makeup, photography, fashion design and more. “They learn about the world of fashion and walk away with life skills. They walk away feeling great,” Cole says. All sessions are held at The Westpark Hotel in Tysons Corner. There are four sessions, starting June 25-29, July 9-13, July 23-27 and Aug. 6-10. Regular days are from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Extended days are 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Lunch and a free T-shirt are included. The base price starts at $349 per session/per week, and there are discounts for multiple weeks and siblings. Campers can register online. The Model Source Inc., P.O. Box 1246, Fairfax; 703-273-2560;

Georgetown University Nike Tennis Camp
At this popular day camp, kids use the 14-court McDonough Tennis Courts at Georgetown University in order to learn tennis essentials, strategies, sportsmanship, mental toughness, tournament play and goal setting. “The camp is in a safe, secure environment,” says National Director of U.S. Sports Camps and Nike Tennis Camps Matt Kurlander. “Georgetown is an exciting cultural environment, rather than local clubs or courts.” This camp is helpful for any skill level. Kids are placed into programs based on their skills, and there are specific teaching programs for each skill level. “It’s a great program,” Kurlander says. “The director, Gordie Ernst, gets the kids really energized and pumped up.” From 8:30-9 a.m., the kids will check in and warm up. From 9-11:30 a.m., they will have instruction and drilling. After lunch, the kids have point play, then pool time or optional tennis. Fridays are tournament days. The full-day program, for ages 8-17, runs from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and includes lunch. The half-day program, for ages 6-17, runs from 8:30-11 a.m. “The kids leave with a sense of goal setting, something many of them haven’t had before,” Kurlander says. The camp runs from June 11 to July 20. Full days are $455. Half days cost $335. Registration is $250. McDonough Tennis Courts, Georgetown University; 1-800-645-3226;

International Spy Museum
Courtesy of the International Spy Museum

Spy Camp
If your 10- to 13-year-old children are always up to no good, have them put those skills to good use in the International Spy Museumm’s Spy Camp. Spies in training will experience daily top-secret briefings and undercover activities. Campers will develop a disguise for cover, make and break codes, discover escape and evasion techniques, create and use spy gadgets, and learn from real spies. “This is not a camp where we’re [just] training little spies, we’re teaching kids awareness and analysis using the spy hook,” says Youth Education Director for the Spy Museum Jackie Eyl. “They have to do some critical thinking and teambuilding. Most of our campers tell us that it felt real, and they really enjoyed it.” Naturally all this espionage won’t be contained inside an air-conditioned museum, the campers will visit FBI headquarters, Quantico labs and even some D.C. museums for training missions. “I’ve seen lots of different kinds of camps but not anything like this out there,” says Eyl. Spy Camp is a one-week day camp with options of two different sessions from July 30 until Aug. 3 or Aug. 6-10. The Camp runs 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and costs $415 (or $395 for museum members). Campers must call to register. International Spy Museum, 800 F St. NW, Washington, DC; 202-654-0933;

Randolph-Macon  Academy Flight Camp
Photo by Cindy Rodneya, Randolph-Macon Academy

Randolph-Macon Academy Flight Camp
This eight-student flight program is a treat for the adventurous 14- to 18-year-old looking for a unique summer experience (like flying in a Cessna 172). Students will have in-the-air flight training, aviation ground school classes and non-academic courses including art, photography, study skills, computer literacy and more. Students will fly a minimum of four hours per week. “The flight program is very unique and quite popular,” says Laura Abraham, the director of flight training at Randolph-Macon Academy. “We have several students who come back two years in a row because they enjoy it so much. A few of the summer flight kids go on to aviation-related colleges and aviation careers.” In the evenings, students go to the movies, swimming and bowling. On the weekends, there are theme park trips to King’s Dominion, Hershey Park and water parks. Prospective students need to contact the Randolph-Macon Academy admissions office for an application. The program runs from July 1-27. Room and board costs $2,800; the flight account deposit, $2,000; and the personal account deposit, $900. Any unused portion from the flight account and personal account is refunded. Randolph-Macon Academy, 200 Academy Drive, Front Royal; 540-636-5202;

DayJams is for those campers who dream of becoming rock stars. Campers (ages 8 to 15, and from all levels of experience) will learn how to play the guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, vocals or horn from professional musicians and teachers, in two-hour daily sessions. “It’s definitely not your traditional camp,” says Lauren Poudin, a representative for the camp. Campers will get a realistic feel of what it takes to be a rocker, focusing on: forming a rock band, writing a song, performing live and recording their performance. Campers will even design a poster, T-shirt and CD cover for their band. “It really focuses on the kids creating their own music and writing their own song as opposed to just doing a cover. It really is amazing that after a week kids walk away knowing how to play an instrument, they write their own original song and have a recording of it,” says Poudin. The camp runs from July 9-13 and July 16-20. The hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. with concerts at 5 p.m. on Fridays. Campers can register online. The Baltimore campus, located at the Roland Park Country School, costs $600 for one week (there is a $60 discount if you sign up for an additional week). DayJams, 5204 Roland Ave., Baltimore, MD; 800-295-5956;

