Leisure Features

Summer Opportunities Fair: Camps of all Kinds

Whether your children are into animals, sports, art, travel or science, there’s a camp out there to suit their passion. But for parents, the options can seem endless and overwhelming. The solution? The Summer Opportunities Fair, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 31 at Whitfield School, which hosts the annual event at its campus this year, along with John Burroughs School and MICDS. Town&Style spoke to two very happy campers who illustrate how much the right camp can mean to a budding scientist, thespian, athlete and more.

SpecFeat_SumOp_Sustainable-Summer

Isabel Falls, participant in Sustainable Summer

[sustainable summer]
Many summer camps involve time in the great outdoors, but for kids seriously interested in learning about the environment and sustainability, Sustainable Summer combines environmental leadership and sustainability studies with an unforgettable study abroad experience.

The camp offers programs in Costa Rica, the Amazon and the Galapagos Islands and at Dartmouth College, each focused on sustainability immersion, a round-theclock emphasis on living and thinking sustainably, says camp founder Jeff Sharpe.

Each participant ends his or her experience with a Sustainability Action Plan, an outline of a proposed initiative to complete at home. “The sustainability action plan is designed to be a workshop for individuals to come to grips with their relationship to the planet and what they can do to make a difference,” Sharpe says.

Isabel Falls, a California teen planning to study environmental science at Tufts University, experienced the Amazon program, which teaches campers about reforestation, rainforest ecology and sustainable development of the Amazon’s natural resources. “It was a great experience,” she says. “We traveled through the indigenous communities and learned how, in many ways, they’re more sustainable than we are in the U.S.”

Although the emphasis of Sustainable Summer programs is education, campers also have plenty of fun. “Every night, we would come together and talk about our view on the world or something we saw that day,” Falls says. “It’s so cool to meet people who are passionate about the same things you are.”

[upper limits rock gym]
For kids who love to climb on things, are looking to overcome a fear of heights or who simply seek something new, Upper Limits Rock Gym in St. Louis offers four-day sessions in the summer for kids ages 7 to 15. Participants learn climbing techniques, proper use of equipment and the importance of trust and communication, says program manager Shelly Bass. “We incorporate a lot of fun things, like swinging on ropes, team-building activities and a blindfolded climb,” she says.

The shorter time span of the program and its relative affordability—ranging from $110 to $120 for a week—make it accessible to almost anyone, Bass says. Most of the sessions, which include an average of 25 participants, take place at Upper Limits’ West County location at 1864 Lackland Hill Parkway.

Jack, a 10-year-old at Barrett Elementary, has participated in the summer programs, as well as those held throughout the school year. “I like it a lot,” he says. Although he initially had trepidation about heights, Jack says the camp counselors helped him get over it. “They show you where to put your hands so you know how to get in a good position, and you know you’re not going to fall,” he says.

Kids come away from the sessions with a lot more than climbing skills. “Campers get a boost of self-confidence and a real sense of accomplishment,” Bass says. “For many, the camps serve as an introduction to a whole new sport. Not only is it something new for them to try and to be physically active, but it also helps them step outside their comfort level.”

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