By Alexandra Pecci
---- — It might be hard to believe with the snow piled high in backyards and parking lots, but it’s time to plan for summer camp. And as a resident of the Merrimack Valley, you are in a great position to do so: New Hampshire and Massachusetts are rich with options for every interest. That means that whether your child loves math and science, sports, or the great outdoors, there’s sure to be a camp to match.
Meanwhile, all those choices can be daunting. That’s why camp fairs can be such a big help to parents. This Sunday two such fairs are scheduled: one at the Derryfield Country Club in Manchester, and another at the Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel & Conference Center. More than 50 camps will be represented at each of these Summer Camp and Program Expos, giving parents a chance to talk with counselors and other camp professionals to learn about the offerings.
Among the exhibitors is LetGo Your Mind, a traveling summer camp and enrichment program that focuses on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) topics by using Legos to create hands-on activities for kids, such as building robots, making music videos, and creating stop animation.
“This year’s theme is Star Wars,” says director and teacher Jim Harvey. “The kids get all the fun and what the parents see on top of it is that they’re getting the math and science skills behind it.”
Harvey says the camp travels from town to town, bringing the week-long curriculum to communities throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire, including North Andover, Wakefield, and Melrose, Mass., and Salem, Nashua, Dover, and Bedford, N.H., as well as Burlington, VT.
With small groups and certified teachers as instructors, each kid gets an interactive experience.
“I know we nail it when it comes to kids having fun and creativity,” Harvey says.
For outdoor fun and physical activity, Merrimack Valley parents can check out some of the many camps offered by places like the YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, and athletic clubs. Among them is Cedardale Health & Fitness in Haverhill, which offers multi-week camps for kids ranging in age from 3 to 18 years old.
“The kids really get to use a lot of the facility that Cedardale offers,” says manager Matt Crocker. “You don’t have to be a member to go to the camp.”
For example, campers get access to the batting cages, indoor playspaces, mini-golf, 30-foot ropes course, multiple pools and splash pads, and indoor athletic equipment and facilities.
“There’re a lot of different things that you get to do that you may not” do elsewhere, Crocker says.
To explore all of your options, check out the upcoming camp fairs and visit online resources such as masscamps.com, which features a directory of summer camps in all six New England states. Check out a few more local camps here:
YMCA Camp Lincoln, Kingston, N.H.
Set on the shores of Kingston Lake, Camp Lincoln offers day and overnight camps, as well as arts-themed and adventure camps and counselor training programs. Learn more at 603-642-3361 or ymcacamplincoln.org.
Camp Tasker, Newton, N.H.
The summer day camp of the Boys & Girls Club of Haverhill offers activities such as swimming in Country Pond or in the camp’s pool, boating, fishing, soccer, baseball/softball, arts and crafts, basketball, and tennis. Learn more at 978-374-6171 or haverhillbgc.org/camp-tasker.
Merrimack Valley YMCA Camps, various locations
The Merrimack Valley YMCA operates two overnight camps on Lake Winnipesaukee’s Bear Island in New Hampshire: Camp Lawrence for boys and Camp Nokomis for girls. It also runs a Family Camp for nine days at the end of the summer at Camp Lawrence. There’s also a day camp and travel camp located on Captain’s Pond in Salem, NH. Learn more at 978-975-1330, firstname.lastname@example.org, or camp.mvymca.org/.
LEtGO Your Mind, various locations
LEtGO Your Mind is a traveling summer camp and enrichment program that focuses on STEM topics by using Legos to create hands-on activities for kids. Learn more at 603-714-8784 or letgoyourmind.com.
Cedardale Health & Fitness Summer Camps, Bradford, Mass.
Cedardale offers multi-week camps for kids ranging in age from 3 to 18 years old, including three-day camps for kids of different ages, tennis camps, and an elite players’ basketball camp. Learn more at cedardale-health.net or cedarland.net.
Thompson Island Outward Bound Course Activities, Boston
Three adventure-based courses include sailing, kayaking, climbing, and exploration of the Boston Harbor Islands National Park Area and Massachusetts Bay. Students live outdoors camping and cooking, learning navigation and sailing/kayaking skills. Learn more at 617-830-5144 or thompsonisland.org.
Camp Evergreen, Andover
Hiking, fishing, arts and crafts, swimming, drama, boating, horseback riding, and sports are just a few of the activities offered at the day- and overnight camps at Camp Evergreen. Learn more at 978-475-2502 or campevergreen.com.
Art Camp for Kids, Manchester, N.H.
The Currier Museum of Art offers Art Camp for Kids ages 5 to 12. Learn more at 603.669.6144, x122 or currier.org.
CAMP EXPOS What: Parenting NH's Summer Camp and Program Expos. When: Saturday, March 16, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Where: Derryfield Country Club, 625 Mammoth Road, Manchester. How: Call (603) 669-0235. AND When: Saturday, March 16, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Where: Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel & Conference Center, 250 Market St., Portsmouth. How: 603-431-2300.