It’s that time of year, when the kids are out of school and you’ve heard the line, “I’m bored, take me to the pool” one too many times. Instead of letting them spend the summer in front of the TV, get those little angels out of your hair and send them to camp.
Shopping around for summer camps can be an exhausting endeavor. Word of mouth is one way to find out about a great camp, or you can visit Web sites like www.acacamps.com or www.nashvilleparent.com to do some research on your own.
Or better yet, you can let the camps come to you, as the Scene did last January when we visited the Summer Camp Fair at 100 Oaks Mall. Although most camps are filled up for this summer, tear out the guide that follows and tuck it away for next year. Though we couldn’t list the 500-plus camps represented at the fair, we were impressed with many of them. Below follows a brief list of some that caught our eye, with special attention given to price and distance from Music City. There’s a camp for every interest your child could possibly haveor has yet to develop. So send them off. You’ll never have to worry about hearing the phrase “I’m bored” again.
Camp Widjiwagan This ACA-accredited day camp located on Percy Priest Lake is only a 20-minute bus ride from downtown Nashville. All campers enroll in one of 21 Specialty Schools (which include activities from songwriting to street hockey) in addition to choosing from eight Adventure Series (which include activities from wilderness survival to water sports). The camp also offers 26 land activities ranging from horseback riding to zip lines. There are 20 water activities to choose from including banana boating, sailing and waterskiing. Camp Widjiwagan offers all the activities of a sleep-away camp without the angst of wondering if little Johnny has cockroaches in his bed (or is just lying about it). Discounts are provided for YMCA members and for families of multiple campers.
Camp Season: May 26-Aug. 8.
Location: 3088 Smith Springs Rd., Antioch, 360-CAMP, www.ymcamidtn.org/joecdavis/camp.
Cost: Prices range from $99/week to $199/week.
Camp Whippoorwill: This family-owned camp located on the 50-acre Whippoorwill Farm has been entertaining kids for 30 years. Chances are, many camper’s parents once went to this wildlife camp, where children can romp through creeks, wooded hills and fields. Not only that, Whippoorwill offers fishing, swimming, climbing and horseback riding, as well as theater and arts and crafts. Only a 45-minute drive from Nashville, the camp’s bus transportation makes parents’ lives during the hot season that much more convenient.
Camp Season: June 2-Aug. 8.
Location: 7840 Whippoorwill Ln., Fairview, 799-9925, www.whippoorwill.com.
Cost: $205/week ($10 early bird discount).
MTSU Sports Camps Keep your children busy with a range of co-ed activities including free swim, swim lessons, capture the flag, kickball, basketball, soccer, football and softballlet’s just say there’s no sport MTSU’s Sports Camps don’t offer. Eight one-week sessions are offered, plus extended care is available for $5/day and nutritional lunches provided by MTSU dining services for $30/week.
Camp Season: June 2-Aug. 1.
Location: Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, 898-2300, www.mtsu.edu.
Cost: $130/week (discounts for multiple children).
Vanderbilt Girls’ Basketball Camp Women’s basketball coach Melanie Balcomb polished her skills at an early age under the watchful eye of her father, who coached varsity basketball for 30 years before becoming an assistant coach at Princeton. Now Balcomb, the winningest coach in Xavier University history, is at Vanderbilt looking to make your daughter into a champion. If your daughter is ready to train with former VU stars, play in historic Memorial Gym, compete against other area players, and grab an evaluation, Nike T-shirt and possibly a camp award in the process, then sign her up for one of the school’s three camps.
Camp Season: Skills Day Camp, June 9-12; Day Offensive Camp, June 30-July 3; Team Camp, June 6-8.
Location: Vanderbilt University, 2201 West End Ave., 343-8482, www.vucommodores.com/womenhoops/camps.htm.
Cost: $200 Girls’ Overnight Team Camp ($185 commute), $275 Girls’ Skills Camp, $275 Offensive Improvement Camp.
Kevin Stallings Basketball Camp When Sports Illustrated rated Memorial Gym as the “nation’s toughest home court” they were referring to the “Memorial Magic” at work against opposing teams that enter this historic gym. Send your son to a Kevin Stalling’s basketball camp, where he can take advantage of collegiate facilities featuring three air-conditioned courts and a brand new training room, plus instruction by Vanderbilt coaches and players. Each of the four basketball camps feature a shooting competition and motivational speakers.
Camp Season: Junior Day Camp, July 21-23; Day Camp, June 23-26 and July 28-31; Overnight, June 18-21; Team Camp, June 13-15.
