School’s out, and the mosquitos have moved in—but before you bemoan the humidity, rejoice in the thrill and unadulterated childhood joy that is summer camp! Whether your kiddo wants to hone her athletic prowess, flex her carpentry muscles, explore the science behind snot, or develop theatrical confidence, we have a camp session that’ll make this a summer to remember.

photo: Photo: GB Soccer School

D.C. United Summer Camps

Yes, that’s your kid obsessively practicing his stepovers, scissors, and forward roll on your freshly mown lawn. Get him out of your yard and onto the field with D.C. United! This beloved team gives players of all ages and abilities the opportunity to be part of the D.C. United family. All participants receive an official D.C. United camp ball, an official camp t-shirt, a ticket voucher to a D.C. United regular season home match. and discount offers on United ticket packages. Participants at the RFK Stadium location camp will also have the unique opportunity to watch the First Team train, participate in a stadium and locker room tour, have an MLS Championship trophy photo-op, and receive private access to RFK’s Team Store.

Ages: 5 to 16
Cost: starting at $215 
Where: locations vary
When: June 11 – August 24
Online: dcunited.com

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photo: Smithsonian Associates

Smithsonian Summer Camp

Now in its 49th year, the Smithsonian hosts a wide variety of camps for children to explore, discover, create, and go behind the scenes at the Smithsonian. Campers can blast into space, take center stage, create a masterpiece, invent a fantasy world, relive history or learn to shape the future of the planet. More than 90 camps are offered this year, and a tiny, exhilarating peek into the new one-week camp offerings reveals: “Eco-Heroes” (grades K–1) where campers dig into gardening, discover what life in the sea is like, conduct their own science experiments, and create eco-themed art; “Gross Me Out” where campers (grades 2–3) spend the week uncovering the science behind snot, the bacteria that live in belly buttons, and gross creatures inside and outside the human body; and “TV Smithsonian,” where campers (grades 5–7) research a topic in Smithsonian collections then produce, write, direct, and star in their own television-style documentary. Other camp themes include video game design, anime, the solar system, Smithsonian “Shark Tank,” papermaking, junior paleontologists, improv comedy, digital photography and more. Sadly, there are no camps for parents. 

Ages: K-9th grade
Cost: $460 for non-members and $395 for Smithsonian Associates members (for week-long camps)
Where: The Smithsonian’s S. Dillon Ripley Center, 
When: June 18 – August 17
Online: smithsonianassociates.org

photo: Smithsonian National Zoo

Summer Safari Day Camp at the National Zoo

Each of the Summer Safari programs explores the lives, habitats, and conservation of animals around the world. Week-long sessions include exciting hands-on activities, lessons, craft projects, science experiments, and walks through the Zoo (including those magical cool water misters!). Camp sessions are grouped into four grade levels: K-1, 2-3, 4-5 and 6-7. Kids don’t have direct contact with animals, but exciting themes include: If I Ran the Zoo, The Forest Awakens, Superman-imals, and Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? (among others). 

Ages: K to 7th grade
Cost: $400/member/five-day sessions, $500/nonmember/five-day sessions; $320 and $400, respectively, the week of July 2
Where: 3001 Connecticut Ave., NW
When: June 25 – August 17
Online: nationalzoo.si.edu

photo: Julie Kertesz via flickr

Camp Shakespeare

“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” Empower your kids to discover themselves with the greatest playwright in history. Campers will study the bard’s prolific writing by tackling text analysis and learn how to become Shakespeare’s characters through voice, movement, improvisation, and other acting skills. They’ll even learn the basics of stage combat! Each session ends with a show for family and friends at the Shakespeare Theatre Company.

Ages: 7 to 18 years
Cost: $350/week, $725/two-week Performance Intensive
Where: locations vary
When: June 25 – August 17
Online: shakespearetheatre.org

photo: Tiny Chefs

Tiny Chefs

With themes created for campers ages 4-14, your tiny chef will explore, grow, and learn—not only about how to make delicious food, but also about how to make healthy food choices and decode recipes. With classes on everything from Italian cooking to “breakfast for dinner” and pint-sized versions of “Chopped!” and Cupcake Wars, you might find yourself being waited on at home before the summer is out. 

Ages: 3 to 12 years
Cost: starting at $160
Where: locations vary throughout Maryland and Virginia
When: times vary
Online:  tinychefs.com

photo: Capital Cycle Club

Capital Cycle Camp

This bike-based camp believes that summer is a time to be outside, exploring the different neighborhoods of D.C. and giving back to the community by engaging in a different service activity each week. The founder, a long-time 3rd grade teacher in the District, aims to make sure that young cyclists learn to ride as a team and stick together for a safe and active week on bikes. The group might ride to the National Mall and take a break by watching an IMAX movie at the Natural History Museum. They might zip over to Yards Park and splash in the pool. They might have a picnic at Haines Point or explore the National Arboretum. They WILL have an epic adventure on two wheels.  

Ages: Ages 6 and up
Cost: $375-$430
Where: TBD (current meeting place is under renovation)
When: June 18 – July 16
Online: capitalcyclecamp.org

photo: Pawel Lov via flickr

Week in the Park at Wheaton Sports Pavilion

Hike or skate? Scavenger hunt or splash park? Okay, okay, just do it all! At this weeklong camp held at the Wheaton Sports Pavilion in Wheaton Regional Park, campers will enjoy the freedom of the outdoors by taking a different nature walk every day. They’ll also participate in two Public Skate Sessions at the Wheaton Ice Arena, enjoy fun scavenger hunts, ride on the Miniature Train and Carousel, and even take a field trip to the South Germantown Splash Park (weather permitting). Top it off with traditional camp games, songs, and arts and crafts, and you’ll have to drag them home by their toenails.

Cost: $260
Ages: 6 to 13 years
Where: 11751 Orebaugh Avenue (Wheaton, MD)
When: July 16 – July 20
Online: montgomeryparks.org

photo: National Building Museum

National Building Museum Summer Camp

How does art transform a city? Who was Frank Lloyd Wright? What do you do with a biscuit joiner? Let your budding architect or engineer explore these questions and more in one of the National Building Museum’s one- or two-week camps! Little designers will explore the art of creating everything from playgrounds to skyscrapers. From hands-on instruction with building materials and tools (like saws, drills, and hammers) to outdoor exploration of some of D.C.’s most notable architectural structures, kids will gain a greater understanding of how our communities are designed and built. Pillow forts will never be the same.

Ages: 2nd through 7th grade 
Cost: Starting at $350
Where: 401 F St NW (Gallery Place)
When: July 9 – August 17
Online: nbm.org

What other cool camps have you heard of in the D.C. metro area? Tell us about them in the comments section below. 

—Katie Brown