Beyond arts and crafts at Madison area summer camps

Caving, Flying, Cooking, Acting

Anyone who's ever been to camp, join in: "Flea!" (Flea.) "Flea fly!" (Flea fly) "Flea, fly, flow!" (Flea, fly, flow.)

It's the song that makes no sense, yet year after year, summer upon summer, happy campers sit 'round the fire and repeat the infectious refrain. In the name of spirit, humans participate in a lot of seemingly bizarre behavior, and at summer camp it can be one strange task after the next.

The odds of actually being required to tread water for 11 minutes in a full jacket-and-pants getup (anyone else attend Camp Phantom Lake?) or start a fire with two twigs these days are slim. But the skills and camaraderie gained at camp last a lifetime. Wisconsin is a revered destination for its outdoor camps, offering that true overnight-in-a-cabin experience. But camp is more than just bunk beds.

Madison Children's Museum Summer Day Camps
100 State St., Madison
Grades K-2

Half-day, Mon.-Thurs. sessions between June 22 and Aug. 27; $70 per session for museum members, $80 for non-members; "Lunch Bunch" supervision (meal not included), $20 per week

Thrill factor: Mellow to adventurous

Innovative, weeklong intensive sessions introduce kids to new experiences ranging from trekking to Madison's cultural destinations (including the UW Space Place and MMoCA) to learning to cook with a behind-the-scenes restaurant tour. "We take advantage of the plentitude of Capitol Square resources to make our sessions unique and appeal to a wide range of kids' interests," says Jennifer Collins of the Madison Children's Museum.

If you have a mini M.C. Escher on your hands, sign her up for "Art & Science Fusion," which "explores the intersections of science and art," experimenting with color and perspective at an elementary level. A little Ansel Adams? "Nature Photography" arms kids with disposable cameras. Or have the kids delve into the world of Greece while donning togas or invent the world's next great thingamajig in "Inventor's Workshop."

Cave of the Mounds Get Out! Mini Camps
2975 Cave of the Mounds Rd., Blue Mounds
Ages 5-12

Morning and afternoon sessions from June 17 to Aug. 28; $20 per session; "Munch Bunch" meal and supervision, $5 extra

Thrill factor: Adrenalin trickle to adrenalin rush

If there's only one vocabulary word your child learns over summer, let it be "spelunking." The act of exploring caves, spelunking combines the essentials of childhood: poking around, adventure, exhaustive use of gross motor skills, intriguing locales and, of course, rocks.

Cave of the Mounds is an easy, scenic 20-minute drive from the west side of Madison. Instructors guide your "Rock Hound," "Fossil Fanatic," "Cave Critter" or "Eco Artist" throughout this natural playground, all the while teaching about cave formations and geological curiosities.

Kimberly Anderson, education coordinator at Cave of the Mounds, says the camps address the lack of outdoor physical activity in today's young population: "The cave is a natural draw - we don't have technology here! - and it gets kids jazzed up about getting outside."

Anderson suggests parents take advantage of camp time to tour the Driftless Area and visit attractions such as Little Norway and House on the Rock. Or, when camp's over, why not check out the cave yourself with the fresh knowledge of your own miniature tour guide?

Experimental Aircraft Association's (EAA) Young Eagles and Air Academy Flight Camps
3000 Poberezny Rd., Oshkosh
Ages 12-18

Weeklong sessions from June 15 to Aug. 8; $675-$1,075

Thrill factor: White knuckle

"You will, weather permitting, get to ride in an aircraft, and possibly even a helicopter," says Mary McKeown, camp coordinator of the Air Academy Camps in Oshkosh, Wis., the self-proclaimed "Center of the Aviation Universe." For kids who are attracted to adventure, who love high altitudes and who always ask "Can we meet the pilot?" when you fly, this is the ticket.

