20 Best Summer Programs in New Orleans, LA (2023)

New Orleans is renowned as one of the country‘s most vibrant and dynamic cultural hubs, renowned for its music, food, history, and joie de vivre. For both visitors and locals, New Orleans in the summer offers a cornucopia of rich experiences to engage the senses. Visitors can induldge in world-famous Creole cuisine, sway to jazz musicians serenading crowded streets, and lose themselves in the colorful architecture of the French Quarter.

For local families, summertime also delivers exciting opportunities for kids to dive deeper into the city‘s cultural richness while keeping minds and bodies active. New Orleans offers exceptional summer programs spanning academics, arts, athletics, and food education. With expert instruction tailored toinspire children‘s passions and strengths, summer participants can build lifelong memories along with skills that enrich their futures.

The Growing Popularity and Benefits of Summer Programming

Education experts across the country have touted the benefits of summer programming in combating summer learning loss while keeping kids productively engaged. Studies by the Wallace Foundation found students participating in summer programs gained the equivalent of at least one month of learning.

These benefits fuel the rising popularity of summer programs nationally. Market research firm Facts & Factors projects the global summer camp market size to grow from $16.29 billion in 2021 to $26.07 billion by 2028. As society increasingly recognizes the developmental advantages of summer learning activities, these programs continue positively impacting communities.

New Orleans reflects this surging participation, with an estimated over 8,000 children attending various summer programs around the metro area each year. From recreational sports to coding camps, organizations offer dynamic summer curriculums merging entertainment with impact.

Spotlighting New Orleans‘ Best Summer Programs

New Orleans delivers high-quality summer programs spanning four key areas:

Academic Enrichment Programs

New Orleans parents can select from highly regarded schools offering summer session, such as:

Louise S. McGehee School

Founded in 1912, the Louise S. McGehee School is an all-girls academy focused on whole-person development through academic rigor blended with leadership opportunities. Their summer curriculum enables both McGehee students and external students to sample enrichment topics like public speaking, fashion design, and mock trial. Small class sizes ensure personalized coaching.

"Our summer classes let girls explore new topics beyond the standard curriculum in a dynamic, nurturing environment. We emphasize creativity, confidence-building, and collaboration," remarks Assistant Director Alice Wexler.

Tulane University School of Professional Advancement

For over a century, Tulane University has delivered academic excellence that launches careers. Their summer college prep lets high school students sample curricula spanning architecture, medicine, business, and more while using Tulane‘s outstanding facilities. Students gain insights into college-level expectations while strengthening their academic portfolio.

Tulane‘s summer programs "give students a taste of rigorous academics grounded in real-world application. Our priority is preparing students to excel in their college studies," shares program director Michael Chang.

New Orleans Charter Science & Math High School

With a mission to spark a lifelong passion for STEM fields, New Orleans Charter Science & Math offers a popular summer STEM Camp. Through hands-on labs, field excursions, and activities like robotics and rocketry, students actively learn core concepts while feeding their curiosity. The school strives to welcome all students regardless of prior STEM exposure.

"Kids get to dive into awesome experiments while making connections across science disciplines. We introduce students to STEM pathways they may not have previously considered," explains NOCSMHS instructor Eleanor Boyd.

Arts & Cultural Enrichment

New Orleans‘ vibrant arts celebrations during warmer months, from Gallery Nights to White Linen Night, demonstrate the city‘s innate connection between culture and community. For decades, beloved cultural institutions have provided summer arts immersion experiences:

New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA)

The New Orleans Center for Creative Arts nurtures some of Louisiana‘s most promising young artists across disciplines spanning music, theatre, dance, visual arts, creative writing, and more. Their Summer Art Institute places students alongside professional artists for intensive workshops focused on cultivating individual creative voices.

In 2022, students joined acclaimed painter Christopher Saucedo in examining themes of climate change through public installations. Students fused street art with environmental activism while leveraging Saucedo‘s technical guidance.

"We design summer programming to push students artistically by engaging with working artists. Students draft ambitious projects through mentorship relationships that let them test their growing skills," NOCCA Director of Education Claire Thriffiley notes.

Contemporary Arts Center

A pillar of the local arts community for over 40 years, the Contemporary Arts Center delivers a Summer Arts Camp merging dynamic hands-on arts curriculum with exposure to the CAC‘s thought-provoking gallery exhibits. Covering visual arts, theater, and dance led by professional artists, students synthesize inspiration from art engagement into their own performances and installations.

