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Best Day Camps

Summer’s here, and the time is right for dancing in the street, so the song goes. But, with this assortment of day camps to choose from, there can also be painting on the pavement, storytelling on the stage and cooking in the classroom. Whatever takes Little One’s fancy, there’s somewhere to do it. Here are the tried-and-tested top picks from Red Tricycle readers in and around Seattle, the Eastside and the islands. Oh, and we couldn’t resist including a few camps, like the pirate-themed one on Maury Island, with waiting lists, because even in these instant gratification times, some things are still worth planning ahead for …

Sport for all

  • Soccer Camp with the Seattle Sounders
    Urban Monkeys
    1124 Harrison St., Seattle
    Soccer camp is held at Cascade Park, two blocks from Urban Monkeys
    Ages: 4, 5 and 6
    Dates: August 1, 2, 3
    Times: 9:00 am - 1:00 am
    Cost: $90
    If your budding Pelés have been glued to the TV for World Cup month, here’s something even better—a chance for them to practice their silky skills with Seattle’s real-life soccer team. This camp is being run through Urban Monkeys, who offer a variety of other camps for the less soccer-mad in your family, such as Princess Camp for the daintier element (ages 3 and 4; August 8, 9, 10; 11:00 am – 12:30 pm, $75).
    Bonus: The Urban Monkeys concept is based around relaxation for parents paired with invigoration for children. There’s a lounge with wireless internet and spa services for parents to recharge whilst the little darlings burn off steam as well as yoga and other classes for the more actively inclined.
  • Mini-Hawks Multi-Sports Camp (soccer, baseball, basketball)
    Multiple locations across Washington; many different locations in Seattle and the Eastside so there’s bound to be one near to you.
    Ages: Tiny Hawks (ages 3 - 4); Mini-Hawks (ages 4 - 5)
    Times: Vary; typically 3 hours (9:00 am - 12:00 pm) for Mini-Hawks and shorter for Tiny Hawks. 
    Cost: $104 for five-day Mini Hawks camp
    A number of our parents recommended Mini-Hawks camps, part of the national Skyhawks organization run out of Spokane. There are a wide variety of classes available within the Seattle metropolitan region and on Mercer Island and the Eastside as well as further afield. Junior will get to try his or her hand at baseball, soccer and basketball during the week at camp. For the littlest birds in your life, consider a Tiny Hawks camp, with 45-minute soccer classes for 3 and 4 year olds before they graduate to full “Mini Hawk” status.
    Bonus:  If you have a sports fanatic in your family, it may be worth considering purchasing the Skyhawks Season Pass ($399) for unlimited access to Skyhawks sports camps. It's non-transferable but definitely worth if you plan to enroll your wee ones in more than one camp.


  • Story Drama with Seattle Children’s Theatre
    Seattle Center (west entrance); north of the Pacific Science Center and west of the Space Needle.
    Ages: 3 ½ - 4 ½ , or  4 - 5
    Dates: July 24 through August 18; some weeks waitlist only
    Time: Sessions vary; one hour in duration
    Cost: $150 per week
    If your little one is always clamoring for more at the end of story time, or always wanting you to act out the characters of a favorite book, then the “Story Drama” class at Seattle Children’s Theatre is everything Little One (and you) could wish for. Every day a different book is read aloud and then “reincarnated” by use of acting, imagining and interactive props. Bedtime stories may never be the same again.
    Bonus:  Seattle Children’s Theatre partners with Pacific Science Center and Woodland Park Zoo for some other great themed camps. Most spaces are full for 2006 so consider
    this advance warning for 2007!


  • Ballet with the Pacific Northwest Ballet
    • Seattle Location:
      The Phelps Center
      301 Mercer St., on the Seattle Center campus, adjacent to McCaw Hall
    • Eastside location:
      The Francia Russell Center
      13440 NE 16th St., Bellevue
      Dates: Once weekly for five weeks; July 10 through August 12
      Times: Saturdays, 9:30 - 10:30 am; 10:30 - 11:30 am
      Cost: $90
      For the tot for whom exercise doesn’t involve a ball sport, the Pacific Northwest Ballet offers the perfect chance to stretch those limbs whilst learning the rudiments of ballet at the same time. Children are gradually introduced to music and movement in a creative environment, with the emphasis on group interaction. This is a great taster for any child who is keen to try ballet, teaching them terminology and some basic steps.
      Bonus: Ballet isn’t just for your little sugar plum fairies; PNB offers classes for boys aged 5 - 7 too, for all those budding Billy Elliots out there.
  • Art and Drawing at the Thrive Art School
    Camps are held at two locations in Seattle:

