In Many Ways, Summer Can Be a Learning Experience


School lets out for summer in less than a month. But before your child plans two months of skateboarding and soap opera viewing, you might want to think about summer as a time for continuing the learning process.

Colleges hold academic classes open to high school students and usually have enrichment programs as well. Other summer programs offer instruction in art, theater, boating and marine science, among other topics.

Most school districts hold classes in the summer, usually geared for students who need practice in basic skills or remediation in subjects they failed. Some districts also offer enrichment programs--with some restrictions. Capistrano Unified School District, for example, is starting two new day programs for elementary students, but they are not open to students outside the district. Other school systems are more lenient, giving priority enrollment to students who attend their schools but allowing out-of-district students into remaining spots. Contact your local district for information about its programs.

Also check with your community’s Park and Recreation Department for its summer programs.


The following is a list of some summer opportunities for children and teens in Orange County:

* The Bowers Museum of Cultural Art, Santa Ana: Kidseum Summer Art Camp for children ages 6 to 12 to learn about diverse cultures through painting, storytelling and music activities. Three sessions: July 14 to 23, July 28 to Aug. 6, Aug. 11 to 20. A two-week session costs $120 for museum members; $140 for nonmembers. Registration is underway. Information: (714) 480-1520.

* COMPUTERTOTS, Computer Explorers, locations throughout the county: Computer training for children ages 3 to 5 and 6 to 12. Skill-building and enrichment classes in most academic subjects for all levels of computer literacy. It does not matter whether children have a computer at home or possess any computer skills. Information and locations for North County classes: (714) 281-2667; for South County classes: (949) 458-7142. A four-week class costs from $36 to $50.

* CREATE, Laguna Beach: Since 1994, this two-week, full-day program for accelerated art and theater students in middle and high school has provided intensive training in performing, the arts, creative writing and computers. The free program, administered by the Laguna Beach Unified School District and financed by corporate donors, will be July 12 to 25 and also includes arts-inspired field trips to art galleries, theaters and local festivals. It is open to students throughout the region, who are selected through an involved application process. Students who live outside Laguna Beach are hosted by a family in the city during the program. Information: (949) 497-7727.

* Dana Point Youth and Group Facilities, Dana Point: Sailing, boating and kayaking classes for children and teens. Some classes include the weeklong Junior Sailors Mini Mates for ages 6 to 8 to learn rowing, canoeing and boating safety, to Sailboat Racing for teens and adults. More than 20 day camps, mostly with aquatic themes, also are offered. Registration started April 30 and continues until classes are filled. Some classes begin as early as June 13, others end as late as Sept. 4. Prices vary. Information: (949) 661-7122.

* Irvine Valley College, Irvine: Enrichment classes, which do not give college credit, for students from second to 12th grade. Among the courses: archeology camp, desktop publishing, study skills and blues harmonica. Register now for courses, which will be held from late June to mid-August on the Irvine campus. Information: (949) 451-5555. High school students can enroll free for academic courses in all subjects. Information: (949) 451-5100.

* Laguna Moulton Playhouse, Laguna Beach: Summer stock theater program for students ages 11 to 14 runs Monday through Friday from July 6 to 31. Junior summer stock program for ages 7 to 10 will be Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons from July 6 to 29. Both programs culminate in a student performance. Registration deadline is July 1. Summer stock costs $395; junior program is $200. Information: (949) 494-0743.

* L.E.A.R.N., Laguna Beach: This nonprofit youth enrichment program’s Summer Fun School in the arts, academics and athletics will offer classes at Thurston Middle School. Participants who are students in kindergarten through the eighth grade choose three of 20 electives, including literature, ceramics, science, aviation and academic chess. Classes meet five mornings a week for four weeks from June 29 to July 24 and cost $250. Register before May 30 or the price rises to $300. A range of additional tutorials and day camps are offered. Information: (949) 497-6011.


* Ocean Adventure Camps, Corona del Mar: Weeklong classes run July 6 to Aug. 23. Morning classes are taught at Harbor Day School in oceanography, physics, geology, marine science and related sciences. Afternoons are spent on the beach in the northern part of Laguna Beach, learning ocean safety, snorkeling, boogie boarding and body surfing. The program, which is in its 22nd year, is geared to children ages 5 to 14. It costs $300 a week, or $275 before the June 1 registration deadline. Information: (949) 640-1410.