Location: Vanderbilt University, 2201 West End Ave., 322-6530, www.vucommodores.com/menhoops/camps.htm.
Cost: $150 Overnight Team Camp ($120 commute); $200 Jr. Day Camp; $250 Day Camp; $300 Overnight Individual Camp ($250 commute).
Vanderbilt Boys Soccer Academy Twenty-five years ago, area athletes began training with Vanderbilt soccer coaches and players to perfect their individual and team game at one of the longest-running soccer camps in Tennessee. Now, your son has the chance to train at one of the top five college soccer facilities in the nation under the direction of VU coach Tim McClements, a former college and pro player with seven years of collegiate head coaching under his belt. McClements stresses that the Soccer Academy offers a “fun environment for young players to improve and reach their full potential, while giving the Vanderbilt players the opportunity to give back to the community.” Perks for campers at each of the three camps include getting to dine among collegiate athletes at McGugin, a camp T-shirt and a hand-stitched ball. Aspiring goalkeepers at the Advanced and Elite camps will have the opportunity to train with VU coach Eric Vaughter, a former All-American and pro goalkeeper who is considered one of the nation’s top goalkeeping trainers.
Ages: 5-10, Day Camp; 10-18, Advanced & Team Camp; 13-18 Elite Camp.
Camp Season: June 23- July 18 Day Camp; July 20-24 Adv./Team, Elite.
Location: Vanderbilt University, 2201 West End Ave., 343-8098, www.vucommodores.com/mensoccer/camps.htm.
Cost: $225 Full Day Camp ($135 Half Day); $435 Adv./Team Camp ($335 commute); $485 Elite ($385 commute).
Vanderbilt Women’s Soccer Camps Jarett Smith, camp coordinator and assistant coach at VU, knows what it’s like to excel at soccer as a three-year letter winner at College of Charleston. So does Vanderbilt women’s head coach Ronnie Hill, who dominated as a goalkeeper at Duke. “Our camp is a great place for young players to meet college players,” Smith says. “We use the college players to demonstrate the fundamental moves and paint a real life picture for the kids.” In the case of freshman forward Kelci Hegg, the connection between the camper and collegiate was so strong that the North Carolina native, who attended the camp two years ago, found herself suiting up to play for Vanderbilt this fall.
Ages: 5-17, Day Camp; 12-18 Team Camp; 13-18 Elite Camp.
Camp Season: June 2-6, June 16-20 Day Camp; June 21-25 Team Camp, Elite Camp.
Location: Vanderbilt University, 2201 West End Ave., 343-8095, www.vucommodores.com/womensoccer/camps.htm.
Cost: $200 Full Day Camp ($125 Half Day); $450 Team Camp ($350 commute); $500 Elite Camp ($525 Elite Goalkeeping).
Note: Vanderbilt also hosts camps in baseball, football, girls’ lacrosse, swimming and tennis. For information, visit online at www.vanderbilt.edu/cngr/summer_programs/.
Watkins Young Artists Program In 1984, the Watkins Young Artists Program began by offering a Saturday class to 12 young artists. Nearly two decades later, the program has expanded to over 350 participants, offering a range of classes varying from clay making to painting to computer design to this year’s debut classes in experimental photography and screenwriting. The program targets the teenage artist. “We offer individual attention with classes capped at 12 students, in fantastic studio space,” says Watkins College director of community education, Victoria Boone. Call to inquire about the scholarship program. (Scholarships are awarded by age and artistic excellence.)
Camp Season: June 9-July 18.
Location: Watkins College of Art, 2298 Metro Center Blvd., 383-4848, www.watkins.edu.
Cost: $150/ 4 days, $230/6 days.
Cheekwood Summer Camp “The young artist who attends our camp this summer is inspired by the surrounding botanical gardens and art museum featuring an African American exhibition from the Smithsonian,” says Cheekwood Director of Education Mary Grissin. Young artists can take one- or two-week classes ranging from dinosaur drawing or sculpting for the little ones, to a movie camp or photo classes that teach darkroom production for teenage artists. With over 1200 campers, extended care for $75/day from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and artistic-based scholarships, there is no reason not to send your children to Cheekwood. (Unless you’re afraid your son or daughter will have too much fun on the pottery wheel.)
Camp Season: June 2-Aug. 15.
Location: Cheekwood Gardens, 1200 Forrest Park Dr., 353-9827, www.cheekwood.org/education/summercamp.htm.
