Fun at Summer Camp

Summer is a sweet time of exploration and inquisition in a child’s life. Warm, endless days filled with opportunities to learn a new skill, expand a child’s mind and broaden horizons.

It may sound early to start planning summer camp, but March is the deadline for many programs. The good news is you don’t have to venture far to find a wide array of programs available to traditional school students and those in year-round schools. Below is a sampling of programs to cater to any interest, but for a more complete listing, visit our SUMMER CAMP GUIDE.

The Artist

Artspace in downtown Raleigh’s City Market area has been hosting kids for 21 summers, offering intensive yet fun, project-oriented classes for youths (rising 3rd-10th graders), college prep classes (rising 9th-12th graders) and workshops for adults (age 16 and up). The Summer Arts Program allows students to work directly with professional artists and gain quality experience through hands-on activities.

According to Director of Programs & Exhibitions Lia Newman, clay classes are very popular this year. Also in high demand are sculptures with Keith Norval, exploring the painted landscape with Tim Postell, collage with Eric McRay, batik and felt making with Emily Howard and fabulous funky painted chairs with Jane Roberts.

“This year, we’re excited about lots of new classes, including: sewing a stuffed animal, Plein Air (French for ‘in the open air’) painting, underwater mural painting, mixed media trading cards and both of the classes with our Summer Artist-in-Residence Oscar Gillespie,” Newman said. “Oscar is a master engraver who will be coming from Illinois to spend July working here at Artspace. During his residency, he will create work for his Artspace exhibition (opening in August) in an open-to-the-public studio, as well as teach classes and present a lecture to the public.”

All of the College Prep classes are new this year for high school students gearing up for college. Newman said it helps them create pieces for their portfolio applications to art programs.

More than 300 kids participated in summer camp last year, and despite the tough economy, they’re expecting more to participate this year. For those who otherwise would not be able to afford to attend Artspace summer camp, Newman said they have established a scholarship fund. Based on recommendations of area art teachers, each year up to 50 youths will receive scholarships to fully cover the expenses of attending camp for a full-day, weeklong program.

Classes run from June 14 to Aug. 13 and are one week long, three hours per day. Newman recommends parents register their kids as soon as possible because classes fill quickly. Artspace members qualify for early registration that started Feb. 3 and a $10 discount on each class. The public can register beginning March 5, and the deadline to register for a class is eight business days before it begins.

Tuition for a half-day camp is $100 ($90 members) plus $25 for supplies per class for a total of $125 ($115 members). For more information and details on registering, visit

The Adventurist

The sky’s the limit when it comes to the Town of Cary’s Schoolz Out full and half-day camps. Whether your child is on the traditional or year-round calendar, there is something attractive to children of any age and skill level.

Your child could sign up for a Civil War experience, test their wit at clown comedy camp, orbit the Earth at space academy, go green at eco-adventure camp or develop their skills at a wide variety of sports camps. Kids and teens can go fishing, sailing or skating or become a mad scientist, musician or a crime scene investigator this summer.

“The town is proud to offer programs that appeal to even the most unique imagination, allowing children to explore and develop their interests into a positive learning experience right here in their hometown,” said Leda Isenhour, marketing specialist with the Town of Cary. “These supplemental programs illustrate why Cary continues to be ranked as one of the best places to raise a family.”

According to Isenhour, space camp, nature camp and safety town always book up quickly. New this year are fishing, sailing mini-camp and mad science – CSI Triangle.

“Last year we had 5,300 participants,” said Isenhour. “We expect to maintain these numbers, if not see them grow this year.”

Affordable options are available as well as scholarship opportunities through Dorcas Ministries. To apply, call (919) 469-9861 Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. to register. The Town of Cary is also giving away free weeks of camp if campers go to and click on the icon to sign up for the “Schoolz Out 411” e-mail update. Participants will automatically be entered to win a free week of camp. Winners will be announced at the drawing on March 29.

Registration has already started; visit or find brochures at participating locations to make your summer camp plans now.

The Outdoor Enthusiast

Developing positive life skills that strengthen a child’s character in an atmosphere of safety, spirit and Christian values is what a YMCA summer camp experience is all about. Maintaining a 10-to-1 camper to staff ratio creates an atmosphere of warmth and encouragement for all campers.

Full-day camps run from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and include Camp Rising Sun, Camp Outer Limits and Sports Camp.

Half-day camps run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and include Camp Blazing Trails, Wee Camp and Kindercamp.

Dana Kennedy, senior youth director at the Cary Family YMCA, said Camp Rising Sun and Camp Outer Limits are their biggest camps, offered for more than 17 years.


“We see many of those spots filled first,” Kennedy said. “We had an average of 500 campers each day in our variety of camps and expect to have even more this summer with Green Hope Elementary converting back to a traditional school calendar.”

More along the lines of a traditional camp environment, at Camp Rising Sun, middle schoolers are given opportunities to play, learn new skills and make new friends with outdoor activities like pingpong and water balloon tournaments, field days and ice cream field trips.

The day begins with a flag-raising ceremony at Central Park, camp songs, skits and adventures in Bond Park like fishing, field games and scavenger hunts. Activities at the YMCA include ball games, team games, swimming, arts and crafts, devotions and skill development.

Camp Outer Limits is a bit more unique and wacky with activities like tank wars, flour battles and Jello fights, just to name a few. Camp 3 at Camp Outer Limits offers a break from traditional summer camp programs with weekly field trips to the N.C. State Murphy Center, frisbee golf at Kaplan Park and outdoor adventures at the Eno River.

Registration for summer camps begins March 1 for members and April 12 for the public. All members who register by March 31 are guaranteed a spot in one of the Cary Family YMCA’s summer camps. Register at the Cary Family YMCA Welcome Center during open hours and visit for details.

Visit for more area summer camp options.

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