Virtual summer camp is in session! Here are 30+ (many free) programs to keep kids educated and entertained

Technology

Parents love sending the kids to summer camp not just because it provides them with a well needed break in the day, but they also teach kids vital skills, fun projects and social opportunities.

This summer, many physical camps are impacted by coronavirus, which means virtual camps are now a thing. When I first thought of the prospect of my kid doing camp over Zoom, I will admit I rolled my eyes, but after watching my oldest son take a week long virtual art camp, I’m sold. He was focused, determined and came away with some great sketches.

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Here is a list of 30+ virtual camps to check out. Some are formal classes you sign up for, others are simply guided projects you can complete on your own.

I want to give a special thanks to Laura Taylor, LCSW, a counselor at a local independent school who complied much of this list. I sincerely hope you find something worthwhile for your kids in here. Also, if you have a great program you’d like added to the list, please email me: rich at ktla dot com and I’ll do my best to include it!

Virtual Summer Camps and Courses 2020

Apple 30 Creative Activities for Kids
Ages 4-8, Free

Apple’s team of educators has come up with a set of 30 fun, constructive and creative activities you can do with the built in features on the iPhone and iPad. Activities range from capturing a time lapse video to creating their own coloring pages, telling a story with shapes, and my personal favorite – recording news style interviews! The activities can be done on their own or with help from an adult.

Brain Chase
Ages 7-14

Created by two parents who were looking for a way to help their kids continue learning during summer, Brain Chase takes a creative approach to enrichment. It starts in June and runs for six weeks; kids work on math, reading, and typing all while competing in a real-life treasure hunt for the chance to win a scholarship.

Camp Google
Ages 7-10, Free

Camp Google is a four-week online summer camp designed to get kids exploring by asking questions about the world around them. The intro brings up some interesting questions like, “Why can’t I tickle myself?” The tech giant has teamed up with industry experts to create engaging content. Partners include Khan Academy, NASA, National Geographic and the National Park Service. Lessons are broken down into four themed one-week sessions that explore the ocean, outer space, nature and music. The camp consists of educational videos, simple experiments based on lessons (with supply lists) and camp badges for completed activities.

Camp Paseo-Parker Anderson Summer Enrichment
Ages 5-12

Parker-Anderson Summer Enrichment Online is a weekly fun + enriching day camp, with half-day, full-day, and individual class options. AM Camp 9am-12pm, PM Camp 1-4pm, Full Day Camp 9-4pm, including an optional guided lunch from 12-1pm. Individual Classes run for 45 minutes, with camp fun, activities, movement, and organized team building mixed in to keep kids engaged. Packets that enable you to personalize your child’s class schedule for each period are sent before classes begin. Enjoy a fun-filled Summer with new friends, new knowledge, and new memories!

Camp PBS Kids
Ages 2-8, Free

Children between the ages of 2 and 8 can access a slew of educational activities all summer long using PBS Kids’ website. Parents can also opt to get a daily newsletter that’s chock-full of fun activities based on age and topic, as well as a fun summer bucket list.

Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times
Free, Ages 9 to high school graduation

Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times is a camp for children with cancer and their families. This summer, they are bringing the camp experience home with a totally new program in response to current “safer at home” times. So far, 308 campers have signed up for their online camp, which includes a box with camp swag and supplies to participate in the online activities.

Camp Wonderopolis
Ages 7+, Free

Sponsored by the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL), this online camp lets kids explore topics such as weather, food, and technology. Each topic includes lessons, outdoor activities, videos, and additional reading suggestions for all ages. 

Challenge Math Online
Ages 7-13

Problem-solving is one of the most important aspects of learning mathematics. Challenge Math Online helps students develop their higher-order thinking skills that will benefit their future learning far beyond the field of mathematics.  

Connected Camps
Ages 8-13

For tech-curious kids, check out Connected Camps, which offers week-long, instructor-led, Minecraft-based camps including coding, game design, and engineering. There are also courses in Minecraft and the Scratch programming language just for girls. 

Cosmoto Virtual Space Camp
Free for elementary school kids

Cosmoto was started by a high school junior in San Diego who has a passion for space and wants to share it with children whose in-person summer camps have been cancelled, especially those in underserved communities. The camp consists of instructional videos that kids can do with their parents and they involve space topics, hands-on art activities and space science experiments. So far 160 campers have signed up and although the camp officially launched the last week of June, participants can sign up at any time throughout the summer.

