Summer camps offer a wide variety of treats for the mind and body

For many, the archetypal summer involves activities like building forts in the woods, taking the fishing rod to the stream and playing outside. Of course, there are many others for whom summer is the perfect time to read books for fun rather than for assignment, to learn a musical instrument or to feed the soul in other ways.

For children like that, the Rutgers Cooperative Extension at Mason Gross School of the Arts offers a wide variety of camps, ranging from dance and performance to its Kids Create camp, sessions from one week to one month long. Specialized camps there can be pricey, but there is financial aid available. Registration begins each December for the following summer. It is packaged in two sessions, Aug. 3-7 and Aug. 10-14. Intended for children 5 to 12 years old, and set in New Brunswick, Kids Create camp allows participants to explore music, dance, theater and visual arts all in one camp.

“Children develop their imaginations and skills through drawing, painting, collage, movement, music, improvisational theater, creative dramatics, and playwriting,” states the Mason Gross web site. “Each week’s offerings are unique, so children may participate in one or both weeks. To bring our creative weeks to a close, participants will perform in a showcase, giving students the opportunity to perform for their families.”

Camp runs from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and costs $400 for one session or $750 for both sessions, plus a non-refundable $50 application fee.

Details for the specialized summer activities at Mason Gross are available at the school’s web site.

Of course, if you’re looking for a more traditional summer camp approach to the season, you need look no further than the borders of the borough.

The Highland Park Recreation Department is offering its summer day camp for seven weeks, with activities from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.,  July 6 through Aug. 21. The program is broad and rounded, with sports and weekly trips to the pool. The camp also will feed children’s expressive sides, with regular activities in music, theater, and arts and crafts. Also, the intellectual side of youngsters will be nourished with science experiments, cooking classes and a Chinese immersion program. Other activities include day trips, electives and special events.

For those  youngsters wanting a more intense sports program, there is the option of a five-week sports camp, separated by age group, that runs from July 6 through Aug. 7. Students in third through fifth grade have the option of a full-day camp that runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. or a half-day camp from 9 a.m. to noon or from noon to 3 p.m. For students in sixth through ninth grades, full-day camp runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for sixth- through ninth-graders; and half-day camp runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 1 to 4 p.m. The camp will shift its attention to a new sport each week, so campers can learn fundamentals of the sport and work on their basic skills as they play games and develop teamwork and sportsmanship.

Camp costs $200 for full-day enrollment and $110 for half-day enrollment. Half-day enrollment is available only for sports camps. For children eligible for free and reduced lunches, the camp costs $80 for the full-day and $44 for the half-day.

A booklet detailing the department’s entire set of summer programs is available at the Recreation Department’s web site.

At Middlesex County College on Woodbridge Avenue in Edison, campers can choose camps with themes that include theater, robotics, chess, art and stage magic, among others. Sessions are half-day and run for one week, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Cost varies by program, but a half-day camp typically costs $175.

For a brochure that details all the camps, or for more information, call (732) 906-2556 or visit

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