Day camps with a difference

Worthwhile summer camps with a creative and educational bent.


YOUNG TRANSFORMATIONS: Summer Stars Theater Camp teaches performance at the historic Friday Morning Musicale Theater in Hyde Park.
  • YOUNG TRANSFORMATIONS: Summer Stars Theater Camp teaches performance at the historic Friday Morning Musicale Theater in Hyde Park.

You love them, but the kids can drive you crazy during the long summer vacation. Here are some cool, creative camps to keep them occupied during those weeks when you need your own summer vacation — away from them. 

Aqua Camps
Geared for kids just about all ages (3-18), the Florida Aquariums camps focus on finny, slippery critters in their natural habitat. Full-day camps and other options take place Monday-Friday with a variety of programs for different age groups. Programs vary from science explorations to tours to live animal encounter, field trips, arts and crafts and more. Teens can SCUBA dive and learn about aquarium careers, too. Visit for a detailed brochure.

Lowry Park Zoo’s Parents Night Out More than just a babysitter, the education department staffers at Lowry Park Zoo provide a reliable service that includes entertainment, a pizza snack and drinks while you go out and enjoy some grown-up time. Program Information: Available to children ages 3-10 (must be potty trained); takes place the first Saturday of June and seconnd Saturday in July and August; dropoff at 5:30 p.m. and pick up at 11; $30 per child, $10 for each additional child; one-week advance registration is required. The zoo also offers sleepover options if you really need to tie one on. Visit for details and registration form.

Morean Summer Art, Clay & Glass Adventures Take that fridge art to a whole new level with a week of creating themed art, including stories, songs and games. Sessions take place in the Morean’s Bank of America Children’s Learning Center, where kids get to explore watercolor, oil pastels, tempera paints, collage and sculpture in both guided and self-guided experiences. Camps take place Monday-Friday, June 9-Aug. 15. 719 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $50 per day, $150 a week. 719 Central Ave., St. Petersburg.

MOSI Summer Science Camps With a variety of programs that include daily, weekly or half-day camps, MOSI’s camps are designed to combine science and fun with topics that range from robots to food science to Harry Potter and dinosaurs. Kids can register for camps June 9-Aug. 15 at The Museum of Science & Industry, 4801 E. Fowler Ave.; 813-987-6000;

SPC’s SAM Camps SAM stands for science, art and math, and kids can delve into all three at the same time in a real-world, fun and hands-on environment. Sessions take place at the Museum of Fine Arts in downtown St. Petersburg and the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art in Tarpon Springs. Led by state-certified teachers, campers will experience the art and science of pigmentation, weights and balances and concepts of patterns and symmetry. Camp hours are 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (free drop-off as early as 8 a.m.) at the MFA with sessions June 16-20 and June 23-27. At the Leepa-Rattner, camps take place July 21-25 and July 28-Aug. 1. Application fee is $50. SAM Camp Tuition is discounted for members of the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts. Regular tuition is $150 per week ($125 per week for siblings). Call 727-341-3000 for more information.

South Florida Museum Summer Science Camps Attention parents who live or work south of the Skyway: Bradenton’s South Florida Museum — the home of Snooty the Manatee — hosts weekly summer camps, available for grades 2-8. Each week offers a new theme that takes kids to the depths of the oceans to coral reefs to stars and asteroids in outer space. $225 a session for non-members. 201 W. 10th St., Bradenton. For weekly descriptions and more details

Summer Stars Theater Camp The popular summer drama program for youngsters ages 5-8 and 9-12 takes place in the historic Friday Morning Musicale Theater in Hyde Park, offering weeklong half-day camps in acting, dancing, singing and just plain fun for starstruck kids. Directed by Maureen Patrick, a Tampa native and veteran performer at Walt Disney World, the camps build self-esteem, confidence, and creativity, as well as producing a fully staged show at the end of each camp. Themes this summer are Mary Poppins, Oliver Twist, and Little Women. For more info, visit or 813-831-5214.

Sunscreen Film Festival Summer Camp Do you have a junior Spielberg in your midst? If so, take that auteur in the making to Studio@620, where kids can learn to turn stories into compelling film sequences. Kids ages 12 to 18 get to write a short script while getting an overview of cinematography, using the same equipment as industry experts. Visiting cinematographers will demonstrate shots and camera angles along with sound and lighting principles essential for good filmmaking. Starts July 14. Mondays-Saturdays, 9 a.m. Continues through July 25; $500; 727-420-0566. Email for more information. The Studio@620, 620 First Ave. S., St. Petersburg.

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