School will be out for summer before you know it! It’s time to sign up for an exciting summer camp so your kids can let the good times roll! We’ve rounded-up various camps that offer fantastic experiences for kids with all kinds of interests. From becoming a mad scientist or drawing comic books to learning all about animals via epic adventures at the Zoo or Safari Park and becoming a marine biologist for a week at Birch Aquarium, scroll through our slideshow to create summer memories your kiddos will never forget.
San Diego Zoo Summer Camps
Let the kids go truly wild this summer at a camp at the world famous San Diego Zoo. Super fun camp options are available for kids ages Pre-K through high school. They'll explore the world of animals via animal experiences, bus tours, artistic adventures, games and crafts. Young kids can choose from themes including the ABCs of Animals and Animal Moves and Grooves, while older kids can learn how to create 3D animal art and how to sketch baby animals. Teens can learn about career opportunities and meet San Diego Zoo Global professionals who are working to save species and end extinction. These camps offer so many unique and amazing experiences for young minds to grow in their love, appreciation and respect for animals. It's sure to be a summer adventure they'll never forget!
Check online here for dates, prices and camp themes.
San Diego Zoo Safari Park Summer Camps
A safari to Africa may not be in your summer travel plans, but as San Diegans, we are so lucky to have a total gem filled with countless animals to explore with our kids: the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, in our own backyard! Give your kids an amazing summer experience at a Safari Park summer camp. Starting from ages 2-3, even toddlers can attend one of several camp sessions with their favorite grown-up, such as Get a Move On, where they'll learn about animal movements: slither, hop and fly! Camps for kids, tweens and teens are also available in themes including The Art of Conservation, To Eat or be Eaten, Wild About Art and If I Ran the Park.
The enriching experience of attending camp in this spectacular setting amongst so many amazing animals is an opportunity that's not to be missed!
Half-day, full-day and full-week options are all available. Check online here for dates, prices and camp themes.
San Diego Children's Discovery Museum Summer Camps
Little Explorers summer camps at the San Diego Children's Discovery Museum are packed with thematic fun and education. Camp themes include: Explore Space, Explore Under the Sea, Explore Coding and Engineering, Explore the Jurassic World and Explore the World through Art. Whether your kiddo wants to be a paleontologist and dig for dinosaur bones, create fossils and paint prehistoric masterpieces or channel their inner astronaut to build rockets and create galaxy art, there's certainly a camp here that will make their dreams soar this summer. Camp days also include indoor and outdoor museum exploration, so Museum lovers will get to indulge in all their favorite activities.
Be sure to mark your calendar for the Aug. 3rd performance by all campers, who will perform a special song on stage at the final summer concert.
These camps are for kids ages entering kindergarten to entering third grade. Half-day and full-day options are available. Click here to read about camp themes, dates and times.
Birch Aquarium Summer Camps
Campers ages 4-15 can dive into an ocean of fun at Birch Aquarium's summer camps. Younger campers can explore the wonders of the ocean at the Aquarium, observing and touching live tide pool animals and learning about animals from sea slugs to sharks. Older kids may opt for Snorkel 101 to take the plunge and learn all about snorkeling while encountering sea creatures along the way! Or older kids can sign up for the Be an Oceanographer camp to visit Scripps Institution of Oceanography for a behind-the-scenes glimpse of field techniques, tools of the trade, and cutting edge technologies scientists are using to understand and protect the ocean. This camp may spend one day in the water too!
So many adventures for all different age levels and interests. Click here for dates, times and prices of each camp.
San Diego Natural History Museum Summer Camps
Budding scientists in grades 1-8 will really dig the summer camps at The Nat. Their summer will be filled with science, fun and friendship as they discover nature’s wonders past and present, from the ocean to the desert. Camp themes include all-time favorites as well as some new camps, and topics vary by age level. Pre-K and kindergartners will love "Digging into Dinosaurs" and elementary school kids may opt for a variety of camps including Wonder Women in Science, Guardians of the Globe, Bug Hunters and Animal Mysteries. Middle schoolers will like Digital Storytelling, Exhibit Makers and Nature Challenge. There's something for every kid and a souvenir T-shirt is included.
Camps run June 17-Aug. 16
ARTS DISTRICT Summer Camps
If you've got a creative kiddo, sign up for a summer camp at ARTS DISTRICT Liberty Station. Camps feature music, dance, theater, creative writing, hands-on art-making, photography, and more, all in Liberty Station’s park-like setting. There’s even a camp for junior Rock ‘n Rollers. Kids can explore and discover new skills and beat the summer boredom blues with fun-filled, upbeat and lively experiences. Starting in May, classes and workshops presented by 13 professional arts organizations throughout the creative campus are ideal for families looking for creative experiences for their kids ages 4–17.
This year, the Summer Camp Sign-up Fair is April 7 from noon-4 p.m. on the North Promenade at 2875 Dewey Rd. Enjoy a fun filled afternoon with signature ARTS DISTRICT Summer Camp providers. Meet teachers, learn about camps, see performances and sign up for a camp your young artist will love.
Little Fish Comic Book Studio Camps
Taking the kids to Comic-Con this summer? This might be the perfect camp to get them ready! Little Fish Comic Book Studio educates students of all ages using the standards of both a traditional art school and the comic book industry. The relaxed studio environment explores what it takes to be a professional comic creator, while also working on individual artistry.
