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Nontraditional Summer Camps Your Kid Will Love

Discover dozens of delightfully out-of-the-ordinary camps to try this summer

Published on: January 28, 2020

girl dressed as a fairy at shakespeare camp

If your kid isn’t into traditional summer camp activities, such as cooking out, hiking and singing around a campfire, have we got some cool out-of-the-ordinary options for you! Your happy camper can hone their comedic and sword skills at Camp Bill; build a pirate ship at The Center for Wooden Boats; learn to use a green screen at filmmaking camp; master the stealthy maneuvers of a seasoned wilderness scout; and more!

Terra Forma Education

Terra Forma offers a unique educational model that combines myth, storytelling and magical realism to teach kids about the environment. Each themed camp centers on a mythical quest, such as “The Secret of Sasquatch,” “The Myth of the Merpeople,” “The Legend of Atlantis” and others. Campers explore marine life, learn animal tracking and survival skills — all while developing group-dynamic skills and self-awareness.

Ages: 6–10

Dates: TBA

Cost: Half-day camps run $435/week; after-camp care is available for an additional cost

iD Tech

Got gamers? They can take their skills to the next level by learning to code in Java, create illustrations and animations with Adobe Illustrator, design their own reality in VR and much more. Multiple coed programs and weeklong camps are offered at a number of locations around the area, including the University of Washington (Seattle and Bothell campuses), Eton School, Bellevue College and the University of Puget Sound.

Ages: Day camps offered for kids ages 7–17, overnight camps for kids ages 10–17

Dates: Various

Cost: $899–$1,049

Girl Scouts Camp Robbinswold LGBTQA+ Camp

If your kiddo identifies as LGBTQA+, this is a great camp for them! Campers participate in all the usual summer camp activities, such as cookouts, swimming, boating and hiking, while getting to know others in their community. Housing will be based on gender identification, not gender assigned at birth.

Grades: 5–11

Dates: Aug. 16–22

Cost: $597–$747

Seattle Shakespeare

If sword fighting and making others laugh sound like pages from your little camper’s playbook, check out Camp Bill at Seattle Shakespeare. For kids in grades 3–6, it offers comedy and combat camp, in which the play “The Comedy of Errors” is used to teach physical comedy and acting skills. 

Grades: 3–6

Dates: July 13–17, 9 a.m.–3 p.m.

Cost: $365

If fey and fantastical characters are more your child’s obsession, try Rough Magic: Shakespeare’s Fantastical Characters camp, where participants imaginatively explore the Bard’s world of witches, sprites and fairies through dressing up; doing crafts, movement and dance; and learning acting skills.

Grades: 1–3

Dates: July 27–31, 9 a.m.–12:15 p.m.

Cost: $220

Wolf College

Wolf College is known for unusual summer camp programs, including the Secrets of the Ancient Scout. In this overnight camp, participants explore basic martial arts to master “mind over matter” and learn the tricks of camouflage and stealth.

Ages: 9–20

Dates: Aug. 29–Sept. 3 at Wolf College’s Lake Sammamish location

Cost: $795; scholarships are available

Secrets of the Ancient Scout is not for the timid! If your child wants a less intense but just as fun camp experience, check out Wolf College’s day camps for kids ages 6–12 at its Lake Sammamish and Puyallup locations. Camp weeks focus on a variety of themes, such as wildlife search and rescue, wild cooking and herbology, wilderness survival and more.

Ages: 6–12

Dates: Various; camp days run 9:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m., with complimentary extended care before and after camp

Cost: $295–$395

center for wooden boats
Photo: The Center for Wooden Boats

The Center for Wooden Boats

From crafting a half-hull model of the boat Pirate to building a 14-foot canoe with a parent or grandparent, Seattle’s The Center for Wooden Boats has plenty of unique camp offerings. Woodworking 101 and Intro to Racing are two additional popular options.

Ages: 10–adult

Dates: Various

Cost: $275 for day camps, $1,200 for the family canoe-building camp

High Trek Adventures

High Trek Adventures in Everett will offer three different STEM-focused camps this summer: Gravity Camp, Laser Tag Camp and Pioneering Camp. Depending on the camp, participants will learn about programming, aerodynamics, orienteering, engineering, game design, wilderness skills and more.

Ages: 9–13 for STEM camps; Sports & Adventure camps are also offered for kids 7–13

Dates: Various

Cost: $500 for a five-day-long, full-day camp, after-camp care $30

SIFF film camp kids with a camera
Photo: SIFF Camp, Credit: Langston

Summer Break Filmmaking Camps at SIFF

Calling all future filmmakers! Camps offered by the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) are taught by professional film educators and supported by filmmaking mentors. Kids ages 9–13 (ages vary based on the camp) will make short films while learning about visual storytelling. Topics and themes for these five-day camps include: mystery films, how to use a green screen, character development, special effects, stop-motion animation, editing and sound design, among others.

Ages: 9–13

Dates: Various

Cost: Full-day camps are $350 for members, $425 for nonmembers; after-camp care available for an additional cost

Summer Science with NOAA

At this camp just for middle schoolers, campers can learn about science careers by visiting different NOAA offices and seeing scientists in action. Other activities include learning about marine navigational charts, responding to a hypothetical spill, analyzing water samples, trying on scuba gear, simulating a dive in a hyperbaric chamber and more.

Grades: 6–8

Dates: July 6–10 and July 13–17, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.

Cost: $250 plus online registration fee; scholarships available

Blue Compass

Blue Compass camps are designed for kids with high-functioning autism, Asperger’s and ADHD. Through outdoor adventures, participants grow socially and emotionally. Camps offer a small, intimate environment in which staff support kids and help them excel. A variety of camps are available for kids ages 10–18, including Treasure Island on Blake Island, Adventure Camp at Island Lakes in Poulsbo, and Ranch Camp in Port Orchard. Older campers (ages 18–22) can go on an extended wilderness overnight camp called Private Trip. Scholarships are available, as well as possible funding, if families receive respite care from the Developmental Disabilities Administration.

Ages: 10–22

Dates: Various

Cost: Five-day overnight camps and 7- to 10-day overnight camps for youths ages 18–22

$1,325–$2,000

kid wearing a clown nose
Photo: Steve and Kate's Camp

Steve and Kate’s Camp

Steve and Kate’s camps are unique in that kids choose the activity they want to do from day to day and hour to hour. They can explore the bakery, perch in the crochet corner or create in the media lab, among many more fun options. Lunch and snacks are included, and drop-in flexible passes make this a great option for many families; you don’t even need to tell them you are coming! Unused day passes are refunded at the end of summer.

Ages: 4–12

Dates: Seattle dates are June 15–Aug. 14, 7:30 a.m.–6 p.m.; Redmond location dates to be confirmed soon

Cost: Day pass $100, summer pass $3,000

Any kid lucky enough to attend one of these summer camps will come away with new skills, increased confidence and something to talk about when school starts again!

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