Hey, preschool parents! If you’re still looking to fill out a few summer weeks for your little one (or simply want a break for yourself at some point this summer), you’re in luck! You can still register for Germantown Friends School’s Junior Explorers Camp (for children ages 3 to 6), which is now offered on Main Campus in Germantown and at a NEW Center City location.
GFS recently opened a second location for its Early Childhood Program — a newly renovated space in the Curtis Center on Washington Square. It’s set up especially for preschool-aged children, and so it’s no surprise that the summer camp they’re offering there is so nicely designed for that age group.
The Junior Explorers camp is planned around the theme of — yes — exploring, and each week’s focus is different: One week will zero in on the natural world, one will be a deep dive into arts and crafts, one will concentrate on movement, and so forth. The camp runs for 6 weeks, from June 11-July 20. Later in the summer, GFS also offers an end-of-summer camp (August 20-31) for that same 3-to-6 crowd.
According to Camp Director Elliot Coates, the aim of all GFS camps is to help campers engage in new activities, make new friends, and experience the community around them. “The kids get exposure to different people and experiences,” he says, “and they also have the chance to learn about their own passions, opinions, and strengths.” In Junior Explorers Camp, this plays out through a whole bunch of fun — arts and music; hands-on experiments and interactive projects; daily outdoor run-around time; snacks, lunch, and picnics; activity blocks centered around the week’s theme; plus a little built-in quiet time for napping and re-energizing. (They are still little ones after all!) Like all of the camps at GFS, Junior Explorers is designed with the school’s Quaker values in mind, specifically touching on the testimonies of Peace and Community. Campers will uncover how they can be responsible citizens, good stewards of the community, and how, through these acts of kindness, they can contribute to affecting positive change.
The GFS Junior Explorers Camp runs on both campuses — Washington Square and Germantown — and the programs are similar to one another. “The main difference,” Coates says, “is that in the new Center City location, the kids make use of the more urban spaces around them.” But both camps have instructors who are teachers at GFS (read: experts in early education), and both run five days a week, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with before- and after-care options. You can register for all six weeks as well as the end-of-summer camp or simply choose a single week that suits your schedule. (Note: There is a discount available for those who register for all six weeks of Junior Explorers.) You needn’t be a student or prospective student to join a GFS camp — they are open to everyone. In fact, there’s no real deadline for registration, so if you decide later in the summer that your kid (or you!) might benefit from a week at day camp, you still have the option to sign up.
One last perk to mention: There are a multitude of GFS camp options for older kids, too — and not only do they sound really awesome (there’s an “explorers” camp for bigger kids, as well, plus athletic camps, academic camps, camps for drama, robotics, and tons more), but a bunch of the children return year after year. Imagine how cool it could be to start the tradition of going to camp at the age of 3 or 4, and seeing the same friends every summer for the next decade!