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Experience ‘All the Sides of Summer’ at Summerside Camps

Summerside Camps at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy's specialized programs, fun atmosphere, and community focus nurture independence and confidence.

Every week from June to August, 200 campers from preschool to eighth grade come to Summerside Camps at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (SCH Academy) to participate in a favorite or new-to-them activity, such as outdoor adventures, robotics, coding, crafts, or sports. They will also experience fun traditional camp activities on Summerside’s 62-acre campus that borders the Wissahickon woods.

During program-specific sessions, campers will work alongside peers and be taught by expert-level instructors, many of whom are on the faculty at SCH Academy. At other times during the day, they’ll hike trails, tackle a rock wall and ropes course, and play sports and games together.

Campers at Summerside gather together at lunchtime, and all campers end the week with a barbecue, which often evolves into a dance or karaoke party. “Community is a big thing for us,” says Laura Cortes, director of summer programs. 

The community at Summerside extends beyond all-camp events. Instructors, counselors, and campers generally know each other on a first-name basis by the second day of camp and interact with high-fives, personal handshakes, and friendly conversation. 

Campers who come year after year develop relationships with Summerside’s instructors and counselors who return each summer. For example, instructors Peter Randall and James Martin have been running the robotics and engineering program at SCH Academy for more than a decade, and SCH Academy football coach Rick Knox has run his annual camps through Summerside for 15 years.

“Our combination of programing and all-camper activities help kids build friendships, have fun, and discover new passions,” says Cortes. “We believe these experiences will help them become independent and confident and that they’ll look back on these weeks of camp with fond memories.” In fact, Cortes and other staff attended Summerside themselves and feel a strong sense of pride about the camp.

Perennial favorite Summerside programs include Outdoor Adventures, which takes campers around the Philadelphia area to experience different outdoor activities. The Culinary Arts sessions give campers a “farm-to-table” experience by traveling to local farms to learn how to grow, produce, and create flavorful seasonal recipes. 

Two relatively new camp programs focus on basketball and theater. Julian MacFadden, an SCH Academy alumni and the Boys Upper School basketball coach, runs Summerside’s all-ages basketball program. The theater program runs two separate two-week sessions, and this year campers will produce Disney’s Aladdin Jr. and The Little Mermaid Jr.

There is a wealth of programming beyond these programs, including sessions focusing on other sports, games, coding, and arts and crafts. Each of these programs is led by an expert instructor, and camp counselors provide additional support and structure to each camp day. All Summerside staff receive training before the beginning of the camp year, and many are certified teachers or education majors with first-aid and CPR training.

Summerside offers both before and aftercare, and there is transportation to camp provided by Shuttlebee. 

The combination of specific and general camp programming, a beautiful campus, and well-trained and highly educated staff make Summerside the perfect place for kids to spend the summer. “Campers can sense the fun, light-hearted, energetic feel at Summerside. It’s a really comforting environment that nurtures close-knit relationships,” remarks Cortes.

You can find out more about Summerside by visiting its website (summersidecamps.org).

For over two decades SCH has provided quality summer camps on its beautiful 62-acre campus adjacent to Fairmount Park’s Wissahickon watershed. Learn more at summersidecamps.org