2019 Pittsburgh summer camps that appeal to every kind of kid
Summer is too short to fit in all the cool camps available for Pittsburgh kids. From arts development and STEM workshops to athletic activities and wildlife sessions, we’ve got it covered.
Most of the programming from these organizations crosses over between categories, so it’s worth a browse through them all.
Here are the highlights from the many, oh-so-many, camps offered this year.
ARTS AND CRAFTS
Cut & Sew Studio
Beyond developing their creative flair, kids in Cut & Sew’s summer camps learn skills that will last a lifetime. Fun sessions range from making doll clothes and accessories to designing fashion and handbags for themselves.
Carnegie Museum of Art
It’s all about art and design at Carnegie Museum of Art’s summer camps. Teens can explore high-tech architecture, printmaking and ceramics. Preteens can dip into textile and fashion design or create a high-tech house of the future. The smallest artists will revel in the Make a Mess camp or Squish, Squeeze and Sculpt.
Violinists, cellists, bassists and violists are invited to bring it to Cello Fury Rock Camp for Strings. Now in its 11th year, Cello Fury’s camp gives young musicians an alternative to traditional classical training to play in a rock orchestra. Workshops in past years have included music composition, fitness for musicians, improvisation and music promotion. Camp concludes with a concert for friends and family.
Heinz History Center
Kids explore Pittsburgh history in fun ways through summer camps at Heinz History Center. Pop Culture Camp ranges from George Romero’s zombies to Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. History, Myths and Magic investigates Pittsburgh contributions to the greater world while harnessing a kid’s wizard-historian prowess.
The Mattress Factory
Summer @ The Factory includes Community Art Labs and Mini Camps for younger artists. The Mattress Factory offers a Summer Art Cooperative for high school kids, who become artists-in-residence, guest curators and exhibit installers over the course of a month. It’s the perfect opportunity for teens to learn firsthand how a museum operates. The summer co-op is free, but an application is required.
Gemini Children’s Theater
Summer workshops at Gemini channel energy and talent toward the theater arts. Kids as young as 4 years rehearse and perform a play that they help develop from their imaginations. Scene building, collaborating and character development cross all age groups, up to 17 years. Scholarships and tuition assistance are available.
The Ellis School
Along with athletics, summer camps at The Ellis schools spark imagination and creative writing aptitude. Kids as young as 2 explore fairytale-themed tales in Story Adventures, while their teen counterparts in the Character, Conflict and Craft session work at unraveling the mystery of story creation. In between, kids delve into poetry writing and critical analysis.
Pittsburgh Public Theater
High school kids can jump into all aspects of theater arts, from scene study to stage combat to improv in the Public’s summer camp sessions. They’ll broaden physical skills as well as build the textual knowledge actors need. More tentative beginners can ease in with Act OUT!, a class that puts the focus on the foundations of stage performance. And for those interested in the Public’s annual Shakespeare contest, the three-week Shakespeare Intensive is a perfect choice. Huzzah!
Pittsburgh Musical Theater
Kids from age 4 to 18 can train and rehearse in Summer Musical Theater programs that lead to an end-of-performance on a professional stage. Summer performances include “Heroes and Villains,” “Disney’s Frozen Jr.” and “The Hunchbackof Notre Dame.” Teens working in the Dance Emphasis sessions will have a separate showcase performance.
Camp sessions with titles like Grossology, Red Hot Robots and Dry Ice Capades are enough to get us intrigued. Workshops, held at eight area locations, are geared to kids from 1st to 6th grade, giving them the chance to be junior scientists for the summer.
Carnegie Science Center
Kids from age 4 to 18 can get their science on at these intriguing summer camps. Act silly as an Odd Squad agent solving mysteries. Become a doctor in training by exploring human anatomy. Older kids can experiment with quad copter flight or be immersed in digital fabrication technology. Can’t make up your mind? Check out the summer camp open house on May 25 and 26 and preview some of the hands-on science activities.
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Location, location, location. These summer camps are held in the perfect setting. Pittsburgh’s home of dinosaurs offers a Dino Dig and a Land of Giants camp where kids perform hands-on investigations with mud, rocks and fossils. Extreme Events looks at the way ecosystems have reacted to extreme events – like volcano eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis – throughout geologic times.
Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
Maker Tinker Camp? Just the name sounds fun! Kids at this Children’s Museum summer camps construct and tinker with different materials, gadgets and gizmos. Museum Explorer Camps look more closely at neighborhood buildings and the history surrounding them. Art Adventure gives kids a chance to try new mediums. All camps are for rising 1st graders through 6th graders.
Shady Side Academy
Shady Side Academy’s summer camps list nearly 50 programs for kids from pre-K to 9th grade on three campuses. Subjects range from STEM to sports, as well as more focused sessions on subjects like chess, filmmaking and needlework. New this year is the Drobots class, which includes a look at drones, coding, video games and mobile apps.
The Irma Freeman Center for Imagination
These summer camps cover quite the range with practical and whimsical subjects not found anywhere else. For example: Kids learn how to repair the bikes through Bike Adventure with Kraynick’s. Herbal Apothecary & Plant Life explores the power of plants. Old-fashioned photography skills are developed (get it?) through Pinhole Photography, Camera Obscura & More. Scholarships are available.
We sense a forward-looking theme here: Galaxy Girls’ Space Camp, You-topia Futurevision and Survival of the Futurist. Assemble’s summer camps look at how technology can help the urban environment, simulate space flight and engineering individual superpowers. Cool stuff for bright young minds!
