Many folks hear the words "summer camp" and think of living in cabins for a month, swimming in lakes, and participating all kinds of outdoor activities, like archery and ropes courses. Rarely does the phrase summer camp make someone think about an opportunity to prepare for the upcoming school year.
On the other hand, many folks hear the words "summer school" and think of the stereotypical student who failed a class or needs more credits to graduate. Rarely does the phrase summer school make someone think of a positive summer camp-style experience.
What if we told you there's a middle ground? A summer experience that's both fun and educational? It's real. And some of the best private schools in the country are offering students unique educational opportunities that are way more than just your typical classroom experience.
Let's look at a few of the unexpected opportunities that you might find at a private school's summer program.
Travel the World
Summer camp doesn't have to be limited to only one campsite. Some schools offer summer travel experiences, taking students around the world to experience life away from home. Proctor Academy in New Hampshire offers a summer service opportunity, which takes students to places like Guatemala for two-week sessions.
See the World From 30,000 Feet in the Air
That's right, aspiring aviators can attend a summer camp at Randolph-Macon School in Virginia. Students get the chance to participate in a highly specialized program leading towards taking a solo flight in a Cessna 172.
Space Camp and Sustainability
Sustainability is a popular topic at private schools and is one that has led to several summer camp programs designed to educate students and get them thinking about how we can better serve the planet Earth. One such program exists at Cheshire Academy in Connecticut, which offers two different tracks from which students can choose for their summer study. One track focuses on the impact of humans on the earth, while the other takes a new approach to a space camp by exploring both the oceans and space. You even get to take field trips and even launch rockets - and we're not just talking about small model rockets!
Learn a New Language
For students looking to come to the United States for a boarding school experience, a summer camp can be a great way to master their English language skills. ELL/ESL students can often greatly benefit from these highly specialized summer classes that are often several weeks long and designed to immerse students in an English language environment. This not only helps participants to master their speaking, reading, and writing skills, but also gives them a preview of what dorm life is like, making the adjustment to boarding school in the fall a little easier. Some schools even offer an accelerated program, like New Hampton School in New Hampshire.
Get a Competitive Edge in Athletics
Aspiring athletes, especially those looking to improve their skills in order to play varsity sports at private school, can benefit from a summer camp focused on athletics. Starting to participate in these camps during middle school can be a great way for high school coaches to see a student athlete's drive and potential, which means building relationships with the school even before the admission season arrives. Athletic camps are available for the more novice student-athletes, as well, helping those players still learning the game to prepare to play on a sports team at a private school for the first time. Baylor School in Tennessee offers a camp that meets the needs of both the competitive athlete and the recreational athlete.
Perfect a Creative Craft
Young artists can find numerous private schools that offer creative summer camp experiences, ranging from drama and dance to music and drawing. And, some of the best private school programs even offer creative writing and literary-focused programs, as well as digital photography and animation courses. The opportunities for creative expression are endless, and the levels of experience can vary. While some schools, like the Putney School in Vermont, offer a wide variety of workshops for artists of all experience levels and interests, other schools take a more specialized approach. The Idyllwild Arts Academy in California offers intensive two-week programs as part of the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program. These programs can sometimes help students looking to attend competitive art schools for college get a head-start on art portfolios.
Try Your Hand at a Non-Traditional Trade
Some schools offer incredibly unique programs, like Emma Willard's Rosie's Girls camp. Drawing inspiration from the fictional character Rosie the Riveter, the boarding school in New York offers girls the chance to experience what it's like to work in carpentry, automotive repair, masonry, and other non-traditional trades.