Tailored day camps give kids the chance to do what they love

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published May 13, 2015

 Renaissance Fencing Club in Troy instructs kids each year at TCH’s fencing camp, which has been one of the organization’s most popular day camps for 15 years.

Renaissance Fencing Club in Troy instructs kids each year at TCH’s fencing camp, which has been one of the organization’s most popular day camps for 15 years.

Photo provided by Christina Oswald

METRO DETROIT — Once upon a time, there were just a few types of summer camps: sports for the jocks, Scouts for the adventurers and math camp for those who would just rather be back in the classroom.

How times have changed. Now, there’s a daytime summer escape to suit every child and any taste.

At Rock & Roll Prep School in Macomb Township, co-owner and Director of Operations Meaghan DeGrave said she’s heard from countless parents how the rock how-to school is the perfect place for kiddos who haven’t found their niche with other activities.

“It’s a performance-based music school,” explained DeGrave, saying that students learn the basics of reading music, composition, vocals and playing an instrument, but it’s the experience of playing with friends that kids really get the most from.

“Learning an instrument is almost secondary. They learn to work together and (are) peer driven; they’re motivated to learn songs and keep up with their friends,” said DeGrave. “They tap into creativity and confidence. Every single time, they end up really excited and proud of themselves. The music is almost just the background for what really happens.”

The rock school hosts a day camp each summer, and DeGrave said she’s always excited to hear from parents and kids who feel like they were able to finally find their place to fit in.

“I’ve had a grandpa start crying to me because he’s never seen his grandson excited about something before our school,” she said.

Of course, if rock ’n’ roll isn’t your child’s cup of tea either, don’t worry — there’s probably a camp for that, too. At The Community House in Birmingham, the organization will host a whopping 45 camps throughout the summer to cater to nearly any interest.

Some of the more popular choices each year at TCH are the kids’ cooking camp and the fencing camp. There’s also a digital photography camp, a fashion camp, an American Girl camp, a “Frozen” dance camp and a barrage of Lego camps.

Every camp is created by experts in the given area, many of whom are teachers, so campers get a little dose of learning with their summertime fun, according to TCH Team Program Coordinator Christina Oswald.

“Some are educational opportunities disguised as recreational camps. The fencing camp, for example: Todd (the instructor) does a great job teaching the etiquette of fencing along with the actual sport,” Oswald said. “Then there are other camps which are completely disguised, like the Zombie Response Team Training Camp. It’s kind of like ‘camping camp,’ where they learn to navigate in nature and tips on hiking and outdoor survival, but it’s hidden in this zombie apocalypse theme.”

The idea of having so many specifically tailored camps is to get the kids excited about getting out of the house and active during the sometimes inactive summer days, Oswald explained. Not only does it give them an opportunity to socialize, it can provide parents with some much-needed child care during workdays.

“We’re also offering a four-day camp the week of Fourth of July and in August, which a lot of other facilities opt out of because people go out of town. We want to be there in case someone is in town; maybe they might come over to The Community House,” Oswald said.

Another bonus to day camps is the chance to get kids in front of an instructor doing something they love — it’s a cleverly hidden classroom format, so students don’t get too lax in their behavior while they’re out of school.

“Every camp does have some kind of underlying morals to be taught, and it just kind of keeps them in a routine,” she explained. “I think it helps the teachers when they go back, so they’re not completely undisciplined.”