The world of robotic technology comes alive for kids in grades 1-6 at Camp Invention’s Supercharged program. Campers at the week-long camps, held in schools in and around Pittsburgh, will design remote-control Orbots, invent island survival tools, and learn the importance of collaboration.
The Citizen Science Lab
The Citizen Science Lab offers fun, hands-on camps for grades 4 through 12. With a full range of science and engineering adventures — including robotics, outer space, zoology, microbiology and drones — there’s sure to be something that excites and inspires the budding scientist.
Pittsburgh Ultimate Frisbee
Pittsburgh Ultimate offers weeklong and single-day camps to its year-round weekly sessions for ages 7 to 14. Through Ultimate Frisbee team play, kids will learn sportsmanship, dedication and have a terrific daily workout.
The Wheel Mill
Both more experienced and wannabe shredders can find a session at The Wheel Mill’s summer bike camps. Kids will be thrilled to experience the 80,000-square foot park filled with all kinds of trails and ramps with varying terrain and levels of difficulty. Looking for more? Outdoor Bike Camp takes campers on a tour of the area’s best skateparks and BMX tracks.
Steel City Rowing
Physical strength and exercise is just part of the curriculum at Steel City Rowing camps. River Fun Camps explore Allegheny River wildlife and ecosystems, along with paddleboarding, kayaking and swimming. (Need-based scholarships are available.) More serious rowers will learn sweep rowing techniques and advanced sculling. US Rowing-certified coaches cover water safety, too.
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Ballet dancers in all sizes, from toddlers to teens, will find a place at Pittsburgh Ballet’s summer sessions. Students will develop progressive dance fundamentals through barre and floor exercises, French terminology and ballet concepts. The most advanced Junior Intensive covers skills in pointe, pas de deux, jazz and repertoire. At every level, kids can expect to find plenty of joy in their movements and training.
At Ascend summer camps, kids’ strength and dexterity will be tested through activities like rope climbing and bouldering. Balance is another skill to encounter when walking a slackline. Are your kids new to climbing? No problem. These classes are designed to be accessible for all levels.
Iron City Circus Arts
Kids who like flipping upside down on monkey bars will transition easily to trapeze skills at Iron City Circus Arts summer camps. But even those new to circus arts will soon be swinging from aerial silks, swaying on the hoops, and hanging from the static trapeze. Two week-long camps are offered according to age, with a sibling discount for families.
Jewish Community Center
Among the engineering, performance and nature sessions, the JCC’s catalog of camps includes cool sports programs, too. American Ninja Warrior develops physical skills and Fencing fosters mental discipline and quick thinking. Other sessions focus on Elite Tennis, Super Shooters Basketball and British Soccer challenges.
Kids ages 5 to 13 can learn new skills at Pirates Baseball Summer Camps. The camps include sessions at four Pittsburgh locations. The curriculum includes age-appropriate skills, as well as lessons in goal setting, optimism and resiliency. The World Series Experience includes a full Pirates Camp uniform and a day-long session at PNC Park along with a tour and meet-and-greet. Play ball!
Switch & Signal Skatepark
All genders and skill levels are welcome during these week-long summer camps for kids ages 5-13 at Switch & Signal Skatepark in Swissvale. There are half and full-day options and all equipment is provided. On Fridays, a pizza party gives kids a chance to show off their new skills.
NATURE AND WILDLIFE
Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
Zoo summer camps cater to kids from age 2 to high school seniors. Kids ages 10 and 11 can sign up for Conversation Connections to learn how scientists work together with communities to help wildlife. Cub Club is designed for toddlers, accompanied by an adult. A week of Extreme Animals for ages 8 and 9 studies animals that adapt to their environment. Other camps include Veterinary Camp, Wonders of Wildlife and Coral Reef Ecology.
Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
Phipps’ summer campers range from age 2 to 13 with programming inside and outside the Victorian glass house. Sessions highlight conservation, ecology and healthy eating in programs such as Rockin’ Researchers, Science Sleuths and Budding Botanists.
The National Aviary in Pittsburgh
Summer camps at the Aviary begin at age 4 with Little Dino Camp and the world’s living dinosaurs – birds! Sessions for kids up to age 12 include Dinosaur Explorer Club and Aviary Explorer Club. Both include behind-the-scenes immersive experiences. Older kids have Teen Week for those interested in exploring a career in conservation, animal care or animal behavior.
Blue Ribbon Farms
Kids get a total farm experience at Little Farmers Day Camp. Hands-on experiences include bottle feeding a newborn calf, caring for goats and piglets or riding a pony. Learn about growing food in the expansive garden and collect fresh eggs, then help prepare dishes from food grown on the farm. Crafts, nature walks and games are part of the fun.
Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
The great outdoors and Pittsburgh’s parks are the backdrops for these summer camps. Nature Investigators spark creativity and critical thinking, while Kids in the Woods is dedicated to learning outdoor skills and nature play. Camperships (scholarships) are available.
Horses Unlimited Stables
Kids who are giddy with pony love will be positively smitten with pony camp at Horses Unlimited Stables. Beginners receive an introduction to Western and English-style riding in the weeklong sessions. Kids will learn horse care, including a hands-on pony bath to safely clean off the mud. Expect horse-themed crafts and games.
Kids who love dogs, cats and rabbits might enjoy learning more about them at one of Animal Friends’ summer camps. Past summers included sessions like training shelter dogs in Canine Good Manners. Younger kids enjoy quality animal time along with projects, games and other activities. Making friends – both human and animal – is a happy outcome.