* Orange Coast College, locations across the county: Reading enrichment for all grades. Particular emphasis on the youngest students in the reading readiness program, teaching phonics and comprehension. Other classes appropriate for students up to 12th grade. Register now for five-week classes from June 20 to July 27 are $139 for reading readiness, $229 for all others. Information: (714) 971-3800.

* Orange County Marine Institute, Dana Point: Weeklong sea camps for children ages 5 to 13 and the Marine Studies Institute for teens 13 to 15 begin in July, but registration is underway. Sea camp activities vary, depending on age of participants. The institute simulates life as a marine biologist, with fishing, research projects, and homework. Prices vary. Information: (949) 496-2274.

* Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach: Children’s summer art camps for ages 3 to 15 are offered in July and August. Twenty camps, including a four-day painting course for preschoolers to five mornings of batik-making for ages 6 to 9 to a weeklong animation course for teens. Camps also include a visit to museum galleries. Prices vary; registration continues until classes are full. Information: (949) 759-1122.


* Pegasus School, Huntington Beach: For six weeks, this private, independent school offers two-week enrichment day camps for students who are preschool-age to 12. Courses include reading, art, drama and natural science. The youngest students, ages 3 to 5, also learn about cats and dogs, dinosaurs, cooking and music. Tuition: $300 for full-day camp; $200 for the morning session. Registration is underway and some classes are filled. Three sessions: June 29 to July 10, July 13 to 24, July 27 to Aug. 7. Information: (714) 964-1224.

* Saddleback College, Mission Viejo: Community education classes for children and teens ages 5 to 17 include most academic subjects and sports. For teens, test prep and power speaking also are offered. Students take three classes for a two-week period beginning June 22 and ending July 23. Capistrano Unified School District students can receive academic credit for college courses. Prices vary and registration continues until classes are filled. The college also offers an aquatic program for children from 3-months-old to 17, which runs from the end of May until the end of August. Eight 30-minute lessons cost $43. Information: (949) 582-4646.


Sea & Sage Audubon Society, Irvine and San Juan Capistrano: Three week-long outdoor discovery programs for children ages 9 to 12. A week on birds and marshes, June 29 to July 3, will allow children to dissect owl pellets, see live hawks and owls up close, and make their own bird feeders. The two sessions on tracking animals, the weeks of July 13 and 27, will take children to marshes and coastal sage scrub as they track wildlife, handle animal skulls, search for frogs and lizards, use microscopes to look at insects and visit the Starr Ranch Sanctuary near San Juan Capistrano. The morning-only sessions cost $95 per week. Information: (949) 261-7963.


* South Coast Repertory, Costa Mesa: The two-week summer theater workshop includes all areas of theater, including set design, make-up, costumes and acting. Guest speakers also are part of the program. Open to children and teens ages 8 to 17, the workshop runs from Aug. 3 to 15 or Aug. 17 to 29 from 9 a.m. to noon. Cost: $195. Information: (714) 708-5577.

* South Orange County School of the Arts, Dana Hills High School, Dana Point: Students will produce and perform the musical “Gypsy.” Auditions are May 26 and 27 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., and callbacks will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. May 27. Students who are interested in backstage work also should show up at the audition with a portfolio. Participants, who can be in middle or high school, will receive 10 fine arts school credits. The free program runs Monday through Friday from 2:30 to 7 p.m. on June 22 to July 17 and from 5 to 10 p.m. on July 20 to July 31. Performances are July 22 to 24, and July 29 to 31; the show will repeat Sept. 17 to 19. Information: (949) 240-1994.

* UC Irvine, Irvine: The university offers a writing program for students from kindergarten through 12th grade, as well as a math/science workshop for students from kindergarten to third grade and seventh to ninth grades. Two sessions are held on the Irvine campus: June 22 to July 9, with a registration deadline of June 11, and July 13 to 30, with a registration deadline of July 1. The third session is held in Brea, Laguna Beach and Tustin from Aug. 3 to 20; the registration deadline is July 22. Costs range from $225 to $415 for courses. Information: (949) 824-5922.