Summer Camp Roundup 2012

By Frederick Jerant

When the final school bell rings in June, it signals more than the end of classes…it’s a harbinger of the need to keep the kids occupied.

Why not send them off to camp? We don’t mean roughing it in the woods – we’re talking about the many gymnastics, art, drama, sports and other special-interest camps that dot the Valley. There, children have loads of fun while learning important skills that may stick with them for years.

And the costs are generally reasonable, too. A week of camping might set you back less than a week of daycare – and be more memorable, too!


Pre-school Picassos to middle-school Monets are sure to enjoy the Allentown Art Museum’s summer programs.

“Young at Art” takes 3-to-5-year-olds on 90-minute excursions through original works of art with dialogue, stories and games. Each session flows into the next, and students have  new experiences every week. The program concludes with a “celebration reception” for artists and guests.

“Wonderfully Whimsical!”, a half-day session for 6-8-year-olds, explores centuries of worldwide  art forms. They’ll also create illustrations and stories as they work with professional artist Victor Stabin.

“Far Out Fantastic!”, a full-day camp for 9-12-year-olds, includes art- and language-inspired activities inspired by some way-out art. Victor Stabin will bring some of his own creations to supplement the Museum’s “At the Edge: Art of the Fantastic” special exhibition.


The spotlight is on YOU at the State Theatre Center for the Arts’ summer acting camp, which marks its 10th season in 2012.

Directed by Denise Crawn of Prestige Productions, the 10-day camp gives potential thespians a taste of acting, music and dance – but not simply performance tips. Students also learn about audition technique, terminology, choreography, scene work, and other nuts’n’bolts topics that apply to all forms of theater.

The camp is organized into four groups: grades 1-3; 4-5; 6-8; and 9-12, and every student rotates daily through the three main subject areas.

“Our teachers are some of the best in the Valley,” Crawn says. “They put the kids first, and really share their passion for theater with them.”

The camp begins July 9 and ends July 20; students then get a taste of “the roar of the greasepaint” by performing in a recital. Morning and afternoon sessions are available.


Via of the Lehigh Valley provides services for children and adults with developmental disabilities, but it also enables children and young adults to learn and grow with its two distinct summer camps.

“Camp Via for Kids” runs from July 9 to August 3, and is geared for 8-to-12-year-olds. Sessions run Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 3 PM at Northeast Middle School, Bethlehem.

Campers “build social and community skills while enjoying recreational activities,” says Marisa Nimtien, director of children’s services. “And we work with families and school districts to work toward goals in Individualized Education Plans when needed.”

Typical activities include outdoor activities, sports, hiking, educational field trips, swimming and lots more. The experienced staff at Camp Via for Kids has worked with many disabilities, including autism, Down’s syndrome and intellectual/physical disabilities.

During the “Via Team Summer Experience,” “Our campers go out in the community and work on specific objectives, whether vocational, educational or independence-oriented. We want them to be more aware of the options they have after finishing high school,” says Jessica Elliott, Teen Summer Experience lead specialist.

Morning sessions deal primarily with personal development;  afternoon sessions emphasize recreation that’s aimed at specific goals.

“We help our students find rewarding and appealing volunteer spots,” Elliott adds, “at places like the Rodale Institute, Cedarbrook  and the Lehigh Valley Zoo. It helps them develop a working resume, so they’ll be more marketable after high school.”


Your child is sure to have a “No Bummer Summer” during the 10 weeks of themed day camps at Kids CO-OP’s gymnastics/ tumble/dance center in Bethlehem.

Rae Greiner, vice president of Kids CO-OP, says some of the popular themes are the “crazy lazy water days of summer” (including a rafting trip); the all-sports “cheer week,” and a “Summer Olympics” week.

Participants enjoy a 25,000-sq.-ft. air-conditioned facility that’s equipped with foam pits, an Air Trak inflatable tumbling strip, trampolines, spring floors and dance studio. There are also team-building games, outside water activities, weekly field trips, elective fitness sessions and off-site swimming.

Kids CO-OP offers a variety of summer packages – from single half-days to full-day/full-week programs, and a free preview week.


Football…soccer……field hockey…softball…volleyball…

If all that sounds like a sports kid’s dream camp, be assured it’s all real.

Muhlenberg College’s athletics department offers all these and more during its summer camp season to boys and girls from elementary grades to high school seniors.

“The camps run all week, from the middle of June to the middle of August,” says Corey Goff, Muhlenberg athletic director. “All coaches come from the Muhlenberg staff, with occasional coaching assistance from local high schools and colleges.”

During three separate weeks, coaches run an “all sports camp,” covering many games at once. In addition to lessons in sports techniques and strategies, there are also just-for-fun activities, such as swimming, kickball and dodgeball.

Campers can choose from half-day, full-day, and even some overnight sessions at Muhlenberg’s athletic facilities.