In the Kidz Comic Camp, kids ages 7-11 will create characters and comics, from initial idea to completed page. They’ll have fun with penciling, inking and coloring their own comic page. Materials are included and at the end of one week each child will have their very own comic story!
Teens ages 12-16 can take the Teenz Comic Class. This fun, imaginative environment welcomes all comic ideas, which are encouraged and nurtured. The class includes historical context and introductory lectures. At the end of one week each child will have a 2-3 page comic story to share with their friends.
Check online for weekly camp offerings and prices.
Critter Camp at Helen Woodward Animal Center
At these fun animal-centric themed camps, children in preschool – 8th grade can explore the amazing world of animals through hands-on interactions. They'll also strengthen their social skills as they meet new friends, express their creativity during craft time, develop compassion towards animals and make meaningful memories that will last forever. The two alternating weekly themes for the Preschool – 6th graders are In Your Wildest Dreams and Animals Through the Ages. Campers will meet an array of amazing animals from alpacas to a bearded dragon, all while delving into topics that will both educate them and encourage them to use their imagination.
The 7th – 8th graders not only get to interact with animals, but will also develop leadership skills as they help feed and walk the animals, meet professionals in the animal industry and more. The goal of these camps is to provide a fun and educational environment through interactive games and activities that incorporate STEM education.
Summer Critter Camp runs from June 10th – August 30th. The preschool rate is $231/week and the K-8th rate is $292/week. Additional options such as extended care, lunch and photos are available as well. Daily camp rates are available at rates of $58/day for preschoolers and $77/day for K-8th.
Mad Science Camp
Kids can become junior scientists for the summer and have so much fun that they’ll forget they’re learning! Embark on a series of adventures for all ages, including an option for pre-K, ages 4-5, called Little Green Thumb. These classes are perfect camps to start the pre-kinder set on a STEM experience. Each session includes educational activities.
Little Green Thumb campers explore different parts of a garden and learn all about seeds, soil and sprouts. Kids examine fruits, vegetables, plants and leaves using a microscope designed for preschoolers. Kiddos also learn about interesting creatures that live in a garden like butterflies, ladybugs and bees and learn how these creatures can help a garden grow. Participants even get to take home projects like a bug bracelet and bean necklace.
Older kids, ages 6-11, have plenty of options to choose from, including a camp called NASA Space Academy. Campers will become rocket scientists! as they explore the science involved in rocket construction and build and launch their own rocket. They'll also work in teams to complete a space mission and build a model space station.
Mad Science camps take place throughout San Diego County at various locations such as recreation centers and schools. Visit the website to pick the best location for your family. The sessions run weekly and typically occur in 3-hour increments. While prices vary by session and location, a week-long camp experience tends to cost around $150 per camper.
San Diego Junior Theater Summer Camp
Little actors and actresses can put their talents to good use by spending the summer acting, singing and dancing at San Diego Junior Theatre in Balboa Park. San Diego’s premier children’s theatre program offers performance and dance camps all summer long for students entering grades K-12, as well as advanced acting and musical theatre camps for high-school students.
Each weekly session in the traditional summer camp features a fun new theme such as Lin-Manuel Miranda Fan Club, Wizard of Oz and Pippi Longstocking to name just a few. Campers will get to participate in four classes each day including Voice, Acting, Dance/Movement, and Specialty. Then get your camera ready because every Friday your little one will show off the skills they’ve learned during the week as they put on a mini performance!
San Diego Junior Theatre summer camp runs from June 10 – August 23 in week-long sessions. Camp costs range from $180-$275 per week.
San Diego Model Railroad Museum Summer Camp
If your kids are obsessed with trains, this is the camp for them! Unplug this summer at The San Diego Model Railroad museum in Balboa Park. Get your little engineers on track to encourage critical thinking and creativity and to spark their imagination. 1st grade through 9th grade campers will learn how to build a model railroad. They'll construct a themed, operational scale model from track laying, ballasting, scenery construction and circuitry while working from a track plan.
Campers will also learn and use design principles, research unique railroad cars and learn about why engineers use arches in the construction of railroad bridges.
Camps include train themed lessons and activities, a camp t-shirt, behind the scenes tours of the museum and field trips.
Camp dates are June 17-Aug. 2nd and prices start at $195 for one week.
Outpost Summer Camps
Outpost summer camps are 100% outdoors and 100% unplugged. If your kiddos want a traditional summer experience that includes hiking, tree forts, swimming, skits and singing around the campfire, check out Outpost Summer Camp. Programs are available to kids as young as preschool-aged up to 9th grade. Upon arrival at the Canyonside Community Park in Rancho Penasquitos, campers start the day with the high energy game of "Blitz," which includes songs, skits and just being silly! After that, kids will build forts in the nature preserve, play games, eat lunch and swim at a local community pool. To finish the day, groups often prepare a skit or song for the afternoon campfire and enjoy snack and daily theme activities, or take a splash in a mud pit.
The super convenient door-to-door transportation is one of the best features of Outpost Summer Camp. If you live in one of the camp's service areas, the Outpost vans will pick up the kids from your house and drop them off at the end of the day. The transportation is included in the cost and is a favorite part of the day for the kiddos. Outpost counselors even provide snacks and will apply sunscreen to your kiddo.
Outpost Summer Camp runs from June-August in 3-week sessions. The camp day goes from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and is available in 5-day, 3-day or 2-day options. The costs vary by duration and age.
––Marissa Mullen & Beth Shea