Cleveland is finally catching spring fever, but if you’re anything like me, you’re ready to skip straight to summer. My iPhone already has countdowns to my last college final (39 days!) and first day of summer vacation (44 days!). Looking back, some of my favorite summer memories revolve around the awesome camps my mom took me and my brothers to. Just thinking about the first day of camp brings back butterflies. I remember wondering: What were we going to do? Would I make a lot of new friends? Can I bring things home to show my mom? Can I come back next year!?
If you’re looking for a great summer camp experience for your kids – I have some great news! Cleveland Metroparks offers more than three dozen summer camps for children ages 3 to 16 all across Northeast Ohio. With so many different camps to choose from, chances are your children will love more than one!
One of my earliest summer memories is attending Zoo camp with my brothers. Nothing could beat spending a whole day at the Zoo, learning about the different animals and their habitats, making crafts and singing animal songs. There was just something about wearing my Zoo camp T-shirt and parading around the Zoo that made me feel like a mini Zoo employee. This year the Zoo is offering half-day and full-day one week sessions from June 9 through August 15. There is also a “counselor-in-training” program for campers 13 - 14 that focuses on developing leadership skills while working directly with the Zoo’s Day Camp staff. If your children are interested in animals, the environment and having a blast at the Zoo, this is the camp for them!
Another huge part of my childhood summers was spent playing with my American Girl dolls. I’d spend hours dressing them in the different outfits my grandma made them and pretend to travel back to 1824 with Josefina or 1904 with Samantha. I remember my mom reading their stories to me before bed and staring at the historical pictures at the end, dreaming of what it might have been like to live during those different times. Today I learned about the American Girl Camp taking place at Ohio and Erie Canal Reservation this summer and I’m not going to lie – I’m a little sad I won’t be a part of it. The camp is focused on the doll Caroline, a girl who grows up sailing in the early 1800s. Participants ages 9 – 12 will learn all about the history of Caroline while participating in activities, crafts, games and more. If your children love American Girl dolls and history, sign them up as soon as possible!
Think these camps sound awesome, but might be a little too much for your preschoolers? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. As a little tot, I loved nothing more than exploring the meadow in our back yard with my brothers, playing silly games and jumping in puddles. Turns out Cleveland Metroparks offers a few different camps for tikes that not only let them explore the world around them, but also teach them about nature through games and songs. Preschool Discover Camp at North Chagrin Reservation encourages 4 and 5 year olds to start off their days discovering nature, while Nature-Garten offers 5 year olds a promise of “never going home clean!”
Going to camp was a huge part of my childhood. I grew up going to everything from Zoo camps to soccer camps and even worked high school summers as a camp counselor. Camps are a great way to spend the long days of summer with siblings and friends. A full list of camps offered by Cleveland Metroparks can be found here. I’m willing to bet your children will thank you for signing them up, and who knows – maybe one day they’ll even write a blog about it!
Registration begins Tuesday, April 15 at 9:30 a.m. for Cuyahoga County and Hinckley Township residents and Tuesday, April 22 at 9:30 a.m. for residents of other counties.