Camp Mountain House, a wooded hideaway located just minutes from Allentown, offers fun-packed weeklong programs for girls from kindergarten to 10th grade who are members of The Girl Scouts. Non-members can pay a nominal fee to join.

To supplement the expected arts’n’crafts, swimming, science, team-building exercises, campfires and cookouts, girls can sign up for over a dozen special themed weeks. “Clowning Around,” “Outdoor Adventurer”, “Designing Divas” and many others – featuring age-appropriate activities – provide an enriching summer experience.

The camp provides daily busing to Cedar Crest College’s Rodale Aquatic Center and Red Cross swimming instruction is available. Camp hours are 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; extended hours are available. For extra-busy parents, the camp offers extended care and limited bus transportation.


Marking its third successful year, the day camp at Charles Chrin Community Center of Palmer Township is geared for 6-to-12-year-olds. It offers sports, arts and crafts, daily elective periods, weekly field trips, special theme weeks (such as “Party in the USA,” and “Wild West”) and lots more.

“Field trip costs are covered by the weekly fees,” says director Jacqueline Tornabene. “We schedule things kids like to do, to make their summer more memorable. Some of them are old favorites, others are new.”

And the destinations are pretty impressive: an Iron Pigs game, Lake Nockamixon, the Philadelphia Zoo, the H20ooohh! indoor family water park at Split Rock and plenty more.


The Minsi Trails Council offers a variety of camp sites and programs for Boy Scouts of all ages.

Cub Scouts can attend day camps at nine locations in the Valley and the  Poconos, says

Todd Heyn, Director of Support Services, as well as the resident camp “Akelaland.” outside Jonas, PA.

Older Scouts from the area (and members of the “Venturers” – a co-ed spin-off of the Explorers program) can attend Settlers Camp, Jonas; and Camp Minsi in Pocono Summit. “These resident camps teach basic camping skills, as well as leadership development,” Heyn says.

The Scouts’ camping season runs from June 24 to August 18.


With facilities in Easton and Macungie, Little Gym of the Lehigh Valley offers half-day camp programs, from mid-June through late August, for ages 3-12.

“We teach basic gymnastics and tumbling skills,” says Cassandra DeYoung, gym director, “as well as social skills, like following directions and focused listening.”

There are also organized games and activities, all related to the weekly theme. “One week will be all about dinosaurs, another about pirates, another about the Wild West. One of our favorites is ‘Who’s Your Hero?’ Police, firefighters and other first-responders visit and meet with the kids,” DeYoung adds.


Lehigh Carbon Community College’s “Camp Central” program evokes Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory – everywhere you turn, you find another treat, each more appealing than the last. Nearly 40 academic, sport, and special-interest camps are offered for children from toddler-age to high-schoolers. Here’s a brief sample of them:

Whippersnappers! is designed for ages 3-5. The program stimulates their minds by examining various aspects of life on Earth, such as reptiles and amphibians, and warm-blooded wonders. There’s plenty of old-school fun, too, with classic games like marbles, jacks, kick-the-can and red light/green light (no video controllers in sight!).

Budding media mavens (ages 6-8) ought to check out the Digital Media Computer Camp. Kids use flip video cameras and digital still cameras as they learn the basics of shooting, composition and editing, storyboarding and animating. They’ll create unique projects and showcase them at the end of the camping session.

Shades of Dexter’s Laboratory! Sciensational Workshops let middle-schoolers design and build air-powered hover crafts, learn forensics techniques, study lasers, take a 3-D trip to outer space, create sound-activated robots and functional robotic arms, design and build motor-powered model vehicles and much more.

Special interest camps include 3-D game programming, environmental science, cooking, electric/acoustic guitars, golf, horseback riding, Maya animation, sign language and other rewarding activities that are just a little bit off the beaten track.

Other camp programs include performing arts, fashion and modeling, cartooning, animal art, anime, jazz performance, TV anchoring, and plenty of other activities that provide an enriching and fulfilling summer experience.

And these are just some of the exciting opportunities in and around the Lehigh Valley. Your kids will have so much fun, they’ll forget they’re learning. So don’t dread the onset of summer – embrace it!


Allentown Art Museum
Call 610.432.4333 ext. 132. Get more details at; click on “events,” then “children and families.”

State Theatre Center for the Arts
Call 610.258.7766 or visit

Camp Via for Kids
Go to or contact Marisa Nimtien at, or 610.317.8000 x492.

Via Teen Summer Experience, or contact
Jessica Elliott,, or 610.317.8000 x483.

Kids’ Co-Op or call (610.861.9151 x300

Muhlenberg sports camps, or call the athletics office at 484.664.3380.

Girl Scouts of Eastern PA
Call 610.791.2411, or visit to learn more.

Charles Chrin Community Center
Call 610.252.2098, or contact

Boy Scouts of America-Minsi Trails Council
Visit and navigate through the left-hand column.

Little Gym of the Lehigh Valley
(choose “schedules,” then “camps”) or call 610.923.7700.

Lehigh Carbon Community College
Visit or call 610-799-1500

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