Camp Unusual

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Summer camps allow us to enrich our children beyond the ordinary offerings of an 8:25 a.m. to 2:50 p.m., Monday to Friday education.  So why not aim high and let them expand their horizons with experts and talent available in camps locally, and out of our area on an overnight basis.

Here are some top picks with pros , cons and estimated pricing:

Montclair State University Gifted & Talented Summer Camp
Grades 1-11. Two sessions: June 27-July 15, July 18-Aug 5
$1,825 per session full day or $1,525 for a half-day program

Where else can you start the day with a fencing or chess match, ease into CSI-style science or advanced code breaking, build a solar car, explore architectural engineering, and all with like minded kids in a creative and dynamic environment? At MSU, children choose from a menu of over 100 courses that cover language arts, math, science and creative arts to build a schedule of their own that has them most challenged academically in the morning, with afternoon dedicated to more creative or athletic endeavors. (See what a typical day looks like here.)

Don’t let the name dissuade you from applying; admission standards allow for recommendations from teachers and faculty from your child’s school.  The intensity of the curriculum would  probably be exhausting for an entire summer, but three weeks is plenty to get your child intrigued and geared up for new areas of learning.  Students are encouraged to show off their projects, programs and inventions at a final session parent day, and then are evaluated by their professors, who are generally experts in their respective  fields.

With cafeteria lunches and low student-to-teacher ratios, this is pretty much the Ritz Carlton of camps in our area, but well worth the scraping if you consider summer an opportunity to expand and explore. If you want to know more, MSU will have information sessions on Wednesday, March 16 and Thursday, March 31, both from 7 to 8 p.m. Check here for more information.

Seton Hall Learn To Swim Camp & Competitive Swim Camp
4 one-week sessions
Approximately $350 per week

Seton Hall is a Division I school with a formidable aquatic program under Head Coach Ron Farina.  For competitive swim camp, kids should be able to swim a 25-meter pool length and should have an understanding of basic strokes.  What Coach Farina excels at is focusing for a day on each of the particular stokes, and emphasizing correct stroke movement with drills to reinforce learning.  This camp is an exhausting program, but your child will come away with improvement and deeper understanding beyond the usual half hour of hour private lessons that they may have had so far.  Coach Farina and his able assistant Kevin Mullroney are particularly adept at focusing on each swimmer’s strengths and areas for development.  A rare and relative bargain for your kids to be exposed to high level swim coaching within reach of Verona.  Seton Hall is a 15-minute drive, and the teacher-to-camper ratio is low.

Montclair Art Museum SummerArt And Digital Media Camps
June 27-August 21
Ages 5-12, prices from $360 to $890, based on age and program

SummerArt is the Montclair Art Museum’s long-standing camp for drawing, painting, pottery and sculpture, and more populist arts like cartooning and claymation. The camp includes art appreciation sessions in the museum’s galleries and a student show at the end. But this year, the museum is also adding a Digital Media camp that will focus on photography, movie and Web site creation and video game design. The Digital Media camp is only open to kids ages 8-12, and they will work both individually and in groups. The MAM program is a bit pricey, but you can ease the hit on your wallet somewhat by joining the museum as a member. And the Digital Media Camp is priced well below similar programs elsewhere.

U.S. Naval Academy Swim Camp
Annapolis, Maryland
June 6-12, June 13-17, ages 8-18

For an entirely unique experience before school gets out in Verona how about the resident competitive swim camp at U.S. Naval Academy, where children train under the supervision of Head Coach Bill Roberts at the Navy’s own pool facility, McDonough Hall.  Students stay in Bancroft Hall, the dormitory of the U.S. Naval Academy. This is a stroke-intensive camp, designed to help a swimmer improve in each of the four individual strokes including starts and turns.  There will be educational presentations each evening, video analysis of all four strokes, individual and group instruction, Navy time trials meet, and a boat cruise of Annapolis Harbor and the Severn River.

What sets this camp apart is the Navy’s trademark emphasis on goal setting and leadership training.  There is an eye on “favorable” conduct and the camp reserves the right to send home campers who do not conduct themselves accordingly.  This a one-of-a-kind camp that enables your child to experience a highly competitive undergraduate institution with the fun and camp environment.

Digital Media Adventures
Ages 6-18. Nine individual weeks beginning June 20
Offered on the campuses of Harvard, Stanford, University of Chicago, UC San Diego, UCLA, University of British Columbia, Swarthmore, UT Austin, Drexel University, George Washington
$1,200 for overnight, M-F, 3 meals daily.

If your child is a video game whiz and you are wondering what future applications this skill set can be groomed for, look no further!  DMA Adventures is a summer computer camp that gives your child the tools to create a unique, personal project through hands-on learning. At DMA, kids (split by age) get a leg up in the fast-paced world of technology: They are building computer skills that have real-world applications. Kids  \learn about video game design or 3D animation from actual video game designers and 3D animators. By learning from professionals who actually do what they teach, kids develop a strong sense of learning put into practice. They are inspired to reach their full potential, in an atmosphere where learning is interchangeable with fun.

iD Tech Camps
One-week sessions for ages 7-17; two-week intensive camps for ages 13-18 beginning June 20
$799 per week commuter, $1299 overnight M-F 3 +meals
Princeton University and Seton Hall

iD Tech Camps offers summer computer camps for kids and teens at 60 universities in the United States. This is cutting-edge technology, from RPS and 3D game design to Web design, flash animation and programming,in both C++ and Java. The offerings vary by location (you can see the Seton Hall schedule here), and include a taste of college life: day campers study in university computer labs, eat in university dining halls and may take campus tours. Boarding campers live in college dorms! These academic summer camps boasts  an average of 6 students per instructor, who are industry experts.

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