Circus Camp

Campers and camp counselor Barbara Schiffer, center in purple, of Columbia watch as Peri Rose, right, of Westminster practices plate spinning during circus camp at Clemens Crossing Elementary School in Columbia, MD (Photo by Jen Rynda / June 2, 2014)

Forget popsicle-stick art and freeze tag. So many of today’s summer camps are unique, a camper could spend every week of the summer at a new one and never repeat an activity.

Over the next three months, Howard County Recreation and Parks will hold more than 300 camps for toddlers to teenagers ranging in themes from rock climbing, chess and musical theater to skate boarding, robotics and cooking. More than 13,000 campers are expected to register this year, more than a third of the county’s camps already had waiting lists by early May.

“It can be hard to keep up with the demand,” said Dawn Thomas, the county’s adventure, nature and outdoor recreation manager. But the county certainly tries because today’s campers are tomorrow’s hobbyists, she said.

“A lot of kids come to us for their first experience at something,” Thomas said. “We teach the basics, give them experience and if they like it, as they grow older it will become a hobby of theirs.”

Some camps, like Hands-On Archaeology and Circus Camp Stars, provide one-of-a-kind experiences. Sixty of the county’s camps are new this year, and there’s even a parent-and-child camp called Lil’ Acorns Mini-Camp for 2- and 3-year-olds.

If there is an opening, parents can register campers right up until the week before a camp begins. To find a camp your child would enjoy or to register, call 410-313-PARK or visit www.howardcountymd.gov and click on the “Departments” tab. You’ll find camps listed under “Recreation & Parks.”