The 2019-2020 school year wasn’t your average academic experience. COVID-19 forced students out of the classroom and onto virtual learning platforms. Many summer camps are going the online route or delaying the start of their in-person programs until July or August. Kids can still enjoy creative and educational opportunities, just in a different way.
1. Assemble: A community space for arts + technology
Kids ages 6-14 will find terrific programming with Assemble’s eight weeks of virtual summer camp schedule. Each week, kids will explore STEAM activities, testing out wild ideas and building their creative inventions. Local makers, technologists and artists will make guest appearances to encourage and inspire young thinkers. Garfield residents receive free registration.
2. Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and MuseumLab
The North Side facilities are providing 10 weeks of virtual summer camps and studios for kids ages 3-13 starting June 15. Each week, campers will explore new tools, materials and ideas focused on a different theme, from gardening and dance to sculpture, printmaking and zines. Parents who registered early for in-person summer camps can transfer their registration fee to the online version, receive a refund or donate the cost to Children’s Museum and MuseumLab.
Spread your wings in the comfort of your home with the Aviary’s live and pre-recorded content, hands-on crafts and activities, behind-the-scenes access and special appearances by some feathered friends. Open to kids ages 6-18, the camps run from 9 a.m. to noon July 13-17, 9 a.m. to noon July 20-25, and 1 to 4 p.m. July 27.
4. Cello Fury Rock Camp for Strings
Have you been practicing your violin, viola, cello or bass during quarantine? Show off those skills online at Cello Fury Rock Camp for Strings. Now in its 12th year, the camp goes behind the traditional, classical style of playing, giving musicians ages 7 to 16 a chance to rock out. Dates are June 15-19, July 6-10, July 20-24 and Aug. 3-7. The annual National Anthem performance to open a Pittsburgh Pirates game at PNC is still to be determined.
“Weird” Eric Costello, a local magician and balloon artist, is hosting several virtual camps this summer. Participants in the five-day camps can learn all the tricks of the magic trade, turn latex balloons into works of art, roleplay as Percy Jackson, or solve mysteries as Batman.
6. Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Budding botanists can get online instruction from experts in the field through Phipps Conservatory’s Virtual Summer Camps (ages 2-10) and the Virtual Explorers Academy (ages 4-18). Topics include gardening, pollinators, eco inventors, ballet and healthy cooking. After spending the spring cooped up inside, kids will have a newfound appreciation for the great outdoors.
7. Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania
Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania is the first of its kind in the nation to partner with Outschool, a virtual platform focused on interest-driven live sessions for kids in kindergarten through 8th grade. The organization will offer 15 to 20 highly curated classes taught by teachers from across the globe. Sign up for classes that explore everything from making animated movies to careers in artificial intelligence. BGCWPA will still offer in-person summer programming at four Clubhouse locations (Lawrenceville, Carnegie, Millvale and Shadyside) starting June 29.
8. Digital Bridges Pittsburgh
Digital Bridges is offering two virtual camps this summer: The Business of You from June 8-July 18 and So, You Want to Be a YouTube Star running July 20-Aug. 15. Held via Zoom, each two-hour session teaches kids about digital literacy, entrepreneurship, career success and social-emotional intelligence. Thanks to a $15,000 grant from Citizens Bank, Digital Bridges is offering these programs free for youths who reside in Hazelwood, Homewood, East Liberty, the Hill District/Uptown, the Hilltop Communities and the North Side. Apply online for a scholarship.
9. Cut & Sew Studio
Was your child inspired to make masks during the pandemic? Expand their creativity a step further through Cut & Sew Studio’s online and in-person camps at the Chislett Street site. Explore ways to make clothes with unconventional materials, make your own backpack for the upcoming school year or learn the basics of sewing at home.
10. Pitt Cyber Air Force Association CyberCamp
The University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security (Pitt Cyber), in partnership with Robert Morris University, is hosting its week-long Air Force Association CyberCamp on a virtual platform this year. High school students in grades 9 to 12 will participate from July 20-24. The free camp is designed for a range of technical skill levels, including introductory digital literacy, and is focused on cyberethics and systems security.
11. Queen’s Gambit Chess Institute
Chess anyone? Queen’s Gambit is offering an array of virtual classes for beginner kids as well as those at intermediate and advanced levels. Summer Chess Camp, held Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 11 to Aug. 22, is an in-depth study of modern chess theory and provides students with individualized training and opportunities to compete. Guest masters will visit and teach students classic theory. Knowledge of notation is required.
12. The Irma Freeman Center for Imagination
The Penn Avenue organization is hosting multiple online camps, classes and workshops that focus on academics, art history, movement and exercise, performing arts, science, STEAM and visual arts. Learn how to make everything from puppets, self-portraits and miniatures or channel other creative muses through dance and poetry. And they’re adding half-capacity in-person camps, too: DIY Space Craft & Aliens is now in person with limited spots. The new dates are June 9, 16, 23 and 30. Participants and leaders will be wearing masks, washing hands and following other COVID-19 protocols.
And the list grows almost daily.
Here are even more virtual summer camp experiences your kids will love. Follow the links for details: