20 Best Summer Programs In Providence, RI (2023 Updated)

As a premier destination in New England, Providence offers an abundance of enriching summer programs for visitors of all ages and interests. From prestigious universities and cultural institutions to unique recreational experiences, Providence provides the perfect backdrop to learn, grow, and make unforgettable memories during the summer months.

To help you discover the best offerings, I have compiled this list of the top 20 summer programs in Providence for 2024. Drawing on my expertise in education and firsthand experience in the city, these are programs that provide enriching and transformative experiences for participants while showcasing the vibrant culture and community of Providence. Whether you’re a high school student looking for academic enrichment, a parent seeking a fun and educational children’s program, or an adult with a passion for the arts, you will find inspiring and engaging summer opportunities on this list.

1. Johnson & Wales University Discover Summer Programs

For over a century, Johnson & Wales University has offered premier culinary, business, and hospitality education in a richly diverse college environment. The university‘s Discover Summer Programs provide high school students with an immersive preview of college life in Providence through hands-on, career-focused workshops.

Participants gain exposure to potential majors including baking & pastry arts, criminal justice, graphic design, entrepreneurship, and fashion merchandising. Housing and meal plans provide a taste of residential living. With sessions available in July and August, these programs enable students to experience Johnson & Wales’ excellence in experiential education.

2. RISD Summer Programs

Creative youth grades 1-12 can dive into visual arts and design at Rhode Island School of Design’s Summer Programs. With courses ranging from architecture and comics to jewelry making and photography, these enriching programs led by practicing artists and designers foster artistic development.

RISD also offers portfolio development courses for teens looking to strengthen their skills for college applications. As a top art and design school, RISD delivers excellence in arts education and access to unparalleled studio facilities. Students gain inspiration from RISD’s vibrant creative community in the heart of Providence’s College Hill district.

3. Providence Children’s Film Festival Summer Camp

At Providence Children‘s Film Festival Camp, kids ages 9-14 immerse themselves in the world of cinema. Under the guidance of professional filmmakers, students get hands-on experience in all aspects of movie-making from screenwriting to production to editing. Participants also view international children’s films that inspire their own creations.

With sessions available in July and August, this program nurtures creativity and storytelling skills while fostering friendships and a supportive network of young Rhode Island filmmakers. The week culminates in a red-carpet film premiere celebrating students’ achievements.

4. Squantum Association Sailing Camp

For over 70 years, the Squantum Association has offered premier sailing instruction for youth ages 7-18 along Narragansett Bay. Beginner to advanced sailors gain skills and confidence through lessons in Optimist dinghies, 420’s, and keelboats while developing friendships and camaraderie.

Activities combine learning on land and hands-on time on the water. Private lessons are also available. With its location minutes from downtown Providence, Squantum provides easy access for day campers along with options for weekly overnight camp. If you have a budding sailor in your family, Squantum is the perfect choice.

5. Providence Community Boating Center Summer Camps

The Providence Community Boating Center offers unique outdoor adventures for youth through sailing, rowing, marine science and environment programs. Activities integrate STEM, literacy and teamwork lessons tailored for specific age groups. Floating classroom experiences aboard the schooner Aurora and lazy gondola help youth engage with Providence‘s waterfront in new ways.

Beginner and intermediate sailing lessons provide skills to navigate Narragansett Bay. PCBC also offers inclusive programs for children with special needs along with scholarships to increase accessibility. With options from half day to full week, these camps connect youth to Providence‘s maritime heritage.

6. Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School Summer Programs

Budding musicians can fine-tune their skills at the Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School’s summer programs. Offerings include week-long string and piano camps along with intensive Orpheus Chamber Orchestra workshops for intermediate to advanced students. Jazz & World Percussion and summer weekend workshops provide creative options.

Private and group lessons with accomplished faculty help students advance during summer break. Adults can join in through chamber music intensives. Located at Rhode Island College, the Philharmonic Music School provides high caliber musical instruction with opportunities to perform in recitals and concerts. Musicians of all levels will find inspiration this summer.

7. Moses Brown Quaker Camp

A South Providence fixture for over 75 years, Moses Brown Quaker Camp offers K-8th graders enriching academics combined with classic summer fun. With certified teachers, the morning Literacy Academy helps prevent summer learning loss through reading, writing and STEAM. Afternoons bring swimming, sports, arts and crafts on Moses Brown‘s expansive 31-acre campus.

Specialty options include theater, coding, gardening and outdoor skills. Extended day and leadership-in-training programs provide flexibility for working families. Campers build confidence and come away with new friendships and skills. Early bird discounts are available for this popular community camp.

8. Culinary Arts Museum Camps

Budding chefs will love the immersive cooking programs at the Culinary Arts Museum at Johnson & Wales University. Aspiring pastry artists can learn cake decorating, cookie creation and more in the Baking Arts Camp. The Global Cuisines Camp explores dishes from around the world.

Teens can develop culinary skills in the Chef for Hire Camp while learning about the restaurant industry. For a truly unique experience, the Molecular Gastronomy Camp incorporates science into cooking using innovative techniques and ingredients. Located on Johnson & Wales’ Downcity Campus, these camps offer hands-on fun for youth foodies.

