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TCU has many kids’ camps this summer, including band camps for middle and high school students. Courtesy TCU Admissions

Along with the arts, food, horses, STEM stuff, and — woo! — rock ’n’ rolllll in our Summertime story about kids’ camps, there are quite a few faith-based options, too.

 

While not necessarily religious in day-to-day practice, TCU (2800 S University Dr, Fort Worth, 817-257-7000) does have “Christian” in the name, so we can talk about some of their summer kids’ camps here. The Music/Leadership Experience & Color Guard Band Camp for high school students is Sun-Thu, Jun 9-Jun 13. The cost is $375 for those not staying overnight or $650 with meals and lodging included. At the Middle School Music Experience, kids entering sixth-eighth grade with at least one year of instrumental training in a scholastic setting can attend this two-day camp for $200 Thu-Fri, Jun 13-14. For more, visit TCU.edu and search “summer camps.”

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Many (actual) faith-based groups are getting in on the summertime kids’-camp fun. One is Camp Shalom. Run by the Lil Goldman Early Learning Center at the Jewish Education Agency (4050 S Hulen St, Fort Worth, 817-737-9898), the weekly sessions are Jun 3-Aug 2 for ages 3 to kindergarten, each with a different theme. The second week of June is all about Community Helpers and includes a close-up look at squad cars and fire trucks when the Fort Worth police and fire departments pay a visit. During the last week of July, the Fort Worth Nature Center will bring ambassador animals from its Radical Reptiles program to Texas Wildlife Week. For more, visit LilGoldmanSchool.org/Camp-Shalom.

 

Aaron Family Jewish Community Center (7900 Northaven Rd, Dallas, 214-239-7130) also offers a variety of camp options via JDallasCamps.org, including Camp Simcha for ages 2-4 and Camp Chai for kids entering K-sixth, plus camps for older kids, including gymnastics, tennis, theater production, and travel. Weekly camp rates start at $699 and go up from there. Plus, we are now in Aaron Family’s “late-registration” period, which costs more. It’s worth looking into for 2025, if not now.

 

If you’re comfortable letting Jesus take the wheel, then Vacation Bible School (VBS) is a great way to test-drive a church. The curriculum is typically preset, as most churches use standard themed packages purchased online or at the local Christian bookstore. (Think: Party City but for religious stuff.) Popular themes I’ve seen in the last few years include In the Wild, Monumental, Treasured, and Roar (all nature); Boomerang Express (nature but Australian); and Stellar and To Mars and Beyond (outer space). Even the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth — which is composed of 92 parishes in 28 counties here in North Texas — has a VBS directory at FWDIOC.org/vacation-bible-school.

Also, it’s worth noting that the teachings at VBS tend to be pretty easy-breezy and nonintrusive, highlighting the basic tenets of Christianity, like God’s love, “do unto others,” and the like. The kids don’t handle snakes until the last day. (Kidding.)

For example, Grace Covenant Church (3402 W I-20, Arlington, GraceCovenantChurch.org) is going with a VBS theme of Scuba: Diving into Friendship with God 9am-noon Mon-Fri, Jun 10-14. Admission is free, but you’ll need to pre-register your kids online. Like most VBS programs, this one is aimed at youngsters 3-and-a-half years old and up until they enter sixth grade in the 2024-25 school year. If this one is full, simply google “vacation Bible school near me,” and you’ll find plenty of other choices.

The VBS theme for Grace Lutheran Church (210 W Park Row Dr, Arlington 817-274-1626) is Outback Rock (nature but Australian) as part of a two-day weekend 6:15pm-8:30pm Fri, Jul 12, and 9am-1pm Sat, Jul 13. This free event is open to first-sixth graders and will feature games, inflatables, music, and snacks. Register at Grace.LC/Events-Activities.

Grace Lutheran Church is going with the scuba theme for Vacation Bible School this year.
Courtesy ConcordiaSupply.com

 

Do you remember the nondenominational church that used to meet at the Ridglea Theater on Sundays? Many a Music Awards ceremony day, we found ourselves hanging out in the parking lot, waiting for our turn to load in. Well, that would have been Paradox Church. They now have a space of their own at 900 W Belknap St, Fort Worth (TheParadoxChurch.com) and for a kids’ camp this summer are bringing Central Texas to you.

Pine Cove City at Paradox Church looks way more fun than the church camps I went to as a kid. No fair!
Courtesy Pine Cove

Many church youth groups go to Pine Cove for overnight summer camps, but the company also brings programs directly to church campuses. That’s what Paradox is doing Mon-Fri, Jul 1-5, for its upcoming Camp in the City/Pine Cove City for first-sixth graders. The cost is $359 per camper. For more, visit PineCove.com/city/paradox-church/.

 

And you gotta believe the Methodists have a method to their madness. (Sorry.) Like most churches under the United Methodist Church umbrella, they tend to put a plan in place and stick with it. Although local congregations can pick their own themes, the children’s ministry at First United Methodist Church of Hurst (521 W Pipeline Rd, Hurst, 817-282-7384) created a VBS curriculum called Imagining God’s World with a hot-air balloon motif, and all the congregations in the Center, North, and Northwest Texas conferences have been invited to use it this summer as part of a … pilot … program. In a move that helps working adults trying to get the kids back and forth, the First UMC event is 6pm-8pm Mon-Thu, June 3-6, and begins with a “snack supper” at 5:30pm. There is no cost to attend. Register at FUMCHurst.org/VBS.

Hurst United Methodist Church created a VBS curriculum being used at other UMC campuses around Texas.
Courtesy CTCUMC.org

 

And if Buddhism, meditation, and yoga are more your family’s speed and you’re still with me, you might be interested to know that we have a Sri Lankan Theravada Buddhist temple right here in Tarrant County that hosts family-friendly classes and events. The Texas Buddhist Meditation Center at the DFW Buddhist Vihara (11209 Brownfield Dr, Fort Worth, 682-316-3001) welcomes children accompanied by their parents at Dhamma School 10am-1pm Sundays for the younger generation to learn to be compassionate, cultivate good values, practice meditation techniques, and spread loving kindness. For event updates, follow them at Facebook.com/DFWBuddhist.

 

For more upcoming events like the ones above, besides making Google your friend, you can also check for Faith-Based Happenings in our Bulletin Board in Classifieds starting with the Wed, May 29, issue. As for sports camps, I’ll, uh, tackle those in a few weeks.

 

If your family is a fan of Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, consider being a food tourist in your own backyard this summer. Read about the North Texas eateries that Guy Fieri’s show has drawn tight focus on through his show in our Destination DDDining article here.

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