Summer is a time for kids to relax and have fun, but also can be an opportunity for them to have a unique educational experience. Many Connecticut museums, nature centers, civic organizations and theaters offer summer programs that allow children to do everything from ride horses and feed birds to build robots and dance on stage. Some are half-day, full-day or overnight camps that last for one to several weeks. Here are just five of the top summer educational programs for kids offered this summer in Connecticut.

YMCA Ranch Camp
Hide-a-Way Ranch at Camp Jewell
6 Brock Hill Road
Colebrook, CT 06021
(860) 379-2782
Camp Jewell Ranch Camp

The YMCA of Greater Hartford sponsors many summer camp programs, one of the most popular and educational of which is its equestrian Ranch Camp, held at Hide-a-Way Ranch at Camp Jewell in Colebrook. The ranch hands offer campers the full equestrian experience, including learning about, taking care of, cleaning up after and of course riding horses. Individual and group lessons are offered at seven escalating levels. The sleepaway camp has cabins and camp sites for overnight stays, trail rides, horse-drawn wagon rides, arts and crafts and many other activities (including a place to go swimming to cool off after a day spent around their 35 horses).

Earthplace Summer Camp
Earthplace: The Nature Discovery Center
10 Woodside Lane
Westport, CT 06880
(203) 557-4400
Earthplace Summer Camp

“Learn and Grow” is the motto of Earthplace Summer Camp, which offers a far more educational experience than the average camp yet manages to make learning fun. As its full name explains, Earthplace: The Nature Discovery Center, is all about connecting with and learning about nature, the environment and “connections to the natural world.” Guided by professional animal care technicians and naturalists, children get hands-on experience with the center’s animals and go on adventures of discovery through the center’s 70-plus acres. Earthplace is a wildlife sanctuary that is open year-round, and has a museum and nature center as well as a pre-school, and offers tours and programs for students of all ages.

Vacation Exploration Camps
Connecticut Science Center
250 Columbus Blvd.
Hartford, CT 06103
(860) 520-2177
Connecticut Science Center

Each week throughout the summer the Connecticut Science Center offers a different summer day camp program for kids. From Robot Olympics to The League of Extraordinary Scientists, and from Solar Odyssey to Science with a Suitcase, each exploration camp offers a unique, educational and exciting week-long experience that kids will long remember. Designed to incubate or culcate a love of science and exploration, the programs make use of the many assets of the Connecticut Science Center and its staff, and manage to do so while keeping it all fun.

Related: Ask a Connecticut Expert: After School Activity Ideas

Summer FUN At Stepping Stones
Stepping Stones Museum for Children
303 West Ave.
Norwalk, CT 06850
(203) 899-0606
Stepping Stones Museum

The “Summer FUN” (all caps) program at the Stepping Stones Museum for Children offers week-long full day or half day camps for kids. The STEAM Central option is a full-day week-long program that focuses on science, technology and engineering, art and math (the first letters of which spell “STEAM”) where children build robots, make, fire and glaze ceramics, explore the museum and get some exercise through Zumba and other movement activities. The Animation Station option is a half-day week-long camp where children learn how to make stop-motion animation and create videos. The museum also has one-day field trip programs for directors, counselors and campers at other camps.

Summer Musical Theater Workshop
New Haven Academy of Performing Arts
597 E. Main St.
New Haven, CT 06512
(475) 238-8119

There are many summer theater camps for children in Connecticut, a full list of which can be found at the second link above. The one at the New Haven Academy of Performing Arts is indicative of what these camps offer. Their program is a three-week camp where children from 7 to 17 years of age learn or hone their skills at singing, acting, dancing and other theater arts (including design, sound, lighting etc.), all while preparing to put on a show. This year’s offering is Musicville, a musical about two children who try to save their town from the “sorcerer of silence.”

Related: Top Free Attractions Near Connecticut

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