CreativeLive
Ages 14+

CreativeLive is a collection of educational video courses, ranging from photography to personal growth. The lessons aren’t necessarily aimed at teens, but most of the content is fine for kids who are interested in adding new skills, such as Photoshop, to their resume.  

Digital Dragon
Ages 5-18

Santa Monica based digital dragon started as an afterschool enrichment program but has since gone totally online due to COVID-19. They offer tech-focused live and online classes, private instruction, workshops and even birthday parties.

Digital Media Academy Tech Camps
Ages 9-18

Launched by STEM educators on the campus of Stanford University in 2002, Digital Media Academy is a great place for students to get their start as designers, developers, programmers, engineers, animators, musicians, filmmakers, and creators.

DIY Camps
Ages 7-16, Free and Fee-based

DIY runs a varied slate of online camps which include topics like Lego Movie Maker, Cooking Basics Camp, Wizard Spells Camp, Drawing, Photography, Animation, Inventing, and many more. Camp counselors send daily challenges via an interactive app. Kids can respond on their own time, doing as little or as much as they want. 

Education.com Summer Boost
Ages 5-11

This isn’t necessarily a virtual camp but it’s a great resource for keeping the kids prepped for the next school year. The site has hand-crafted learning activities curated weekly for kids going into Kindergarten to Sixth grade.

Girls Get It!
Ages 7-12

A virtual camp to ignite and cultivate a love for learning STEM in young girls. Campers learn how to run their first computer science programs and how to problem solve more patiently and creatively. The curriculum includes team-building exercises like binary bracelet making, caesar cipher relay races, and much more. Campers also have discussions around feminism and ways  women can get involved in computer science in school and work.

Google Arts & Culture
Ages 12+, Free 

Google Arts & Culture puts the worlds of art, science, history, and travel at your fingertips. In addition to letting you take a selfie and compare your face to images from great works of art, it also lets you find information about artists, museums, historic figures, places, and historic events. 

iD Tech camps
Ages 7-18

The hottest curriculum in Python, Java, Minecraft, Roblox, Unity, Adobe, 3D modeling, and more. 2 hours of live instruction and peer collaboration + 2 hours of self-paced project development per day. 5 students max per instructor. Includes games, challenges, and legendary iD traditions.

Juni 2020 Coding Camp
Ages 11-18

Online coding camp empowers kids to jumpstart their Python coding skills, all from the comfort of home. Every day of camp, campers will attend 3 hours of online classes with a live instructor, who will check camper’s work, help debug code and assign campers’ new material. Also, campers can share their work and discuss related questions with other campers. 

Kanopy
Ages 3+, Free

As long as you have a library card, you can access all the free entertainment and educational videos this app has to offer. Most of the content choices on Kanopy are similar to what patrons of a well-stocked library would expect: well-selected, award-winning films; independent and foreign films; popular kids’ and adults’ TV series; educational shows. The animated books are top-quality, with classics from producers such as Scholastic and Weston Woods.  

Khan Academy
Ages 6+, Free

Khan Academy is responding to the learning crisis coronavirus has caused with brand new courses designed to combat “COVID slide.” These are solutions to help students bridge the gaps in learning, specifically in math. Khan Academy has new “Get Ready for the Grade Level” online courses in both English and Spanish. They provide easy ways for students to brush up on important concepts before the school year begins.

Made with Code from Google
Ages 12+, Free

A wide range of projects, including making emojis, animating GIFs, and composing music, is designed to ignite a passion for coding in teen girls. (There’s no stopping boys from doing these projects, though.) The site offers inspiration stories from female tech mentors as well as ideas to make coding social, such as a coding party kit.

Make: Online
Ages 12+, Free, materials extra

The folks behind the maker movement offer weekly camps based on themes such as Far Out Future and Flight. You get a PDF with daily activities that support the theme, such as making slime and designing and flying kites.

MarcoPolo World School
Ages 4+, Free to try, then fees

This early learning video and game app emphasizes STEAM skills (science, technology, engineering, art, and math). Kids choose from a list of favorite subjects and watch a related topic-based video, which is then followed by a game. Parents and kids can view the monthly calendar to see what new topics are being added to the app, and parents can view kids’ progress.

