Kids Can Spend the Summer at the Smithsonian—In Person and Online

Smithsonian Associates offers one-of-a-kind learning experiences that spark the imagination—and offer plenty of great fun—during Smithsonian Summer Camp, now offered in person and online. A wide variety of in-person camps for children will be held Tuesday, June 21, through Friday, Aug. 19 at the Smithsonian’s S. Dillon Ripley Center at 1100 Jefferson Dr. S.W. COVID-19 protocols will be followed and continually updated in preparation for the summer. Virtual camps will be streamed via Zoom Tuesday, July 5, through Friday, Aug. 12. Morning and afternoon online sessions are available. Whether campers join in person or online, museum visits, games, hands-on projects and conversations with experts bring the Smithsonian to life.

In-Person Camp

Immersive and engaging opportunities to connect with the Smithsonian’s museums and research will be offered for children entering grades first through ninth in the fall. 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. Nearly 80 camps are offered this year; camps are held Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Before-camp (8 a.m. to 9 a.m.) and after-camp (5 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 Quest,” “Mammal Mania,” “Powerful Pollinators,” “The Age of Dinosaurs,” “Galactic Adventures,” “Paint Potpourri” and “Slimy Science” are specifically designed to introduce the world of the Smithsonian to children entering first and second grades.

Back by popular demand are camps designed for students who have an interest in art, 3D technologies and digital arts. A new camp “Big Art” allows campers (grades 5–7) to exercise colossal creativity as they create collaborative artworks and large-scale sculptures. Visits to museums around the National Mall as well as local art installations on Washington, D.C., streets and at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival provide inspiration. Campers can also spend a full week learning video game design, digital photography, portraiture, architecture, comics and build 3D environments.

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, Udvar-Hazy Center, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and the U.S. Botanic Gardens, provide exciting backdrops for all their explorations.

New this year is the two-week camp, “The Room Where It Happened,” that allows campers (grades 7–9) to relive memorable moments as they visit Smithsonian museums to explore famous events and people in history. The campers make timelines, write and perform skits inspired by historical happenings, engage in fun research and team-building exercises—as well as theatre games and improvisation—to come up with their own lively versions of history’s best moments.

Other camp themes include the solar system, ancient civilizations, geology, ocean life, Smithsonian “Shark Tank,” “President for a Week,” “Monsters vs. Giant Robots” and “Hit a Home Run.”

Online Camp

Live, interactive adventures allow kids entering kindergarten through 11th grade in the fall to explore Smithsonian collections and themes during these specially designed sessions. For the youngest campers (grades K–1), educators lead interactive experiences that explore objects and artworks in the Smithsonian’s collections through play, artmaking and experimentation. Camps include “Smithsonian Safari,” “Design: Pattern Hunters,” “Space and Beyond,” “Dive Deep,” “Zoology” and “Dino Discovery.”

Campers (grades 2–5) 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 “Ecosystem Explorations,” “Design: Everyday Extraordinary,” “Take to the Skies,” “Space Station Smithsonian,” “Deep Blue Discovery,” “ExploreOlogy” and “Decade Detectives.”

History comes alive in three-day “Soldiers and Dioramas” camps (grades 6–11) where campers find a new dimension—a miniature one—to learning about some of the most important battles in history. Six 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 20, or Monday, July 4. Prices for in-person summer camp the weeks of June 21–24 and July 5–8 are $384 for non-members and $335 for Smithsonian Associates members. Two-week intensive in-person camps range from $864 to $960 for non-members and $745 to $830 for Smithsonian Associates members. Virtual camp prices range from $95 to $195 for non-members and $80 to $165 for Smithsonian Associates members. Online registration for the general public begins Thursday, 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. 15, at 10 a.m. ET, and Smithsonian Associates members of all levels may register Wednesday, Feb. 16, at 1 p.m. ET. All participants are encouraged to pre-register online. For more information, the public may visit 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.

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