Top Summer Camps for Gifted Children

Gifted children love to learn, and that doesn't stop during the summer months. Luckily, a variety of summer camps sponsored by universities or gifted organizations are available, where students can enroll in courses that provide in-depth study of a variety of subjects.

Some summer camps, such as Space Camp, are not necessarily designed with gifted children in mind, but they may appeal to gifted kids because of their special focus. Whatever your child's interests and abilities, you'll find a summer camp to fit their needs.

Camp counselor and kids looking through telescope by the ocean

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Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth

The Center for Talented Youth (CTY) offers summer programs for gifted children in grades two through 12. Students must meet academic eligibility requirements to enroll. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, courses are being held online in 2021 with the goal of resuming in-person in 2022.

The online version of this camp offers four different formats to choose from based on your child's learning style. Courses are academic in nature, similar to what your child would take during the school year. Humanities, sciences, math, writing, computer science, and foreign language are among the classes offered.

Students can enroll in Honors and Advanced Placement (AP) courses at CTY, which they can use for high school or college credit.

CTY offers online courses throughout the year for all ages, with many taking place over a 10-week period or longer.

The in-person camps at CTY vary by age group. Those for children in grades two through four are day programs only. Kids in grades five through seven can choose between day or residential, and camps for grades eight through 12 are residential only. CTY camps are in 25 locations on the East Coast, West Coast, and in Hong Kong.

Summer Institute for the Gifted

The Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG) provides both day and residential programming in nine different states for children in kindergarten through grade 12. Eligibility requirements must be met for acceptance to the program.

SIG camps take place over three weeks on various school campuses, including universities such as Emory, Yale, Princeton, UCLA, and Vassar. There are also online options for 2021. SIG offers two types of camp programs:

  • The Investigators program: Offered to children between 5 and 12 years old. Campers can choose between half-day and full-day programs.
  • The Innovators program: For ages 9 to 17. This program offers the choice of either a residential or day format.

With over 80 course offerings covering a wide range of topics (but with a focus on STEAM problem-solving skills across the curriculum), just about every interest can be accommodated. In addition to weekday classes, campers are able to enjoy social and cultural activities on the weekends.

THINK Summer Institute

The Davidson Institute offers three summer programs for profoundly gifted children:

  • STARS Summer Camp: A five-day camp for children ages 8-11
  • REACH Summer Seminar: A 10-day residential camp offered to children between 11 and 13 years old
  • THINK Summer Institute: Three weeks in a residential format; available to exceptionally gifted children between the ages of 13 and 16

All three of these camps have moved to online programming for 2021, with the same course offerings and instructors as the in-person camps. Participants in the THINK Institute can earn three college credits from the University of Nevada Reno as they complete a college-level course of their choosing during their camp session.

Davidson Institute camps are ideal for exceptionally gifted children whose needs are often not met in school, even if their school has a gifted program.

Since few school districts have more than one profoundly gifted child, it is hard for these students to spend time with other kids who share their interests and abilities. This camp gives them a much-needed chance to do so.

Northwestern University Center for Talent Development

The Northwestern University Center for Talent Development (CTD) offers summer programming for children in grades pre-kindergarten to 12. This program has also switched to an online format for 2021, but is planning to return to in-person camps on the Northwestern University campus for 2022.

Various options are available for different grades. Each of the online programs follows the same outline as CTD's in-person programming.

  • Leapfrog-Spark Online: Grades two through five; offers enrichment classes over the course of a week
  • CTD Encounters at Home: Grades three through eight; provides hands-on, instructor-led experiences in a wide array of topics, with weekend or week-long options available
  • Solstice Online: Grades four through six; two-week enrichment courses with opportunities to connect with peers
  • Global Leadership Intensive Online: Grades four through six; engages students in problem-solving as they address social and environmental issues; two one-week sessions are offered
  • Spectrum Online: Grades six through eight; includes three-week enrichment and high school honors courses
  • Equinox Online Grades nine through 12; a three-week program with an intense academic focus; honors, AP, and college-level courses, with the opportunity for academic credit

Duke University Youth Summer Programs

The Duke University Summer Camp programs, online for 2021, include unique topics such as digital media, sports, creative writing, and financial literacy.

Two sessions are offered, each lasting 11 days. Kids who have completed grades six through eight are eligible to apply. There are no academic requirements for this camp.

Concordia Language Villages Summer Camps

The Concordia Language Villages Summer Camps are language immersion programs in which campers speak only the language of a particular "village." A village is a camp devoted to one of 15 different languages, including French, German, Finnish, Japanese, Russian, and Arabic. No prior foreign language experience is needed.

Camps are available for children from 8 to 18 years old. Programs are one to four weeks long, located in several areas throughout northern Minnesota. Both online and in-person options are available for 2021, and high school credit is offered in select languages.

Lawrence Hall of Science Summer Camps

The Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley offers three-week, full-day science camps for children in grades pre-kindergarten through 12. Both in-person and online options are available for 2021.

Just a few of the many subjects offered at The Lawrence camps are ecology, robotics, the environment, chemistry, and engineering.

Green River Preserve

The mission of the Green River Preserve is "to inspire environmental stewards through a joyful connection to nature." That's an ideal inspiration for gifted kids who feel a deep attachment to the environment. Two camp programs are available.

  • Base Camp: Offered in varying lengths from five days to three weeks, this option is for campers going into first through eighth grades. The camp focuses on outdoor skills such as canoeing, hiking, archery, fly fishing, and geocaching. Other activities include music, theater, pottery, and arts and crafts.
  • Expeditions: For Green River Preserve campers in middle and high school, these adventure camps teach leadership skills and teamwork. They take place at the base camp preserve as well as the Outer Banks in North Carolina and the Blue Ridge Mountains, lasting between six and 16 days.

Interlochen Arts Camp

Interlochen Arts Camp is located on 1,200 acres in northwestern Michigan. It offers summer programs for children in grades three through 12.

With courses in creative writing, dance, film and new media, interdisciplinary arts, music, theatre, and visual arts, this is an ideal camp for children gifted in the visual and performing arts. Kids can enroll in programs that last from five days to three weeks.

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