Kids' Guide to Summer in Oregon
The best summer camps for your kids—from Le Cirque camp to rock n' roll for girls and filmmaking to dinosaur bones.
April 1 2012By Lynne Sampson Curry
In mid-June, waves of kids dash out of school doors for a seemingly endless summer of fun. What’s a parent to do? Don’t panic. We scoured the state to discover fifty camps to suit kids of every interest—and your secret desire to enhance their education—from digging for fossils in Fossil and rocking out in Medford, to directing films in Portland or acting like a clown in Ashland. Most of these programs offer scholarships and financial aid.
Ages 4 -14 • June 18-Aug 31 • Portland & Eugene • $295+ • trackerspdx.com
If you remember summer as running wild in the woods and want your kids to experience the same, look into Trackers PDX. Instead of tag and songs, these camps involve live action role-play, ninja training and wizardry to lure kids away from their electronics. This one-of-a-kind summer camp isn’t afraid to put knives, smoke bombs and hot iron into kids’ hands while teaching common sense, social skills and survival training. Weeklong day camps and overnight wilderness adventures focus on real projects—blacksmithing, campfire and shelter building—and activities like kayaking, fishing and archery. From exploring the paranormal to the mythological, each camp engages kids’ imaginations in a powerful way.
Musketeers and Cadets Fencing Camps
Ages 8+ • July-Aug • Salem • $140 • salem.classicalfencing.us
If your kids ages 8 and older are fixated on sword play—or just need to channel their energy—sign them up for a week at Salem Classical Fencing. Day camps cover equipment, instruction with U.S. Fencing-certified coaches complete with strict codes of honor, chivalry and respect. Contact for July and August dates. The Musketeers camp for ages 8-11 is an introduction to foil fencing with drills and games, 9 a.m.-12 p.m., $140 per week. Campers ages 12 and older advance to Cadets where they’ll learn tactics for their parries and attacks, ending the week with duels, 1 p.m.-4 p.m., $160 per week. With experience comes opportunity for competing in foil and epee through this fencing league and all the way up to the national level.
More Outdoor Camps
U of Soccer Camp Ages 6-12 • June 16-20 • Eugene • $135+ • goducks.com
U of O Tennis Camp Ages 6-17 • Aug 13-16 • Eugene • $195+ • goducks.com
Audubon Portland Ages k -12 • June 25 - Aug 31 • Portland • $175+ • audubonportland.org
Blue Turns Watersports Ages 12-17 • Springfield • blueturns.com
Outdoor Camp Ages 7-16 • Aurora • ussportscamp.com
Hood River Waterplay Ages 7-12 • June - Aug • Hood River • $84+ • hoodriverwaterplay.com
Hatfield Marine Science Center
Ages 5-10 • Jul y 9-Aug 9 • Newport • $165 • hmsc.oregonstate.edu
The ideal summer day on the Oregon coast includes wading in tide pools, wandering a sandy beach and kayaking Yaquina Bay. This is exactly what the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport holds in store for 8-14 year olds in their four-day marine science field trips. Working directly with researchers, your budding marine scientist will dissect sea creatures and examine stomach contents, investigate animal adaptations and work in wet labs. After exploring all manner of marine life and ecosystems from the estuary shores to the old growth forests, your child will be an expert guide for your own family’s excursions.
High Desert Museum
Ages 5-10 • June 18-Aug 24 • Bend • $125+ • 541.382.4754 • highdesertmuseum.org
Oregon’s central high desert was once home to Native people and pioneers, birds of prey and wild cats. The High Desert Museum brings this history to life in weeklong camps for ages 5-10. During the full-day camps (9 a.m.- 3 p.m., with before and after care available), your child becomes a wildlife biologist, an animal tracker or an animal rescuer through interactions with the museum’s live owl, porcupines, reptiles and natural history exhibits. Along with retracing the footsteps of the first people, studying animals in flight and experiencing the lives of pioneers at the frontier ranch, they’ll explore themes from the natural world in paint, fabric and photography to gain a new perspective on this fascinating, changing environment.
