Small hands digging into the dirt. Eyes exploring the stars. Ears learning to match pitches with an instrument. Kids will enjoy all of this and more at summer camps throughout the state.
As soon as he was old enough, George Thompson of Milford headed off to Knee High Naturalists camp at Abbott’s Mill Nature Center. Since then, George, now 7, has enjoyed spending time there every summer.
“We love having Abbott’s Mill so close to home,” says his mom, Maggie Thompson. “[It’s] is a perfect blend of learning and getting out in nature.”
Summer camps serve two purposes: summer child care and education, says Matt Babbitt, site director at Abbott’s Mill, which is operated by Delaware Nature Society.
“Connecting people to the natural world is important,” he says. “Whether it’s their first time in nature or they are back for another year, we hope to help all of our campers develop a deeper connection to the world around us.”
DelNature, as it’s called, offers a variety of camps for children ages 3 to 15 at three other locations in Wilmington, Hockessin and Greenville. Some take place on-site, while others include field trips for such activities as kayaking, whitewater rafting, ropes courses and more.
“We are excited to be able to bring back more of the programming this summer,” Babbitt says. “We continue to take COVID precautions and have smaller groups wearing masks when indoors.”
Campers can expect a variety of activities, from archery to photography to learning about the natural world.
“Getting in the creek [at Abbott’s Mill] is one of the favorite activities for many of our campers,” Babbitt says with a laugh.
Other popular activities are fishing, cycling, and capturing worms and insects. Visit delnature.org/summercamp for more information.
For kids interested in music or the performing arts, The Music School of Delaware offers workshops and group musical instruction throughout the year, as well as weeklong day camps during the summer break.
“Our summer programs give students an opportunity to dive deeply into their current musical instrument or vocal talent while giving others the opportunity to try something new,” says executive director Kate Ransom. “[It] is a special time when young people can have immersive experiences, which aren’t really possible during the school year.”
Our summer programs give students an opportunity to dive deeply into their current musical instrument while giving others the opportunity to try something new. [It] is a special time when young people can have immersive experiences, which aren’t really possible during the school year.
Programming for students ages 3 1/2 to 18 is available at locations in Milford, Hockessin and Wilmington.
Popular themes include strings (violins, cellos), introduction to guitar, piano and harpsichord, and vocal performances. Most programs end with a performance for family and friends.
“There are so many benefits to learning to play an instrument,” Ransom says. “We see the spark almost as soon as a child picks up an instrument. By the end of the week, the pride shows on their faces.”
Financial assistance is available. Visit musicschoolofdelaware.org for more information.
Delaware Technical Community College (Del Tech) prides itself on summer programming with an educational slant for students ages 5 to 13.
“We have learned a lot over the past two years about what families want and need,” says Katie Lakofsky, the collegewide camp lead. “This year we are excited to bring back some of our most popular camps while continuing our COVID safety protocols.” These include wearing masks, limiting activities to small groups and social distancing.
At the start of the pandemic, Del Tech offered Messy Science, which provided a kit to participants to complete science projects at home. “We have continued [this] and added Messier Science, [which] has been very popular,” says Lakofsky.
Now the camps, held statewide, focus on a wide range of activities, from culinary and fine arts to science and sports. One popular program is the weeklong Fusion, which allows campers to enjoy a different activity each day. For example, children might try art on Monday, cooking on Tuesday and basketball on Wednesday.
“STEM programs are a big part of what we do because we want children to learn to identify themselves as scientists,” Lakofsky continues. “It is a passion of mine to continue expanding these camps for our families.”
Delaware Technical Community College aims to be accessible to all students and families, providing tuition support and resources. Parents interested in tuition support can call 453-3956 or to learn more about this year’s camps, visit go.dtcc.edu/campssw.
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