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What Are Your Kids Doing This Summer? A Look at Architecture Summer Camps Around the Country | Features

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At least in Los Angeles, we have already started hitting temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit signaling the coming of summer. For parents, this is often an urgent reminder that the school year will be ending soon and plans need to be in place for the summer. For those already expecting little builders out of their offspring, here are a few summer camp options to tide them over.

Even if your child might not be inclined one-day to take up a draft board or become an expert in AutoCAD, these camps offer a valuable learning opportunity for children. In a study, titled “Design as a Catalyst for Learning,” the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development notes that “when children are engaged in the process of designing, they are learning to identify needs, frame problems, work collaboratively, explore and appreciate the contexts within which a solution must work, weigh alternatives, and communicate their ideas verbally, graphically, and in three dimensions.”

In other words, teaching architecture to kids has very little to do with actually grooming future architects. Our series, Working out of the Box, demonstrates many of the transferrable skills learned through architecture. Beyond problem-solving, collaboration, and other analytical skills, these activities help instill a sense of spatial awareness, encourage methods of creative thinking, and allow kids to explore their city in a new way. As many of these programs offer field trips and focus on the local community, it is a great way for children to strengthen their understanding of and their relationship to the city they live in.

Below, we have a list of summer camps around the country that offer architecture related activities to keep kids entertained from the heat. The majority offer a range of topics catered to age group that explore architecture and design through art and building activities, design challenges, and special site visits and exploration.


Architecture Camp at the Center for Architecture in New York City:
The Center offers a variety of one-week programs for kids grades 3 through 12. Topics range from “Building Bridges” to “Survival Architecture.”


Art Center for Kids in Pasadena, CA:
The Art Center in Pasadena host summer workshops, for children grades 4 through 8. Offering one-week sessions throughout the summer, children can take a class titled “Architecture: Inside Out,” in which they are encouraged to investigate personal and shared space


The National Building Museum in Washington, D.C:
The National Building Museum, offers summer camp classes for rising 1st through 6th graders, that explore topics in the built environment through art, building activities, and special field trips for campers. 


The Chicago Architecture Foundation in Chicago, IL:
The CAF Summer Camp invites campers age 7-14 to explore the built environment. The Camp offers a range of classes, varying in duration, on topics from “Minecraft: Skyscrapers of Tomorrow” to  “Girls Build! Parks and Playgrounds.”


KidZ Engineering 101, Inc. in Santa Barbara, CA:
The Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara offers classes on architecture and engineering for children ages 9-15. 


Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, AZ:
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation offers innovative summer Art and Architecture camps giving students, grades 2-12, the opportunity to think outside the box a la one of the world’s leading experimental architecture schools. Their sister location in Spring Green, WI, similarly offers a variety of architecture camps for grades 3-12. 


Architecture Explorations at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, PA:
During the summer, Carnegie Mellon’s architecture-based extracurricular and academic enrichment programs for students K-12, teams up with Carnegie Museum of Art to offer a variety of weeklong summer camps. You can take a look at the courses offered here.


Girls Garage in Oakland, CA:
Girls Garage is a one-of-a-kind design and building program and dedicated workspace for girls ages 9-13. In the summer, they offer intensive week-long classes to teach girls how to use tools, build real-world projects, and connect with their community.


Basecamp in Chicago, IL:
The Oak Park Education Foundation provides hands-on fun during the summer months offering a variety of courses related to architecture. Sponsored by the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust, Basecamp offers a range of classes related to architecture for children of different ages. 1st and 2nd graders can take a class on building landmarks out of legos while older children (grades 6th-8th) can take a session on Architectural Photography.


Camp Architecture in Columbus, OH:
The Center for Architecture and Design hosts Camp Architecture, offering different activities, field trips, and hands on design fun for kids entering grades 3-8. For those a bit older, they also offer a High School design studio.

For a list of pre-college architecture programs and courses catered towards high school students, visit AIA’s site here.

Do you know of any architecture summer camps that aren’t included here? Tell us about it in the comments.

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