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Practical Homeschooling® :

Summer Camp Extravaganza

By PHS Staff
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #86, 2009.

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We all have our own ideas of what “summer camp” is like. If you’re like me, here’s what springs to mind:

  • Rustic cabins
  • Swimming and boating in the lake
  • Crafting necklaces and bracelets out of gimp
  • Campfire sing-alongs
  • Hiking in the woods

But times have changed since the days of dear old Camp Tiki-Hama. Yes, your children can still enjoy the classic s’mores-and-campfires camp experience. But you also can choose from a dazzling array of:

  • Academic camps
  • Worldview camps
  • Outdoor adventures
  • College camps
  • Overseas tours

While planning your summer, be sure to put some time aside for your state homeschool convention. Homeschool cruises, park days, and special events such as the Midwest Homeschool Convention (see ad on next page) also tend to cluster in the summer and fall. Cruises aside, many of these are quite inexpensive for the whole family to attend.

So grab your planner and a sharp pencil, and let’s get started!

Regular & Specialty Camps

To find out about a huge variety of general and special-purpose camps, visit the American Camping Association’s website at CampParents.org. The site has a searchable database that allows you to pick camps based on dozens of activities (classic activities such as camping, or more unusual interests such as clowning or model rocketry), cultural and religious focus, affiliation, cost, location, session length, and age of child. You can also search for camps that accommodate various special needs, such as weight loss or gifted/talented, and camps for children with particular physical challenges (e.g., ADD, autism, burns, blindness, and dozens more).

This database only includes ACA-affiliated camps, but at the very least it should open your eyes to the literally hundreds of possibilities out there.

Academic Camps

This is an ever-growing field, with more types of academic camps offered each summer.

One provider with a wide variety of academic experiences for a wide variety of ages at a wide variety of locations is supercamp.com.

For those kids and teens looking to study film, programming, robotics, or gaming (seriously), we’ve had some personal experience with iD Tech Camps, the “#1 technology camp.” One of our daughters attended their film camp a few years ago. Boasting “no counselors in training” and ACA accreditation, these camps are held at “over 60 prestigious universities in the USA and Canada” each summer. Their website is internaldrive.com.

Outdoor Adventures

Everybody knows about Outward Bound, and their wilderness challenge adventures. For a similar experience with a Christian emphasis, we recommend Summit Adventure in Bass Lake, CA. They offer a wide variety of mountain climbing adventures, for teens, groups, and father/son groups. Call (559) 642-3899 or check their website at www.summitadventure.com for the latest dates and prices.

Montecito-Sequoia Lodge in Kings Canyon National Park, CA, offers 11 sessions of Summer Family Camp. There is also a special “40% off” Family Adventure Week (June 14-21). Ask about their special programs for homeschoolers! Call (877) 300-9135 or visit www.montecitosequoia.com for info.

Worldview Training Camps

TeenPact, a ministry that teaches Christian kids to be politically involved, has many events each year. The basic training courses are usually in the spring in each state. For those who have gone to their state class, there’s also TeenPact Challenge (ROTC-style skills in September and October), TeenPact Survival (various locations in June, August, and October), TeenPact Endeavor (for girls age 15 and up, Sept/Oct in GA), TeenPact Media Academy (July at Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, TN), TeenPact Back to DC (September 16-12 in Arlington, VA), and TeenPact Judicial (July 5-11 at Liberty University). These are all real training courses where your teen will learn lots, and maybe even help choose a direction in life. For more information, go to www.teenpact.com.

Another opportunity for worldview training is the Summer Christian Leadership Seminar sponsored by Summit Ministries. Young adults (16 and up) can choose from seven different two-week sessions in Manitou Springs, Colorado, two at Bryan College in Tennessee, and one at Liberty University in Virginia. College credit may be available, as well as plenty of recreational opportunities. Originally designed to prepare Christian youths for the many challenges of the college environment, Summit intends to give you a sound foundation in Christianity, and to bolster your faith by showing how the Bible relates to the real world. Find details online at www.summit.org.

