2018 Summer Academic & Arts-Based Camps & Classes 4 Kids in Des Moines

2018 Summer Academic & Arts-Based Camps & Classes 4 Kids in Des Moines

Find 2020 Summer Camp info. here.

Des Moines is brimming with special summer camps and classes that give your kids the chance to explore budding interests in art, science, acting, technology and more. With a little planning, your kiddos can take advantage of some awesome educational and creative camps in the Des Moines-area. Check out our picks for academic and arts-based summer camps and classes in Des Moines.

Note: This is a working list, so check back often for new listings.  If you know of a summer camp or class that you would like to have included to this guide, please email the listing information to nicole@dsm4kids.com or leave a comment below.

Please contact the specific venue or organization hosting the camp to register.

Academic Summer Camps & Classes in Des Moines

Multiple Discipline Academic Camps & Classes in Des Moines

Camp Brainiac

Camp Brainiac is a summer day camp that welcomes elementary school age kids in K-5. Local Des Moines mom, Andrea Hansen, and local teacher, Eden Sexton, partnered to create Camp Brainiac with a mission to avoid the dreaded “summer backslide.” Research shows that kids lose academic ground over the summer. Even the best students are several weeks behind when they start back to school. Camp Brainiac gives kids a break from the classroom but not necessarily from learning. Brainiac campers will spend their days immersed in experiential learning designed around a different theme each week.


During the summer kids can go to college…DMACC Kids College, that is. DMACC campuses offer fun, summer youth camps. With classes like Career Discovery Camp, Web and Video Game Design, Robotics, Maker Camp, STEM Camps and more, there is something to tempt kids with a variety of interests they are already excited about.

Drake University

Drake University hosts a number of academic related summer camps for kids.  In the past they’ve hosted Wide World of Science summer camp for middle school students; along with Metro Waste Authority they’ve cosponsored a weeklong, immersive summer camp for high school students to learn how to do field research and they’ve also hosted Summer App Camp, a weeklong summer camp on iPod/android app development designed for middle school students.  You may need to visit individual department webpages to find additional information.

Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center

Enrollment is now open for Enrichment Therapy and Learning Center’s summer programs. Their programs are designed for students who need help with academics, speech and/or language and include Kindergarten prep, early reading and math skills, social skills, as well as a program focusing on reading for students at a 2nd-6th grade skill level.  Classes are offered June 4 through July 26, 2018.

Iowa State University

Each year, Iowa State hosts a variety of Summer Academic Camps. This website gives parents, educators, and pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students a chance to learn about the youth programs available through Iowa State University. You can also find information and contacts for the academic program you’re interested in by visiting individual department websites. 

Grandview University

The Grand View Summer Learning Clinic is designed for students with academic and/or social challenges to prepare them for the upcoming school year by refreshing students’ reading, writing, math and/or social skills.  Students in the Academic Clinic will be assessed and provided with instruction at their academic level, working specifically on individual needs.

TigerLily STEM

TigerLily STEM is a local business that speicilizes in STEM tutoring, classes and summer camps for GIRLS.  They offer after-school programs and summer camps for grade school girls (grades K-5) as well as teen girls (grades 6-12) in the Des Moines area. Through their programs, they expose girls to different opportunities in the STEM fields and cultivate a culture of open communication, sharing, independence and empowerment of girls and women.

Science Camps & Classes in Des Moines

Camp Invention

Camp Invention is a national organization that offers a number of camps throughout the summer to kids entering first through sixth grade.  Camp Invention features collaborative learning opportunities led by local teachers in a safe environment. Programs are being offered in Adel, Ankeny, Johnston, Pleasant Hill, Urbandale and Waukee.  Pre-registration is required.

Mad Science of Central Iowa

Mad Science summer camps and vacation programs balance learning and fun with interactive and hands-on science activities. Children have the opportunity to become junior scientists for the summer and embark on a series of science adventures.  Programs are offered in partnership with schools, community education and parks and recreation departments.

Science Center of Iowa

Find more to explore with SCI Summer Camps! From chemistry to astronomy and from invention to dissection, SCI Summer Camps provide week-long experiences for students in grades Pre-K through 8th grade. Summer camps will run June 11 through August 17, 2018.  You can register for classes: on-line, by phone, mail or in person.

Technology Camps & Classes in Des Moines

Sylvan Learning Center

By combining super cool, kid-friendly technology, fun-filled games and hands-on projects (such as building a robot or programming a video game), Sylvan transforms learning into a truly memorable experience. Camps are available at Sylvan Learning Centers in Johnston and Des Moines during the summer, as well as during winter and spring breaks. Sylvan also partners with local organizations to deliver programs throughout the metro.

Tech Journey

Tech Journey, Inc. was formed to help students with limited resources pursue careers in technology. Tech Journey organizes unique summer technology camp experiences in the Des Moines area which connect youth to technology professionals and real-world technology application.  Watch their website for summer 2018 camp opportunities.


