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July 20, 2012

Columbus Ohio Summer Camps for kids (and working parents)

Summer is a working couple's nightmare.  Daycare for tweens exists primarily in the form of camp.  While we are lucky to have found oodles of them around Columbus to keep Frankie busy (and run one week ourselves), the camps vary with respect to the features that working parents need and desire.

Here's my anecdotal review of camps we've used over the past few years.  Unless otherwise noted, they are all pack-a-lunch.  We generally stay close to C'ville, because a long commute is a killer resulting in much eating out.  Feel free to add your experience in the comments (no sign in required).

1. Columbus Rec and Parks Day Camps
Hours are good and wraparound care is available.  Great outdoor camp with a blend of crafts and sports.  Registering for these camps is a disastrously complex and time-sucking activity, good luck, but once in, it's a great camp.  The counselors are usually college kids and are really nice.  Frankie likes to know a friend is going when she visits, this is often a catch for all our camp options.

2. Camp Recky (Ohio State
Considering all you get, this is one of the cheaper options (ca. $160-180/wk) and the 5 star option for parents.  Affiliation with OSU is necessary.  Hours are 7:30ish to 4-5, lunch option available and GOOD lunches, a great mix of activities (kids in the kitchen is a several hour activity that is awesome), absolutely fantastic counselors and the facility is state of the art.  For some reason, Frankie doesn't like this for the entire Summer, sometimes too much sports for her.  She's there a couple weeks this Summer.

3. Craft Museum (
One of the more interesting and particularly well-suited for Frankie's current interests is the Masters program.  Lots of innovative crafting, price isn't bad (ca. 170/wk).  However, hours are for people who don't work, 9:30-3:30 with a ONE HOUR lunch break.  So, your child will be begging you to come take them out for lunch. 

There is an additional problem with this camp on Fridays that plagues other camps as well.  Friday's camp ends a half hour early so your child, already placed at the center of the universe per current parenting guidelines, now gets a mini graduation taking the parent out of work even earlier than the other 4 days.  Lots of camps pull this Friday shit; it is a killer.  While you bask in the glory of your child's achievement you can sit worrying about how to stay employed.  A great camp, but not for working couples.

4. COSI (
Probably the nerdiest (and most expensive) camp in Columbus.  Hours are 9-4 with wraparound available early and late.  The activities and counselors are the best!  Big plus - for other times of the year, they follow Columbus City Schools schedule and often have a week of camp when the schools are, too often, closed (because we're so far ahead of India and China).

5. Grange Audubon Center on Whittier peninsula (
Wraparound care available, a little pricey, but this is fun.  Frankie did a couple days here after 4th of July.  Crafts and nature all just a short way from German Village.  And, when it was 100 real degrees outside, they all hiked to COSI.  Way to hustle the kiddies outside and stop treating them like delicate flowers!  Staff was nice and Frankie came back all smiles every day.

6. Columbus Museum of Art (
Many offerings, ca 235/wk, about 9-4.  The week we've used is a puppet workshop.  They spend the week making a puppet and getting ready for a performance.  Friday they put on a show.  Despite the early Friday scam, it is a reasonable option, the kids get a kick out of it and - their puppet is on stage, not them.

Yet to try
Franklin Park Conservatory
Columbus Metro Parks (different than Rec and Parks)

 >> 2012 Columbus Dispatch guide to camps,  a great resource.

1 comment: said...

Nice list! Good information.