Summer camps, urban style

From science to improv, there are plenty of opportunities for Uptown kids to help pass these short summer months

By Anthony King | SDUN Editor

School is out and parents across Uptown will be seeking summer camps and educational opportunities for their children to while away the summer months. With a wide selection of camps available throughout San Diego – Balboa Park has a website designated entirely to programs in the park – we offer up a short selection of opportunities for all summer campers.

Campers learning stop-motion filmmaking (Courtesy Media Arts Center)

Campers learning stop-motion filmmaking (Courtesy Media Arts Center)

Youth Media & Tech Camp

North Park’s Media Arts Center is once again offering their media and technology camps, where campers learn how to use multimedia tools like film cameras, stop-motion techniques, animation, photography and design software.

“The Media camp is a fun way for kids to learn about the process of making movies, from conceptualizing their vision to producing a unique movie by the end of the week,” Media Arts Center Education and Outreach Coordinator Julia Richardson said. “There’s really no other place in San Diego that offers this experience.”

In June, camps are broken up to focus on students from first to third grades and fourth to sixth grades. For the younger campers, the weeklong classes allow students to learn the basic functions of a camera as well as create scenery, props and costumes for an original movie. The older classes explore character, composition and sound in a series of hands-on video production, organizers said.

Both groups end each week with a screening for family and friends, held in their 49-seat digital theater. These courses start June 17 and June 24, with two camps – 9 a.m. to noon and 1 – 4 p.m. – for the younger group, and 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. for the older.

Starting July 8, the Media Arts Center will continue filmmaking courses for students in third to fifth grades and sixth to eighth grades. There are seven weeklong programs to choose from, with the final week starting Aug. 19. Campers will learn stop-motion animation, interactive media and design, and sound recording, among other skills. These courses end with a screening in the digital theater as well.

For more information, including descriptions, prices and registration visit or call 619-230-1938.

A Fleet camper having fun (Courtesy Reuben H. Fleet Science Center)

A Fleet camper having fun (Courtesy Reuben H. Fleet Science Center)

Summer Science Fun

The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center offers several weekly, half-day summer camps from June 24 – Aug. 23 at their building in Balboa Park. The camps are grouped for children in grades one and two, and three and four, with select camps for pre-kindergarten and grades five through eight.

“The camps are designed to be fun, educational and hands-on, and to incorporate the Fleet’s exhibit galleries,” program organizers said on the website. Of the 34 camps offered, half are already full, and they suggest early registration. Selections range from “Chemistry in the Kitchen,” “Superhero Science” and “Medieval Inventions” for younger campers to “Space Camp,” “Save the Planet” and “Biotech Bootcamp” for older kids.

Most camps begin at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., offering parents the chance to coordinate with other summer camps being offered throughout Balboa Park, including the popular Aerosummer camps at the San Diego Air & Space Museum starting mid-July, the Museum of Photographic Arts’ camps from July 29 – Aug. 16, and the Natural History Museum’s Summer Camp ATtheNat, starting as early as Monday, June 10.

“This means that a child can be dropped off at a morning camp at the Fleet and picked up from an afternoon camp at a different venue,” Fleet organizers said.

As an alternate, the Science Center is also offering three days of programs specific for young women in grades five through eight. Called “Saturday Science Club for Girls,” the workshops stem from the fact that women are underrepresented in science, and are from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 8, July 13 and Aug. 10.

“This program is a unique opportunity to provide girls with the opportunity to explore science topics and to interact with female role models,” Fleet Director of Education Kris Mooney said. “From dissecting squids to constructing engineering solutions, this is a highly interactive way to build enthusiasm for science.”

The Fleet offers sibling and multiple-camp discounts. For prices, specific class descriptions and times, as well as to register, visit or call 619-238-1233, extension 806. For the complete Balboa Park camp offerings, visit

Summer Comedy Camp

Performing at National Comedy Theatre (Courtesy National Comedy Theatre)

Performing at National Comedy Theatre (Courtesy National Comedy Theatre)

The Mission Hills-based National Comedy Theatre offers two camps, an improvisation and a sketch comedy camp for children and teens, ages 12 – 17. In the improv class, workshops will feature the fundamentals of stage work and comedy, including character and scene development, organizers said. For the sketch writing class, students will develop their own scenes, focusing on structure, character and timing. Both courses will culminate in performances open to family and friends.

“Much like NCT’s professional team, our group of students will quickly form an ensemble of performers, working together to develop their skills and, ultimately, build a quality performance,” organizers said on their website. “Our goal is to give our students the skills they need to go on creating long after our camps end and, of course, have a blast in the process.”

The camps – Improvisation from 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and Sketch Comedy from 1 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. – are from July 22 – Aug. 2 and are $350 for each two-week course, or $600 for both. More information and course applications can be found at or by calling 619-295-4999.

Instructors give insight into art. (Courtesy New Children’s Museum)

Instructors give insight into art. (Courtesy New Children’s Museum)

Think Play Create

Summer camps at the New Children’s Museum, located Downtown, are extensive and include specific arts-based programs for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten children, grades one through three and grades four through six. Called “Camps for Littles,” the kindergarten’s themed, weeklong camps “encourage creativity and foster self-confidence,” organizers said, and include classes “All About Me,” “Art-ish” and “Storybook Art,” among others.

In their “Creativity Rules Camps,” for grades one through three, campers will work closely with local artists Angela Estes, Evan Apodaca, Liz Siskowic, Mark Dzula, Albert Songalia and Van Tran, depending on the course. Chris Rubio, a five-year veteran of “Stomp!” will facilitate one class, and Joseph “Dyno Rock” Corrales of Cypher City Kings will teach kids about the art of dance, music and hip-hop culture.

The older campers, in the “Art Invasion Camps,” will also work with contemporary artists, “focusing on in-depth art projects in a variety of media,” they said. Media featured includes 3D art, digital photography and recycled products, in conjunction with the museum’s exhibit “Trash.”

Prices, times and dates vary, with the programs running from June 17 – Aug. 30. The museum offers a scholarship program for families in need. For more information and registration visit or call 619-233-8792.

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