Age-appropriate instruction covers the fundamentals of aeronautics. Sixth-graders learn to build a balsa glider; high school seniors learn to weld. Everything is hands-on. And with a beautiful, modern lodge overlooking Pioneer Airport, campers are fully immersed in aviation. "These are kids who are possibly looking at careers in this field and have an interest that others don't seem to share," says McKeown. "Here they get involved and make friends who are just as excited about flying as they are."

For the stage-struck

If your wee one is more likely to belt out "I've Got Rhythm" than belt a centerfield triple, then theater camp is a great summertime activity. While Madison plays host to drama day camps at Children's Theater of Madison and MadCAP School of the Arts, Harand Camp of the Theatre Arts presents an out-of-town option for those itching for a sleep-away experience.

Sulie & Pearl Harand Camp of the Theatre Arts
Carthage College, 2001 Alford Park Dr., Kenosha
Ages 8-17

Three- and six-week sessions from June 21 to Aug. 2; one-week session for 7-10-year-olds

$885-$4,925 depending on session

Children's Theater of Madison Summer Drama School
Fredric March Play Circle, Wisconsin Union Theater, 800 Langdon St., Madison
Ages 9-18

Two- and three-week sessions from June 22 to Aug. 15; one-week session for 7- to 10-year-olds

$250-$600; "Summer Studio" for 5- to 8-year-olds, $160

MadCAP Summer School of the Arts
MadCAP Studio, 214 N. Henry St., Suite 203
Grades K-12

Two-week sessions from June 15 to July 31;


comments powered by Disqus

More to read

Loading More Articles
No More Articles

Mama Madison: When mom gets a new roomie

This past week, against both my will and better judgement, I accompanied 50 or so middle school kids to the Future Problem Solvers Wisconsin State Bowl, a popular academic and skit-writing competition. It was my husband who had originally signed up to chaperone the event, thinking that spending a few days with his 11-year-old daughter and her compatriots would serve as an excellent anthropological experience. But when an unexpected work obligation made it impossible for him to attend, it was me left holding the bag

Mama Madison: Earth Day awareness

It may be a bigger waste of breath than electricity to ask my kids to turn off the lights when they leave a room. If I've nagged them once, I've nagged them a thousand times. No, I've never noticed anything amiss with their fingers. But it appears they are physically incapable of flipping a switch to the "off" position.

Mama Madison: Parents should know and understand school codes of conduct

I want to say thank you to the Board of Education for allowing Maia to return to class, unquestionably the place she belongs, as well as to thank them for adopting the new policies. But just as importantly, I also want to thank Maia and her family for their willingness to come forward with their story.

Helping your kids stick with music lessons

Some clever-clogs is playing Rachmaninoff on the piano at a party, and there it is again, that oft-heard adult lament of lost opportunity from a dejected onlooker: "I wish I could play. I wish my parents hadn't let me quit music lessons. I was just a kid -- how was I to know?" It's a reasonable complaint.

A summer camp quiz for parents

If you're checking out summer camps for your child, there are many issues -- some obvious, some less so -- to keep in mind. Here's a list to keep handy when you contact camps and camp directors, looking for the perfect spot for your kids to have fun, relax, and learn this summer.

Mama Madison: Lessons in dining out

I know, in the grand scheme of things, that my kid issues, when it comes to dining out, absolutely pale in comparison to those of parents whose kids have special needs. Many kids, especially those who are on the autism spectrum, are disturbed by changes in their routine, or anxious around noisy places. They may not be able tolerate waiting for a table or standing in line. So unfortunately, many of these families just avoid eating out at restaurants altogether.

Mama Madison: Natural vs. un-natural parenting

It's weird to admit this, especially in a city surrounded by as much outdoor beauty as Madison. But frankly, I'm just not that into nature. I'm more of an indoor kind of gal. Give me an afternoon at the Chazen or the Wisconsin Historical Museum over the Arboretum or Olbrich Gardens any day.

Mama Madison: Theatrical talent close to home

Lavish costumes, gorgeous sets, a full orchestra and a concession stand where nothing cost more than two bucks and you have a pitch perfect experience at the theater. Oh, and did I mention the ticket prices were just $10 dollars apiece? One could afford to take the whole family for a live theater experience for less than an evening at the Lego movie would cost including popcorn.

