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Kids Are Out of School ... Now What?

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

While children are enjoying their summer vacation from school, it can be a challenging time for parents.


A chalk board with "Summer Camp" written in chalk.“I remember my parents and other parents in my neighborhood balancing summer residential camps with road trips, neighborhood activities (backyard baseball games, bike rides, preparing for the 4th of July parade), and swimming lessons until we were old enough to volunteer for church and community organizations,” said Laura Hubbs-Tait, Oklahoma State University Extension parenting specialist. “My favorite summer when my own children were in preschool and early elementary school was the one when I elected to teach at night, so that I could have all day every Friday with my children to take advantage of the zoo, the public library and the carousel at our favorite park.”


What can Oklahoma parents do in Summer 2022? First, check out summer camps offered by your OSU County Extension county office and sign up your children now. Camp options offered this summer by Extension include a week-long gardening day camp as well as other options that vary by county. These may include STEM camps, outdoor skills camps, cooking camps and sewing camps.


Local churches, schools and mom’s day out programs offer day camps as do YMCAs and other community organizations. Some day camps are focused on preschool and kindergarten and others are focused on grades 1-6. For example, the Science Museum of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City has camps for younger children as well as camps for children in elementary school. The Sam Noble Museum in Norman features programs for children aged 5-11 and one camp for 12- to 14-year-olds.


And don’t forget about camps offered by the two state universities. Oklahoma State University offers STEM camps on campus in Stillwater. Some options are available in other locations (restricted to local residents). Examples include:

  • Engineering Adventure for grades K-5 or 3-5: Camps in Stillwater are full but there are openings in Ardmore (dates to be decided) and Oklahoma City. (July 11-14, K-2nd and 3rd–5th).
  • STEM Robotics Adventure for 6th-8th grades, July 26-28 (OSU-Stillwater)
  • STEM Automation and Robotics Discovery for grades 9th-12th, June 27-July 1 (OSU-Stillwater)
  • STEM in Oklahoma for grades 6th-8th at Hamm Institute in Oklahoma City, June 21-24
  • STEM Engineering Discovery for Girls grades 9th-12th at OSU-Stillwater, June 27-July 1
  • The University of Oklahoma offers a mini college day camp for 1st-6th graders on the OU-Norman campus.
  • OU also offers options for 6th–8th graders, a geology academy June 26–July 1
  • For 9th–12th graders, OU offers several summer academies with different academies offered to different grades:  Many academies (e.g., meteorology) include on-campus housing and are open to high schoolers across the state.
  • OU also offers reading programs for all ages and grade levels.


View more options for summer academic programs for 8th- to 12th-grade students at state, regional and private universities and colleges.


Don’t forget about academic camps offered by local community colleges. These are offered in many communities throughout Oklahoma:

  • Rose State College offers six camp options for 1st through 12th graders that include aerospace, geoscience, rockets, meteorology, chemistry, drones, archery, rock climbing, and movie making
  • Oklahoma Panhandle State University offers Panhandle Protégés Summer Academy focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) for 10th-12th grade students from underrepresented groups to increase their future academic success


Many community colleges and state and regional universities also offer sports camp options during the summer.


In addition to all the selections from colleges and universities listed above, many public-school districts are offering enrichment programs as well as programs to recover credits. Examples of such programs are as follows (and please check out your local public school):


Parks and recreation departments in some communities are also offering day-camp style summer school programs. Check out these two options and then communicate with the department in your local community.


“Be sure to ask your children or teens lots of questions every day about what they’ll be doing before they head out, and what they did during the day when they get home,” Hubbs-Tait said. “Ask what they enjoyed and what they learned. Ask them what they would like to repeat and what they would prefer not to repeat.”


When things are not going well, be empathetic and patient. If you think that the moment is appropriate, you can mention your own challenging or lonely moments at camp.


“More importantly, you can ask them to look around and see how other children or teens seem to be struggling and to identify what they can say or do to help the children or teens who do not seem to be enjoying their summer experiences. They may tell you that the other children feel better and so do they,” she said.

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