Theater is an excellent summer activity to consider if you have a creative high schooler or one interested in the performing arts. Apart from improving their acting, singing, and dancing, they also gain interpersonal skills like self-confidence, independence, and problem-solving.
Theater isn’t just about who is on the front and center stage since a lot of work goes on behind the scenes. Theater programs also offer classes in other integral areas such as stage management, sound and lighting, and props and costumes.
These top summer theater camps for high school students are taught by highly educated professionals in the field who can help pass on their knowledge and improve your children’s creative skills.
Best Summer Theater Camps
1. Summer Stage
Since 1976 Upper Darby Summer Stage, located just outside of Philadelphia, PA, has offered theater programs to middle school and high school students. Their mission is to motivate the youth to use their talents to their full extent and show others what they’re capable of.
Upper Darby offers options like the Performing Sarts Program, which teaches the basics of singing onstage, dancing, and acting as well as other skills like improv. There are also more competitive programs like Mainstage or Upper Darby Summer Stage Shooting Stars, which both require auditions to get in. The camp sessions tend to last around 2 to 4 weeks each and run daily from 9 am to 4 pm.
It’s a nationally recognized theater program where audience members travel from around the area to see their performances. Each summer, more than 750 students partake in the shows and perform for thousands of people. It’s an excellent opportunity for a young performer seeking near-professional experience and theater skills.
Recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts as “1 of 25 model Summer Schools for the Arts,” Traveling Players has spent the last 20 years training teens & tweens in theatre. At their sleepaway camps & conservatories in Virginia, actors (grades 4-12) and technicians work together to produce a play based on Greek Mythology, classic comedies, or Shakespeare depending on their grade.
Each cast is limited to 13 actors and led by a trio of directors (1:4 faculty-to-student ratio), which ensures that your actor receives individualized training and attention. Each day at camp is packed with play rehearsals and classes on things like design, voice, improv, and stage combat.
Advanced high school actors can audition for the pre-professional Shakespeare Troupe. This nationally unique program takes the show on the road to theatres large and small.
When not in their comfy lodges with AC and daily warm showers, actors experience the great outdoors. In addition to outdoor rehearsals and performances, actors camp out once a week: pitching tents, cooking over the fire, and learning all of the necessary skills for proper Leave No Trace camping.
DC locals can join in year-round, with DC camps (grades 2-4), classes, and performances at their Studio in Tysons Corner Center. It’s one of the best summer theater camps and programs for high school and middle school students.
French Woods is an internationally recognized non-competitive arts program that allows children ages 7-17 to choose activities they want to partake in. Located in the Upstate New Yorks Catskill Mountains, there are programs in Music, Theater, Art, Dance, Circus, Rock and Roll, Equestrian, and more.
Their facilities provide high ropes challenge course, sports fields and courts, a skatepark, waterfront activities, and beyond. So apart from performing arts, kids can also enjoy traditional camp activities like horseback riding, paddle boarding, arts and crafts, swimming, mountain biking, soccer, basketball, and more.
French Woods offers six activities per day, divided into majors and minors. Majors are chosen at the beginning of each session and maintained throughout the program. Minors are chosen daily at breakfast, allowing children to explore something new to try each day. This unique sleepaway arts camp offers many opportunities to children of any experience level.
They receive young performers from all over the United States and from different parts of the world, so it’s a diverse experience for everyone who attends.
The original goal of the Harand Camp of the Theatre Arts, which was created by sisters Sulie & Pearl Harand, was to create a place where boys and girls could laugh and play. This theater summer camp curriculum focuses on musical theater, particularly on community and equal opportunity.
The camp’s founders were well known in Chicago’s rings of theater, and their camp still runs midway between Chicago, IL, and Milwaukee, WI. The camp is situated on the shores of Lake Michigan, and in addition to performing facilities, the campus also hosts a swimming pool, sports courts for volleyball and basketball, a food court, dorms, and more.
