Happy campers: A parent’s guide to local youth summer camps


Piper Simonson (left) and Stella Reynolds try to block water from spraying out of tubes while playing outside during summer camp at Galena (Ill.) Art & Recreation Center. PHOTO CREDIT: NICKI KOHL


Stella Reynolds waits her turn to run through a water course while playing outside during summer camp at Galena (Ill.) Art & Recreation Center. PHOTO CREDIT: NICKI KOHL


Among the summer camp offerings available to youth in the tri-states are sports, the arts, outdoor activities and literacy. PHOTO CREDIT: Jeremy Portje


Ashley Johannsen explores a caddisfly with Royal Reisch, of Dubuque, during a summer camp at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium. PHOTO CREDIT: Jessica Reilly


PHOTO CREDIT: TH file


Piper Simonson (left) and Stella Reynolds try to block water from spraying out of tubes while playing outside during summer camp at Galena (Ill.) Art & Recreation Center. PHOTO CREDIT: NICKI KOHL


Stella Reynolds waits her turn to run through a water course while playing outside during summer camp at Galena (Ill.) Art & Recreation Center. PHOTO CREDIT: NICKI KOHL


Among the summer camp offerings available to youth in the tri-states are sports, the arts, outdoor activities and literacy. PHOTO CREDIT: Jeremy Portje


Ashley Johannsen explores a caddisfly with Royal Reisch, of Dubuque, during a summer camp at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium. PHOTO CREDIT: Jessica Reilly


PHOTO CREDIT: TH file

Before you know it, summer will be in full swing. And even though the past year didn’t play out quite like parents might have expected, many will be looking for activities to keep their keep kids’ brains and bodies active once the school year wraps up.

Here are a few ideas, with additional resources to help parents get started:

The arts

Dubuque Museum of Art

Youth of all ages can get acquainted with the museum’s world-class art collection and explore exhibition highlights through imaginative and interactive projects in a variety of mediums. Virtual youth art classes, such as “Young at Art,” also can be found on the museum’s YouTube channel for kids to create at home.

More information: dbqart.org

Captured on Canvas

The Little Artist Program for ages 7 and older offers ample paint time at the Dubuque studio, with both in-person and virtual opportunities from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The cost is $60 for three months or $75 for one month.

More information: dbqartstudio.com

Shake Rag Alley

Youth programs at the Mineral Point, Wis., location include workshops from crafting fairy jars to papercutting, photography and a variety of other art creations. Free Arts Camps will take place Mondays, July 12 and 19, through Thursdays, July 15 and 22. A Youth Marketplace, featuring online instructions, videos and take-and-make kits also are available while supplies last for $10 to $12, with shipping available for an additional cost.

More information: shakeragalley.org/youth-program

Creative Adventure Lab

A Play Lab, pottery painting, rock climbing and activity kits can be found at the organization, with unlimited family Play Lab memberships also available for $14.99 per month.

More information: creativeadventurelab.org

Northeast Iowa School of Music

Students of all ages can pick up an instrument either through private one-on-one music lessons, duet lessons with a friend or group lessons. Virtual lessons also are available.

More information: nisom.com

University of Wisconsin-Platteville

The 53rd annual Pioneer Summer Band Camp will take place virtually this year, from 9 a.m. to noon Monday, July 12, though Friday, July 16. It’s open to students entering grades 7 through 12, with graduated seniors also welcome. The cost is $150.

More information: uwplatt.edu/psbc

Bell Tower Theater

Elementary through high school students can learn about theater, on stage and off, through Kids Take the Stage Youth Theater Classes and the Free Summer Musical Program. Due to the difficulty in producing a musical safely amid the COVID-19 pandemic, this year the program will produce its first play, “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged).” Open to students in grades eight through 12 during the 2020-2021 academic year, rehearsals for cast and crew members will take place through Wednesday, June 9. Performances will be Thursday, June 10, through Sunday, June 20. Information is pending about the theater’s Kids-for-Kids production, “The Spongebob Musical.”