Cost: Varies according to length of class and material required; 25-percent discounts for Cheekwood members.
Nashville Children’s Theatre Summer Camp Can’t keep your child off the stage? Send him to the nation’s oldest children’s theater offering seven summer camp options specializing in everything from acting and directing to set design. For a fee of $25/week, the camp offers after-hours care for those parents who workand the overachieving kids who just can’t get enough of the spotlight.
Camp Season: June 2-Aug. 1.
Location: 724 Second Ave. S., 254-9103, www.nashvillechildrenstheatre.org.
Cost: $33 Kinderama; $110 Jr. Theater; Theater Voyagers, Advanced Theater Voyagers, $137.50 Young Theater Group, Conservatory Classes, $165 Young Artists Company.
Adventures in Science Summer Camp Catering to curious learners with a host of activities ranging from taste-testing honeycombs to space exploration classes at Dyer Observatory. Camp discounts provided for members of the Adventure Science Center.
Ages/Grades: Age 3-7th grade.
Camp Season: June 2- Aug. 8.
Location: 800 Fort Negley Blvd., 862-5177, www.adventuresci.com.
Cost: $15/session for Wee Wonders; $85/week Curiosity Camp; $175/week Explorer Camp, Voyager Camp; $225 Journey to Mars.
Space Camp For over two decades, aspiring astronauts have come to Space Camp to sample space food and learn to sleep and even (gasp) pee in space. Have your children take a “walk on the moon” by sampling the gravity chair before dividing into a Mission Control Crew and Flight Crew. Want to know what to do when you hear the words, “Houston, we have a problem?” Join your son or daughter for Parent/Child Space Camp and get up close and personal with the switches and displays that operate the Orbiter, or watch the rocket that you and your child built together blast off. How’s that for parent-child bonding? For the homesick-prone, Huntsville is a short ride away, making it the perfect first-timer’s sleep away experience.
Camp Season: Year-round.
Location: 1 Tranquility Base, Huntsville, Ala., (256) 837-3400, www.spacecamp.com.
Cost: The following prices are for summer only: $499 Space Camp, Mach I; $999 Space Academy, Mach II, Advanced Space Academy, Mach III; $698/pair for Parent/Son and Parent/ Daughter Space Camp.
Regional Sleep away
Circle YI Ranch/Youth Incorporated Youth Incorporated, founded by Nashville philanthropist Allen Dobson, has a camp on the rolling hills of Percy Priest Lake, which thrives under the 13-year direction of Sue Ownby. The camp, which features horseback riding, a new sailing program, rope courses, astronomy and waterskiing among a host of other activities, offers campers the cabin group-living experience away from home (though home is only a few minutes away). Ownby swears by the “Challenge Choice” model of camp, in which campers and instructors “challenge their personal boundaries. The camp experience presents life experiences and addresses both mental and physical development in a safe, supportive environment.”
Camp Season: June 8-July 19.
Location: On Percy Priest Lake at the end of Jones Mill Rd., 865-0003, www.youthincorporated.org
Cost: Prices range from $280 for one week to $1275 for six weeks.
Camp Woodmont In 1981, Jim and Jane Bennett, a schoolteacher husband-and-wife team, started a camp atop Lookout Mountain in Georgia. Over 20 years later, Camp Woodmont thrives under their ownership and the direction of their son. Though Camp Woodmont offers a wide range of camp activities from acting and drama to sports and sciences (like stream ecology), what sets the camp apart, according to Jane Bennett, is that Woodmont has only 80 campers. “Campers never get lost in the crowd here,” Bennett says. “And the counselors put the children before everything. They create fun moments and help build life-long social skills and relationships through our high return rate.” Discounts offered to those who sign up before March 31.
Camp Season: June 1-Aug 1.
Location: 1339 Yankee Rd. Cloudland, Ga., (770) 457-0862, www.campwoodmont.com.
Cost: $595/week, $925/2 weeks.
Easter Seals Camp Lindahl This ACA-accredited camp situated on Old Hickory Lakes for individuals with physical and mental disabilities including but not limited to autism, cerebral palsy, diabetes, epilepsy and mental retardation, and offers a range of activities. Young kids and grown adults can make memories and meet lifelong companions while getting the chance to swim, play sports, make arts and crafts, boat, hike or fish. Inquire about financial assistance.
Camp Season: June-Aug.
Location: 6300 Benders Ferry Rd., Mt. Juliet, 444-2829, www.tn.easter-seals.org.
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