Parents in Action: The benefit of collegiate & academic summer programs

Kids are looking forward to summer because it's a time to shut the books and play outside for endless hours. But with studies showing that a portion of what your child learns is lost over the summer holiday, is there something that parents can do to increase the education retention rate?

You might be surprised that there are numerous camps that specialize in keeping kids engaged through informal learning while there having fun. Academic camps, like S.T.E.M. programs, offer opportunities to explore and learn about different areas without textbooks, tests or homework and most importantly, while having fun.

Why Academic Camps?

Depending on your child's age, there are different benefits to attending academic summer programs.

Younger kids will be introduced to many different areas of like robotics, chemistry, the environment, zoo animals, history, architecture and much more through fun, hands on activities that will help them grasp general concepts.

Being exposed to these topics during the summer will give your kids confidence when they presented with them during the upcoming school year. This will make them feel comfortable.

If your older child already has an interest in a subject like science or math, summer might be a great time to find a specific math or science-related programs that expose them to a career they might be interested in and meet with mentors or professionals in that field.

This will help your older kids make connections, find internships and eventually lead to jobs after college.

What is STEM?

Many math and science programs are based in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), which was created to engage kids through fun, hands-on activities. These programs use a number of different education tools like computers and experiments to approach dealing with creativity, discovery and invention. And the benefit of STEM is that the programs are constantly changing, allowing your kids to return year after year for new learning experiences.

Explore Collegiate Programs

If your teen is heading into grade 9, 10, 11 or 12, you may want to explore collegiate or pre-college programs as a way to engage your kids over the break.

"Pre-college summer programs are a fantastic way for high school students to test drive college life, discover great new schools and find the colleges that best fit their individual needs", says

As well as living in a college dorm, your teen will explore exciting academics, SAT/ACT prep courses, internships, intensive workshops and trips, just to name a few things. And the best part is, many of these programs offer college credits for a certain number of hours completed.

Reaching out to local and national museums, universities, zoos, aquariums, schools, state and national parks to learn about their programs is the first step to finding the perfect academic summer camp. We've compiled a list of some great camps for you to start your search.


Admiral Farragut Academy Engineering STEM Camp
501 Park St. N., St. Petersburg   727-384-5505, Ext. 258
Scheduled for July, the program combines two of our nation's outstanding educational organizations, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation and Project Lead the Way.  Designed for students entering grades 7, 8, and 9, these one-week camps have proven to be fun and inspirational for young engineers.

Berkeley Summer Programs
4811 Kelly Road, Tampa   813-885-1673
With more than 100 activities, there is something for everyone and every age. Children can explore diverse interests or a singular passion. There are full- and part-time sessions in a variety of areas, including sports, science, academics and fine arts. Try programs such as Juguemos en Español, Science Magic and Just Art. Register online!

1551 Belcher Road, Palm Harbor   727-781-6343
Give your rising kindergartner through eighth grader a fun-filled summer in a safe, family friendly environment.  Activities include music, art, computers, sports, reading, creative play, science and field trips.  A ministry of Palm Harbor United Methodist Church.

Camp Terrapin
727 W. Cass St., Tampa   813-251-8481
Academic and enrichment courses cater to the student who wants to strengthen existing skill sets or advance to another level. A coeducational, sports and fine arts curriculum provides structured activities for students entering first through eighth grades. Robotics courses from basic building skills to programming available.

Camp Invention
Various locations  630-431-7754
This nationally acclaimed, week-long summer enrichment day experience for children entering grades one through six is free to schools and organizations nationwide. The program's top priority is to provide quality enrichment programming in the STEM fields (science, technology,

engineering and math). Local schools host the program and the week's hands-on activities are led by local teachers to ensure a safe learning environment. Go online to find a camp near you.

Camp Bayshore
3909 S. MacDill Ave., Tampa   813.839.4297, Ext. 344
This day camp for 3 year olds to rising sixth graders is a fun, safe, Christian camp chock full of  activities, shows, swimming, sports, the arts, music and field trips. Check out the school's website to see pictures from last summer's program and download forms to register your camper! Camp runs June 3 through Aug. 9.

