With summer on the horizon, kids have started their paper-chain countdown to the end of school and you’re running out of days to figure out how on earth you’re going to occupy them for two and a half months. Well, fear not! The lake area offers a plethora of super fun summer camps for every personality. Whether you have a little artist or a sailing aficionado on your hands, here’s a list of some of our favorite camps to create a summer to remember.
Camp Christmas Tree
Well known in the lake area for more than 50 years, YMCA Camp Christmas tree is your quintessential summer camp—just not so far from home. Located on Dutch Lake near Mound, kids ages 4–14 will experience a week jam-packed of exciting and structured activities like cookouts, a 50-foot climbing tower, canoeing, archery, water skiing, fishing and more. “The goal of YMCA day camping is to help campers grow physically, mentally and spiritually,” says youth development director Becca Fink.
Week-long sessions are available June 13–September 2, Monday–Friday from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. You can even get a peek at what your kids are up to all week at the much-anticipated Family Nights on Thursday evenings. And to make things even easier on you, Camp Christmas Tree offers bus transportation to and from camp from many locations around the western suburbs. $200–$250/week; 952.544.7708
Summer Arts Camp at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts
Encourage your kids to channel that creative energy at Minnetonka Center for the Arts camp this summer. Including 53 visual arts classes for kids ages 5–12 during their 11-week summer program, kids can choose from things like pottery, sculpture, drawing, painting, photography, mixed media, jewelry making and more. They’ll also offer 15 new classes and 17 additional Summer Arts Camp classes for teens ages 13–15.
Running from June 13–August 26, kids and teens can take as many half-day or full-day classes as they want. “Summer Arts Camp at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts provides visual arts education opportunities that are fun, engaging, accessible and creative,” says communications director Bruce Camp.
The Arts Center also has a scholarship fund available for kids who wouldn’t otherwise be able to participate in Summer Arts Camp classes, made possible through the CC Graham Memorial Scholarship Fund and other donors. Contact the Arts Center for more information. $30–$94, one half-day to three consecutive half-day classes ages 5–7; $127–$165 for weeklong half-day classes ages 7–15; 952.473.7361
Wake Tonka Wakeboard Camp
Kids can hit the waves of Lake Minnetonka this summer with Wake Tonka wakeboard camps. Choose between a two- or four-day program, where kids get individual instruction on technique (think airs, spins, grabs and flips!) and have fun day out on the lake at the same time. “We teach all levels of riders, from first timers to advanced,” says general manager Phil Davis.
Camps run from 9 a.m.–noon Monday–Thursday starting June 13. And your kids will be guaranteed the special instruction and attention they need with small class sizes at no more than four students in the boat. “We make sure to develop a fun atmosphere on the boat and make sure that no one feels left out,” adds Davis.
Wake Tonka will also add a wakesurf camp to their repertoire this summer from 1 p.m.–4 p.m.. Rising in popularity—especially in Minnesota, where the world championships took place last year—the wakesurf camp will give kids and even adults of all ages the chance to experience the sport, and gain the skills to ride like a true surfer—without the saltwater. $200 for two-day camp, $380 for four-day camp; 612.460.0754
Chanhassen Dinner Theatres’ First Act Camp
Approaching their 18th year of summer camps, the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres (CDT) offers plenty of opportunities for your little performer. Their signature First Act summer program is both educational and fun, giving kids of all experience levels a chance to explore all sorts of musical theatre components like voice, movement, costumes, scenery, stage combat and more. “Students discover and polish their talents, and learn to love and appreciate theatre and enjoy from an insider’s perspective,” says camp executive director Michelle Barber. Taught by professional members of the Chanhassen Acting Company, designers and choreographers, your kids will learn from the best of the best.
The CDT offers a variety of different programs for kids ages 8–18, including all-day and half-day week-long sessions from June 20–July 29. This year, they’re adding a special week-long, all-day session for ages 10–15 starting June 13 ($450). Students will get the chance to put together their own show and enjoy trips to the theatres’ shops during the build of the CDT’s summer production, Hairspray (plus two show tickets to see the show!). $225 half-day, $450 full-day; 952.934.1525
Mad Science Camp
Don’t worry, you don’t have to turn your backyard into a makeshift laboratory this summer. The folks at Mad Science Camp have got you covered with their unique, youth enrichment science program that’s full of educational experiments and a whole ‘lotta fun. “Our mission is to spark the imagination of children with exciting interactive programs that instill a clear understanding of what science is really about and how it affects the world around us,” says camp organizer Ben Millard.
Run in conjunction with Minnetonka Community Education, kids can choose from a handful of camps. New to the Mad Science lineup this year is Mission: Discover for ages 8–12. Campers will work together to survive a shipwreck by creating shelter, gathering food, designing a boat and more, as well as imagine, design and create their own inventions patterned on famous historical inventors’ own works. 952.401.5094
Wintergreen Farm Horse Camp
Give your kids a chance to grab the reins at Wintergreen Farm Horse Camp this summer, located at Wintergreen Farm in Minnetrista. A perfect day camp for the beginning rider in your family, Karen Hupp gives kids a taste of the open range with week-long half-day camps from 9–12 a.m. or 1–4 p.m. The beginner camp is for ages 7 and up, and teaches hands-on skills with ponies like leading and grooming, safety rules around the farm, and mounted riding. Weeklong camps are available from June 6–July 18 and also upon request.
And for the thrill-seeking preschooler, Hupp offers a one-and-half hour camp three days per week on an as-needed basis, where you and your kiddo can get a taste of being around the ponies. “We focus on the fun of it for this age, with the parent very involved at every step,” says Hupp. $400 half-day, $250 preschool camp; 612.760.4726
Wayzata Community Sailing Camp
A beloved summer tradition on the lakes, what’s better than catching a glimpse of brightly colored sails coasting across the water on a warm summer afternoon? The Wayzata Community Sailing Center invites your kids to be a part of the fun at their variety of summer camps for ages 5 and up, June 13–August 26.
For sailors in the making, the KinderPram and Pram Camps are great options. Kids ages 5 and 6 can get their feet wet at KinderPram, Monday–Thursday from 9:30–11:30 a.m., starting out with a classroom activity and land drill, followed by on-the-water learning on one of their Pram boats. Pram caters to kids ages 7–10, offering one-week sessions Monday–Friday from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Kids will get briefed on the skills in a classroom discussion, followed by a day on the water, including swimming and games as well.
Their 420 Camp for sailors of all levels ages 11–16 is offered in weeklong sessions from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. U.S. Sailing Certified instructors will introduce new material in a classroom setting before heading out to spend the rest of the day on the water, where sailors will receive group and one-on-one coaching. Racing camps are also available for kids ages 8 and up. $129 KinderPram Camp; $275 Pram and 420 Camp, $25 discount on second session; 952.476.5875