The good kind of summer school

Each summer, parents are faced with a problem: How do you keep your kids occupied and happy, but also keep their minds sharp for the coming school year? For many parents, the solution is an arts or science-oriented summer camp. Here, kids can spend their precious weeks of vacation learning new skills and creating works of art—all without having to risk a sunburn.

Science and nature

What’s their motivation?  Good times.Asheville Community Theatre is partnering this year with NC Stage Company to offer an enhanced summer theater camp. Photo provided by ACT.

• The Colburn Gem and Mineral Museum at Pack Place is a great place to begin a study of the geosciences. Of course, if you tell your kids this, they’ll probably yawn. So, let’s try that again: It’s a great place to learn all kinds of stuff about moon rocks, dinosaur bones, lava-spewing volcanoes, earthquakes and caves. Much better, right? Colburn’s science-oriented summer camp programs are a fun way to keep kids interested in learning stuff over the summer break, too. Info at

• Affordable Eliada Adventure Camp emphasizes outdoor mountain adventure (hiking, whitewater rafting) and nature (gardening), plus visual art, crafts, and more. See to check out summer dates and rates.

The Health Adventure is a kid-oriented health and science museum that offers learning programs throughout the year. In addition to their regular schedule, the Health Adventure also offers a Discover Science Summer Camp series. Info at

Arts and crafts camps

• The Asheville Art Museum offers a variety of art-oriented events for kids, including a Summer Art Camp series that runs from June through July. Info at

John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown isn’t just a great place for adults to pick up traditional arts and crafts skills. Their summer kids’ programs, the Little Folk School and Middle Folk School, aim to teach kids about Appalachian culture through hands-on programs. Classes begin in mid-June. Info at

Transylvania Community Arts Council also offers a Summer Art Camp in June, although details and program dates have yet to be announced. Info at

Performing arts camps

Future masters in the making at Asheville Art Museum. Photo provided by AAM.

• The Asheville Arts Center is dedicated to educating kids year round, and that includes a wealth of summer camps. This year’s camps include Across the Arts, Rock Band Camp, Tot Hollywood, Irish Dance, Ballet and the ever-popular Kindermusik. Space is limited, and early reservations are highly suggested. Info at

Asheville Community Theatre hosts many youth-oriented theater programs each year, but this year they’ll combine forces with the North Carolina Stage Company to make their summer programs truly memorable. In fact, they might just be able to turn your introverted offspring into a Hamlet-performing prodigy. Their summer class, Backstage Pass, runs in three sessions from June to July. Each ends with a performance showcase, allowing kids to experience performing on the local stage. Info at

Flat Rock Playhouse offers a great selection of summer programs in acting and stagecraft through their YouTheatre program. Although this year’s camp details haven’t been announced yet, expect a broad selection of theatrical workshops for youngsters and teens. Info at

Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre also has summer programs—the PlayTime Summer Youth Theatre Workshops for younger kids, and the Summer Stage for Drama Teens—but details about this year’s classes haven’t been announced yet. Info at

Day and overnight camps with arts programs

Asheville Parks and Recreation offers several summer programs for kids and teens, including Summer Playground, a drop-in program for kids 6 through 12. Activities range from science and nature to drama and crafts. Info at 251-4081.

• Although their curricula go well beyond the arts, it’s worth considering shipping your kid off to either Camp Merri-Mac for girls ( or Camp Timberlake for boys ( Both have substantial visual arts, performance and music programs. The Christian-oriented camps are located in Black Mountain.

Camp Celo, a noncompetitive overnight camp near Burnsville, seeks to teach the Quaker values of nonviolence, simplicity, and environmental awareness. The arts, including performance and traditional crafts, are a major element of the experience. Info at

Camp Wayfarer, a Christian overnight camp in Flat Rock, offers the typical summer camp experience, as well as classes in crafts, chorus, dance, guitar, drama and puppetry. Info at

Carolina Day School offers a surprising variety of arts and science camps through their SummerQuest program. Kids can build their own rockets, learn to play the chimes, write their own plays and even dabble in philosophy—all in the name of summer fun. Info at

Gwynn Valley near Brevard gives kids a varied summer experience through an assortment of overnight and day camp programs, and that includes a heavy emphasis on the arts. In addition to learning about theater, music and dance, Gwynn Valley also allows kids to contribute to the Tajar Times, their daily camp newspaper. Info at

• The Jewish Community Center’s Camp Ruach combines traditional camp activities with arts and crafts, music and drama. Camps begin in June, and are broken down into four programs that explore Jewish values and concepts. Info at

The New Classical Academy offers several themed day-camp experiences, each with a unique take on the arts, such as “Harry Potter” week, where kids can take classes in Potion Making, Care for Magical Creatures and Defense Against the Dark Arts—not to mention playing in a quidditch match. Info at

• The summer camps at Rainbow Mountain Children’s School span several themes, including separate sessions focusing on fairies, yoga, drama, clay and batik, cooking, puppetry and more. Info: 258-9264.

YWCA’s Summer Camp program goes far beyond athletics. Their programs include gardening, science, dance and other culturally enriching classes, with separate sessions geared for kids from kindergarten to age 16. Info at or 254-7206 ext. 111.


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