More information: belltowertherater.net

The Great Midwestern Educational Theatre Company

Frogwarts School of Wizardry Summer Camp is available in two sessions: Sunday, July 4, though Saturday, July 10; and Sunday, July 11, through Saturday, July 17. Participants will incorporate science, math, reading, writing and acting and take on a role-playing wizard persona. Campers also will use critical thinking, imagination and role-playing skills to develop a story to guide them through lessons of good versus evil, right versus wrong, empathy, creativity and fun.

More information: frogwarts.org

YogArt Camp

Challenge to Change will host a week of superhero-themed yoga and art for ages 4 through 14. The camp will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mondays, June 21 and July 19, through Thursdays, June 24 and July 22. The cost is $125.

More information: challengetochange.com

AntiGravity Summer Camp

Float and Fly Wellness Studio will host four aerial yoga camp sessions for ages 7 through 13 beginning on Tuesday, June 15, and continuing through Saturday, July 17. The cost is $150.

More information: FloatandFlyWellnessStudio.com

Capri Camp

Those in grades 3 through 7 can learn the creativity behind beauty. The weekly camp takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, with dates to be determined. The cost is $160.

More information: capricollege.edu

Sports

Loras College All-Sports Camp

From Sunday, June 20, through Friday, July 23, four sessions will be offered for campers wanting to explore a variety of athletic activities.

More information: lorasallsportscamps.com

The great outdoors

Girl Scouts

The Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois are partnering with the Dubuque County Conservation, Dubuque County Hunter Safety instructors and Iowa Department of Natural Resources Conservation officers for a camp that will teach outdoor survival skills. Girls in grades 7 through 11, not only Girl Scouts, will learn orienteering, fishing and gun safety, in addition to exploring trails and swimming at Camp Little Cloud and visiting Swiss Valley Nature Center and Izaac Walton Club during day trips. The camp will take place Monday, July 26, through Thursday, July 29.

More information: GirlScoutsToday.org

Dubuque County Conservation

For ages 3 through 17, camps include Toddling Into Nature: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Sampling Camp: Fairies and Gnomes, Maple Camp: Scooby Doo, Nature Collectors Camp, Oak Camp: Wild Edibles & Food Cycle, Explore Your River Camp, Golf Camp, Adventures at Heritage, Buzz Like a Bee Camp, Hunter’s Safety Camp and Roughin’ It Camp. Camp sessions span June through July.

More information: tinyurl.com/yeusa4r3

Four Mounds Adventure Day Camp

Activities for ages 7 through 13 include Four Mounds’ ropes course, canoeing at Mines of Spain State Recreation Area, exploring ecosystems at Swiss Valley Nature Preserve and Nature Center and E.B. Lyons Interpretive Center and swimming, creek stomping, hiking, team building, games and arts and crafts. Camps will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, June 14 through Aug. 6. The cost is $145 and free for income-qualifying families in Dubuque.

More information: FourMounds.org

Eastern Iowa Horse & Pony Camp

From Sunday, June 20, through Saturday, June 26, at the Jones County Fairgrounds, in Monticello, Iowa, campers can participate in riding lessons, interactive learning and other activities.

More information: eihpc.com

Galena (Ill.) Art and Recreation Center

Summer camp options range from indoor and outdoor activities, including field trips, park visits, trips to the library, swimming lessons at the Galena Public Pool and a week at Camp Casper with the Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation. Set Mondays through Fridays throughout the summer, with drop-off and pick-up times, families have the flexibility of choosing which weekly themes interest their children, ages 3 through 12.

More information: galenaarc.org/summer-camp

Hoof It Goat Treks

Ages 5 through 12 will be able to explore all things goat- and nature-related through scavenger hunts, arts and crafts and other activities. Goat Camp will take place from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays, June 22 and July 6, through Thursdays, June 24 and July 8. Bonfires for families also will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Fridays, June 25 and July 9. The cost is $250.