Mama Madison: Race to shame

I think the first time in recent years that I've felt a real sense of shame, as both a parent and community member, was last Tuesday evening as I sat in a crowded elementary school LMC to listen to Ken Taylor, executive director of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, and his colleague, Torry Wynn, present key findings from the 2013 Race to Equity report to our PTO group.

Hancock Center addresses bullying through body movement

It's Wednesday morning at Allis Elementary School on Madison's east side, and 16 third-graders -- 10 boys and six girls -- enter into an open-space classroom in typical wiggly, giggly style. Some are making goofy faces at one another, some are bouncing around hand-in-hand with friends, and others are just trying to stay out of the whirling-dervish path of activity.

Mama Madison: Get in the picture

Of the 789 poorly-composed, way-too-dark and out-of-focus photos currently living on my iPhone, I can count on two hands the number that show my kids and me together. And my husband is in probably no more than three or four of those.

Mama Madison: Welcome to the Parenting Olympics

Something kind of magical has happened these past two weeks during the Sochi Olympics. There is no question, debate or disagreement on what will be watched on television once all homework is done. Everyone in the family makes time to sit down together to watch an hour of so of the primetime televised games.

Mama Madison: Facebook's instant nostalgia fix

Truth be told, though, this month I'm feeling a bit cinematically fried. In some ways, I already feel like I've spent the last week or so at a film festival. A festival specializing in minute-long glimpses of ordinary lives all ending with credits that feature the ubiquitous blue thumbs-up. Yes, it's been the February of the Facebook movie.

Mama Madison: The kindness question

Just last week, on precisely the same day the Momastery post was getting over a million well-deserved views, Madison mom Suzanne Buchko was telling a similar story. Not on a blog but instead in the confines of the modestly circulated Franklin-Randall Elementary School weekly newsletter.

Toddlers take to tablets

Late last month, the Madison Metropolitan School District adopted a five-year, $27.7 million technology plan calling for all district students, including those in the primary grades, to have significantly increased access to their very own tablet or notebook computer by 2019. Some parents, as well as education professionals, questioned whether elementary-aged kids, especially kindergarteners who aren't even able to read or write yet, will gain much benefit from introducing yet another screen into their lives.

Mama Madison: Science or study hall?

This past Monday, had winter's unrelenting weather allowed, Middleton Cross Plains School District teacher Andrew Harris would have once again been at the helm of a classroom. After nearly four years of fighting his dismissal from Glacier Creek Middle School for viewing and passing on sexually explicit material on district computers, MCPSD has been legally forced to reinstate Herris, this time as a seventh-grade science teacher at Kromrey Middle School.

Mama Madison: MTV provides a teachable moment

In a study published last week by the National Bureau of Economic Research, academics have found that the 16 and Pregnant series may have played a significant role in the recent decrease in U.S. teen pregnancies.

Mama Madison: Planning for the MLK holiday

In our house, sad but true, we've rarely spent the Martin Luther King holiday discussing race, social justice or the power of non-violent civil disobedience. Instead, the third Monday in January has historically been treated as just another day off school, just another long weekend. And it's been a missed opportunity.

Mama Madison: The long vacation

It's not something that happens very often, but last Friday, as news of the impending arctic cold snap reached our house, my kids were rooting for Governor Scott Walker. They were rooting for him to take Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton's lead and cancel school throughout the state. They couldn't care less if he had the authority to do such a thing -- if he called off school, he'd be their hero.

Mama Madison: Cheating 101 at Middleton High School

Late last semester, as students were packing up their backpacks one final time before winter break, Middleton High School principal Denise Herrmann and assistant principal Lisa Jondle were co-authoring a note home to parents informing them of a widespread cheating scandal involving nearly 250 calculus students at the school.

Emails from Isthmus Parents feature event highlights, story links, site updates, and occasional special offers from trusted sources. Name and email address are required. Thanks!