Camp IDS
12015 Orange Grove Drive, Tampa   813-961-3087
Campers can try their hand at archery or broadcasting in the morning and dabble in painting or French cooking in the afternoon. More than 60 half- and full-day camps ensure everyone has a great time. Academic camps include math, science, reading, writing and technology. Chinese, French and Spanish language camps available. Camps run June 17 through Aug. 2. Free morning drop-off at 7:15 a.m.  After care (3-6 p.m.) and bus transportation available for a fee.

Carrollwood Day School
1515 W. Bearss Ave., Tampa  813-920-2288
For campers entering first through 12th grade, each week-long camp session has its own theme. Full-day camps are $200 per week, beginning at 8:30 am and ending at 4 p.m. daily. Register online!
Camp Connect at Glazer Children's Museum
110 W. Gasparilla Plaza, downtown Tampa   813-443-3861
Welcoming ages 4-10, there is a full spectrum of fun and educational themes for every age. Camps will run all summer starting June 10. Space is limited.

Canterbury School of Florida
Two locations in St. Petersburg (Snell Isle and Shore Acres)  727-525-1419
The school's summer programs offer opportunities for campers to explore interests, strengthen skills, make new friends and have fun in a safe environment. Full- and half-day programs are available for ages 4-10 as well as full- and half-day themed camps for ages 4 to adult. Themed camps include athletics, archery, cake decorating and mud therapy. Sign up for one week or the whole summer!

The Goddard School
Various Tampa Locations
Energetic teams of teachers plan developmentally appropriate activities to instill a lifelong love of learning. Children are exposed to science and nature,  arts and crafts, drama, cooking, manners, computers and technology, literature and language, music and movements, sports and games, and special visitors that provide exciting learning opportunities in a safe and secure environment.

History Adventure Camps at Tampa Bay History Center
801 Old Water St., Tampa   813-675-8960
Your children can dig, craft and build their way through the past! Open to ages 7-11, the camps, led by experienced educators, include games, music, literature, splash park fun and interactions with historians and other experts. Themes include: Go Green (June 17-21); American Girls (July 8-12); Build It! (July 22-26); and Archaeology Adventure (Aug. 5-9).

MOSI Science Summer Camps
4801 E. Fowler Ave.,  Tampa   813-987-6000
What do launching pumpkins, designing video games, explosions, slime and fashion design all have in common? They are just part of the MOSI Science Summer Camp adventure waiting for you. Summer Science Camp is June 11 through Aug. 17. MOSI offers science, technology, engineering and math, also known as STEM, camps for preschoolers to high schoolers. There are half-day, full-day, technology, travel and residential camps.

Primrose Schools – Passport to Adventure!
Various locations    
Camp offers field trips, creative activities, sports, and fun adventures to help explorers play, laugh and learn their way through an unforgettable summer.  Choose specific camp weeks or join a location all summer long. Enter online for a chance to win a $1,000 American Express Travel gift card!

Shorecrest Summer Programs
5101 First St. N.E., St. Petersburg 727-522-2111
Camps are open to the public and serve more than 2,000 campers each summer. Academic, enrichment and recreational camps are offered for ages 4-18 throughout the 11 weeks. The full- and half-day sessions include sports, theater, engineering camps, video game design, arts and driver's education. Register on a weekly basis.  Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with before and after care available.

Summer Camp at Hillsdale
6201 Ehrlich Road, Tampa   813-964-5735
Learning can be fun this summer. Children ages 2-12 will enjoy hands-on activities, arts and crafts, field trips, fun with science, music, math and drama.

Sydney's Academy
4518 S. Manhattan Ave., Tampa   813-835-4591
This summer program specializes in meeting the needs of each child. With low student/teacher ratios

and social and play skill, your kids will learn through music, arts and crafts, theme days, fitness and exercise.

Word of Life Florida Youth Camp
13247 Word of Life Drive, Hudson  727-379-5000
This highly focused program strives to teach each camper to know Christ as their personal savior, to grow in their knowledge of God's word and to show their faith to others by challenging them to be God's representative.

Tampa Bay Watch Estuary EDventures
3000 Pinellas Bayway S., Tierra Verde   727- 867-8166, Ext. 246
Does your child have an interest in marine science? Sea Monkeys is a camp is for kids ages 6-8 and offers an introduction to the marine environment. Tampa Bay Discovery camp is for kids ages 9-14.


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