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March 19, 2014

Summer camps offer adventure

By Linda Shepard
C & G Staff Writer

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Summer camps offer adventure
Emily McEachern, of Bloomfield Hills, guides Cappuccino the goat, and Erin Cosgrove, of Birmingham, walks Stephanie the goat during day camp at the Charles L. Bowers School Farm. The goats carried the children’s lunches in their backpacks as they walked out to the farm’s sledding hill for a picnic.

Summertime is for exploring.

Day camps and sleep-away camps give kids an opportunity to investigate nature, hobbies, different ways of life and new sports. Camp can also be a way for the family to reconnect.

The days of old are the focus of history-themed camps at the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm.

“Little House by the Creek day camp offers working and playing like yesterday,” said Michele Dunham, museum educational program coordinator. “We have trips to the schoolhouse; we use all the houses here (on the museum site). We end each day with swimming in the Stoney Creek.”

The Little House in the Village Writer’s camp invites future novelists and journalists to explore different writing genres.

“Every activity is followed by a writing activity,” Dunham said. “They carry around journals in their backpacks.”

The museum also holds adventure camp environmental programs, involving day camps and one overnight stay in Bloomer Park in Rochester Hills.

“It is about surviving in the wilderness,” Dunham said. “They fish, learn about plants and animals, learn camping skills, and do outdoor crafts and cooking.”

Tami O’Shea, programming coordinator at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial, said the memorial offers a great selection of summer day camps.

“We have pop star camp for girls 7-9 that focuses on singing and dancing. We have musical theater camp and a singing princess camp for girls age 4-6.

“We also have a couple of different Lego camps — robotics and animation,” O’Shea said. “Also video game design. And we have a Lights, Action, Camera camp on TV production.”

A huge number of subjects are tackled in Birmingham Community Education’s summer day camp program, said Diane Rampolo, program assistant with Birmingham Community Education.

“We have great recreation camps,” she said. “And lots of preschool camps, too.”

All Birmingham Community Education day camps are half-day programs and are held at Groves High School in Birmingham.

“We have kids that attend day camp because their parents are working and they need day care,” Rampolo said. “And we also have specialty classes — with Legos, chess, dance, pottery and much more. Something for every child’s interest.”

Technology camps offer specialized sessions for computer animation, robotic tech labs and more.

“They make games for smartphones,” Rampolo said.

“We have a lot of empowering self-confidence sessions,” she said. “Girls and boys in power.”

Camps for boys with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are available, and academic sessions for reading and math are offered for all ages in day camp.

“If they struggle through the year, it helps so they don’t regress,” she said.

Rampolo said Birmingham Community Education camps are open to all.

“Anyone can attend,” she said. “The price for the camps is the same if you are in the district or out of the district.”

For a slightly different experience, a family camp provides a planned vacation for the whole household.

“We offer nine weeks for families,” said Chip May, executive director of Camp Arcadia, located on the shores of Lake Michigan in Arcadia.

May said Camp Arcadia originally began 92 years ago as a summer camp for young adults. 

“Family camping, in general, has always been there, but it is on the rise,” he said. 

“When you send a kid to camp, they are really excited when they get home. You try to understand what happened,” he said. “But when you are together, it is one big shared experience.

“I have three kids,” May said. When his family vacations, “we are always trying to decide what to do, what to eat, cleaning up. You come here, you pull up, it is all ready for you. We have amazing food. We are right on the shores of Lake Michigan. Families enjoy it — it is planned out for them.”

Camp Arcadia is a  member of the Lutheran Camp Association and also offers Bible studies for adults and children.

“We have talent shows, square dances and a patio carnival with silly things like face painting and shooting water balloons at targets,” May said. “We have lots of athletic activities.”

“We try to give families a lot of down time,” he said. “Kids all year long are doing a million things. We try to give them a break. Families enjoy the rest and reconnection with each other. We have family-style meals.

“You are eating dinner with your family three times a day here,” he said. “Who does that anymore? That’s part of the fun.”

For more information about camp activities at the Birmingham Community Education, Rochester Hills Museum or Camp Arcadia, visit communityed.net, rochesterhills.org/museum, or camp-arcadia.com. For more information about War Memorial summer camp programs, visit warmemorial.org.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Linda Shepard at lshepard@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1065.