MDA Virtual Camp
Ages 8-17, Free to kids of all abilities

Continuing their tradition of making summer camp accessible, the Muscular Dystrophy Association is hosting a virtual camp to bring the fun and joy of the camp experience to children living with neuromuscular disease. MDA Virtual Explorers will allow campers – new and returning – to stay connected with virtual, accessibly-designed camp activities like cooking and music classes, fashion design, crafting, and virtual scavenger hunts and escape rooms. Over the week, campers form lifelong friends, develop new skills and build their confidence. Registration is still open for the last two weeks of July for camp.

PandaTree Foreign Language Learning
Ages 2-17

PandaTree is a foreign language learning platform for kids that offers live one-on-one lessons with real teachers. Their virtual camp consists of daily 25 minute one on one lessons with a tutor in Spanish or Chinese at a reduced price. There’s also a free daily StoryTime in Spanish and Chinese that any child can participate in. The first lesson of the virtual camp is also free through July 31.

PBS Kids for Parents
Ages 3-9, Free

The PBS Parents’ site offers a variety of practical, step-by-step plans to incorporate learning and playing into the dog days of summer. You can search by age and topic to find tons of age-appropriate ideas to keep kids active and engaged. 

Reading Rockets
Ages 6+, Free

Reading Rocket’s free “Start with a Book” online program lets kids choose their own adventure by offering reading material, vocabulary exercises, and hands-on activities on topics like weather, planets, and stars.

SiriusXM Camp KPL
Free for subscribers

If you’re a SiriusXM subscriber, you can access Camp KPL, or Kids Place Live. The channel is running a series of fun at home summer camp activities, story time, jokes, projects, music and more. It airs weekdays from 9 am to 12 PM PST weekdays and then on demand for two weeks. Try 4 months of SiriusXM at home for free using the link www.siriusxm.com/homefree

Summer of Minecraft
Ages 9-13

This four-week camp is designed to work with the PC/Mac versions of the popular Minecraft game. Your child will have access to a secure, kids-only server where they can participate in challenges, interact with counselors and other campers. All challenges are posted on the website and are free to access; however free users will miss out on the community aspect of the online camp. Once the camp is over, plans are to keep the kids-only server up and running on a subscription basis. A week of coding class can be added for $50.

Tech Revolution
Ages 6-14

35+ Cutting-Edge STEM iCamps.  Camp Tech Revolution Online is filled with live experiential, hands-on learning, collaboration, excitement, and cutting-edge topics in STEM. Tech Revolution’s proprietary curricula is designed for beginner, intermediate, and advanced campers in all age groups, so campers can progress each week. 

Tech Rocket
Ages 7-19

The brainchild of iD Tech, a leading name in tech-camps for kids, this site is less summer camp and more of an online, around-the-clock, year-long learning destination for curious kids interested in learning code, video game and graphic design. Memberships allow access to a wide variety of courses and video tutorials on demand. There’s a safe Minecraft server here, too, as well as moderated forums to help when your kid gets stuck on a coding (or other) problem. Have your child check out the arcade where they can play some old-school looking video games gratis.

Theater Camps and Activities
Various Ages and fees

Broadway in Hollywood, the organization behind the Pantages and Dolby theaters in Hollywood, posted a roundup of theater oriented camps and family activities. There are programs including a Lion King Experience, original content from the Geffen Playhouse and online theater classes galore.

The Wonder’s Explorers Club
Ages 5+

The Wonder’s Explorers Club transports kids 5 and older around the world through its “Adventures with Emma” program. Each week, little ones can explore countries like Japan through live videos. Additionally, they can opt into classes like “Work in the Animal Observatory,” where they’ll learn all about ecology and marine biology from experts.

Viridian Art
Ages 4-13

Art classes via Zoom might sound strange but it works! Kids can learn how to draw dragons, dinosaurs, Minecraft worlds, mermaids and much more. Just choose the class and show up on time with paper and some sort of coloring material!

Virtual Summer Camp with The Wiggles and Rascal + Friends
Free for toddlers and parents

The Wiggles will present a free two-week virtual summer camp for toddlers and their parents featuring arts, crafts, singing, dancing and some “pirate-worthy” prizes. The camp is free and will take place LIVE during 20 minute sessions at 9 AM PST on July 14, 16, 21 and 23 on The Wiggles and Rascal+Friends Facebook pages.

NOW: Listen to the Rich on Tech podcast, where I talk about the tech news I think you should know about and answer the questions you send me!

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