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Summer camps for play and learning
By Kasumi Hirokawa

It's camping season and it's possible to enjoy the outdoors without bug bites, sleeping bags and hours of driving.

There are camps of all kinds - for soccer, swimming, tennis, hip-hop dance, adventure, Chinese and English, SAT prep, essay writing and college admissions. And lots more.

Various venues across Shanghai offer high-quality vacation - or stay-cation - getaways for children and families without all the hassle of pitching tents, collecting firewood and building campfires.

Children as young as 14 months old to five-year-old toddlers can participate in activities at the Nest Summer Camp. When signing up for a spot, a child and the family choose the activities they like. Camp sessions are available in both Chinese and English, according to Helen Xu, the manager of the Nest Creative Children's Center.

There are plenty of options for teens. Green Life Yoga & Dance's Teen Jazz Dance and Hip-Hop Workshop welcome beginners as well as veterans with some dance backgrounds. An average class contains only 18 people so each student receives individual attention from the instructors but also learns to act in a cohesive group. Jazz dance is similar to Japanese and Korean pop stars' moves, and hip-hop is popular with boys, says a manager at Green Life, which teaches New York-style hip-hop dance.

Children five years and older can kick-start their summer by signing up for a one-week ASK soccer camps for either half-day or full-day sessions. According to the Active Kidz Shanghai, the camp fee covers the costs for games, training, activities, camp materials, lunch and snacks. Experienced coaches teach basics to beginners; for advanced players, the camp provides a safe and fun environment to play and improve their skills.

Active Kidz Shanghai also offers swimming, tennis and gymnastic camps.

Community Center Shanghai has a wide variety of summer programs including Intensive Chinese and Summer SAT camps.

The Chinese Immersion Camp is suitable for children older than eight, a coordinator at the community center says.

Teachers combine all aspects of language learning, including grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary, listening, reading and writing. The teaching approach is very interactive and children will have the opportunity to use their Chinese skills outside the classroom.

Students will be divided into intermediate and advanced-level classes, depending on the results of a placement test.

The Summer SAT Camp is being organized in collaboration with TEAM Education Consulting. Other than SATs, the company offers consulting services in the college admission process, essay writing and grad school applications, Tess Robinson, the founder of TEAM Education, says.

High school students 9th grade and up are welcome. It's open to anybody in the community, Robinson says, although local Chinese students may be at a slight disadvantage in grasping English language, literature and cultural contexts. Last year the company helped students enter top schools such as Columbia University, University of California Berkeley, UC Los Angeles, Penn State and New York University.

Also in the summer, TEAM Education will run College Application Camp in conjunction with Community Center Shanghai. This camp helps students improve their essay-writing in preparation for college application essays. The company is not all about intensive tutoring, however, TEAM Education prides itself on offering thorough, personalized consulting services for students and family members.

"Our philosophy is: the more information you have in regard to college application, the better off you are," Robinson says.

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