Whether your little elves are into art, theater, animals or science, keep them happy (and busy!) in one of these cool camp programs over the holiday break. From creeping critters or holiday baking to Ice Age adventures and Winter Wonderland art, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite local winter break camps. Read on for where to sign-up for a whirlwind of fun and activity.

photo: Helen Woodward Animal Center

Winter Critter Camp

Children from preschool – 6th grade can spend winter break with animals at Helen Woodward Animal Center’s Winter Critter Camp! They'll also create crafts, play games and participate in team activities. The camp takes place for two weeks starting on December 24th – January 4th (no camp on 12/25 or 1/1). Campers will discover the amazing adaptations that allow animals to survive the winter months, learn about their natural environment, observe their unique movements, find out about animal families and gain a better understanding of how animals help people and how people can help animals.

Cost: Daily sign-ups are offered and camp rates are as follows: preschool rate is $58/day (9 a.m. – 1p.m.) and the K-6th rate is $73/day (9 a.m. – 3 p.m.) Additional options including extended care and lunch are also available.

Camp dates: Dec. 24-28; Dec 31-Jan. 4

Helen Woodward Animal Center
6461 El Apajo Rd.
Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067
Online: animalcenter.org


photo: New Children's Museum

The New Children’s Museum Camp

Drop in for the day or sign up for a week of creative games and hands-on art activities at this amazing museum designed especially for kids. From 9 a.m.-4 p.m. each day, campers will immerse themselves in artistic projects based on a new theme each day. Some of the themes are: Cosmic Cuisine, Memories and Mementos, DIY NYE!, Art of the Future, Retro Recipes (baking!), and more engaging endeavors. Campers are divided into two grade groups: ages 4-6 and ages 7-12.

Cost: $63/day for museum members or $70/day for non-members; full week camp discount for 4-day camp is $214 and for 5-day camp is $238. Be sure to take advantage of the sibling discount if you send multiple kids to camp.

Camp dates: December 21, 26-28, 31 and January 2-4

The New Children’s Museum
200 West Island Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101
Online: thinkplaycreate.org

Camp Fire Camp CaHiTo

The sparks will fly during the four weeks of winter camps offered at Camp Fire. Nestled in the paths of Balboa Park, campers enjoy activities ranging from archery, hiking, low ropes challenge courses, fort building, nature crafts and much more. Camp Fire’s goal is to provide kids with the opportunity to find their spark, lift their voice and discover who they are through outdoor games, songs, and self-growth skills. Campers are divided into the following age groups: ages 5-7, ages 8-10, ages 11-13 and 9th-12th grade.

Cost: $170-$265/session; note: Campers must be a Camp Fire SD member for $25. Benefits include member-only discounts, newsletters, event notification, optional club programming, and the membership is valid for 365 days.

Camp dates: Dec. 17-21; Dec. 26-28

Camp CaHiTo
3101 Balboa Dr.
San Diego, CA 92101
Online: campcahito.org/camps/day-camps

photo: Fleet Science Center

Science Camps

Young Einsteins, rejoice! The Fleet Science Center has two weeks of winter camp on offer from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. Curious scientists in grades 1-3 will experience an array of educational, hands-on activities like making a marble roller coaster and mechanical toys to creating stop-motion video to learn about optics and filming. Kids in grades 4-8 will hone their computer science and technology skills with stellar activities based on Fortnite. They’ll design and code Fortnite themed blocks in 2D battle royale game and more!

Cost: Non-members: Grades 1-3, members $60/day, non-members $65/day; Grades 4-6, members $70/day, non-members $75/day

Camp dates: Dec. 26-Jan. 4

Fleet Science Center
1875 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92101
Online: rhfleet.org/events/winter-camps

Nature Camp at theNAT

Focus on Fossils, Paleo FBI, Reptile Revolution, Ice Age Adventures, Survivor and more! These engaging, fascinating single-day camp themes will keep kids in grades 1-5 enthralled and learning something new from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. every day. Register for one or all of the days offered in the week. Your young scientists will be wowed by their new understanding and appreciation for the magnificence of nature.

Cost: $59/members; $64/non-members

Camp dates: Dec. 26-Jan. 4

San Diego Natural History Museum
1788 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92101
Online: sdnhm.org

San Diego Junior Theater 

All the world’s a stage for your rising star when they take part in this imaginative drama camp. Kids will learn music, games, dance and acting skills while attending four classes each day: Voice, Acting, Dance/Movement and Specialty. Campers get to put their skills on display at an end of camp performance for family and friends!

Cost: $150-$225/session

Camp dates: Dec. 26-28; Jan. 2-4; Jan. 7-11

Casa del Prado Theatre
1600 Village Pl.
Balboa Park
San Diego, CA 92101
Online: sdjt.org

5-Day Kids' Holiday Cooking Series

From pizza and holiday cookies to apple pie and chicken tenders, your big kid (ages 8-12) will learn how to cook basic meals over Christmas break. Likewise, this 5-day series will boost your kiddos cooking confidence. Even more, they get to bring home generous portions of each meal (yum!) and a Sur La Table apron too! Cooking class is from 10 a.m.-noon each day.

Cost: $250/person

Camp dates: Dec.31-Jan. 4, at Carlsbad, La Jolla and San Diego locations

Sur La Table
Online: surlatable.com/kids-holiday-series

Winter Art Camps

From a Winter Wonderland camp to a Mixed Media Workshop you have choices in this art camp. With Winter Wonderland you'll draw and use other art mediums to make holiday animals and snowy landscapes. On the other hand, the Mixed Media mixes it up with experimenting with different art forms to create winter-themed art. There are two age groups from ages 4-7 and ages 8-14. Sign up quickly as this camp is filling up fast!

Camp dates: Dec. 18-22, Dec. 27-29

Cost: $120-$130/person

Point Loma Neighborhood
2590 Truxtun Rd., Ste. 204
Building 176
San Diego, CA 92106
Online: monartsandiego.com

photo: Bach 2 Rock

Bach 2 Rock Winter Break Camps

Whether you have a budding rock star (age 3-7) or a beginning to intermediate band player (7+) this local Encinitas camp has a place for their music level. Little ones have music storytime and learn rhythm and beat. Bigger kids are placed in a band by skill-level and taught by real musicians. Either way, your half-pint will learn to play and appreciate music at a whole new level. Week, partial week and single day camps are available.

Cost: $138-$184/child (age 3-7) for 3 half-days; $240-$320/big kid (age 7-17) for 3 full-days

Camp dates: Dec. 26-28 and Jan. 2-4

282 N. El Camino Real, Ste. C
Encinitas, CA 92024
Online: encinitas.b2rmusic.com/camps

featured photo: Rawpixel via Unsplash

––Beth Shea & Nikki Walsh


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