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From Manners to Monster Science: 17 One-of-a-kind Camps for Summer 2017

A sampler of extraordinary camps around Seattle for your extraordinary kids

Nancy Chaney

Published on: March 06, 2017

Parkour Visions. Photo credit: Bruce Miyake
Parkour Visions. Photo credit: Bruce Miyake

Kids are like sponges, always ready to soak up knowledge and skills. Summer camp presents the perfect avenue to gain mastery in a favorite pastime or be immersed in something completely new.

Luckily, the Puget Sound region abounds with extraordinary camps for your extraordinary kid. Beyond numerous camps that teach basics such as soccer, swimming and coding, you can also sign your child up to learn unusual skills, from ballroom dancing to zookeeping. Here are a range of ideas to start with. For a full camps calendar and numerous camp guides, see ParentMap’s camps page, as well as our camps family Atlas and our Golden Teddy award winners for camps and classes.

1. Dance like a star

For youngsters intrigued by the discipline, complexity and awesome moves involved in ballroom dancing, Pacific Ballroom Dance in Auburn offers half-day Dancing Classrooms Camps for Youth and Kids. Younger campers learn American-style standard and Latin dances, while older campers perfect their skills. Note: No prior experience is necessary. 

Ages: 3–18

Cost: $99/week

Dates: Multiple; see website

2. Hammering kids

Campers build fun and useful old-school skills at camps offered by Kids’ Carpentry Seattle. Kids build toys, learn about using hand tools and spark their imaginations through the medium of wood. Camps take place at various community centers around Seattle and meet two hours per day for a week. 

Ages: 5–10

Cost: $275/week

Dates:  Multiple; see website

3. Leapin’ campers!

Young daredevils looking for new thrills will love the half-day Parkour camps Parkour Visions gym (note its new location in Seattle's SODO neighborhood), designed to help kids learn this noncompetitive sport, which entails jumping, vaulting and climbing to create new pathways around obstacles. 

Ages: 8–16; they do have two-hour camps for ages 6-8 as well 

Cost: Varies based on camp and number of days

Dates: Multiple; see website

4. Skate keys

Kids of any gender will feel welcome learning to skate at Summer Skate Camps offered by Skate Like a Girl at parks around Seattle. Campers learn the basics of pushing and cruising on a board. More advanced skaters hone their skills and learn tricks like “drop-ins” and “ollies.” Camps are half-day with extended care available. 

Ages: 5–16 for girls’ camps, 5–12 for coed

Cost: Starting at $119

Dates: Multiple; see website

Student at Northwest Film Forum. 

5. Lights, action, movies!

Is your kid fascinated by storytelling and movies? Northwest Film Forum’s summer camps in filmmaking give budding moviemakers the chance to learn while using professional equipment and software. Classic Film Fun takes kids to Seattle streets to remake classic and silent short films, such as Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr. and Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid. 

Ages: 7–14

Cost: $350/week; discount for members

Dates: See website

6. The art of nature

The lovely, wild Tacoma Nature Center runs a number of intriguing summer camps, including the full-day It’s Art, Naturally! program, where campers will engage in creative play and connect with nature through a variety of art projects, stories, music and photography, as well as taking hikes, observing wildlife and practicing techniques learned from guest artists. 

Ages: 6–12

Cost: Starting at $117

Dates: See website

7. Etiquette in a week

Expect a lifetime return on investment for enrolling a child in Essential Manners for Modern Children Summer Camp, offered by Clise Etiquette in Seattle. Campers learn important social skills, including meeting new people, public courtesy, digital manners, table manners and more. Campers meet half-days, and camp concludes with a three-course lunch on Friday. 

Ages: 7–12

Cost: $359/week

Dates: See website

Searching for Sasquatch at Pacific Science Center

8. Monstrous fun

The Pacific Science Center joins forces with Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust for an intriguing camp titled Road Trip: Searching for Sasquatch, based at the Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center. Campers explore nearby habitats in search of Sasquatch, the Lorax and the elusive Pacific tree octopus, learning about the science of forest ecology and habitat restoration along the way. 

