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School is almost out for the summer, and students across the country are counting down to the last dismissal bell. Not to worry, though: You aren't the only parent scrambling for something to entertain her kids during those long weeks before the school year starts once again.
There are hundreds of summer camps scattered across the country offering a myriad of activities and diversions. A few rise to the top and, good news, registration is still open.
Combining both a traditional camp experience with the opportunity to choose a specialty emphasis, Pali Adventures in Southern California's San Bernardino Mountains is all that and more. During one- or two-week sessions, campers participate in 70 classic hands-on camp activities—arts and crafts, soccer, water sports, photography, zip lining—but they up the ante by choosing one of 21 specialty areas to focus on every morning of camp.
These specialties are divided into four main categories—action, creative, performing and leadership—and include in-depth experiences related to Hollywood stunts, broadcasting, magic, flying trapeze and wacky science, among others. Though some specialties are now at capacity during some sessions, there is still room available in many areas and enrollment is open throughout the summer.
Kids ages 7 to 17 get their swim, kick, throw and play on at Kutscher's Sports Academy in Massachusetts, where the emphasis is on trying and participating in a myriad of sports with training and instruction from talented adult coaches.
The 2-to-1 ratio of campers to staff ensures kids have the support they need to improve their skills in sports, which range from lacrosse and volleyball to tennis and flag football. Enrollment is still available for the June 14-27, July 19-August 8 and August 9-15 sessions.
Walk in the footsteps of Bilbo Baggins, claim a place on a Quiddich team or participate in quests just as Percy Jackson does. At Camp Kern in Ohio, literary-themed weeks help guide camper activities, which include everything from creative crafts, non-traditional sports and activities perfect for those who love super heroes, Harry Potter, Star Wars, The Hobbit and Percy Jackson.
Some of the camp's teen programs also incorporate innovative and interesting concepts, such as Ultimate Survivor and Teen Survivor, both of which encourage friendly competition between new friends with challenging activities. The final survivor in both programs goes home with a free week of camp for the following summer.
Most sessions still have openings available, but some have nearly reached capacity, so enroll soon.
Campers are center stage at French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts, a creative summer program available in three-week increments. Each camper at this Hancock, N.Y., compound chooses three areas of focus related to theatre performance, circus arts, video and film production, fine arts and craft, dance or music. But there is plenty of time to experiment with activities that aren't a primary focus.
Few camps offer in-depth opportunities to dig into program areas such as puppetry, songwriting, podcasting, stained glass and choreography quite the way French Woods does. Registration is still open, and there is plenty of space available for interested kids.