Arts & Crafts Classes/Camps
WINNER: Children’s Healing Art Project (CHAP)
While CHAP had to halt its in-person art visits to children in the hospital, it started offering outpatient art clubs via Zoom. And you can help its mission by registering your kids for the CHAP virtual summer art workshops and single-day classes available to the general public in July and August. (Your support helps keep the workshops free for children facing medical challenges!) Pro tip: Like CHAP’s Facebook page for a colorful assortment of at-home art ideas and fun videos.
WINNER: Portland Rock Gym
Portland Rock Gym has been serving the Portland climbing community for over 30 years. Their after-school programs, camps and classes, youth climbing team and birthday party options make them a hit with both parents and kids.
WINNER: Oregon Ballet Theatre
From toddlers in their first tutus to students on their way to becoming serious dancers, Oregon Ballet Theatre School offers all levels of classes — many taught by professionals. (And we love that OBT has offered free Zoom classes to get kindergarten to second grade students moving!)
General Day Camps
WINNER: Trackers Earth
There’s only one camp where your kid can learn to ride a bike, or gather berries, or forge their own tool in a blacksmithing studio. So it’s no wonder Trackers Earth once again secured the top spot for camps! With locations all over (and outside of) the city, Trackers is a convenient choice for parents, too.
WINNER: The Children’s Gym
At The Children’s Gym, the instructors channel your kiddo’s energy into gymnastics classes that are noncompetitive, coed and fun! Knowing that kids learn at their own pace, The Children’s Gym separates students by age and skill level, with new students automatically placed into the introductory-level class for their age. The Children’s Gym offers in-person classes and camps with strict COVID protocols or virtual lessons via Zoom.
WINNER: Oregon Zoo
Sadly, with so much uncertainty surrounding COVID, the Oregon Zoo has canceled its full roster of animal-centered summer camps for 2021. But we know a lot of parents (and kids) are looking forward to the time when the only camp where you can see penguins up close and personal will open back up.
WINNER: Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp
In the past, Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp has offered fun programming for all individuals with disabilities ages 12
and up. The beautiful Government Camp location allowed campers to fish, swing on an adventure course, ride horses and splash in an accessible pool. While it’s not clear whether the camp will open for summer 2021, Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp has been hosting virtual camp song singalongs, tai chi and interactive games.
Outdoor Adventure Classes/Camps
WINNER: Trackers Earth Portland
In the midst of 2020, you may have thought that all the apocalyptic, survival-themed kids’ camps offered by Trackers Earth seemed like a really good investment. We didn’t have zombies, but at times it felt like we were this close. But any of the offerings from Trackers will fuel a love of nature in your kids and give them formidable skills that will serve them for years to come — even if the zombies never show up.
WINNER: Camp Namanu
You know a camp has a long history in Oregon when it was mentioned in Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Quimby books. In fact, Camp Namanu has been around for nearly 100 years! As of press time, Camp Namanu is very hopeful it will open for the summer. The camp staff is working to adjust the program’s structure, safety protocols and session capacity to ensure the safest possible experience for campers. Keep checking the website for updates.
Performing Arts Classes/Camps
WINNER: Northwest Children’s Theater and School
Northwest Children’s Theater has rolled with the punches of the pandemic shutdown with humor and creativity. And that includes its switch to virtual classes and camps. This summer, NWCT will hold virtual summer camp June 14 through mid-August. And if it can do so safely, NWCT will start to offer in-person camps later in the summer. (As well as continue to offer virtual options!) Be sure to check the website for the latest news.
WINNER: OMSI – Oregon Museum of Science & Industry
Science-loving kids have a wealth of choices at OMSI summer camps: robotics, video game design, food chemistry, astronomy and more. Camps are grouped by grade with options for kindergarteners to eighth-graders. Pro tip: This is super- helpful for parents who are looking to do just one drop-off for kids of different ages.
WINNER: Portland Parks & Recreation
We cheered when we heard Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) planned to host a modified slate of summer programming this year — including its summer camps. Parents love the convenience, wide range of choices and affordability of PP&R’s summer camps. The camps will be designed to meet public health guidance and be flexible as conditions change — and may need to operate at reduced capacity due to COVID-19 guidelines. Camps will take place in 20 spots around the city this year.