YouthCode offers a number of courses at Eastview and Valley Community Centers.  Classes focus on the basics of computer science and that learning to code is a fun way for students to develop creativity and boost confidence while practicing math and writing skills. Classes are offered to kids ages nine and up.  They typically host a week-long summer camp in July and other classes are held throughout the year.

Engineering Camps & Classes in Des Moines

Bricks 4 Kidz

Bricks 4 Kidz camps are a fun way for kids ages 5-13+ to spend their summer. Using specialized LEGO® Technic pieces such as gears, axles, and electric motors, children work in pairs to construct a variety of Bricks 4 Kidz models, as well as build creations of their own during free-play periods. Experienced teachers help campers explore the world of engineering, architecture and animated movie-making. 2018 registration opens March 1st.

Iowa State Engineering Kids

ISEK Camps are a cool way to check out the latest technology, awesome engineering activities, and experience Iowa State’s campus, not to mention toy around with some amazing robotics. ISEK Camps are a great way to learn more about how engineers solve problems, get creative, and innovate cool solutions.  Camps are offered to kids ages 6 to 11. Dates for the 2017 ISEK Summer Camps will be posted by March 15th.

Entrepreneurial & Business Related Camps and Classes in Des Moines

JA BizTown Summer Camp

JA BizTown Summer Camp is an indoor, academic camp geared towards kids ages 10-13 that combines classroom-style teaching with hands-on activities. While the camp will focus on financial literacy, entrepreneurship and teamwork, kids will also have FUN!  For those who have participated in JA BizTown as a student, the JA BizTown Summer Camp is an extended version of their school experience with additional camp activities mixed in.

Jacobson Entrepreneur Camp

The Jacobson Entrepreneur Camp is a week-long day camp for students entering 7th, 8th, or 9th grade in the fall and are interested in entrepreneurship and owning a business. The Des Moines camp is scheduled for July 9-13, 2018 and runs daily from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  Registration opened February 1st.

Math Camps & Classes in Des Moines

Des Moines Public Schools

DMPS offers several math classes through its Gifted and Talented Program. Programs include: Central Academy for highly gifted and talented students for 8-12 grades; enrichment summer school for K-9 gifted students; accelerated summer math classes are offered to invited fifth graders transitioning to sixth grade; and, an Outdoor Adventure Camp for middle school students. Scholarships are available for programming offered during the summer.


In the summer kids can lose two to three months’ worth of math skills.  Mathnasium Learning Centers offer customized math tutoring services helping kids in grades K-12 develop math skills through homework lessons and tutorials.  Classes are offered year-round.

Summer Arts-Based Camps & Classes in Des Moines

Multiple Discipline Art Camps & Classes in Des Moines

Des Moines Social Club

The Des Moines Social Club has tons of art related camps that it offers to creatives of all ages. Camps include Cirque de Social Club, Build a Band, Young Artists Studio, Cooking for Kids, Intro to Theater, and more. The Des Moines Social Club is passionate about creating accessible arts and culture opportunities for all members of the Des Moines community. Scholarships are available.

Art Camps & Classes in Des Moines

Ankeny Art Center

Summer vacation is just around the corner and the Ankeny Art Center has several creative art camps for your child. Plan an awesome summer and introduce your child to the exciting world of art. Classes are taught by experienced and certified teachers that are equipped to accommodate all levels of skill and interests. Classes are designed to challenge students of varying artistic abilities ages 5-15.

Des Moines Art Center

The Des Moines Art Center offers a number of camps and classes throughout the summer for kids ages two to eighteen. They also offer family workshops. The Art Center’s classes are a great way to introduce kids to art techniques, art media and all the Art Center has to offer in a fun way.  Registration is required for all classes.

Grandview University

Each year Grandview hosts summer art workshops for kids. Last year they revamped their offerings which, included broader age ranges and overnight options. Watch their website for additional details coming soon.

Pied Piper Studios

Keep little minds and bodies busy this summer at Pied Piper Studios. They offer art, music, drama  and yoga classes for kids ages three to ten years old. They have several summer camps planned, as well as some of their traditional class offerings.  Summer registration is already open on their website.

Studio Virtu

Does your budding artist like to paint? How about make sculpture? Work with Clay? Get messy and dirty while being productive and creative? The summer camp classes at Studio Virtu offer a fun and exciting way for kids to experience age appropriate art lessons of many mediums. In every session students will be exposed to many different materials as well as processes.  Registration for Summer Camp 2018 begins March 1st.

Music Camps & Classes in Des Moines

Central Iowa Music Lab

Be honest. Who among us hasn’t dreamed of playing or belting out hardcore rock songs to a sold-out crowd? Set your mini rocker on the path to stardom with summer music lessons at Central Iowa Music Lab. They offer lessons year-round to all ages and levels, kids can also participate in Rock Band group lessons.  CIML also typically offers summer day camp opportunities.