More information: HoofItGalena.com/kids-camp

Dubuque YMCA/YWCA Union Park Day Camp and Cool School

The Union Park Day Camp will take place from Monday, June 7, through Friday, Aug. 13. One-week sessions are available for students who have completed kindergarten through age 5 to explore outdoor activities such as archery, arts and crafts, hiking, creek stomping, horseback riding, low ropes course, swimming, zip lining and more.

In collaboration with Iowa State University Educational Outreach, the Dubuque County Farm Bureau and others, Cool School promotes activities for students who have completed kindergarten through age 12, emphasizing educational learning and social and emotional growth, as well an an opportunity to learn American Sign Language.

More information: dubuquey.org/summer-day-camps

Youth enrichment

St. Mark Youth Enrichment’s Heroes Summer Academy

The six-week camp, this year titled “Reading Colors Your World” in alignment with the National Collaborative Summer Library Programs, is open to students in kindergarten through fifth grade. The program focuses on community service, social and emotional well-being, health and wellness and STEAM. It will take place Monday, June 21, through Friday, July 23, in Dubuque and Dyersville, Iowa. The cost is $375, with limited scholarship opportunities available for families in need.

Project STEAM — offering a specialized curriculum with a stronger focus on science, technology, engineering, art and math — also will be available for Dubuque students in grades third through fifth.

More information: stmarkyouthenrichment.org

Northeast Iowa Community College

Beginning in June and continuing through August, NICC will offer a wealth of virtual summer youth summer camps, including STEAM camps for ages 8 through 14 interested in video games, coding and virtual reality. Classes will include course for YouTube, ROBLOX, Minecraft, Python Programming and Battle Royale. Also offered will be a Virtual Progressive Agricultural Safety Day at 11 a.m. Thursdays, June 10, July 9 and Aug. 5.

NICC’s Manchester campus will offer two levels of Mini-Gateway to Technology camps from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, June 7, through Friday, June 11, as well as a Murder Mystery Camp from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, June 14, through Wednesday, June. 16.

NICC’s Dubuque and Peosta locations also will host Kids on Campus from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, July 19, through Friday, July 23, for students entering grades 2 through 7.

More information: www.nicc.edu/camps

UD for Kids

The University of Dubuque offers a range of enrichment activities for kids in variety of areas from theater to baking, science, art, aviation and more.

Week one camps will take place beginning on Monday, June 21, and continuing through Friday, June 25, available for grades 1 and 2. Week two camps are slated for Monday, June 28, through Friday, July 2, for grades 3 and 4. Week three camps will run from Monday, July 12, through Friday, July 16, for those in grades 5 through 7.

More information: www.dbq.edu/udforkids

Holy Family Catholic Schools

From arts and culinary camps to sports, language and literacy, leadership, STEM and pre-kindergarten focuses, options abound for youth participants. Most camps begin in June and run through August.

More information: holyfamilydbq.org/resources/summer-camps

National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium Summer Break Day Camps

Open to students entering kindergarten through eighth grade, museum camps aim to provide participants with interactive and engaging options throughout the summer months. Wrap-around care and limited scholarships are available for those in need of assistance.

More information: rivermuseum.com/summercamps

More resources

• Carnegie-Stout Public Library: CarnegieStout.org

• City of Dubuque Recreation and Leisure Services: cityofdubuque.org/439/Leisure-Services

• Dubuque County Library: DubCoLib.org

• Iowa State University Extension and Outreach: extension.iastate.edu/dubuque

• Mines of Spain State Recreation Area: minesofspain.org/education

• Swiss Valley Nature Preserve and Nature Center: dubuquecounty.org/conservation/swiss-valley-nature-center

• Dubuque Arboretum & Botanical Gardens: dubuquearboretum.com

• Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation: jdcf.org

Megan Gloss writes for the Telegraph Herald.

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