Maryland summer camps and programs for middle schoolers

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By Lisa Snowden McCray

Annapolis mom Jennifer Asquith-Scott says she scrambles every summer to keep her two girls, Daphni, 10, and Sydney, 13, entertained.

In the past, they've kept busy going to local pools and finding other activities, which she can swing because she works from home. But the older they get, the harder it is keep her middle schoolers occupied all summer.

"You really don't want them home alone with their friends, because you don't know what they are up to," Asquith-Scott says.

Summer is a problem for many parents of middle schoolers. The kids complain they are too old for summer camps, but no parent wants to leave them home alone all day long.

Luckily, there are plenty of options to keep kids in the middle occupied during the summer. Check out our list of ideas below, ranging from volunteer work to adventure "camps." String a few together and — voila — most of the summer is covered.

 


Day programs and camps just for teens


While it may seem difficult to find programs to keep your teens occupied every day over the summer, it's not impossible. A number of county recreation departments offer programs just for teens, and there actually are day camps cool enough to entice any middle-schooler. Here are a few examples:

  • Be an Xtreme Teen in Prince George's County. Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission operates seven days a week out of community centers around the county, according to Lori Smith, youth program specialist with MNCPPC. In the summer, Prince George's County teens ages 13-17 can drop in during the day for a variety of activities, such as recording sessions, learning to DJ, making murals, basketball or nature activities. They also offer late-night recreation from 10 p.m. to midnight. The program is free with a county youth ID card.
  • Take part in a new activity every day. Teens on the Go in Anne Arundel County offers daily activities, as well as trips to Six Flags, Kings Dominion and Ocean City, for kids in grades 6-10. These teen camps have locations in Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis, North Arundel Aquatic Center, Kinder Farm Park in Millersville and Crofton Middle School. Depending on which one your child enrolls in, fees start at about $220 per one-week session. Extended care is available.
  • Explore special interests. Schools and community organizations offer a host of day camp options for teens, many that encourage delving into an interest or activity. For example, The Key School offers a Camp CSI for budding forensic scientists; The Drama Learning Center in Columbia runs theatrical camps for middle- and high-schoolers; Eastport Yacht Club has sailing and racing camps for ages up to 15; and Severn and other area private schools offer sports camps for every type of athlete. Costs vary.

Find more: Check the Chesapeake Family Summer Day Camp directory at for a host of other day camps perfect for middle school-aged kids.

Volunteer opportunities for twens and teens

Summer is a perfect time to teach kids about the importance of giving back to their community, and plenty of places welcome young teens interested in helping. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Volunteer for Anne Arundel County Recreation and Parks. Middle school-aged kids can take part in three volunteer programs, according to Nicki Fiocco, the community outreach coordinator. Kids who have completed seventh grade can volunteer at the Adaptive/Integrated Camp at Mayo Beach Park through the Volunteer Summer Serve Leadership Challenge. Counselors in training who have completed eighth grade help at camps in local elementary schools, and ages 12-17 focus on conservation through Youth Conservation Corp projects at Lake Waterford Park in Pasadena. Costs range from $30 to $100, depending on the length and program.
  • Help local libraries. The Anne Arundel County Public Library starts looking for summer volunteers in April to help with the summer reading club, according to Laurie Hayes, public relations and marketing manager. Volunteers work several hours a week helping to register readers and lead crafts. Most county libraries have similar programs; ask at your local branch for details.
  • Lend a mom a hand. Help keep other kids happy during the summer. Teens who aren't yet ready to babysit can offer to be a mother's helper for a neighborhood family or friend. The experience will bode well for future employment.

Find more: The Volunteer Center for Anne Arundel County connects volunteers with organizations looking for help.


 MiddleSchoolCamp1WebAcademic opportunities for middle school students

Reach out to your child's school guidance counselor to find out about summer activities with an academic bent. Annapolis Middle School counselor Elizabeth Westley says guidance counselors have tons of resources about summer activities for kids. They also have information about financial aid for parents who may have a hard time affording summer activities. Here are a few academic-oriented summer programs open to middle-schoolers:

Find more: Area independent schools also provide a host of academic programs in the summer. Check Chesapeake Family's online directory of Sumer Day Camps for more options.


Overnight adventure programs for tweens and teens

There are a number of residential adventure programs that can be particularly appealing for middle school kids. Here are a few possibilities.

  • Build self-confidence. Kids ages 12 and older learn not only to survive, but to thrive, in nature at Outward Bound, which offers experiences all over the world. The Baltimore Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound School is the closest branch. Ginger Mahalik, the executive director, says kids who participate in the local program go backpacking along the Appalachian Trail or canoeing on the Chesapeake Bay among other things. Cost for the trip is around $2,000 for 10 days, but scholarships are available.
  • Cruise the Chesapeake Bay. Planet Hope Land and Sea Cruising Camps offer teens the opportunity to set sail on a 30- to 40-foot sailboat for a week. While building sailing skills, teens also learn navigation, course plotting, boat systems, anchoring and more as they cruise to different ports on the Chesapeake Bay. Cost is around $1,000.
  • Spend a week outdoors. Terrapin Adventures, Adventure Expeditions Camp has a mix of day and overnight components. The camp, for ages 12-15, combines ropes courses, hiking, tubing and two nights of camping in Patapsco State Park. Cost is $495.

Find more: For more overnight adventure camps, check the online Chesapeake Family Overnight Summer Camp directory.


Betsy Stein contributed to this article


Last summer Lexi Ordakowski, 13 from Severna Park, took part in the Summer Serve Leadership Challenge in Anne Arundel County, helping at the camp that her brother, who has a vision disability, attended. She can't wait to go back. Lexi initially signed up only for a week, but ended up staying five.
"I was doing something different every day," Lexi says. "You are learning new things and having fun in a different scenario than you're used to in school."

Updated April 17, 2015