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Pittsburgh summer camps 2018: 10 arts adventures your kids will love

Candy Williams
February26/ 2018


Summer’s a great time for kids to try something new. Maybe test their acting skills, master a few tasty recipes, even learn how to sew.

These 10 summer camps in Pittsburgh open the door to exploring the arts.

summer camp
Kids discover the art of cooking with an Italian connection at Mondo Italiano.

Mondo Italiano Summer Camp

Kids will say “Buongiorno” to a fun week when they enroll at Mondo Italiano Summer Camp at Istituto Mondo Italiano in Regent Square, the first Italian culture and language institute in Pittsburgh.

The Roman holiday is a jam-packed week filled with creative activities. Kids will learn about the Italian language and culture through role play, skits, cooking and a puppet theater. They will visit a different Italian city every day on a virtual journey. And they will tend a small vegetable garden, where fresh ingredients grow for the cooking classes. Mangia!

Sessions are offered for ages 7-13 during the weeks of June 18, June 25 and July 16.

summer camp
This quilt offers plenty of fun objects to play ‘I Spy with My Little Eye’ at Cut & Sew Studio.

Quilting Camp

Summer camps at Cut & Sew Studio in Morningside are part of a complete lineup of Catherine Batcho’s sewing classes. Kids can focus on an introductory class and or venture into more advanced instruction devoted to creating doll clothes, vintage outfits or unconventional fashions.

One of the coolest classes is the “I Spy Quilting Camp.” Borrowing a theme from the “I spy with my little eye” travel game, kids in grades 3-9 make an “I Spy” quilt with colorful fabric squares. Kids learn basic piecing techniques, quilting and binding.

“It’s great for their self-esteem,” Batcho says. “They feel so much pride after they make something. It’s nice to see the smiles on their faces.”

summer camp
Budding interior designers customize their houses at Hatch Art Studio’s Dollhouse Camp.

Dollhouse Camp  

Kids who are into building and designing will learn how to “flip this house” in miniature at Hatch Art Studio’s Dollhouse Camp running July 30-Aug. 3. Campers have an opportunity to turn their two-story wooden structures into whatever they choose – a dollhouse, a fire station, a superhero hideout, even a house for pets. Kids will build furniture, print wallpaper, create characters and more to personalize their little houses.

“Instructors focus on helping children become creative decision makers, take risks and try new tools and processes,” says Shannon Merenstein, creative director and owner of Hatch in Point Breeze. The summer lineup includes Junior Fashion Designers, Clay Studio, and Puppetry camps.

summer camps
Campers will learn how to transform an actor into a creepy creature using makeup techniques.

Special Effects Makeup Camp

This camp works in harmony with blockbuster movies headed to theaters this summer. Kids can learn how a special effects artist transforms a human into a superhero or alien being. Armed with a makeup brush, they can create gruesome creatures for scary movies or change the appearance of actors in live stage shows.

This Pittsburgh Cultural Trust summer camp for is for teens who dream of working behind the scenes. Special Effects Make-Up Camp for Stage and Screen will be held June 25-29. Filmmaker Fred Vogel, a graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and former instructor for Tom Savini’s special makeup effects program, will share tricks and techniques for creating realistic makeup.

summer camps
Nature and history are the backdrops for creating art at The Frick Art & Historical Center.

Frick Art History Nature Camps

Half the fun of attending summer camp at The Frick Art & Historical Center is the gorgeous campus that includes a garage full of vintage cars, a grand Gilded Age mansion, and shaded grounds complete with an orchard. The subject matter combines that background with art, history and nature with projects and activities geared to three age groups. The week-long day camps delight creative kids while allowing time to explore the Frick museums for a more visual arts appreciation.

summer camps
Kids manipulate metals to create custom-designed jewelry at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.

Metalsmithing and Jewelry-Making Camp

Forget macaroni necklaces! Kids can learn the fundamentals of working with metals in Pittsburgh Center for the Arts’ jewelry-making camp for ages 8-10 from June 18-22. Instructors in an open studio environment at the Shadyside center teach a wide range of skills, including construction and texturing methods like etching, embossing, and enameling. Kids will create one-of-a-kind masterpieces to wear or give as gifts.

Caution: Mattress Factory Mini-Campers at work.

 Mattress Factory Mini-Camp

In addition to its regular lineup of summer camps for older kids, the Mattress Factory will premiere a new half-day Mini-Camp for ages 4-6. Mini-Camp will focus on the five senses as young artists explore sound, touch, smell and body awareness through play and open-ended investigations. Kids will experiment with materials, meet artists and collaborate with one another to create an interactive, multi-sensory installation. On the last day of camp, families will be invited to tour the students’ exhibition and celebrate with a picnic.

summer camp
Teens tackle improv in a Prime Stage Theatre camp.

Monologues & Movement

Teens developing their acting chops can try their hand at improvisation and gain new skills as performers. Monologues & Movement camp at Prime Stage Theatre runs June 18-22. Led by professional actors with experience in dance, movement, and voice, the camp will end with a showcase performance. Could Second City be far behind?

summer camps
Chatham day campers display their Garden Art.

Music and Arts Day Camp

Kids from pre-K through grade 9 should find plenty of exciting challenges at Chatham University Music and Arts Day Camp this summer. Choose from one-week, three-week or six-week programs. Musically inclined kids can opt for private music lessons – from piano and percussion to woodwinds and brass instruments – to their schedule. Older kids can choose from a catalog of classes that include Art & Science Lab or a specialty focus in ceramics or filmmaking. This camp offers intensive learning balanced against daily swimming and other recreational activities.

summer camps
Carnegie Museum’s Art Cat will star in his own circus designed by campers.

Art Cat Circus

Even grownups love reading the kid-focused Art Cat commentary on exhibits at Carnegie Museum of Art. Our muddled brains sometimes need a more simplified explanation! Art Cat has his own specialty camp this summer with a week dedicated to creating the Art Cat Circus. Kids are involved in the planning and execution of a circus, building costumes and sets. At the week’s end, parents are invited to be wowed as the audience for this singular experience.

Need-based scholarships are available for the many Carnegie Museums summer camps until funds run out. Be sure to apply early.

Coming up: More Summer Camps 2018 stories will offer physical activities camps and STEM-focused camps.

Candy Williams

Candy Williams is a freelance writer and journalist whose articles have appeared in national and local publications. She lives in the South Hills.

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