Education

12 Virtual Camps That Will Keep Kids Busy—and Happy—All Summer

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With schools closed until at least the start of next year and summer looming, parents are wondering what they’re going to do to fill their kids’ time once distance learning wraps up. Many summer camps have already been canceled due to the pandemic, but even when they haven’t, many parents are worried about sending kids to in-person camps this year. 

The good news is there are loads of virtual camps that focus on a wide variety of interests, hobbies, and passions that kids can attend, letting them have fun, sharpen skills, and bond with new friends without leaving home (and in some cases, while wearing pajamas). Here’s a peek at 12 virtual camps worth looking into as those summer months creep closer:

STEM-focused camps

Our favorite thing about the ID Tech Virtual Camps is the cap of five campers per instructor, ensuring kids get plenty of one-on-one-attention. The virtual STEM camps for kids ages 7-19 cover everything from Minecraft and Roblox to Java and Adobe. The week-long camps include two hours of live how-to instruction and peer collaboration and another two of self-paced DIY time. It’s on the pricey side, but it’s also one of the oldest and biggest of the virtual tech camps. Several parents told us via Facebook it’s one of their go-to camps for tech-minded kids. 

Connected Camps is another great STEM-based camp that offers 5-day online camps for 90 minutes per session, with both coed and girls-only options. There’s a focus on coding and technology, but there are also some fun blended classes—like “Theater Camp in Minecraft,” which guides kids as they explore the arts and create a scripted theatrical play entirely within Minecraft.

DIY-lovers

From hands-on projects to how-to videos, DIY camps offer kids of all ages a series of challenges that may involve anything from playing with Legos to learning how to make a slimeball, take great pictures, and more. Some activities have coaches that walk them through every aspect of a project step-by-step while others are truly DIY, though specific instructions and examples are given. The best part? Kids can try it for free for up to two weeks. 

The arts

For creative kids who love drawing, painting, and other artistic pursuits, they’ll love online art camp. Run by a certified art teacher in Long Island, New York, Key To My Art is offering all-ages online art camps with different themes each week and new projects every day. You can buy individual classes or a monthly pass, and siblings are free as long as they’re using the same device.

Also for kids who love the arts—and Snoopy—Peanuts Worldwide has short, fun instructional videos that will show them how to draw Peanuts characters. Not so much a camp as a quick fix for keeping artsy kids busy, the videos are on the Snoopy YouTube channel and provide easy-to-follow demonstrations for kids of all levels. Some are just a few minutes long, perfect for kids with short attention spans. 

The Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (MOCA) in Miami, Florida, is offering free summer Virtual Art Camps for ages 6-13. Campers will be introduced to mixed media, painting, drawing, and simple textile arts via a fun series of workshop classes held via Zoom by professional art teachers. Final projects will be featured in a Virtual Exhibition. The twice-a-week camps are free and include supply lists.

Writing

Little ones who love to write their own stories will love the Boomwriter summer writing camp called Haunt. Weekly chapter writing activities and competitions are run by professional educators that provide constructive feedback to help shape and improve their writing skills. At the end of the month, kids can publish their original story. Perfect for kids aged 9-12. 

Sports and movement

At the Joffrey Ballet Chicago, a trio of week-long camps in ballet and jazz is going virtual in June and July, allowing dancers ages 9-16 to log in from anywhere to work on their technique. Each camp takes up about two and a half hours a day.

Rookie tennis players can sign up for the United States Tennis Association’s Net Generation camps, which include live workouts that focus on footwork and volleying, plus plenty of extras for fans of the sport. These include tennis-themed coloring pages you can print at home and even math problems with tennis themes for those who need extra practice. They’re already doing Facebook live workouts every Friday at 1:00 pm Eastern time for kids around the country—a great way for kids to try it out.

Gamers

Super trendy and popular, Dungeons and Dragons-style games (often called D&D for short) offer kids the chance to create whimsical worlds, characters, and scenes featuring warriors and wizards. Renaissance Adventures is offering summer sessions perfect for beginners or longtime fans alike that run the gamut from weeklong to a full three weeks. Classes are usually two to three hours long. Kids who are new to D&D can take an introductory class for free, so you can be sure your kiddo likes it before you sign up.

And more!

The Wonder Digital lets you choose from countless programs, online live classes and curated events and videos from around the web to create your own camp in a range of topics including dance, baking, and crafting. Their Explorers Club, for example, lets cooped-up kids explore the world from home with weekly “Adventures With Emma” videos exploring places like Japan and the Great Barrier Reef. It’s great for animal-lovers, as you can also opt into classes led by zoologists, marine biologists, conservationists, and ecologists to learn more about nature, animals, and the environment.

Finally, a favorite of parents who recommended it to us via Facebook, Outschool offers a whopping 15,000 classes for kids ages 3-18, many as low as just $5 each. From how to design costumes to learning the phases of the moon using Oreo cookies, Outschool has some of the most creative and unique options out there, ensuring that kids of all ages and interests can find something fun and engaging to do this summer. 


Dealing with school closures, childcare issues, or other challenges related to coronavirus? Find support, advice, activities to keep kids entertained, learning opportunities and more in our Coronavirus Parents: Parenting in a Pandemic Facebook Group.

For ongoing updates on coronavirus-related issues and questions that impact children and families, please find additional resources here.




The former Content Director at Parenting, parenting.com and several other brands, Ana Connery is a writer and content strategist whose work appears in USA Today, Reader's Digest, Real Simple, Cafe Mom/The Stir, Momtastic, and others.