Just about all kids look forward to time off from school in the summer, but inevitably the weeks off from school will serve up a little boredom here and there. Break up the summer monotony by sending them to summer camp.
Whether it’s a single-day or week-long camp or an overnight away from home, summer camps in and around Tacoma offer all kinds of experiences for all kinds of interests. Got a budding artist? Got a kid who loves the stage? Got a young scientist? There’s a camp for that!
Broad Interest Camps
Metro Parks is a superb resource for summer camps of all stripes. You’ll find camps focusing on theater, art, dance, cooking, nature, music, golf, babysitting, adaptive activities – literally just about any topic your child might want to explore, Metro Parks has likely got it covered. Camps are available for children as young as 3 and as old as 18, and costs start at about $149. But each camp has its own age range and cost. For more information about specific camps, check out the Metro Parks website.
Fort Nisqually is located within Point Defiance Park and offers unique camps for kids who love history. Fort Nisqually offers a look at living history with reenactors showing visitors how people lived in the mid-19th century in the Puget Sound region. Camps are divided into age groups. Ages 6-8 focus on learning about the past through songs, stories, crafts and games. This camp is $95 for June 26-28. Ages 9-11 get to do crafts, activities, music and games for $150 from July 24-27. Ages 12-14 learn what life was like firsthand by learning skills like blacksmithing, fire starting and candle making, including a sleepover at the fort. This camp is $235 for July 9-13.
The Children’s Museum of Tacoma offers summer fun for younger kids, ages 2-8. Camps are half days from 9:00 a.m. to noon or 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and have different themes throughout the summer, including arts, STEAM, adventure, cooking and storytelling. Costs range from $75-$250.
Puyallup Children’s Theater has three different camp experiences. For kids who just need to get some energy out, their Day of Dance camps are single-day happenings where kids ages 4-8 can bust a move to songs from one of their favorite movies (Moana, Trolls and Frozen). Cost for Day of Dance camps are $50 per child, and $40 for additional kids from the same family. Next Step camps are for kids 4-9 and last for a full week, allowing kids to learn and perform a musical performance. These are $175 for the first kid, and $145 for additional kids from the same family. Finally, for children ages 8-10, Bound for Broadway camp lasts for two weeks, and participants will learn and then perform one of three Broadway shows. Tuition is $300 for the first child, and $285 for additional children.
The Lakewood Institute of Theater has a variety of different camps and classes for children ages 3-12. Camps last a week or two and prepare children to perform on the final day – specific shows include “The Ugly Duckling,” “The Stinky Cheese Man,” The Little Mermaid Jr.” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” For kids who want to focus on technique, Preparing the Actor camps allow them to zero in on stage skills. Cost depends on the class or camp selected and ranges from $100-$250 for week-long camps, and $325-$450 for two-week camps.
Music & Creative Camps
The University of Puget Sound hosts a week-long camp for experienced young musicians ages 12-19 where they will get to hone their musical skills and hang out with other musicians in their age group. At the end of the week, participants will perform a free concert to showcase their new skills. The cost is $275 per student.
Ted Brown Music offers music classes to all ages all year round, but during the summer, three music camp experiences offer a special take on music education. Instrument Exploration camps are a great way for students in grades 4-6 to figure out which instrument might be right for them. These four-day experiences give kids a chance to try out woodwinds, strings, keyboards, percussion or brass instruments (one per camp) for $59 each. Take 5 Jazz Improv is another experience for students ages 12-16 who want to learn or improve on their jazz skills. Take 5 classes are divided by experience level and cost $99. Finally, Live It Out Loud is an eight-week program for 12-18 year olds that places students in bands with other kids their age. Each band gets a mentor and is then coached to perform at a pro level. Live It Out Loud costs $400.
Tacoma Musical Playhouse is – if you can’t tell by the name – all about musicals. For kids with a penchant for musical theater, this is a great place to take part in a musical. TMP’s camps aim to give kids the full musical experience and children go through learning their part and rehearsing over a period of one to two weeks, with a performance or two at the end of the camp. Kids get to perform on stage with a full set, professional lighting and an expert staff to help them shine. There are several shows, all separated by student ages. Camps cost between $300 and $600, with discounts for registering early. Scholarships are available for some students.
The Broadway Center in downtown Tacoma is perfect for creative kids who want to perform. The camps seek to help kids find their voices, make friends and make great summer memories. This year, there are three camps to choose from: Creative Drama Summer Camp for children ages 4-7 (June 25-29; $150), Musical Theater Camp: FAME Jr. for children ages 8-18 (July 9-27; $625-$700) and August Acting Camp: Mysteries for kids ages 8-18 (August 6-17; $350-$380).
The Fred Oldfield Center in Puyallup will host eight summer camps this year. All camps run Monday – Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m and each camp costs $100 ($90 if you register before June 26). Camps range in topic and include fun themes like Paint, Paint, Paint Camp, Recycle Camp and Fantasy, Abstract, Impressionism Camp. Most camps are open to kids in grades K-12, but some are only open to ages 12 and up.