Fun Bot Lab
Courtesy of Fun Bot Lab

Fun Bot Lab
If your child likes to play with LEGOs, robots or any form of technology, then Fun Bot Lab is the camp for them. Campers, grouped based on age and experience, use analytical thinking and problem solving in their morning labs to do anything from completing an obstacle course to making a robot part, breaking for lunch and recess. In the afternoon labs, campers experiment with digital media and make music, script Claymation movies, edit video and design graphics. “Our LEGO Star Wars and Claymation movies are very popular with our campers, and they love posting their finished work online for their friends to see,” says Timothy Burns, founder of the camp. “We also celebrate the digital arts and work with each camper to allow them a chance to publish their work online.” The camp runs from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. with aftercare available until 6 p.m. Campers also participate in a wide variety of sports such as Capture the Flag, Dodge Ball, Spud and more. Camps run from June 25 until Aug. 17 with four sessions that last one to two weeks. The cost is $249-$498. Fun Bot Lab, 7005 Georgetown Pike, McLean; 202-709-6151;

Acting For Young People Summer Acting Camp at GMU
Courtesy of FMelat Photography

Acting For Young People Summer Acting Camp at GMU
AClass Act is great for the drama king or queen, aged 5-18, who aspires to make it in the acting business. Attendees work on acting, voice and movement, with additional classes in acting for the camera, musical theatre, improvisation and playwriting. If actors want more variety there are even workshops on Wednesdays that cover additional skills such as stage combat, audition techniques, lighting design and other skills. “In a fun, high-energy environment, we help students build skills and self confidence while learning from working professionals in the theatre and film industries, and making new friends,” says Mary Lechter, founder and artistic director of Acting for Young People. Each session has a particular theme that carries into that session’s activities, and returning or multi-week campers will still be challenged since the theme changes with each session. “I’m surrounded by an extremely gifted group of teaching artists, and knowing that we’ve had some impact on the lives of these children and their families is truly rewarding,” says Lechter. There are five sessions that run from July 2 until Aug. 3. Classes run from 9 a.m.-6 p.m., and sessions cost $230-285. Performing Arts Building, George Mason University Fairfax Campus, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax; 703-307-5332;

Woodland Horse Center
Campers looking for a summer experience that allows for wind in their hair and a magnificant beast to allow for it, need to look no further than Woodland Horse Center. Located on 25 acres in Silver Spring, Md., the center offers a variety of ways for children to experience horseback riding. Campers can choose between either the one-week Pony Pals (ages 5-7) or two-week Horsemanship (ages 8-15) programs at Woodland Horse Center. The two programs both have a low campers-to-counselors ratio. “We allow children to ride twice a day, and in between that, they’re in the barn, spending time with the horses and learning horsemanship details,” says Tammy Gildea, Woodland Horse Center manager. Campers receive riding lessons, horsemanship lessons (daily care, horse safety, grooming, tacking, feeding, etc.), interactive lectures, and arts and crafts. Campers also enjoy special activities of the non-equestrian sort, such as pizza day, water games day, western day, bareback day and even a Graduation Day show. “We have these [supplemental] activities so the kids have fun around the horses and enjoy being at the farm, being outdoors,” says Gildea. Graduation Day is a fun time for all involved. Parents and family are invited, the kids makes costumes for the horses and participate in a musical drill ride. “Some walk away with their first exposure to horses or some walk away with more advanced skills that they’ve improved at camp,” says Gildea. The camp runs from June 18 until Aug. 17. The day runs from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. with extended hours from 8-9 a.m. and 4-6 p.m. Pony Pals costs $380. Horsemanship costs $775. Woodland Horse Center, 16301 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring, MD; 301-421-9156;

Girls First!
Courtesy of Girls First!

Girls First!
This is the camp for girls who want to learn and have fun this summer. Girls First! combines academic enrichment with sleep-away camp, which is “unique,” says Kim Newsome, director of summer and auxiliary programs at The Madiera School. There are 11 classes including: acting and directing for film, creative writing, digital photography, equine management, fashion design, interior design, forensics science, loving literature, multimedia journalism, psychology and veterinary science. Girls can be either resident ($2,495) or day ($1,695) campers. Each day, the whole camp comes together in a morning meeting, and then attends classes. They break for lunch and have more classes in the afternoon. Afternoon activities include swimming, tennis, going to the barn or doing yoga. After dinner, the residential girls participate in other activities like movies, crafts, karaoke and more. During the weekend the girls can go into D.C. for fun or try out the challenge course on campus. “For a lot of girls, that are away from home or came into a program that they didn’t know anything about, by the end of the program there’s a real feeling of confidence,” says Newsome. The last night of camp, the girls show what they have learned and accomplished to their parents, teachers and each other in the Student Showcase. The session lasts about two weeks, from June 24 until July 6. Campers can apply online. Girls First!, 8328 Georgetown Pike, McLean; 703-556-8323;


(March 2012)