More Educational Camps
International Studies Ages 3-5 • June 4 - Aug 31 • Bend • $205 • immersionpreschools.com
Science Factory Children's Museum Ages 5-10 • June 25 - Aug 24 • Eugene • $65-$225 • sciencefactory.org
Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum Ages 11-13 • July 23 - Aug 17 • McMinville • $167+ • evergreenmuseum.org
South Slough National Estuarine Reserve Ages 5-14, Charleston, South of Coos Bay • southsloughestuary.org
Camp Eek Ages 7-11 • June 18-July 20 • grants pass • $140 • wildlifeimages.org
Ocean Studies Day Camps Ages 6-12 • July 6-August 31 • newport • $35+ • aquarium.org
Omsi Science Camps Ages 5-13 • all summer • portland • $165+ • omsi.edu
Film Camp at Northwest Film Center
Ages 7-17 • June 18-Aug 24 • Portland • $195+ • nwfilm.org
Move over Sophia Coppola. After playing writer-director at Film Camp at Northwest Film Center in Portland, your kids will be in the director’s chair. Learning and fun with cinematic technology and self-expression is open to students entering grades 2-12. No experience necessary. One-week workshops include puppet-show production (grades 2-4), animation (grades 4-6), mockumentary (grades 6-8), plus sci-fi visual effects and digital movie making for tweens—all led by independent filmmakers. Every Monday-Friday day camp concludes with a film premiere for family, with popcorn on the house. Kids leave this camp with a video of their work in hand and an inside perspective on film production.
Ages 5-11 • June-Aug • Ashland • $130 • lecirquecentre.org
Let your kids run away to the circus at Le Cirque Centre in Ashland, where clowning around means learning balance, dance, juggling and the empowerment of performance. June 18 is the start of the eight-week Circus Academy camp for ages 5 ½ to 11 that runs into August. Exposure to the aerial arts include trapeze, silk clouds, rock climbing, bungee, stilt walking and lyra (hoops) that are thrilling and challenging in a way that motivates kids to be physically active while having a complete blast.
Ages 11-13 • Jul y 9-13 • Por tland • $150 • mercycorps.org/portland
The power of art and activism is the whole point of a weeklong workshop called ARTivism for that ultra-media-savvy group: middle schoolers. The camp is slated for July 9-13 at Mercy Corps, a humanitarian organization working worldwide. Sixth through eighth graders create art forms in all media to create an impactful message for social change. From 9 a.m.-2 p.m. each day, students learn to work with the elements of imagery, text and music to make messages stand out in today’s noisy world. Working with visiting artists, the ARTivists transform their own works into art for social change around global issues such as poverty. The ARTivists’ dioramas, photo storyboards, recycled artworks and more create powerful displays in a downtown art show at the end of the week.
Ages 4 -17 • June 18 - Aug 31 • Bend • $70+ • artscentraloregon.org
Give your child the gift of artistic expression—often underfunded during the school year—with an immersive art camp at Art Station. Inspiration for the rotating array of art programs at this regional arts organization in Bend comes from the sea, storybooks, pop art and your child’s own mind. Four-day- long half-day camps catered to ages 4-17 focus on creations in clay, paint, pencil, papier-mâché and short films.
More Art Camps
Summer Dance Camp Ages 3-12 • aug 13-17 • lincoln city • lincolncity-culturalcenter.org
Fairy Tale Adventure Camps Ages 3-11, June 25-Aug. 16 • portland • portlandfestivalballet.org
Theater in the Grove Ages 17-18 • June 18-Aug. 31 • Forest Grove • $115 • theaterinthegrove.org
Columbia Gorge School of Theater Ages 8-18 • June25- Jul y28 • Portland • $659+ • cgst.com
Ashland Children's Theater Ages 4-17 • June 25-August 10 • ashland • $100+ • oregonstageworks.org
Kids Creations Art Camp Ages 4 1/2-12 • June 20–August 26 • hood river • $50+ • gorgecreations.com
The Magic of Theater Ages 7-12 • June 18-August 17 • medford • $375+ • oregonconservatory.com
Pendleton Rock & Roll Camp
Ages 13-18 • Late July • Pendleton • Free • pendletonarts.org
In Pendleton, “R” isn’t just for rodeo. It’s for rock—as in Rock & Roll Camp, a free week of workshops for 100 teens (ages 13 to 18). In its seventh year, the camp is a signature program of the Pendleton Center for the Arts and runs for one week in late July (contact for dates). Composing songs, harmonizing and practicing stage skills with highcaliber touring musicians such as Point Juncture, and camp director Peter Walters of James Dean Kindle & the Eastern Oregon Playboys, guitar heads learn every aspect of the trade. Non-musicians, meanwhile, can get into rock journalism, concert promotion and merchandizing with professional mentors. The camp culminates in a live rock concert on Friday night in downtown for a typical crowd of 500. No musical experience necessary, an instrument loan program, and did you catch, free?
The John G. Shedd Institute
June 18-July 9 • Eugene • $110 • ofam.org
You’ll get a real song and dance from your grade-schooler after a single week—or four—at Songfest at The Shedd Community Music School in Eugene. Centered on the traditions of American folk songs and classics, these five-day camps at this landmark cultural arts center use singing, dance and instrument play—including ukulele, banjo and harmonica—to enrich your child’s musical appreciation and cultural heritage. Wild, Wild West, Bugs and Critters and other themes end in a performance for you, your family and friends.
