Summer camps about to be in full swing

Kayaking the Keys is part of some of the Florida Keys summer camps.
Kayaking the Keys is part of some of the Florida Keys summer camps.

We’re now in the thick of summer and with the kids out of school for about a week now, it’s time to think about summer camps if you haven’t already. Here’s a revised guide to Florida Keys summer camps no matter what interests your young one holds.

Big Pine Key

Seacamp on Big Pine Key is just what its name implies: A camp focused on the sea. Its programs run from marine science to kayaking to snorkeling and diving.

Introductory marine science courses “are offered to campers of all ages who are interested in the sea, but may not have had previous opportunities to study marine science. The courses provide an introduction to the waters around the Florida Keys, and provide a good foundation to kick-start a camper's natural curiosity.” A sample:

Marine communities: “A study of the diversity of marine communities, such as sponge flats, seagrass meadows, mangrove ecosystems, and coral reefs. Emphasis is on the interdependent relationships between plants and animals living in these communities.”

Exploration of the seas is a “a broad survey course that exposes campers to many topics in marine biology, physical oceanography and geology.” Keys Kritters offers “an overview of the many unique animals found on and around the Florida Keys. Focus is on the identification and natural history of animals indigenous to this area, including birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates.”

In snorkeling class, campers receive formal training in the skills of skin diving — learning the proper way to hold your breath while surface diving, as well as how to clear a snorkel.” This is a required course for all basic scuba certification participants and is essential for a camper's ability to conduct effective in-water observations of marine organisms and participate in marine research and is, therefore, a helpful class for all campers.

The aquatics program at Seacamp includes classes in sailing, windsurfing, lifeguarding and kayaking. The sailing and lifeguarding classes offer opportunities for certification with nationally recognized training organizations.

The lifeguard class American Red Cross certification. It includes cardiopulmonary resuscitation, use of an automated external defibrillator, injury prevention, rescue skills, victim assessment and care for head, neck, and spinal injuries.

Seacamp programs are 18-day sessions for those ages 12 to 17. The first one starts June 24 and runs to July 11. The second is July 14 to 31. Seven-day sessions for kids ages 10 to 17 are planned for August. For costs and more specifics, call (305) 872-2331.

Key West

The Key West Theater School for the Performing Arts is holding a multidisciplinary theatrical summer camp from July 17 to 21. It’ll focus on teaching students acting, singing and dancing as well as the vocabulary of the theater and how to collaborate.

Classes will be held daily from noon to 5 p.m. at the theater, 512 Eaton St., and are for ages 8 to 18. The students will be divided into age groups (8 to 12 and 13 to 18). In addition to courses on acting, singing and dancing, every day there will be one class that is outside of the typical disciplines, including improvisation, songwriting and storytelling.

Cost is $250. To find out more,

contact Artistic Director Juliet Gray at or (305) 985-0433.

Key Largo

The Upper Keys Sailing Club has its Mark Sorensen Youth Sailing weekly camps June 12 through Aug. 4 at the club, 100 N. Ocean Bay Drive (mile marker 100).

It’s for kids ages 7 to 17 and limited to 12 spots per session. Drop-off begins at 8:30 a.m. and pick up is no later than 3:30 p.m. Sailing and water activities on Buttonwood Sound are from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cost is $265 per youth and lunch is not included.

Kids should bring rash-guard shirt, Crocs or water booties, sun block, bug repellant, hat, sunglasses, snacks, a life jacket, towel, change of clothes, snorkel and mask, and water toys. iPads, iTouch, headphones and other electronic devices are not allowed. Cell phones must be kept in backpacks.

To find out more, go to


The Marathon Parks and Recreation Department opens its camp June 12 and it runs through Aug. 11. It’s for kids ages 5 to 13.

Camp features sports, arts and crafts, and other activities from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Cost is $80 per week (a $20 weekly discount applies to additional family members). Camp is based at the Marathon Community Park, mile marker 48 oceanside.

To find out more, call (305) 743-6598 or send an email to or


Florida Keys Community College offers weeklong “summer adventure camps” from June 12 through Aug. 11 on the Stock Island campus on College Road.

