Animated Child in Montclair has a little something for everyone. My Kindergartner loves their indoor play space designed with areas to involve each of Gardner’s seven intelligences. The preschoolers I see there always look happy and engaged during class, which is based on Last Child in the Woods. There are language classes, music classes, art classes, and then, there are the camps.
My boys LOVE them some camp at Animated Child. They’ve now tried both the Minecraft and the KODU Game design camps and they liked both. I like that even though there’s time on the computer, it’s educational, and that the staff makes sure the kids have other activities, as well, so they’re not just tuned into a screen for 3 hours and nothing else happens.
My 8 and 10 year old actually tried the game design camp over Spring Break just so we could write a review for you guys. What can I say, they’re just selfless like that 😉 Both boys were incredibly excited when I picked them up the first day, although they were devistated to learn that I hadn’t signed them up for the afternoon session (camp was 1/2 day) which was Minecraft. Bad mom. They spent the first day setting up their worlds, and they had a tremendous time. By Wednesday, my 8 year old complained that he would like more time off the computer, and the staff instantly responded by ensuring there were logic-based games for him to engage with for more time than already planned. In our house I really limit screen time, less than an hour a day, so this was different for him, but the staff was very responsive. At the end of the week, both kids were very excited to show their dad their games.
For those of you that have not met my children in real life, this is actually how they speak. And boy do they speak. They talk and talk and talk and talk. I thought about youtubing their responses for you, but decided that they’d start goofing off and singing weird songs, and we wouldn’t be very productive.
From Riley (Age 10)- “I think other kids would like it, but they would have to like playing video games and creating things. My favorite part was when we got to actually start understanding how KODU works. My least favorite part was that you have to be a little patient because you have to be able to create something first before you can play it. Sometimes I’m patient. I had fun. My overall experience was great. You didn’t let us stay for Minecraft, though, and that was not cool. Seriously, mom.”
From Logan (Age 8)- “So this camp was fun. I was a little scared at first because I thought the programming would be like JAVA like dad does, but then it was really easy and fun. I didn’t know KODU would be like that. I though it would be super complex and you would need to type in a bunch of codes instead of clicking on things and then putting them together. My favorite part was when I found out before anyone else on my own how to make enemies in a game only shoot at you and not each other because I’m awesome. My least favorite part was the day I was sick and couldn’t go. I think other kids would like this camp if they really like learning because it filled my head with a bunch of interesting things. That’s about it.”
I’m going to be honest with you guys that camp at Animated Child is not cheap. You definitely get what you pay for in terms of experienced staff, educational value, and engaging experience, but it’s not something that our family could afford every week of the summer. Luckily, though, you can choose your week(s) and that allows you to do the Kotlus Family Rotation, which is a week of chillin like a villain, a week of camp you pay for, a week of VBS (cause it’s free!!) and a week of vacation somewhere. Doing that each month allows me to keep the budget sane, and still pick really cool camps. STEM/STEAM activities are so vital for our kids, and camps that include STEM components tend to cost more because of the equipment needed, but I definitely think that this camp was worthwhile!
Disclosure: Animated Child is one of our sponsors, but we provide our honest feedback and reviews.