Thinking ahead to summer camp: Save the dates for when to register for popular camps

January often feels too early to think about summer camp, right? It’s not.

Some of Austin’s most popular summer camps open their registration this month or next month and are full within days, sometimes minutes after opening for registration.

Here are four that tend to sell out quickly:

Kids learn can learn to do all kinds of engineering skills at Thinkery camps. Photo by Hunter Douglas

The Thinkery

Science, technology, engineering, art and math-themed camps. Themes include designing and engineering a storybook problem, exploring STEAM in our city, engineering with sound, flight, robots and Minecraft.

Ages: 4-12

Location: The Thinkery camps are at four locations, including at the Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave.; (East);  National Instruments, 11500 N. MoPac Blvd. (North near Domain); Magellan International School, 7938 Great Northern Blvd. (North Central); International School of Texas, 4402 Hudson Bend Road (West near Lakeway); Emergent Academy, 1044 Liberty Park Drive (Southwest).

When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., or 9 a.m.-1 p.m. for part-day pre-kindergarten-kindergarten sessions.  Extended care beginning at 8 a.m. and going until 5:30 p.m. for $50, but not available at National Instruments. One week sessions June 4-Aug. 17

Cost: $330 for members, $365 for non-members for first-graders-fifth-graders, $350 for members, $385 non-members for pre-kindergarten-kindergarten full-day, $80 off for part-day.

How to register: Registration for Thinkery members is happening now through Jan. 15. Non-members can register Jan. 16. Register online at or over the phone at 512-469-6201. You have to pay the full price to reserve your spot.

What if you don’t get in: The Thinkery does not maintain a waiting list, but you can check back on the website to see if a spot opens up.


Dylan Hoover, 9, John O’Farrell, 9, and Cosmo Nixon, 9, get ready for a canoe adventure  as part of a Austin Nature & Science Center camp. AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2005

Austin Science & Nature Center

Nature and science-based camps based on a theme each week. Some camps include off-site campouts.

Ages: 4-11 (half day for ages 4-5, full day for ages 5-11)

Location: 2389 Stratford Drive

When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for full day in one or two week sessions, June 11- Aug. 17. Before care beginning at 7:15 a.m. and late care until 6 p.m. is also available.

Cost: $200 standard price for one week, $150 for half day camp, $250 for a camp with camp outs

How to register: Go to and select online registration. Select the camps you want. Registration is open to Austin residents 10 a.m. Feb. 10 and 1 p.m. Feb. 10 to non-residents. You pay a deposit for 20 percent of class price. If you don’t know your user name or password or have other questions, call the center at 512-974-3888 before Feb. 10.

What if you don’t get in: Complete registration and ask to be put on the waiting list.


Micah Baldwin, 6, cleans his paint brush during the Summer Arts Adventure Camp at the Dougherty Arts Center.  Jay Janner/American-Statesman 2012

Dougherty Art Center

The City of Austin art center offers affordable art camps.

Ages: 5-12

Location: Dougherty Art Center, 1110 Barton Springs Road

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday in two-week sessions, June 11-Aug. 3, you can also add a before camp and after camp session

Cost: $432 for two weeks, $50 additional for before camp and $50 for after camp

How to register: Go to and select online registration. Select the camps you want. Registration is open to Austin residents 10 a.m. Feb. 17 and 1 p.m. Feb. 17 to non-residents. You pay the full amount of the class at the time of registration. If you’ve created an account before and don’t know what your user name and password is, contact the office in advance to get it reset, 512-974-4040,

What if you don’t get in: Call the office or email and ask to be placed on the waiting list.

Crenshaw Athletic Club

A full-day camp with gym, computer time, field trips, swimming, games.

Ages: 5 1/2 to 10

Location: Crenshaw Athletic Club, 5000 Fairview Drive

When: 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday in three weeks sessions; dates to be determined, but tentatively June 4, June 25, July 16 and Aug. 6 (two weeks).

Cost: $720-$750 for each three week session

How to register: Fill out the registration form on and put it in the mail on March 1, not any earlier. Include a $100 deposit. Or you can register in-person beginning at 6 a.m. on March 5, but the mailed registrations postmarked March 1, 2, and 3 will be taken before you. Mailed registrations with an earlier date will be taken after the March 5 registrations.

What if you don’t get it: Asked to be put on the waiting list.

You can get more summer camp ideas by checking out last year’s camp guide, We’ll be introducing this year’s guide on Feb. 16.

You can also get inspiration at Austin Family’s Summer Camp Fair: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Jan. 20 at Palmer Events Center.

Know of another camp that frequently fills up that you want us to investigate when and how to register? Email

Think ahead to summer camp this Columbus Day when kids are out of school

Many kids have Monday off for Columbus Day or parent-teacher conferences. Think of Monday and other school holidays as a dry-run for future summer camps. Many places that offer summer camps also have one-day camps on these days. Also check with your regular after-school care to see if they will be offering a full-day camp on Monday, how to register and what the activities will be.


Louis Montanez, 9, plays on an mammoth rib cage cast in bronze at the Austin Nature and Science Center. LAURA SKELDING/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Here are some of the ones we found. If you have another camp you’d like listed, let us know,

Austin Science and Nature Center. Wilderness Wise School Holiday Camp. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Ages 5-8. $50 per child.

Zach Theatre.  Activities around the theme Dragons, Wizards and Fairies. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For grades kindergarten-second. $80.

Austin Sports Center. Various sports-themed camps for ages kindergarten-ninth grade at both locations. $49-$95 depending on camp length.

Snapology. Build Lego and robotics at morning and afternoon workshops. $40-$45. Circle C Community Center and West Austin Youth Association.

Other activities on Monday

If you’re able to be home with the kids, many museums like the Thinkery that are typically closed on Mondays are open on this day. Check out these activities:

Sweet Berry Farm. Hay rides, corn mazes, pick your own pumpkins and more. 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday. Pay per activity. 1801 FM 1980, ​Marble Falls.

Elgin Christmas Tree Farm Fall Farm Fun. Explore a corn maze, hay bale maze and a crazy maze, plus go on a hay ride, visit animals and get a mini pumpkin to decorate. Big pumpkins to purchase. $7.  10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday. Elgin Christmas Tree Farm, 120 Nature’s Way, Elgin.

Thinkery. The museum is open, but there will not be Baby Bloomers. The museum does have two special workshops: Monster Masterpieces. 9:30 a.m. 1-year-olds, 10:30 a.m. 2-year-olds, 11:30 a.m. 3-year-olds. Monday. $20. Whisks and Wizards. Make Halloween-themed food. For ages 4 and up. 10:30 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday. $8. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave.