When school out for the summer, most Triangle parents will start juggling kids in full-on summer hysteria. Luckily, the Triangle boasts a vast selection of summer camps, offering fun far beyond the traditional dodge ball and red rover games.
So here's a look at some of the more offbeat choices — the kayak camps and zookeeper training sessions. The best hunting ground for unusual summer activity can be found on camprooster.com, and though last-minute spots are going fast, these suggestions all have space when last we checked.
Here are a few that caught our eye. Prices, schedules and directions are all available on the camps' websites.
For the hardiest kids
Camp Flintlock, a legend in Johnston County, recreates colonial life down to the last detail, requiring that children rise from their tents at 6:30 a.m., split firewood, throw tomahawks and fire black powder muskets. Not only are electronic devices forbidden, but all clothing must be made of cotton or wool — no synthetics.
Over the course of a week, this sleep-away camp will have children writing with quill and ink and bathing in primitive showers. Penalty for repeated misbehavior: dig up a stump. Boys' week is full, we're told, though spaces remain for girls and in an alternative day camp which ends, perhaps mercifully, at 3 p.m. campflintlock.com
For the dorky and proud
At ukelele camp, kids have a chance to learn a rare musical instrument that's easy to carry. Though it often gets slandered as a hipster accessory, the ukulele offers kids a shorter neck and fewer strings than other stringed instruments, making it a stepping stone to guitar. In a week's worth of afternoon camps at Notasium in Durham and Cary, kids will learn basic chords and easy charts. With luck and a fake beard, they'll pass for 8-year-old hipsters. durham.notasium.com
For Harry Potters in training
At potions, charms and spells camp, parents are cautioned to expect their children arriving home with cauldrons bubbling. Day campers at Durham's Museum of Life & Science will use science to create movie special effects and create their own "magical science castle." As a bonus, the camp promises to solve ancient mysteries. No word on whether participants will face the sorting hat. lifeandscience.org
For the little leaguer you told 'Way to hustle!'
At Play Ball With the Bulls, junior baseball players can practice alongside their minor-league mentors, the Durham Bulls. The three-day camp takes place on the same diamond where the Bulls battle it out for real, and should any of the campers manage to hit one long enough to smack the bull on the left-field fence, the free-steak prize still applies. No lollygaggers. milb.com/durham
For the teenage Hamlets brooding upstairs
Shakespeare/stage combat camp at Raleigh Little Theatre inserts high school thespians into a week of the bard mixed with onstage fighting techniques, probably combining the two. Learn to choke down poison like Juliet or die of a stab would while still delivering a soliloquy like Mercutio. Many other theatrical options are available. The camp is this month. raleighlittletheatre.org
The camp you wish you'd booked in time
Leaping Lemurs camp at Duke Lemur Center is, alas, full. You can, of course, still visit the center in Durham or take part in other programs. The center seems to have had several baby lemurs arrive in recent months. lemur.duke.edu