    6329 Ravenna Ave. NE and 2900 E Madison St., Suite #200
    Ages: 5 ½ - 8
    Dates: Through August, Monday - Thursday
    Times: 9:00am -12:30 pm
    Cost: $175 per week
    Parents rave about the art experience at these two dedicated art schools in Ravenna and Madison Valley. At the camps, children learn differing drawing and painting techniques based around a particular theme, which alternates weekly. Choose from African safari, fantasy adventure, cartoons and clay or circus magic.
    Bonus: Children spend some time each day outdoors so you can be sure they’re burning off steam as well as nurturing their inner Picassos.


  • Baking’s Hot!
    New Discovery School
    1260 Harrison St., Seattle
    Ages: 3 ½ - 6 ½
    Dates: Monday - Friday through August 19
    Times: 9:00 am - 1:30 pm daily
    Cost: $165 per session
    If you’re looking for something mellow for Junior at the end of the busy summer, consider signing him up for the World Breads camp at New Discovery Summer School. Children get to bring home the dough, er, fruits of their labors at the end of camp, and you will all benefit from homemade bread. If your child would rather stretch the imagination than dough, other camp themes include Maurice Sendak and Dr. Seuss weeks.
    Bonus: The optional extended day care program can be used on a drop-in basis. 8:30 am -9:00 am daily is an additional $5; 1:00 pm – 5:30 pm daily is an additional $25.

Something for Everyone

  • Montlake Community Center Precamp
    Madison Beach Bathhouse in Madison Park at E Madison St. and E Howe St., Seattle
    Ages: 3 - 5 (Children must be potty trained to attend.)
    Dates: June 26 through August 18, Monday - Friday. PLEASE NOTE: Weeks 3 and 4 are full.
    Times: 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
    Cost: $165 per week
    This precamp run by Montlake Community Center was recommended time and again by happy Red Tricycle readers. Each week incorporates a new theme for children to explore learning through song, stories, art, dramatic play, games and field trips, so there’s bound to be something here to keep your kids amused and entertained.
    Bonus: For a $50 fee, the camp offers extended care hours from 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm.

Honorable Mentions

  • Plan now for the future:
    DragonFire Pirate Camp on Maury Island (just off Vashon)
    What kid doesn’t love cutting up his or her own clothes to make pirate rags? Or attending a daily carnival? Call now and get on the mailing list for next year; each of the 11 one-week camps gets booked up before you can say: “Thar she blows!” Kindergarten through 5th grade.
  • Rock Climbing at Stone Gardens in Ballard
    2839 NW Market St.
    At this dedicated rock-climbing center, 5 to 8 year olds learn the skills they need to become the next Spiderman in full-week or three-day camps. Each camp culminates with a field trip to a local outdoor spot to put those new-found talents to the test. From $260 for a 3-day camp, through September 1.
  • Seattle Tilth Children’s Garden Summer Programs
    4649 Sunnyside Avenue N, Room 120
    Choose from a range of garden-oriented classes for your toddler and older children with these morning and afternoon sessions. From $22.
  • Sammamish: Giggly Wiggly Themed Summer Camps
    This Eastside preschool runs week-long and mini camps through the end of July, with themes ranging from “Pirates and Princesses” to “Science and Nature.” From $65 for the mini camps (two days); mornings from 9:00 am - 4:00 pm.
  • British Soccer Camp
    Well, England lost its chance to win the World Cup this year. But, your 3 to 6 year olds can enjoy British Soccer Camp just the same. Week-long sessions (1 hour per day) all summer; $74 ; classes throughout King County, see website for specific locations.
  • Ballet Yay! Camp on Vashon
    Creative dance and ballet for your 3 to 6 year olds; August 14 - 18, 10:30 am - 11:30am; $60.

Book now for the fall:

  • Tiny Tots at the Seattle Symphony
    200 University St.
    Interactive classical music for your pint-sized aficionados.

    —Sarah Franklin