Worldview Academy Leadership Camps offer teens intensive training in Worldview, Leadership, and Christian Apologetics. Camps are offered at college campuses throughout the United States, from early June to late July, with one additional camp (well attended by homeschoolers, since it’s during everyone else’s school year) September 27-October 2 at Camp Tejas in Giddings, TX. Various Pride children have attended these camps, often several years in a row. WVA involves a lot of “classroom” time, and a lot of right-to-the-point educational lectures on how Christianity affects your perspective on the world, and on what other common worldviews you will face as a Christian. New this year: college credit is available for those attending the June 7-12 camp at Oklahoma Wesleyan University. We at PHS highly recommend Worldview Academy. Call (800) 241-1123 or visit www.worldview.org for details.

College Camps

Get high school and/or college credit while having an exciting time! Many colleges offer summer camps for high-school students. Here are three!

Ohio University Summer Honors Academy in Athens, OH, offers classes for rising high-school sophomores, juniors, and seniors. This program has a strong college-prep focus, offering not just courses (for which you can earn college credit), but university life seminars, but also a seminar on the college application process, a free PSAT prep course, guidance in choosing your college major, and lots more. Plus, if accepted to the Summer Honors Academy, you’ll receive a $1,000 voucher, good towards tuition or room and board. Homeschool friendly: see ad on page 44. Contact (888) 551-6446 or www.ohio.edu/summer.

University of Maryland in in College Park, MD, is reaching out to homeschoolers this year, promoting their “Young Scholars” program. It runs from July 12-31, and participants can earn three college credits. Like Ohio U, college application assistance is included in the package, along with field trips, rope challenge, and other fun activities. For more info, go to www.summer.umd.edu/s/ysp/.

Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, VA, the first college primarily for homeschoolers, again offers its Teen Leadership Camps. Try Strategic Intelligence (June 7-13 or July 19-25), Constitutional Law (June 14-27)), Kucks Camp (science and math with Dr. Kucks, June 14-20), Journalism (June 21-27), Debate (July 5-18), or International Relations (July 5-22). Attendance for most camps is $550/person; Strategic Intelligence and Journalism camps are $650 each; Debate and Constitutional Law camps, which lasts two weeks, are $1,100 each. Everything is included except the student’s airfare to and from Dulles International Airport, if arriving by plane. Early Bird discount of $100 before April 15. For more information: (540) 338-1776 or www.phc.edu/teen_1.php.

Tours for Homeschoolers

Loewen Tours offers an unusual service: European tours for students! These are not typical “If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium” bus-style tours. Tour leaders John and Myrna Loewen share their passion for Europe’s beauty and cultural treasures while simultaneously educating their tour group on how to “travel like a European.” This means the group travels via local train systems, trams, buses, and subways.

The Loewens have lots of experience in providing tours that are not only educational, but enjoyable for young people. They have traveled widely with their own six children, who are now teens and young adults, so they know what interests this age group.

Groups are small (15 to 25 persons) and tours include airport drop-off and pick-up.

Upcoming tours are:

  • France, Southern Germany, and Austria 2009 (September 29-October 13)
  • Italy (October 15-28, 2009, or March 4-17, 2010)
  • Germany and Austria (March 18-30, 2010)
  • Holland, Belgium, and Paris (April 14-25, 2010)
  • Berlin, Prague, Krakow, and Vienna (April 29-May 12, 2010)

For more information, visit their website at www.loewentours.com.

Homeschool Park Days

On Homeschool Day, we take over the whole park. There is usually a special, low family rate. Special speakers and vendors are usually provided.

Six Flags offers special Homeschool Days at each of its facilities once a year. The date varies by park. Check with your local Six Flags (or your local homeschool group!) to find out more about your Six Flags Homeschool Day.

Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO, will be celebrating its annual Homeschool Day on October 3 and 4. For more info, call 800-417-7770.

Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN, recently announced that August 21 is their Homeschool Day. Keep checking www.dollywood.com for more details.

Knott’s Berry Farm Theme Park is offering two Homeschool Days: November 4, 2009, and February 3, 2010. The weather ought to be OK, since they are in Buena Park, CA. For more info, go to knotts.com, select “Special Events” from the left-hand menu, then “Calendar of Events.”

Many local museums and attractions are also now offering homeschool days. Ask your local zoo, aquarium, botanical garden, museum, etc., if they have one-and, if they don’t, ask them if they’d like to have one!

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