Beyond the campfire: 6 unique summer camps for Cleveland youth

Ahhh, to be a kid again—if only to experience the ridiculously cool summer camps available around Cleveland. From golf games to wizardly fun, these six camps go well beyond the traditional to offer unique and unforgettable experiences for local youth.

West Side Community House (WSCH): Summer of Sisterhood (Cudell)
Dates: June 13 - August 4
Targeted at: Girls ages 10 to 18 (with a maximum of 35 people)

Now in its ninth year, this free summer performing arts program focuses on boosting self-esteem and teaching leadership skills through the arts. This year, they aim to increase interest in literacy by writing poetry and songs, as well as reading a new book (American Street by Ibi Zoboi). "We are hoping to see what kind of impact our literacy program has on the participants," shares Ali McClain, youth services director at WSCH. They are also working with Case Western Reserve University to add a new research component to the program. Click here to learn more.

Sport Management – The Summer Institute (Cleveland State University)
Dates: June 17 - June 23
Targeted at: Ages 16 to 18

This inaugural weeklong workshop will provide hands-on experiences, workshops, and classroom lectures about the sports and entertainment industry—with local speakers from the Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Live Nation, among others. Covered topics include contract negotiations, venue operations, community relations, brand management, and much more. Open to 16 high school students, the camp also includes a tour of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and tickets to an Indians game. Click here to learn more.

Center for Arts-Inspired Learning (CAL): Makers and Mentors Summer Camps (University Circle)
Dates: July 23 - August 1
Targeted at: Grades 3 to 8

Taking place at CAL’s newly renovated headquarters in University Circle (aka the "Inspiration Center"), the Makers and Mentors Summer Camps aim to give campers the opportunity to explore and be inspired by Cleveland’s arts and cultural district. Taught by teen apprentices, its "We Tell The Story" camp will teach 22 “makers” theatre and movement techniques while rehearsing to perform at CAL’s ArtWorks Live! Showcase and Wade Oval Wednesday. Click here to learn more.

The First Tee of Cleveland and Cleveland Metroparks (Washington Golf Course in Newburgh Heights)
Weeklong camps from June to August
Targeted at: Ages 8 to 17

For over a decade, the First Tee of Cleveland and the Cleveland Metroparks have partnered to offer the Academy of Golf for Juniors. Way more than just golf lessons, the program is designed to develop the whole child by encouraging healthy habits and daily activity. Through the game of golf and a unique Nine Core Values curriculum (including sportsmanship, perseverance, and honesty), participants learn key values for living life off and on the course. In additional to golf, campers will engage in other types of games and activities each day. Click here to learn more.

Crooked River Exploration Camp (Old Brooklyn)
Dates: August 6 - August 10
Targeted at: Grades 1 through 6

This five-day outdoor camp is filled with scavenger hunts, neighborhood hikes, paddle boarding, and games—all geared to help youth build connections to the biodiversity found in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Three days are devoted to nature exploration throughout Old Brooklyn, with the other two days taking place in CVNP. Click here to learn more.

Art Buzz Kids Camp (Rocky River)
Targeted at: Kids ages 5 and up (5 to 10 children per class)

The Art Buzz Kids Camp offers themed camps and classes all summer long, complete with coordinating art projects. Upcoming themes include “Under the Sea,” “Super-Duper YOU,” and “Wizard Academy” (during which participants will create magical scenery, wands, and other enchanted art). Younger children will get an introduction to artwork by creating, sculpting, pasting, molding, and drawing, while older campers will take on more challenging projects—all of which studio owner Michelle Bosak feels are sorely needed.

“Art camps and classes are so important in our community,” says Bosak. “As schools continue to cut art programs, [so] kids need an outlet to explore their creativity and develop self-confidence.”

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