The camps, designed for youths from 7 to 17, provide hands-on activities that will allow campers to tap their creative talents, explore academic interests, develop technical skills and make friends. Camps include Stories of the Reef, Aqua Fit Camp, Cooking With Your Hands and Junior Tropical Fish Hobbyist.

Camps run weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Costs and dates for each camp vary. For find out more, call (305) 809-3214 or go to

Upper Keys

Kids can become ocean explorers during a week at marine-oriented day camps in the Upper Keys.

The Reef Environmental Education Foundation hosts three week-long sessions for children ages 7 to 13. Activities include snorkel trips to the coral reef, kayaking on trails through mangroves, meeting animals, and marine-science experiments and crafts.

Two sessions will be held at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, mile marker 102.5 oceanside in Key Largo: June 19 to 23 and July 17-21. An Islamorada session based at Postcard Inn Beach Resort and Marina, mile marker 84 oceanside, July 31 to Aug. 4.

Cost is $300 for the five-day sessions and includes park entry fees, activity expenses, equipment rentals and REEF gear including a T-shirt and water bottle. An optional box lunch is available for an additional $50.

For more information visit or call (305) 852-0030.


A veteran sports coach leads two sports camps for Upper Keys kids in June.

Lesa Bonee, head softball coach at Coral Shores High and physical education instructor at the Treasure Village Montessori, conducts the two week-long sessions at the Harry Harris Park ball fields in Tavernier.

What’s called an All Sports Camp runs June 12 to 16 for children ages 5 and up. A camp focusing on baseball and softball runs June 19 to 23 for children ages 6 and up. Hours for both camps will be 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily. Cost is $150 per week if registered by June 1 and $175 after June 1.

For information , call Lesa Bonee at (954) 299-9550 or

Key West

The Key West Art & Historical Society ArtCamp! at the Fort East Martello offers sessions for youths ages 10 to 16. It’s designed as cultural immersion while engaging in their passion for the arts and the environment.

There are three ArtCamp! sessions: Teen Fossil Camp June 12 to 16, Pinhole Photography Camp June 19 to June 23 and Pinhole Photography Camp June 26 to June 30.

The Teen Fossil Camp guides students in learning how to sculpt and cast bones working with tools in clay, plaster and sand, with an educational focus on science, math and critical thinking. The Teen Pinhole Photography Camp sessions explore the physics of light, mechanics of the pinhole camera and elements of chemistry while gaining a foundation of art, design and the creative process through the world of film photography. These sessions encourage the teens and the more mature pre-teen to a week of creativity, empowerment, and educational excellence.

ArtCamp! is filled every year by children ages 5 to 12. The new program is geared toward teens and more mature pre-teens, specifically the underserved parts of community.

The Fort East Martello is at 3501 S. Roosevelt Blvd. ArtCamp! runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Included are all supplies, light snacks and Friday pizza parties. Costs vary. Go to or call Adele Williams at (305) 295-6616, Ext. 115.

Pigeon Key

The Pigeon Key Foundation & Marine Science Center in Marathon gravitates toward hands-on learning and interaction with the Florida Keys ecosystem.

Campers are given a brief background on a subject and then immersed in the field, allowing them to utilize their newly acquired knowledge. Programs include marine habitats of the Keys, invertebrate biodiversity, reef fish identification, marine adaptations, shark biology and dissection, and a plankton lab.

There are also games, scavenger hunts, an underwater obstacle course and a Sombrero Reef snorkel trip aboard the 40-foot catamaran Spirit.

Day camp, running 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, costs $350 and is for kids ages 8 to 16. A week of overnight camp costs $950 and is for kids ages 10 to 16. Price includes snorkel gear for the week and meals (lunch only for day camp; breakfast, lunch and dinner for overnight). For campers 12 and older, PADI scuba certification is offered contingent on having four registered campers per session and the availability of instructors.

Email for additional information.

Key West

Children ages 6 to 12 years can learn about our marine environment through educational activities at the Reef Relief Environmental Center in Key West. Each day, campers will experience hands-on learning, interactive games and field trips.

Starting June 12 and running through Aug. 18, Coral Camp runs weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Cost is $225 a week. There is a multi-week and sibling discount of $200 per week per child. Field trips are subject to cancellation due to weather or other safety concerns.

For more information, call (305) 293-9515 or send an email to

Larry Kahn: 305-440-3218