Dayton Live Well: Summer Camps

 Dayton Live Well: Summer Camps

Check out some of these great summer camps.

Corinne Minard

When we think of summer camp images of campfires, cabins and hiking may come to mind, but the Miami Valley offers summer camps for kids of all ages and interests.

The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, for example, will host eight weeks of summer camps that focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) topics.

It all starts with the museum’s newest camp, the Boonshoft Field School. “We’re … taking kids to various sites throughout the region and comparing and contrasting what wildlife we see, learning how to do water sampling, botanical surveys, insect surveys, and really compare and contrast those different environments with each other,” says Dawn Kirchner, vice president of education for the Dayton Society of Natural History, which runs the Boonshoft Museum. The weeklong day camp is for children ages 9-14.

Next, the Boonshoft will host its Discovery Camp, which covers a variety of fun STEM topics, like Tiny House Contractor, Get Your Geek On, a coding camp and more. July 13, the Boonshoft will host its Super Science Sampler, which brings campers behind the scenes of the museum to explore its many departments. And the last four weeks will invite younger learners, ages 4-7, for half-day camps with themes like wild crafts, storybook science and adventures in outer space.

“We really drive home some of those (STEM) concepts and the applications that they make and some of those future STEM-based careers but we do it in a fun and engaging way,” says Kirchner.

Dayton History also hosts some summertime fun. Its Settler Survival Camp, held at Carillon Historical Park, is a weeklong day camp that introduces kids to what it was like to live between 1796 and 1896 in Dayton. The counselors dress in period clothing and the campers get to explore many of the buildings at the park.

“We get a lot of kids who love history, so they basically are just excited to listen to you talk about history,” says Rachael Zimmerman, living history specialist for Dayton History. Campers learn to cook over an open fire, do woodworking, weed the garden and more, but in a way that allows them to explore their passion for history.

Conducted for three weeks during the summer (July 9-13, July 23-27, July 30-Aug. 3), the camp is recommended for children ages 8-12.

Those looking for a more traditional camp can find that and more at Camp Kern. It offers four different types of camps for kids ages 5-16. Its traditional camp is a weeklong overnight camp that features activities like swimming, archery and more. Young campers (ages 5-9) can get in the fun with a hybrid camp. “For the first two or three days they stay and do day camp then they go home at night, but the last two nights they stay and have a residential camp experience. That kind of builds their confidence,” says Chris Addison, executive director.

Camp Kern’s ranch camps are some of its most popular and focus on caring for and riding horses. Its teen programs focus on building character and leadership skills. And the camps’ literary programs are themed weeklong camps that immerse campers in the world of Harry Potter, Pokémon and more.

Integrated into everything at Camp Kern, says Addison, are the camp’s four core values—honesty, care, respect and responsibility.

“For example, archery is not just archery here at Camp Kern. It is archery but it’s about being honest, about making sure that you’re keeping score correctly and you’re not cheating on that, it’s being respectful of the equipment to make sure that you’re staying safe, and it’s being responsible when other people are out there shooting archery,” says Addison.