Smithsonian Summer Camp Offers Kids Opportunities To Engage With the Smithsonian’s Museums

January 11, 2024
News Release
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Graphic of young child holding up binoculars with Smithsonian Summer Camp wording.

Smithsonian Associates offers one-of-a-kind learning experiences that spark the imagination—and offer plenty of great fun—during Smithsonian Summer Camp. A wide variety of weeklong camps for children entering kindergarten through ninth grade in the fall of 2024 will be held Monday, June 17, through Friday, Aug. 16, at the Smithsonian’s S. Dillon Ripley Center at 1100 Jefferson Dr. S.W.

During summer camp, kids take a deep dive into the Smithsonian’s collections through museum visits, hands-on projects, games, collaborative challenges and conversations with experts. The rich and exciting world of the Smithsonian is theirs to discover. Over 90 camps are offered this year; camps are held Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Before-camp (8 a.m. to 9 a.m.) and after-camp (4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.) activities are also available.

A diverse, creative and experienced team of instructors design age-appropriate content that animates the Smithsonian, its history and its collections. 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,” “Galactic Adventures,” “Junior Paleontologists,” “Rainforest Researchers,” “Eco-Heroes,” “Design Detectives,” “Jump into Color,” “Underwater Worlds” and “Bugs and Botany” are designed to introduce the world of the Smithsonian to children entering kindergarten through second grade.

Back by popular demand are camps designed for students who have an interest in art and history, music and digital arts. “Smithsonian Spectrum” allows campers (grades 4–6) to explore the science, art, history and diversity of all colors on the visible—and invisible—spectrum across the Smithsonian. Inspired by camouflage and color-changing creatures of the animal world at the National Museum of Natural History and artworks featured at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, campers conduct color and dye experiments, bend the wavelengths of light itself and create optical masterpieces. Campers can also spend a full week learning printmaking, painting, video game design and comics or creating their own musical vignettes.

History comes alive in one-week “Soldiers and Dioramas” camps (grades 6–9) 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.

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, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and the U.S. Botanic Garden provide exciting backdrops for all their explorations. Other camp themes this year include ancient civilizations, geology, ocean life, “American Folklife: Indigenous Voices,” Smithsonian “Shark Tank,” “President for a Week,” “Smithsonian School of Wizardry” and “What’s Really Real: AI and Photography.”

Prices for weeklong summer camps are $495 for non-members and $425 for Smithsonian Associates members. There will be no camp Wednesday, June 19, or Thursday, July 4; prices for summer camp the weeks of June 17–21 and July 1–5 (4 days of camp each) are $396 for non-members and $340 for Smithsonian Associates members. Online registration for the general public begins Friday, Feb. 16, at 10 a.m. ET. Donors to Smithsonian Associates at the Contributor level ($300 or higher) are eligible for priority registration Monday, Feb. 12, through Wednesday, Feb. 14, from at 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET, and Smithsonian Associates members of all levels may register Thursday, Feb. 15, beginning at 10 a.m. ET. All participants must pre-register online. For more information, the public can visit the Summer Camp website or call (202) 633-3030.

For nearly 60 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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Lauren Lyons


Public Programs