Children Grow and Learn at Exploratory Montessori-Based Camps

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Campers explore gardening, cooking, sports and more in Montessori School of Durham’s summer programs

summer camps paper crafts
Oliver Witt, 4, enjoys free play during a paper crafts camp for 3-year-olds to rising first graders, led by Jami Haigler. This weeklong camp is offered during the last week of July, and activities include exploring paper materials, shapes, cutting, folding, decorating and more, plus crafting papier-mache sculptures and paper mobiles.

Nothing quite matches the thrill that summer brings to young children, as rising temps and longer days offer the promise of unencumbered freedom and play. Summer, too, is a chance to discover new interests, says Montessori School of Durham’s Director of Auxiliary Programs Eliza Hudson. Breadmaking, gardening, robotics, sewing and geology are just a few of the topics kids can choose to learn about during the school’s nine weeks of programs for kids ages 3 years old to rising seventh graders.

“[Children] can have a camp experience that’s going to be really different from anything they’ve [been through] before, and it’s a good way to try out different programs of interest for them,” Eliza says. She encourages parents to keep an open mind when it comes to choosing a camp.

Some camps – toddler, early childhood and one elementary session – are only available to kids who have attended the school for a minimum of one year, but others – specialty camps focused on a particular subject – have open enrollment.

summer camps visual art
Arjun Gakhar, 5, paints using watercolors during an early childhood summer program taught by Lisa Tate. This Montessori-inspired camp is a continuation of the practices and themes taught during the year at MSD and is open to students who have completed at least one year of education with the school.

In addition to MSD’s performing and visual arts, crafts, nature exploration, gardening, business and STEM-focused camps, partnerships with nonprofit Frisbee organization Triangle Ultimate and Little Medical School offer a sports and a wilderness medicine camp option, respectively. Two weeklong camps will also be led by Rainbow Collective for Change staff – namely, founder and Director Anne Sutkowi-Hemstreet and Program Coordinator Kaliq Alexander. Rainbow summer camps include developmentally appropriate books and activities to support discussions around gender diversity, race, LGBTQIA+ families, disability, justice, intersectionality and allyship, plus a group activism project.

While these specialty camps depart from the Montessori curriculum, “they’re all Montessori inspired,” Eliza says. If they are not already full-time teachers at the school, “the instructors … are trained in using the language that we want to use with children, with positive redirection and in general respect for the child.”

Did you know?

  • Montessori School of Durham partners with UNC’s APPLES ServiceLearning program to give college students experience in Montessori teaching environments as camp counselors
  • The school had 350 summer camp reservations in 2022
  • About 75% of elementary camp attendees are Montessori School students

Find more area summer programs in our summer camp guide!

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