Britt Rock Camp
Ages 13-18 • Medford/Jacksonville • $350 • brittfest.org/brittinstitute
2012 Britt Rock Camp in Medford/Jacksonville gears its six-day rock camp toward intermediate-level musicians, ages 13 to 18, to jam with Raining Jane from LA, and local musicians daily from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and perform at the famed Britt Institute. Call for camp dates.
More Music Camps
Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls Ages 8-17 • July 9-Aug 11 • portland • girlsrockcamp.org
Sound Roots School of Modern Music Ages 6-14 • Portland • $275+ • soundrootsmusic.com
Musango Marimba Center Ages 9-15 • June 25-28 • The Gorge • $115 • marimbamusango.com
Ages 7-11 • June 18 -Aug 31 • Eugene • $200 • nwyouthcorps.org/youthgrow.html
Eugene is a hotbed of young farmers. Youth Grow, led by AmeriCorps volunteers, is cultivating the next generation during weeklong gardening and cooking camps for ages 7-11 at Laurel Valley Educational Farm. Kids get down in the dirt to see how their food grows, harvest kale and fava beans, and then take that produce into the kitchen to make tasty projects like kale chips and fava bean dip. The education in whole foods and organic gardening is enhanced with art projects, nature journaling, and scavenger hunts in fresh air and sunshine on a real working farm. Many kids sign up for multiple weeks as much for the beekeeping as pizza lunches from the solar oven. Yours may return home asking for a worm bin and tell you they want to grow up to become a farmer.
Ages 6-14 • June - Aug • Portland • $200 • themerrykitchen.com
Calling all aspiring young chefs to Merry Kitchen, a cooking school just for kids in northeast Portland. Founder and instructor, Julie Merry, hails from Elephant’s Deli, has degrees in nutrition and culinary arts, and is a registered dietician and master gardener. Her four-day, three-hour camps connect growing in her g arden with cooking local foods.
More Food Camps
Zenger Farm Camp Ages 6-13 • June 25-Aug 24 • Portland • $245+ • zengerfarm.org
Philip Foster Farm Ages 7-12 • June 25/29, July 16/20 • Egale Creek • $245-$275 • philipfosterfarm.com
Farm Experience Day Camp Ages 5-12 • June 25-Aug 24 • Albany/Corvallis • $278+ • midwayfarmsoregon.com
In a Child's Path Ages 3-9 • June-Aug • Sandy • $265 • inachildspathfarm.com
Camps that went unmentioned in our print version
Opal Creek Expeditions near Gates takes 10-16 year olds on six-day backcountry trips through its 35,000-acre watershed in the Cascades between July 8-August 23, $435.
503.892.2782 | opalcreek.org
Summer Nature Camps with Friends of Tryon Creek State Park invites preschoolers through seventh graders for half-day and full-day camps Monday-Friday, June 25-August 17, $165-$220; overnight camp for middle-schoolers, $325.
503.636.4398 | tryonfriends.org
4H outdoor experience overnight camps throughout the state are open to anyone in grades 3-12, including Wild West Camp for grades 4-7, July 16-21, $215 and Wildlife Stewards Camp for grades 7-8, July 31-August 1, $290, both at the Oregon 4H Center in Salem.
541.371.7920 | oregon.4h.oregonstate.edu/camping
Windell’s Snowboard Camp in Welches features eight-day snowboarding sessions for all abilities ages 4 and older, June 6-August 21, $1,699 residential camp; $1,599 day camp (7 a.m.-10 p.m.) all-inclusive.
High Cascade Snowboard Youth Camp at Government Camp invites kids ages 9 and older of any ability for eight-day camps, June 15-August 12, $1,975-$2,075 residential, $1,195 day camp all-inclusive.
800.334.4272 | highcascade.com
Oregon Hope Chinese School Summer Cultural Camp in northwest Portland immerses children ages 4-10 in Mandarin language and cultural studies camps, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m., June 18-29 and July 9-August 31, $220 per week.
971.226.7240 | oregon-hope.org
Escuela Viva Grade School Summer Program is a dual language program in southeast Portland for grades 1-6 of any experience level. Day camps, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., July 9-August 31, $200 per week.
503.282.2091 | escuela-viva.com
Chess Odyssey, for chess masters-in-training entering grades 1-9, hosts weeklong day camps on Portland’s west side and in Beaverton, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., June-August, $250.
503. 504.5756 | chessodyssey.com
Mozek Games in Portland specializes in chess instruction and computer programming plus mind-bending Lego challenges and Lego robotics for grades K-8. Five-day, three-hour camps, June 25-August 24, $125-$200.
503.880.0581 | mozekgames.com