Looking for things for your kids to do this summer? Online summer camps may be the way to go.

By Lisa Milbrand
May 21, 2020
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The coronavirus pandemic has already shuttered many beloved camps for the 2020 summer camp season. But that doesn’t mean your kid has to miss out on all the camp fun—or that you have to scramble to find something to keep them entertained and engaged while you’re working from home this summer. Many fantastic summer camps have shifted their programs online this summer, to give kids the opportunity to meet new friends, explore their passions, and just have fun while school isn’t in session: Meet the year of the virtual summer camp.

Whether your kid is looking for a virtual summer camp that offers a wide variety of things to do to keep them occupied or they want to laser focus on a particular interest, they’ll find plenty of options to try—including some that send all the materials you need to make camp fun.

One bonus to the new reality: Your child may be able to participate in a summer camp that would normally have been too far away or too pricey for your family to afford. The new rise of virtual summer camps this year could give your child opportunities they may not have had otherwise, even if they are at-home opportunities. Check out these amazing options for an at-home summer camp experience to rival an in-person one.

Your future marine biologist or zookeeper can go in depth at some of the top zoos and aquariums in the country through their online summer camps, where they’ll learn more about the amazing animals that live there and what it takes to pursue a career in animal science.

The Bronx Zoo is moving its wildlife camps online for the summer, offering week-long programs starting at $250 per week for kids from preschool to eighth grade focused on learning about wildlife and zoo-related careers, with cool behind-the-scenes tours of what happens at the Bronx Zoo and hands-on projects that bring the science to life.

Great Lakes Aquarium in Minnesota is offering a summer camp in a box for $99. For their week-long camps, geared toward kindergarteners through fifth graders, they’ll send you a package with everything you need for each day’s activities. During virtual camp, each day will start with a welcome video. Each afternoon will have an hour-long live video chat where campers can play games, show off their work, and interact with the aquarium staff.

For $115, Columbus Zoo’s ZooCamp2U includes daily two-hour live video interactions with zoo staff, downloadable activities, and a series of behind-the-scenes videos available through the end of August. The program also includes free admission to the zoo once it reopens.

Fine arts camps and classes abound on the internet, giving your kids the opportunity to develop their creativity while they’re stuck at home.

The famed Interlochen Center for the Arts is bringing its annual program online this year for kids from second grade through 12th grade, with classes in visual arts, music, creative writing, film, and dance. The camps run for several weeks, and individualized coaching is included as part of the package.

If you’re up for mixing and matching your own camp experience (or your child is old enough for a self-guided virtual summer camp), Maker Camp has tons of free how-to videos to help kids get their craft on, with guides to everything from creating origami fireflies and light-up fairy wings to making DIY ice cream.

The Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami has free arts camps available for kids age six to 13—and if you’re in Miami, you can even pick up complimentary art supplies so you can hit the ground running.

Art Camp 504 offers a variety of arts classes for kids ages five to 13 in everything from DIY board game creation to virtual theater and printmaking. Class size is capped at six students, and fees are sliding scale to accommodate families who have lost income. If your kid has a group of friends (four or more) who are interested in taking class together, you can sign up for a private class for the crew.

Get everything you need for 10 great art projects delivered to your door by Art Classes for Kids as part of their virtual summer camp, which starts at $175 per week. Kids can join the group for live Zoom classes each day, and the camp closes out with a virtual art show at the end of the week.

Sports camps, summer soccer, and baseball may not be in session this year, but that doesn’t mean that your child’s sports skills have to suffer. Sign them up for a virtual sports camp to help keep them active.

The National Academy of Athletics has several camp options focused on different sports, including basketball, volleyball, martial arts, and baseball. Multi-talented kids can pick their virtual All Sorts of Sports Camp to allow them to crosstrain in several sports during the same week. Camps are $48 for five sessions, with skills and drills training to enhance kids’ performance.

If your soccer star is hoping to improve her skills, the New York Super Soccer Stars Camp is offering a range of options, including Soccer Stars @Home, a fully interactive live virtual class, and a Skills and Drills library subscription to help kids hone particular skills.

Whether your kid’s a robotics fan or a Minecraft master, there are plenty of summer camps geared toward budding scientists and tech fans.

Camp Wonderopolis offers many different—and fun—avenues to learn about STEAM concepts, from exploring the science behind music to discovering why bowling shoes are slippery.

Connected Camps is for all the young tech fans out there, with classes in Minecraft and Roblox design and coding and an e-sports leagues for Fortnite and Overwatch fans.

For your future computer pro, iDTech’s virtual classes can help them build an app, master computer animation, or even learn 3D printing.

If your child wants to take part in a lot of different camp activities, look for virtual summer camps that offer a range of activities, so they can pick and choose. Odds are, one of these virtual camps will have activities your child will love.

The Boy Scouts are offering several virtual summer camp options, including an adventure box, which comes with cool activities including crafts, magic tricks, and science experiments, for $55.

Varsity Tutors has a virtual summer camp offering free classes in everything from slime-making to dinosaurs to make-your-own Lego movies. Kids aged five through 18 can create their own schedule, with hour-long classes five days a week for each session.

Outschool also offers an array of classes—some for less than $20 per class—for ages three through 18 in everything from traditional academics like languages and writing to fashion design and cooking.

Ivy Virtual Camps offer small class sizes (they’re capped at six participants per class) and a wide range of fun activities, with everything from learning to draw comics to mastering Minecraft to virtual book clubs. Kids can take three different classes per day for a full day’s worth of activities, or simply pick one class to take. Classes start at $195 per week.

Little Passports is offering a pair of unique summer camps in a box, starting at $125 each—one STEM camp packed with experiments and everything kids need to explore science, and another globally inspired camp to help kids explore countries around the world. The boxes have enough activities to keep kids occupied for up to 24 hours each, with additional online programming to extend camp time a little longer.

If your little actor or dancer seems destined for the stage, several companies are offering virtual versions of their summer theater or dance camps.

If your dancer’s summer intensive was canceled, take it online with CLI Studios’s $99 2020 Dance Experience intensive, featuring classes in a wide range of styles from top professionals in the industry.

Gas Lamp Players is making their annual summer camp virtual, featuring classes from professional actors, dancers, and directors (including current Broadway pros) on mastering the monologue, singing, and dancing for teens and younger students.

Camp Broadway’s two-week MyMainstage camp offers 30 hours of interactive classes in dance, acting, and singing with industry professionals for kids aged 10 and up.

The Children’s Theatre Company is launching its Virtual Academy, with dance, acting, and singing classes for kids from K-12, starting at $50 per class.