Providing an arts immersion experience interwoven with New Orleans culture makes for impactful summers. "Kids thrive when we facilitate a creative adventure grounded in our community‘s living history," says Summer Arts Camp director Michelle Peters.

Athletics & Outdoor Adventure

Between playgrounds like City Park and watersports along Lake Ponchartrain, New Orleans offers awesome summer fun through athletics and outdoor programming. From recreational leagues helping kids build skills to high performance training for elite athletes, youth sports camps build healthy bodies and confidence.

Motivation Team Athletic Academy

Catering to young athletes striving to level up their game, the Motivation Team Athletic Academy offers summer camps focused on motivation and team building. Director Reggie Lewis, Jr. remarks:

"We emphasize personal bests rather than championships. Each child receives encouragement and training aligned to their developmental stage."

Core sports include basketball, volleyball, tumbling, and gymnastics. Wraparound services like nutrition education and mentorship support the academy‘s whole child approach.

NOLA Kayak Swamp Tours

For a vivid outdoor adventure, NOLA Kayak Swamp Tours provides summer camps for ages 12-17 exploring Louisiana wetlands by kayak. Certified naturalist guides share ecology insights during day trips with enthralled students observing magnificent trees, birds, turtles, and gators! Multi-day excursions even include camping under the stars.

"We strive to nurture each kid‘s sense of wonder in nature while teaching respect and responsibility through hands-on learning," says NOLA Kayak director Sabine Rivers. "Giving students an intimate look at this beautiful ecosystem inspires the next generation of environmental stewards."

Food Education & Exploration

Given New Orleans‘ rich culinary heritage, several organizations deliver exceptional summer programming fusing cooking instruction with cultural engagement:

New Orleans School of Cooking

Since 1980, the New Orleans School of Cooking has helped visitors and locals alike master Louisiana‘s vibrant Creole flavors and techniques. Their hands-on classes, taught by expert chefs in a renovated molasses warehouse, enable students to produce iconic dishes like shrimp etouffee, banana foster, and pralines. They graduate with new recipes and insights into regional foodways.

"Every student leaves with deeper understandings of our incredible food heritage," says lead instructor Creighton Early. "We believe food stories need to be passed down to new generations."

Edible Schoolyard New Orleans

Recognizing nourishment transcends just physical health, Edible Schoolyard New Orleans offers a thoughtfully designed summer camp experience for kids to connect with fresh, seasonal ingredients while learning balanced cooking techniques. With gardens and kitchens woven into the local community, students engage in sowing, growing, and preparing produce. They also sell summer harvests at farmer‘s markets.

"We emphasize food origins, writing recipes, nutrition science, and sustainable agriculture," explains Edible Schoolyard co-founder Chef Tonya Holland. "Giving students ownership over ingredients sourcing teaches important stewardship values."

An Enriching and Inspiring Summer Awaits!

With exhilirating programming across academics, arts, athletics and food education, New Orleans sets the stage for transformative summer moments. Students can unlock passions, forge friendships and immerse in cultures while parents enjoy peace of mind.

As Alice Wexler from McGehee Summer School perfectly summarizes:

Summer forms memories to last a lifetime. We provide students fun plus enrichment – the perfect foundation for their future.

From recreational leagues helping kids build skills to high performance training for elite athletes, New Orleans offers awesome summer fun through athletics and outdoor programming. Between playgrounds like City Park and watersports along Lake Ponchartrain, youth sports camps build healthy bodies and confidence.

Motivation Team Athletic Academy

Catering to young athletes striving to level up their game, the Motivation Team Athletic Academy offers summer camps focused on motivation and team building. Director Reggie Lewis, Jr. remarks:

"We emphasize personal bests rather than championships. Each child receives encouragement and training aligned to their developmental stage."

Core sports include basketball, volleyball, tumbling, and gymnastics. Wraparound services like nutrition education and mentorship support the academy‘s whole child approach.

NOLA Kayak Swamp Tours

For a vivid outdoor adventure, NOLA Kayak Swamp Tours provides summer camps for ages 12-17 exploring Louisiana wetlands by kayak. Certified naturalist guides share ecology insights during day trips with enthralled students observing magnificent trees, birds, turtles, and gators! Multi-day excursions even include camping under the stars.

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