Once upon a time, summer camps consisted solely of outdoor options. There was the requisite swimming, hiking, canoeing and lanyard-making offerings, as well as other outdoor crafts, lessons in team-building and adventure-seeking — and it was good.

But our modern times have spawned a wonderfully inclusive trend; tailored camps designed for every kind of student with every kind of need and interest.

In addition to the traditional camp options, such as local perennial favorites Camp Adventurewood (campadventurewood.com — formerly known as Camp Shi’ini), Tom Sawyer Camp (tomsawyercamps.com), Camp Kids Klub (campkidsklub.com) and Steve and Kate’s Camp (steveandkatescamp.com/pasadena), there’s a brave new world of camps that take into account our city’s complex, unique community of youngsters and all their bourgeoning interests and talents.

Nowadays, the options are not only more plentiful — but also more specialized. This has resulted in a wondrous array of summer camp choices sure to please even the pickiest camper — and the most discriminating parent. Never before has there been such a bounty of summer camp options; from classes centered on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) principles and college-prep to camps focusing on performing arts, tennis, gymnastics, writing, improv comedy — even a rock and roll and a surf camp.


STEMworld (stemworld.net) includes field trips to the Griffith Observatory and the Natural History Museum, but also takes the model of the traditional field trip and sends it into the stratosphere with space/time exploration and tech-themed camp segments, such as Moon Colony 2030, an astrophysics and engineering camp, and Spy Camp, which allows campers to participate in biochemical experiments and tech-gadgets.

Camp Galileo (galileo-camps.com) at Crestview Preparatory School in La Cañada Flintridge caters similarly to budding scientists, but with an adventurist bent. Camp sessions include Deep Ocean Explorers, Renaissance Adventure and Expedition to Everest.

Destination Science (destinationscience.org) at the Pasadena New Horizon School is a blast for budding scientists, as well as those with only a casual interest. Campers can learn the basics of science in an entertaining age-appropriate way, as well as participate in engaging experiments in subjects such as robotics, rocket science and physics. 


School of Rock (schoolofrock.com/pasadena/music-camps) offers camps throughout the summer on the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and other top classic rock acts. Campers learn about the history of music, stagecraft and how to rock out.  Perfect for vocalists and musicians at any level.

At Burbank Music Academy’s (burbankmusicacademy.com) Rock & Roll Day Camp, campers learn to jam like true Rock and Roll Hall of Famers. The summer program focuses on teaching on-stage movement and presentation, musical genres, instrumentation, vocal instruction and other principles of music theory and performance.

Pasadena Conservatory of Music (pasadenaconservatory.org) and their Young Musicians Summer Session is chock full of wonderful activities and programs for youngsters.

The ArtCenter for Kids at ArtCenter College of Design (artcenter.edu) has DIY down to a science. Campers at this intriguing establishment learn practical and creative design with hands-on lessons in subjects like Architecture: Inside Out; Illustration, Portraiture and Self-Portraiture; Wearable Art; DIY Publishing from A to Zine; DIY Printmaking + Textile; and a Cartooning Technique Workshop.

Other notable Arts summer programs include; The Los Angeles Writing Project at Cal State LA (calstatela.edu), and Young Stars Theatre (youngstarstheatre.org), a performing arts center with productions scaled perfectly for young attention-spans.


Summer of Surf (summerofsurf.com) proudly bills itself as “the only surf camp in Pasadena,” according to General Manager Zach James. James explains their mission goal is to “introduce an inland segment of kids to the beach in a safe way, as well as to make sure they have proper knowledge of surf and tide,” Campers take a daily trip to Santa Monica beach in a chartered bus at 8 a.m. and may be picked up and dropped off to and from three locations; La Cañada Flintridge, Pasadena and South Pasadena.

Club Champion Gymnastics (go2clubchampion.com) and Arroyo Seco Racquet Club (astennis.com) have excellent summer programs that provide specialized instruction for budding athletes at various fitness levels.

The amazing weather and diversity of the Pasadena area and just beyond it have made it a mecca for camp operators who understand that it isn’t enough to keep youngsters busy and physically fit; they must also address the distinct needs of every camper at every level.

In addition to providing tons of summer fun, free-play, crafts and exciting adventures, today’s summer camps have also become adept at providing real-world instruction in cutting-edge technology sure to help prepare young minds for the fiercely competitive collegiate and adult world.