Summer camp is a rite of passage for many youngsters and teens. In early summer, when kids are fresh out of school and anxious for adventure, camps involving anything besides learning are embraced enthusiastically. Swimming, canoeing, hiking, campfires, team sports, and simply spending time in the great outdoors are refreshing changes from the rigors of academia. Plus, in the early days of summer there are still traces of spring in the air.

For many families, the challenging aspect of summer break is that, at some point, it becomes less exciting. The novelty often wears off, often just as the mercury really rises. In many areas, late summer is hot and muggy. Local pools, beaches, trampoline parks, water parks, and other attractions have become “boring.” Kids (and parents) begin to count down the days until school starts. You can’t change the school calendar. You may not have the luxury of planning a spontaneous getaway to a fun, cool destination. What you can do is find an online camp to appeal to your bored students and reverse the brain drain of June and July.

What Are Online Summer Camps?

As the name suggests, online (aka virtual) summer camps provide opportunities for kids to learn, meet, and interact with other kids—from the comfort and convenience of their own homes. The only required equipment for these camps are computers with video and audio connectivity and inquisitive, interested kids. Online camps are interactive, often inexpensive or free, and typically have small instructor-to-camper ratios. Because campers and their counselors enjoy plenty of virtual one-to-one time, counselors often continue mentoring their students long after camp ends.

Why Kids Love Them

Kids love online camps because they get to sleep in and stay in their PJs longer—the commute time to and from camp is about zero. In fact, they can attend camp in their PJs if they want to.

Additionally, kids (and their parents) love the fact that online camps give them access to topics that may be super-specialized. There may not be a Minecraft Camp to physically attend in your hometown. There may not be a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) camp within 100 miles of a small town. But thanks to the internet and technology, whatever academic subject your child is interested in, odds are good there’s an online camp option available.

Five Online Camps to Check Out

Are you intrigued? Are you looking for something fun and worthwhile for your child to do this summer? Here are some online camps to check out.

  • Made with Code from Google. This camp teaches kids 12 and older to create GIFs and emojis, compose music, and more. It was designed to encourage teenage girls to gain a passion for coding. (Boys are certainly encouraged to attend, too!) Cost: Free!
  • Camp Wonderopolis. Designed for kids seven and older, this camp encourages kids to explore weather, food, technology, and more. This year’s theme is Build Your Own Wonderocity (and focuses on construction and engineering lessons.) Cost: Free!
  • Tech Rocket. Campers ages 10 and up learn code, game design, graphic design, and more. Cost varies from $19 per year to $29 per month depending on camp selected.
  • Connected Camps. Kids aged 8–13 who love Minecraft and coding will love these week-long online summer camps. There are co-ed and girls-only options; each includes 10 hours of instruction, access to custom-built multiplayer worlds, and more. Cost: $69 to $99.
  • JAM. This year-round online school for kids aged 8–16 is like kid college: Students choose their own courses (inventing, drawing, cooking, music, etc.) Cost: Free for first month, then $25 per month.

It’s still summer; online camps enable kids to soak up every last moment of it, while also retraining their brains for the academic challenges ahead.

If you child enjoys learning and interacting online, he or she may also benefit from online learning during the school year. Visit K12.com to learn more about the benefits of online learning and the virtual public schools in your area.

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