Des Moines Symphony

The Symphony Academy’s Summer Camps and Workshops are geared to providing a challenging, yet nurturing music learning environment for young musicians at various levels of their musical development. Musicians will gather to make music, improve musicianship and listening skills and work with professional musicians; all while creating lasting friendships.

Heartland Youth Choir

Heartland Youth Choir provides a performance-based program for youth, emphasizing musical literacy and character development. They are offering SummerSongs and SummerTunes Camp.  Activities will include choir rehearsal, musicianship training, folk games and movement activities.  2018 registration is open, visit their website or contact them for additional information.

Rising Stars Youth Show Choir

Rising Stars Youth Show Choir is a wonderful experience for any young performer. Singers in grades K-8 participate in this choir where they always have the opportunity to sing solos, dance, act and strut their stuff. Students in grades K-8, of any experience, can enroll in their one-week summer camp that takes place each August.

Culinary Camps & Classes in Des Moines

Real Food 4 Kids

Kids will learn to make their own breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner.  Real Food 4 Kids’ classes and camps are 100% hands-on cooking with a maximum of 6-8 children per class. Campers wil make several recipes and enjoy their meal together at the end of class. Class discussion will  cover where the ingredients come from and how they work together to create the food we eat.  Classes are offered the weeks of June 18July 9, and August 13. Kids can attend the entire session or only the days that they prefer.

Drama Camps & Classes in Des Moines

Ankeny Community Theater

Ankeny Community Theater offers summer camp to boys and girls entering Kindergarten through 12th grades. Drama camps introduce theater terminology and skills while encouraging teamwork and self-expression for all ability levels. Participants attending a performance camp will have an opportunity to participate in a live performance on the last day of camp. Registration opens March 1, 2018.

Class Act Productions

Youth and young adults entering grades K-12 are invited to CAP in Altoona during their four weeks of Summer CAmP in 2018! Take center stage and find your light with Class Act Productions. Oh, the places you will go exploring games, dance, activities, projects and design which are specially programmed just for you. 2018 registration is open.

Curtain Call Kids

Curtain Call Kids provides a fun, safe, disciplined, supportive environment to encourage the imagination and give kids a strong foundation in acting.  By building their acting skills kids obtain self-confidence, increase focus, develop cooperative skills, and most of all they learn about themselves while having fun in a creative way!  Watch their website and Facebook page for upcoming summer camp information.

Des Moines Performing Arts

Des Moines Performing Arts provides high quality summer theater camps for young artists between the ages of 6 and 19. Each camp opportunity is designed to allow young people to explore their talents and build confidence while working with theater professionals. Summer camps are offered in June through August.  2018 registration is now open.

Des Moines Playhouse

Summer camp and classes at the Des Moines Playhouse are for kids aged four to eighteen+.  Summer classes at the Playhouse are a great way for your little thespian to explore the world of theater. Campers experience the joy of expression with a wide variety of exciting theater styles ranging from comedy, improvisation to classical theater. Actors can hone their craft through scene study, cold reading, comedy, drama, creative movement and more.

Tallgrass Theatre Company

Tallgrass Theatre Company is excited to re-launch Seedlings children’s theatre programming in conjunction with West Des Moines Parks & Recreation.  They will be offering half-day theater camps for kids ages 6-9 and 10-13. Kids can choose to participate in Heroes and Villains or Mystery on the High Seas and will develop an original play and perform it at the end of the week.  Classes are offered June 25-29, 2018 at 9:00 am to 12:00 pm or 1:00 to 4:00 pm.

Dance Camps & Classes in Des Moines

Ankeny Dance & Performing Arts Academy

Young or old, boy or girl, Ankeny Dance & Performing Art Academy has a summer camp for everyone! They offer summer theme camps as well as technique classes for students looking to take their skills to the next level.  All levels of dance and performance are offered.

Inspiring Dance

Located in Grimes, this dance studio offers a few different summer camp and dance lesson options.  Fun themed camps are offered to kids ages 3 to 11.  Kids looking to improve their dance skills can also enroll in their summer dance lessons.

Additional Places to Find Academic & Arts-Based Summer Camps and Classes in Des Moines

Local High Schools, Community Education Departments, Parks & Recreation Departments and Youth Organizations all offer educational and art-related, clinics and classes throughout the summer. If you’re looking for even more summer camps and classes options, we will be updating our Summer Camp Guide over the next few weeks to keep you up-to-date on the latest summer camp offerings.



Got a favorite academic or arts-based summer camp or class for kids in Des Moines? Share it with us in the comments!

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1 Comment

  1. Wonderful work and nice information shared on this blog. This blog explains the summer camps & classes that give your kids the chance to explore their knowledge, creativity & talent.
    Keep sharing the fabulous work.

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