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Family 5: Our Picks
for Most Unusual Summer Camps

clown camp

If you think summer camp is only about canoeing, archery, and campfires, you may be surprised to learn how much it's changed. These days, kids don't just go for the sunshine and the chance to hone their scouting skills; they use the time to pursue a creative interest at a performing arts camp; develop a marketable skill at computer camp; or even confront a health problem at weight-loss camp. That said, it's summertime, kids are out of school, and they want to have fun. Here are our top most-unusual ideas for summer camp.

  1. Spy Camp
    Camp Lohikan, Lake Como, Pennsylvania; (800) 488-4321
    Age: Entering second grade - high school teens
    Campers receive training on 4-wheelers, jet skis, high and low ropes, paintball combat strategies, martial arts, stealth and surveillance techniques, code breaking, survival training, and undercover maneuvers. The highlight is to "find the mole" in the mission finale.

  2. Circus Camp
    Camp Winnarainbow, Mendocino, California; (510) 525-4304
    Age: 7-14 (There is also an adult session.)
    Taught by veterans of the circus and performing arts, instructors teach timing, balance, and a sense of humor. More than just teaching kids to walk on stilts or fly through the air with the greatest of ease, the camp tries to "honor the creative spirit of each child in an atmosphere of approval and mutual encouragement. Our goal is to provide a training ground to nurture future leaders for a harmonious and sustainable world."

  3. Fashion Camp
    Pali Overnight Adventures/Fashion Design Institute; (888) 678-5537
    Age: 7 - high school teens
    Is your kid a future Ralph Lauren or Donatella Versace? Find out at fashion camp, where kids learn how to choose fabrics, sew, and sketch designs as they create pants, shirts, shorts, and other garments. Stylists-in-training will also go on a field trip to a fashion design house and meet a professional designer. The whole experience ends with a camp fashion show where designers show off their original creations. The campgrounds also host Hollywood Stunt, Culinary Institute, Rock Star, and other unique camps.

  4. Space Camp
    Space Camp, Huntsville, Alabama; (800) 637-7223
    Age: 9-18 (There is also a parent/child session.)
    More an institution than a mere camp, the original Space Camp offers an array of programs, including three- and six-day programs for 9- to 11-year-olds; six- and eight-day programs for 12- to 14-year olds; 6- to 13-day programs for 15- to 18-year-olds; and parent-child programs. For younger kids, the camp promises that "teamwork, self-confidence and communication will be achieved through state-of-the-art simulations, missions, rocket building and robotics." Older campers get "hands-on training, as well as learn about the mental, emotional and physical demands astronauts must face."

  5. Dinosaur Camp
    FunCamps/Pine Tree Camp, Boca Raton, Florida; (800) 570-7273
    Age: 5-10
    JurassiCamp is intended for the serious dino-phile or little paleontologist. Campers go on fossil digs, build dinosaur molds and models, and play "dino games."

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CeReality: 5 Families, 5 Stories, 1 Critical Meal

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