While its name might not sound like a camp, the Evergreen Musical Festival is a day camp held at Pacific Lutheran University for grades 3-8. String, woodwind, brass and percussion musicians join together for a week or rehearsals, coaching, instrumental demonstrations, theory classes, and some games and crafts. Session one takes place at PLU from July 23-27 with a concert on July 27. There’s also a second session that involves an overnight camp at Central Washington University for students in grade 9 through age 21.
Got a child who wants to be a filmmaker? The Grand seeks to help them on their way, or at least learn a few tricks of the trade. Kids ages 10-18 can sign up for summer camps for beginners and kids with previous film camp or club experience. Camps will see them creating short films over the course of the week with the help of an experienced filmmaker. Kids will work in teams as they learn to write a script, act out scenes, shoot and edit the final product. Finished films are shown on the big screen at the end of each camp. Some sessions are already sold out, but camps take place June 25-29 (beginners), July 9-13 (beginners), July 23-27 (advanced) and July 30-August 3 (advanced). The cost is $325 or $300 for The Grand members.
Tacoma Art Museum has three camps in 2018. Art-chitecture takes place July 9-13 and has a focus on how architectural design is also art; students will design a work of structural art of their own, too. Glorious Glass from July 16-20 teaches kids about all the different types of glass art and includes a visit to Tacoma Glassblowing Studio. This is Me! from July 23-27 is all about portraits – learning about portraits in the art museum’s galleries, and then experimenting with portraits of friends, family and yourself. All three camps have options for students entering grades 2-5, and for students entering grades 6-8. Some camps are already sold out. Cost is $295, or $265 for members.
Sound Movement Arts Center offers several dance camps, including camps focused on ballet, jazz and creative movement, a Trolls dance camp, a Greatest Showman dance camp and a crew dance team intensive. Camps take place throughout the summer and some camps have more than one set of dates. Prices range from $125 to $250.
For young soccer players, experienced and unexperienced alike, Sounders camps serve to build skills and build a love of the game. Camps include full-day ($275) and half-day ($195) options, as well as Advanced Technical Camp ($300) for experienced soccer players ages 9-16, and Emergence Camp ($185) for brand-new players ages 3-5. Camps take place in locations around Western Washington – check the website for locations and dates.
For athletic kids, there may be nothing finer than a summer filled with baseball or softball. Mariners Grand Slam camps take place throughout Western Washington, including in a few Pierce County cities, including Gig Harbor, Tacoma, Puyallup and Sumner. Camps provide skill building for players ages 7-12 through drills and game play and lots of fun as well, complete with expert instruction. Cost ranges from $135 to $260.
Alchemy Skateboarding has three-day skate camps that will teach your child the basics of skateboarding, from the structure of boards to ramps and even skatepark etiquette. Camps are designed for kids ages 6-12, but all ages are welcome and no experience is necessary. If you have your own equipment, bring it, but if you don’t, Alchemy has what you need. Camps are $150.
From June 25-29, this soccer camp is headed up by Colleen Hacker, who is a member of the coaching staff for the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, a consultant for women’s professional soccer and she’s one of the coaches for the United States Women’s National Soccer Team. Kids ages 6-17 can polish their soccer skills with this camp that takes place at Sprinker Recreation Center. Registration is $165.
Nature & Wildlife Camps
Wolf Camp is all about the outdoors and offers a number of camps and expeditions throughout Washington. In the Tacoma area, Wild Discovery Film Camp and Epic Fishing Camp both take place this summer. Camps have a focus on both building new skills and learning survival skills in the wild. Costs start at $275 per week.
Tacoma Nature Center has all kinds of programs throughout the year, but their summer camps are a fantastic mix of outdoor adventure, getting in touch with nature and a great location that doesn’t require much of a drive from most of Tacoma. Camps are geared for kids ages 4-12 and include a number of camps throughout the summer, including ones with topics like Gardens Galore, Wildlife Detectives, Nature ROCKS and more. Cost ranges from $105 for preschool sessions, and $160-$240 for camps for older kids.
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium has camps for kids ages 4-17, and within each age group, there are several camps to choose from. Camps can and do – of course – explore aspects of life at the zoo, from behind-the-scenes looks at how zoo exhibits work, to focuses on types of animals and sea life. Teen camps even send teens with some of the marine biologists or animal keepers at the zoo to feed the sharks or prepare food, or practice their photography with some of the most unique subjects in town. Camps start at $50 for shorter programs, and up to $140 for a full week. Discounts are available for zoo members.
Science and Technical Camps
LeMay – America’s Car Museum usually opens up registration for their summer camps closer to the summer, and they’re ideal for young motorheads as well as kids interested in the technical side of design. This year’s camps are not yet open for registration so check the website to see if registration has opened.
Bricks 4 Kidz camps all have one thing in common – LEGO pieces. Beyond that, there are a number of camp programs to choose from with focuses that vary from video game design to coding to super heroes to Minecraft. In short, these camps are just as much about learning as they are about fun. Camps take place in both morning and afternoon sessions, all half days. Prices range from $185-$245 and camps have individual age ranges, but serve kids 5-14 overall.
Located on the University of Puget Sound campus, iD Tech offer camps for kids ages 7-17 in higher level STEM topics, including Minecraft game design, coding, Java coding, app design and AI. Costs start at $899.