Campers ages 7-18 can choose from an early summer one-week session, mid-summer three-week sessions, or enroll for multiple three-week sessions to cover the season. They tend to last anywhere from 1, 3, and 6 weeks. However, the arts camps are divided by age, with the earlier session reserved for first-year campers under 12 years old.
Harand focuses on the belief that everyone can perform and welcomes both new and experienced campers. It’s non-competitive, so there are no requirements for auditions. Each session ends with a stunning performance at the camp’s theater, where parents can come and watch.
Founded in 2001, US performing Arts camps are designed to train students ages 11-19 before they head to a college art program. US Performing Arts Camps are affiliated with some of the nation’s most prestigious universities, including Georgetown, Stanford, Yale, and Pepperdine.
So all their summer programs take place on the campus of these elite colleges. Nearly all the faculty members and coaches have previous Hollywood and Broadway experience.
Each theater summer camp lasts around one to two weeks, and students learn from the expert guidance of leading directors and performers. Apart from theater and acting camps, there are also classes for those interested in visual arts and behind the scene work like computer animation, screenwriting, and digital film.
Programs are split into four categories: acting, dance, film & media, and musical theater. Students can sign up for courses based on their chosen discipline and expect to spend most of their day in class or rehearsals. There is also some time built in for socializing and events. Despite their focus on helping middle and high school students succeed in college, the performing arts camps are open to individuals of all experience levels.
Blueprint is an audition-only summer program that serves as college prep for high schoolers looking to continue their studies in theater. This performing arts summer camp lasts two weeks and accepts only gap year or high school students.
Blueprint focuses on three disciplines: acting, dancing, and singing. They specialize in the art of college auditions, making them an excellent college prep arts program. The rigorous schedule is in place from Monday to Sunday, and students can expect individual private lessons and group coaching from other artists and Broadway professionals.
The daily schedule can stretch from 9 AM all the way to 9:30 PM or later. Participants should be prepared to participate in this demanding schedule fully. Blueprint also receives representatives from numerous universities, so it’s a great way to network and catch the eye of college educators.
Located in Steamboat Spring, Colorado, Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School offers dance, theater, and equestrian camps. All Perry-Mansfields programs require an audition for admission, and students also complete a placement audition shortly after arrival to determine their best fit within the program. Their mission is to nurture a love of the arts in a setting that encourages students to explore their interests and take risks.
They offer three main programs separated by age groups, 10-12, 12-16, and 15-18. Besides daily theater classes, kids and teens can also choose electives that complement their learning. In addition, they will partake in routine rehearsals and performances. The classes consist of those of their choosing, including subjects like songwriting, musical theater, equestrian arts, and more. The Pre-Professional Intensive for older students finishes with a full-on performance under the guidance of industry professionals.
No phones are allowed on campus so kids can get away from technology. The camp faculty possess a mix of broadway and Hollywood experience, with many also teaching at universities.
The New Haven Academy of Performing Arts Camp is located in East Haven, Connecticut. Their Small Starrs Summer Musical Theater Camp is designed for children ages 7-13, and their Broadway Bound program is for teenagers 14-18. All instructors in the program are professional educators and performers certified in their fields.
Young performers in the Broadway Bound program learn to hone their acting, singing, and dance skills. During their time here, they audition and receive professional training from a professional casting director and receive constructive feedback on the process. It’s a non-competitive program that believes there are no small parts but only small actors.
They strive to get to know students and help match them with roles that fit their wants and goals. The summer day theater camps run Monday to Friday, 9 am to 3 or 5 pm, and last anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks. Past alums have gone on to attend some of the nation’s most prestigious theater summer programs in college.
Martin has been in the summer camp industry for 7 years now. He has worked in different roles for camps, including as a marketing director for summer camps in the United States. Martin enjoys all kinds of outdoor activities but likes hiking and kayaking the most. He’s also a huge fan of traveling.