Harford summer camps still have openings as school year comes to close

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School is out in less than a week and the kids will be home for the summer. Parents who still need to find something for them to do can check out one of a number of camp opportunities.

Camp Hidden Valley, run by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Harford and Cecil County, Harford Community College summer camps and John Carroll School summer camps all have openings in many of their programs, but organizers at each encourage families to sign up soon because they’re filling up fast.

“We’re getting close to capacity, though we do still have spots for every week,” said Juliana Simmons, the director of Camp Hidden Valley.

Camps are a summer “brain gain” program, helping students retain what they’ve learned during the school year, said Derek DeWitt, executive director of the Boys and Girls Clubs.

“Students who don’t engage in something over the summer can lose up to 30 percent of what they learned in the previous school year,” he said. “If that trend continues, they can fall further and further behind.”

‘A ton of fun’

Camp Hidden Valley in White Hall is an outdoor camp, where kids are busy all day long with “awesome, fun stuff to do” like games, swimming and field trips.

“It’s just a ton of fun — they make new friends and have a blast,” DeWitt said.

At Hidden Valley, students are learning and retaining without really realizing it, he said, since all the activities are game-based.

“Everything is designed to it keeps kids engaged with what they’re doing,” DeWitt said. “They don’t even realize what they’re doing is engaging in high-yield learning.”

The camp serves children ages 6 to 15, broken into age groups. The program offers theme weeks, including Ninja Warrior, Shipwrecked Survivors, Zombies, Around the World, Jedi Training, Color Wards, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Superheroes.

The camp includes sports, gaga ball, swimming, and arts and crafts, and one of the favorite field trips is tubing on Deer Creek, Simmons said.

“A lot of camps aren’t right on the water like that,” she said.

Some kids come for the entire summer, some for just a few weeks, she said.

Transportation to camp is free — a big draw for parents, Simmons said.

In addition to picking up students at the four Boys and Girls Clubs units in Harford — Bel Air, Aberdeen, Edgewood and Havre de Grace — the buses stop at depots across Harford County to pick up other students.

For more information, visit www.camphiddenvalley.com.

‘More than traditional summer camp’

Camp Curiosity at Harford Community College still has quite a number of openings, said Kelly Pulaski, coordinator for youth programs at the college.

The camps are for students in pre-kindergarten through ninth grade.

The summer camp program was changed up this year. Children can sign up weekly, with different classes in the morning and the afternoon.

“They can have two different themes through the week or one theme for the entire week,” Pulaski said.

Some of the more popular camps, like the culinary classes Plate It and Bakeology and STEM and technology classes, are offered more than once but likely have wait lists, she said.

“HCC is a little bit more than a traditional summer camp,” Pulaski said. “We target specific interests and students can immerse themselves in that experience for half-day or full-day activities.”

For more information, visit www.harford.edu/hcckids.

Camps of all variety

The summer camps at John Carroll School draw 900 to 1,000 kids over the summer, said Kathy Walsh, director of strategic marketing and communications

“In terms of availability, all of our camps still have space available although some are filling fast, including our daytime boys lacrosse camp,” Walsh said.

The traditional day camp — Young Patriot Camp — runs 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and includes a “vast array of activities,” according to the camp website, patriots.johncarroll.org/summer-camps.

A typical day at the Young Patriot Camp includes sports, interactive games, nature walks, visits to Rockfield playground, computer lab time and down time to cool off/play board games, according to the website.

Every week students do different activities, such as STEAM programs, demonstrations from Harford County police and fire companies, talent shows and art programs.

Athletic camps include baseball, field hockey, football, boys and girls lacrosse, volleyball and soccer.

“Kids can get some really good sports training at a really reasonable price,” Walsh said.

Academic-oriented camps include subjects such as musical theater, college planning workshops and young scientists.

“A lot of people may not have gone beyond the auditorium, but we have 72 acres here, a pond,” Walsh said. “I didn’t realize how much was on campus until I started working here, and the camps take advantage of the whole campus.”

Lunch is included for the campers and before and after care is also available.

Other camp options

Harford County Parks and Recreation offers summer nature camps at Anita C. Leight Estuary Center in Abingdon and Eden Mill Nature Center in Pylesville.

“Hop, crawl or swim your way around Leight Park at one of our summer camps for kids ages 5-15. Paddle the watery world of Otter Point Creek, explore the forest habitat, track down the wild and green things that live around us, and investigate the mysteries of nature in our science lab. Dare to venture outdoors and see what fun nature exploration can be,” according to the website.

Most camps run Tuesday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and are $110 to $120.

For more information, call the Center 410-612-1688 or email aclec@harfordcountymd.gov.

At Eden Mill, camps include Junior Naturalist, Dear Deer Creek, All About Animals, Incredible Insects and Great Green World.

They’re for ages 6 to 11 years old and are $175 per camper and run 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Visit www.edenmil.org for more information.

Harford Day School, www.harfordday.org, and Harford Gymnastics, harfordgymnastics.com, also host summer camps.

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