Downtown Dallas Summer Camps for Every Interest

Spring may be on the horizon, but it’s never too early to start thinking about the dog days of summer and how the young people in your household are going to fill their time off. Schools, libraries, and recreation centers across Dallas-Fort Worth play host to any number of camps each summer. Downtown Dallas is particularly vibrant from June through August. With a little planning and some good conversation with your kids about their interests and ambitions, your summer calendar will fill up in no time. Check out these incredible opportunities for kids to make things happen in the city this summer.


The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) will be sponsoring two separate month-long summer art camps this year. The first runs from June 5 through June 30, and the second from July 10 through August 4. Participants have the choice of a morning (9AM to noon) or afternoon (1 to 4PM) studio time. Whether your child (ages 4 to 12) or teen (ages 13 to 18) is a budding Picasso, a future Coco Chanel or the next Warhol, the DMA’s instructors and camp counselors will help them to explore their full potential. All participants will also get a chance to show off their talents thanks to weekly exhibits and performances.

Renaissance Dallas has been offering fine arts programming for young people in what is now downtown’s Arts District for nearly 30 years. Its summer ArtsVision™ camp is an outgrowth of its year-round after-school initiative. It welcomes children ages 10 to 15 and features music, theater, dance and film and video instruction in addition to its fine arts curriculum. Classes meet at both St. Paul United Methodist Church and on the campus of the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. ArtsVision begins on July 17 and ends on July 29 with an evening showcase for all its participating young artists.

Spark! Is located at South Side on Lamar, just south of downtown. Its summer camps are designed to be modular. You can sign up for individual themed weeks or drop in on days when everyone’s schedule allows. Camp is an all-day affair at Spark! The creating starts at 9AM and winds down by 4PM. Parents can also secure before- and after-camp care, if needed. The first day of camp is June 5. For the next nine weeks, your young artists (ages 7 to 10 and 11 to 14) will learn to tie-dye t-shirts, animate their own cartoons, design their own dream houses, make collages and assemblages using upcycled materials and much more.

DO Be So Technical!

Renegades of Code is a new social enterprise that has set up shop in The Grove co-working space near Dealey Plaza. Its mission is “to create a unique climate in which Dallas children may explore all parts of STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics], especially technology.” There are three different camp experiences this summer for kids ages 6 through 12: one for coders, one for makers and one for techies. Coders will learn the basics of machine logic and apply their new skills to the creation of a computer game using MIT’s Scratch software. Makers will get a chance to experiment with circuits and the various elements required to build their own electronic devices. Techies will get hands-on experience with robotics and stop-motion animation. Camp dates vary, but all camps run from 9AM to 2PM daily, Monday through Friday (lunch not provided).

From June 12 through August 18, downtown’s Perot Museum of Nature and Science and Texas Instruments are offering Discovery Camps. Camp curricula range across all the sciences, from astronomy to zoology. Depending upon their grade level, kids can even practice their “zombie apocalypse” survival skills (learning about epidemiology and crisis management in the process) or find a healthy outlet for their mad scientist tendencies by spending supervised time in the camp’s chemistry labs. Camps convene daily for three hours of stimulating and informative fun, and participants have their choice of morning or afternoon sessions.

A slightly different form of discovery awaits visitors to the Texas Discovery Gardens and Butterfly House in Fair Park. Its weeklong and day camps emphasize the natural sciences and provide opportunities for kids to tend their own gardens and develop healthy relationships with the many different forms of insect life that share room with the plants and flowers human beings love to grow. Middle school-age kids can even train to become camp counselors, learning vital leadership skills in addition to boosting their scientific know-how. Texas Discovery Gardens keeps campers busy and engaged from 9:30AM to 3:30 PM and offers both pre- and post-camp care options as well.

Work Up a Good Sweat!

The T. Boone Pickens Family YMCA on North Akard Street in downtown Dallas will take children ages 5 to 12 on an urban adventure through its weekly camps. From 7AM to 6:30PM, Monday through Friday, campers get to huddle up with their friends — and fellow team members — as well as pick their own personal skill to master. Your child’s daily workouts might focus on swimming, archery, track and field, soccer or even “Muggle Quidditch.” And fitness at the YMCA means more than burning calories. It also entails demonstrating the organization’s core values: caring, responsibility, honesty and respect. The Urban Adventure Day Camp will be open for operation from June 5 through August 11.

We all have our comfort zones. Training ourselves to step out of them can be as difficult and as stressful as any exercise regimen. The instructors at the world-famous Dallas Comedy House (DCH) can help your kids build more positive habits and channel their playful impulses through their summer improv comedy camps. Children as young as 5 and as old as 13 will learn to listen, think on their feet and be confident in their ability to support others while letting their imaginations run wild. Each of DCH’s three summer sessions (9AM to 3PM: June 5 to June 9, June 19 to June 23, July 17 to 21) culminate with each troupe taking the stage and performing for family and friends.

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