With summer vacation just around the corner, your pint-sized roommates may have grand schemes of junk food and television. But once that sugar high wears off, those dog days can stretch on forever. Just for you, we've compiled a guide to help beat the boredom before it starts. From an impressive lineup of camps to out-of-the-ordinary amusement parks to breathtaking nature explorations, this summer will be anything but dull.
Gone are the days when summer camp means gluing feathers to a popsicle stick. The Alamo City's got a slick selection of camps to keep the kids crafting, thinking, and balling all summer long.
The Southwest School of Art's Summer Art Studios recruits professional artists to teach more than 100 weeklong courses ($150, June 8-August 14). Courses include: a whirlwind week of making original works of art that move in Paper Animations; a fantastic exploration into monsters and the "exquisite corpse" game in Printmaking Monsters; and an introduction to the self portrait in Self-Portrait Constructions. Visit swschool.org/summerartstudios for details.
Over in Southtown, Keller-Rihn Studio (deborahkellerrihn.com) hosts Blue Star Kids, a summer series of weeklong sessions that splits the day between art and fitness ($100-$145, June 1-July 31). Mornings bring students into the artist's Blue Star studio where they can explore art forms such as photography, book arts, papier-mâché and weaving, while afternoons mean outdoors and burnt energy with swimming, yoga and dance.
Gemini Ink's Camp Ink! (geminiink.org/camp-ink) gives campers the tools to create whole new worlds with their words. Whip up comic books, performance poetry, fairy tales and more in one of these weeklong sessions ($100-$200, June 16-July 24,).
The Playhouse San Antonio's Summer Theatre Camp (theplayhousesa.org) is the perfect spot to hone those acting chops during weeklong workshops ($250-$380, June 1- August 21). Highlights include En Garde!, a stage combat course, and Do You Want to Be a Movie Star?, an all-ages course that explores the subtleties of acting for film.
For the miniature inventor, check out SASTEMIC's STEM-Maker Camps (sastemic.org) for weeklong courses that seek to prevent summer slide and promote creating new things ($255, June 29-August 14). Combining their high-quality Geekbus programs with their Maker activities, campers can expect to dabble in robotics, stop-motion animation and video-game design.
Venture Lab's Entrepreneurship Education for Kids (venturelab.org/classes) encourages children to pursue big ideas ($375, June 8-August 14). Courses include Film & Musicpreneur, a hands-on class where students produce their own music and videos, and Youth Startup, a hands-on experiment in starting your own business.
Just because the season is over doesn't mean your basketball fiend can't shoot hoops with the greats. Spurs Summer Basketball Camp Sessions (spurscamps.com) offer weeklong programs of basketball instruction featuring drills, games, and competitions. Highlights include a co-ed session taught by the Big Three's Tony Parker ($315, June 15-19) and an all-boys Spurs overnight camp at the University of Incarnate Word ($505, July 5-10). The Harlem Globetrotter Summer Basketball Camp (mcsportspark.org) pairs participants with Globetrotters stars at Mission Concepción Sports Park on July 24. The co-ed daylong session focuses on ball handling, teamwork and fun.
It just wouldn't be summer if you didn't log some quality hours on the local attraction circuit. Home to the Master Blaster Uphill Water Coaster, the death-defying three-story contraption that propels its passengers using jet stream technology, Schlitterbahn (schlitterbahn.com) has redefined the waterpark experience. With over 70 acres of rousing adventure along the Comal River, there's something for everyone to get soaked on.
It's easy to forget you're in Texas when you drive through the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch (wildliferanchtexas.com). With hundreds of exotic, native, and endangered species ambling over 400 acres of land, this may be the only place where the view from your car window is a zebra's snout.
Inspired by young Morgan Hartman's own "boundless love and ability to soar above her challenges," Morgan's Wonderland (morganswonderland.com) seeks to provide a place where everyone can play regardless of age or disability. Attractions include a music garden, a rustic fishing wharf and both traditional and wheelchair swings.
Beat the heat with a state park daytrip. Just 45 minutes away, Guadalupe River State Park (3350 Park Rd. 31, Spring Branch) offers four miles of river frontage for fishing, swimming, tubing, canoeing and overnight camping. And, with an onsite Children's Discovery Center that features hands-on scientific exhibits, your pint-sized naturalist will learn to see the park in a whole new light.
Visitors can step back into the pastimes of yesteryear at Landa Park (164 Landa Park Dr., New Braunfels). Enjoy a scenic picnic under the ancient oaks before boarding the miniature train that scoots around the expanse of the 51-acre park. For $3, you can hop into a paddleboat for an easy-going exploration of the park's pristine Landa Lake.
For breathtaking backdrops for your midsummer hikes, there is no place better than Lost Maples State Natural Area (37221 FM 187, Vanderpool). And, with 11 miles of trails, 30 campsites, swimming and oodles of big-tooth maples, you may want to grab the sleeping bag and turn this daytrip into an overnight stay.
Be sure to snag a Junior Ranger Journal whenever you visit any Texas State Park for unique activities, wilderness tips and nature art projects for your own junior ranger to complete on site.
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