Packing for camp

A camper working on his potions during Harry Potter camp at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery. A camper working on his potions during Harry Potter camp at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery.

Creative campers get most out of summer

By Emma Jarman

A camper working on his potions during Harry Potter camp at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery.

A camper working on his potions during Harry Potter camp at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery.

Summertime, the annual season of heat and happiness that sends parents into a tachycardiac state worrying how they’ll entertain their children for an entire, school-free three months. Many parents take advantage of sleepover camps or sports programs to get a few hours of school year-style alone time during the dog days. But some kids shudder at the thought of soccer intensives and crafting seminars. If your child would prefer to start his first novel this summer, or learn how to play The Simpsons theme song on the cello, there are alternative summer camps for him/her.

For some kids, spending precious baseball hours learning a skill or honing a creative talent is a hard sell. But Lois Clark Ramey, the director of the orchestra magnet at Stivers School for the Arts thinks creative camps are equally, if not more important to a child’s development than are the physically exacting.

“When you’re doing something that’s artistically oriented, you’re using both sides of your brain, and the arts are what really allow you to not just learn information but be creative with it. It really nurtures creativity,” she said.
For children who have never lifted a musical finger, placed an inspired brush to canvas or seen a snitch sail across a quidditch field, there are a number of options that cater to the novice savant.

“You always want to encourage your children to try lots of different things. If they’ve never considered playing, [creative summer camps] are a great way to get an intensive but short-term experience,” said Ramey.

Following is a list of hosting campuses and the creative summer camps they offer.

Stivers School for the Arts
Stivers is known for its dedication to nurturing young, artistic talent. Fittingly, every summer the school offers the String Academy Camp. This camp is available to kids of all ages who have completed one to three years of instruction in violin, viola, cello or string bass (typically between nine and 12 years old). Taught by Ramey and an assortment of upper-level Stivers orchestra students, the camp typically sees 30 to 40 registrants for their week-long intensive.

The program provides both instruments and music for students and parents who don’t want to make a huge investment in equipment for what could be a short-lived passion. And speaking of investments, financially, Strings Academy is not one. It’s only $10 for the entire week, June 13-17. Students participate in fun lessons including contemporary music from television shows, and some Celtic and bluegrass sounds. At the end of the week, there is a camp-wide concert held to show off what they’ve learned to family and friends.
Contact Lois Clark Ramey for information or to register at (937) 542-7448 or

Dayton Art Institute
If you thought the only art you could look forward to this summer were the shapes created by purple popsicles melting onto white T-shirts, think again. The Dayton Art Institute offers an array of camps for different age levels that explore all types of visual media including both 2-D and 3-D projects. Separated by age level, the DAI will mold young Michelangelo’s and prep prospective Picasso’s into summertime creatives, turning their popsicle-stained T-shirts into priceless valuables.

There are 17 different options for young children to teenagers including Mini Art Explorers for the youngest, Art in Nature for the next age bracket and Jewelry making for the older still. Camps are $80 for members and $100 for nonmembers for five days of someone else coddling your young creative.
For more information on these and many other camps visit Here you can find times, dates, brief overviews of each camp and download a registration form.

Boonshoft Museum of Discovery
Boonshoft has some of the more unique alternatives to traditional summer camping. Take, for example, their Harry Potter camps. Children ages nine to 14 are divided into two groups – Harry Potter Camp for First Years (June 13-17) and Harry Potter Camp for Second and Third Years (June 20-24). Campers get to experience all the nuanced adventures of Harry, Ron and Hermione, from being sorted beneath an enchanted ceiling to attending potions courses, deciphering Latin phrases from actual Harry Potter spells and earning gold for Diagon Alley. Just in time for the release of the final installation of the Harry Potter movie series, children can experience the magical school of Hogwarts for themselves.
For information on Harry Potter Camps call the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery at (937) 275-7431.

Also at Boonshoft is Camp Invention. This camp is a week-long experience that harbors and inspires creativity through five interactive modules. It runs a nationally acclaimed program created by the National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation and is taught by Boonshoft educators. The week will include plenty of time for brainstorming while also providing an outlet for kids to get their hands dirty and create things!

Camp Invention is $220 a week with discounts for museum members. For information on Camp Invention, visit the museum and pick up a brochure or go to
Although only a few creative summer camps were highlighted here, a little digging will unearth a multitude of camps with no baseball bats to be found (unless to balance a gyroscope or to paint as part of an athletic art collection).

For instance, Victoria Theatre hosts an annual Chase Varsity Summer Broadway Camp for budding actors. Basically, contact any major arts institution in the area and odds are, they’ll have a program for you.

Reach DCP freelance writer and editorial intern Emma Jarman at

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