Grades: 4–6

Cost: $470 and up; discount for members

Dates: See "Camps for Curious Minds" guide

9. Into the woods

From storytelling to survival skills, Quiet Heart Wilderness School’s Summer in the Woods program offers unique one- and two-week full-day sessions in Edmonds, Shoreline and Woodinville. Campers participate in hands-on naturalist activities, wilderness games, crafts, native storytelling and much more. 

Ages: 7 and older (Little Chipmunks camps for ages 4–6 also available). 

Cost: $105–$375 depending on age, time and dates. 

Dates: Multiple, see website

Wilderness Awareness School Knife and Knots. Photo credit: Warren Moon
Wilderness Awareness School Knife and Knots. Photo credit: Warren Moon

10. Knot it!

Duvall’s Wilderness Awareness School is beloved for its engaging nature camps, which start at preschool age and teach nature and survival skills in a fun and engaging way. At Knife & Knot Skills Day Camp, kids delve into serious skills from compass navigation to trap building and shelter building. Camp hours are 9 a.m.–3 p.m., with locations in Kenmore, Seattle and Issaquah. 

Ages: 10–12, with camps available for younger kids, too. 

Cost: $385/week

Dates: Multiple; see website

11. The Wilder life

Does your girl love the Little House on the Prairie series? A full-day Pioneer Camp offered in a home-based setting in northeast Seattle gives would-be Ingalls girls the chance to travel back in time for a week. Campers dress up in pioneer clothes and bonnets as they work on 19th-century crafts and chores, and learn to cook authentic frontier foods. 

Grades: Incoming second-grade girls and older

Cost: $310/week

Dates: Multiple; see website

12. It’s about slime

At the University of Washington, the Burke Museum’s full-day Gross Out! camp in late August is perfect for fearless youngsters who enjoy all things icky, stinky and creepy-crawly. Campers explore the museum’s specimens and artifacts, conduct experiments, play games and more with Burke educators and scientists. 

Grades: 2–3 (entering)

Cost: $325/week; $300 for Burke members or UW ID cardholders

Dates: See website

13. Zoolanders

Aspiring zookeepers get their hands dirty — and have a whole lot of fun — at these All Day Adventure camps offered by Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma. 

Grades: First graders up through teens. 

Cost: Starting at $243; financial assistance available. 

Dates: See website

14. Bead amazing

Girls Rock Math runs a range of awesomely themed camps at nine locations around greater Seattle. At Bead-Dazzling Math, artistic, number-loving girls explore mathematical concepts related to jewelry design — from exploring infinity to computer programming and algebraic concepts — all while making beaded jewelry to take home. 

Grades: 3–5

Cost: $319/week 

Dates: Multiple, see website.

SJCC Cooking Farm to Table camp
SJCC Cooking Farm to Table camp

15. Get cookin’!

Get your kids excited about food politics and community-supported agriculture at the Cooking Camps held at Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island. Campers learn about sustainable living by cooking with organic, locally grown, seasonal produce, including visits to the on-site Kesher Community Garden. 

Grades: 5+

Cost: $365/week; discounts for members

Dates: See website

16. Sail away

The Museum of History & Industry runs several one-of-a-kind camps, including the Seafaring Adventure Camp, a full-day camp offered in partnership with Center for Wooden Boats and the Historic Ships Wharf at Lake Union. Campers explore life aboard a ship, study the science of steam-powered engines, learn how to navigate on open waters, build model sailboats and more. 

Grades: 3–5 (entering)

Cost: Starting at $350/week

Dates: See website

17. The science of nursing

Is your tween or teen interested in a career in medicine? At MultiCare’s annual Nurse Camp in Tacoma, participants shadow professional nurses and other health care providers, participating in station rotations and mock codes for a firsthand look at the multifaceted world of nursing. Best of all, thanks to grant support, Nurse Camp is free to students accepted to the program. There's also a similar opportunity offered through the University of Washington.

Grades: 11–12 (entering)

Cost: Free for accepted applicants

Dates: See website


Ashly Moore Sheldon contributed to this article.

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