Smithsonian Associates offers one-of-a-kind learning experiences that spark the imagination—and offer plenty of great fun—during Smithsonian Summer Camp. A wide variety of weeklong in-person camps for children will be held Tuesday, June 20, through Friday, Aug. 18, at the Smithsonian’s S. Dillon Ripley Center at 1100 Jefferson Dr. S.W. A select number of virtual camps will be streamed via Zoom Tuesday, June 20, through Friday, July 28. Whether campers join in person or online, museum visits, games, hands-on projects and conversations with experts bring the Smithsonian to life.
Immersive and engaging opportunities to connect with the Smithsonian’s museums and research will be offered for children entering kindergarten through ninth grade in the fall of 2023. The rich and exciting world of the Smithsonian is theirs to discover. A diverse, creative and experienced team of instructors design age-appropriate content that animates the Smithsonian, its history and its collections. Over 80 camps are offered this year; camps are held Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Before-camp (8 a.m. to 9 a.m.) and after-camp (4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.) activities are also available.
For the youngest campers, museum visits, storytelling, art, science and music are all important parts of the fun—and learning. Camps such as “Smithsonian Quests,” “A Trip Around the World,” “Mammal Mania,” “Star-Spangled Summer,” “The Age of Dinosaurs,” “Powerful Pollinators,” “Paint Potpourri,” “Folklife Festival: American Craft,” “Marine Life” and “Bugs and Botany” are designed to introduce the world of the Smithsonian to children entering kindergarten through second grade.
Back by popular demand are camps designed for students who have an interest in art. “Masters in the Making” allows campers (grades four–six) to take a deep dive into a different area of the Smithsonian collection to find inspiration for a series of design challenges that lets them use pieces of the past to create stunning creative projects. Campers can also spend a full week learning papermaking, painting, comics, video game design and comics.
Science adventures are available for all ages. From the deepest oceans to the furthest stars, the vast Amazon rainforest to the smallest backyard insect, campers have a universe of science to discover this summer. The Smithsonian’s museums on the Mall, the National Zoo, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and the U.S. Botanic Gardens provide exciting backdrops for all their explorations. A series of STEM camps will be hosted by the Science Guys of Baltimore, including “CSI: Campers Solve It,” “Kitchen Chemistry,” “Funky Physics,” “Young Engineers,” “Space and Rocketry” and “Engineering Earth.”
New this year is the camp “Cabinets of Wonder,” which allows campers (grades five–seven) to explore the breadth and splendor of the Smithsonian’s collections through some of its most significant and beautiful artifacts and specimens. Original museum collections were often housed in “cabinets of wonder,” small collections of extraordinary things. Through in-depth visits to Smithsonian exhibits and sneak peeks behind the scenes, campers discover unusual and curious objects and construct their own “cabinets.”
Other camp themes include ancient civilizations, geology, ocean life, Smithsonian “Shark Tank,” “President for a Week,” “Monsters vs. Giant Robots,” “Unsung Heroes” and “Go Green.”
A select number of live, interactive camps created for grades four to six take a deep dive into the Smithsonian’s collections through virtual visits to museums, hands-on projects, games, collaborative challenges and conversations with experts during two hours of live online interaction with a team of experienced instructors. Camps include “Mastering the Masters,” “Conservation Heroes,” “Underwater Worlds,” “Space Station Smithsonian,” “Timeline Travelers” and “Innovative Art.”
History comes alive in “Soldiers and Dioramas” camps (grades six–nine) where campers find a new dimension—a miniature one—to learning about some of the most important battles in history. Four camps are offered, each covering a specific battle, and campers make their own terrain boards and lead troops of 1/72-scale soldiers in war games that offer them vivid insights into the military strategies and conflicts that have shaped the world.
Prices for in-person weeklong summer camps are $480 for non-members and $415 for Smithsonian Associates members. There will be no camp Monday, June 19, or Tuesday, July 4; prices for in-person summer camp the weeks of June 19–23 and July 3–7 are $384 for non-members and $335 for Smithsonian Associates members. Virtual camp prices range from $136 to $170 for non-members and $132 to $150 for Smithsonian Associates members. Online registration for the general public begins Friday, Feb. 17, at 10 a.m. ET. Donors to Smithsonian Associates at the Contributor level ($300 or higher) are eligible for priority registration Tuesday, Feb. 14, at 10 a.m. ET, and Smithsonian Associates members of all levels may register Thursday, Feb. 16, at 1 p.m. ET. All participants are encouraged to pre-register online. For more information, the public can visit the Summer Camp website or call (202) 633-3030.
For over 55 years, Smithsonian Associates—the world’s largest museum-based education program—has produced vibrant educational and cultural programming that brings the Smithsonian to life. Inspired by the Smithsonian’s research, collections and exhibitions nearly 1,000 public programs spark creativity and excite learning in people of all ages each year.