9. Brown University Pre-College Programs

Acceleration, enrichment, and a taste of college life draw high school students to Brown University‘s Pre-College Programs each summer. Offerings include the Leadership Institute, STEM programs, and academies focused on architecture, medicine, or humanities topics.

The 7-week Program in Liberal Medical Education targets aspiring doctors. Students experience campus life while learning from Brown professors and mentors. With courses spanning diverse interests from data science to debate, these programs enable teens to learn alongside Ivy League undergrads.

10. Providence Children’s Theatre Summer Camp

At Providence Children‘s Theatre (PCT) Camps, campers bring their favorite stories and characters to life on stage. Programs are led by skilled PCT teaching artists with complimentary classes in dance, music and visual art. Campers ages 4-14 can join the fun with options from half to full day sessions.

Offerings range from a Musical Theatre intensive to themed camps like Enchanted Forest and Superheroes. Students gain skills in acting, singing, and choreography while developing poise and teamwork. PCT‘s home at Rhode Island College provides professional theatre facilities. Past camper productions include Annie Jr., Peter Pan Jr. and more.

11. Roger Williams Park Zoo Camps

At Roger Williams Park Zoo Camps, kids go wild through hands-on learning and up-close encounters with wildlife. Programs led by zoo educators combine games, crafts and projects with meeting amazing animals like red pandas, snow leopards, alpacas and penguins. Camps are organized by age with topics like zooperheroes, zoo crew, and wildlife investigators for maximum engagement.

The zoo’s splash pad and play area offer summer fun. Add-ons like photography camp and behind-the-scenes animal experiences enrich the adventure. With Potomac Aquatics on site providing a swimming pool, Roger Williams Park Zoo Camp offers endless summer memories just minutes from Providence.

12. Rhode Island Black Storytellers Summer Institute

Unique to Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Black Storytellers Summer Institute immerses students in studying African American, Caribbean, Cape Verdean, and West African stories. Middle and high school students research cultural stories and learn techniques from master storytellers.

The week-long intensive culminates in a showcase performance. As a literacy-focused arts program, the Summer Institute empowers student storytellers to discover their roots, develop their voices and strengthen presentation skills. The Rhode Island Black Storytellers celebrate 35 years in 2024.

13. Providence College Summer Appalachia Program

The Providence College Summer Appalachia Program (SAP) offers transformational service learning immersion for high school students focused on home repair projects in rural Kentucky and West Virginia. Students fundraise prior to the 12 day experience and also participate in cultural exchange activities.

Through direct service and community engagement, SAP fosters ideas of social justice, advocacy and allyship. Students gain leadership skills, independence, and new perspectives on poverty while contributing to families in need. Open to teens nationwide, SAP inspires life-long service and civic engagement.

14. Farm Fresh Rhode Island Summer Programs

Farm Fresh Rhode Island (FFRI) cultivates healthy eating and food justice through its innovative summer programs for youth. Offerings include hands-on cooking classes at local farms, a teen urban agriculture internship, and Produce Squad where teens make produce accessible via a mobile farmers market.

Kids can join a CSA with weekly farm shares. FFRI also partners with the Providence Parks Department on outdoor Pop-Up Themed Learning programs covering gardening, nutrition and nature. These empowering opportunities connect students to local food.

15. The Steel Yard Summer Camps

At Providence’s unique Steel Yard Camps, creativity sparks for youth ages 5-15 as they learn the art of metalwork, collaboration and sustainability. Beginners get comfortable in the state-of-the-art fabrication studio through introductory workshops while more experienced artists can fashion their own designs.

Offerings include jewelry making, aluminum casting, and creating large-scale public art pieces through the Big Stuff for Kids program. Teens can also apply for the summer job skills program, Earn It, Make It. Steel Yard Camps ignite a passion for art, craftsmanship, and community.

16. Sophia Academy Girls Leadership Camp

Entering 5th-8th grade girls develop self-confidence and leadership abilities through the Sophia Academy Summer Leadership Camp. Activities strengthen teamwork, communication skills, problem-solving and more. Creative expression workshops combine with community service projects, field trips and outdoor adventures.

Academic enrichment helps prevent summer learning loss in this all-girls environment. With discounted fees and transportation options, Sophia Academy strives to make this empowering experience accessible. Girls gain inspiration to become forces for good in their schools and communities.

17. Providence Community Sailing Summer Camps

Providence Community Sailing offers youth ages 6-18 the opportunity to discover the joy of sailing on Narragansett Bay. Their summer programs combine hands-on sailing instruction with games, crafts and marine science education. Sailors progress from beginner to advanced levels, gaining confidence and skill on the water.

The inclusive and supportive environment allows campers to build independence. The organization’s free and reduced price programs ensure sailing is accessible. PCS also offers specialty camps like Racing Camp, Adventure Sailing and Marine Biology Camp. If you have an aspiring sailor, PCS is the perfect choice.

18. Higher Ground International Youth Leadership Camp

The Higher Ground International Youth Leadership Camp empowers teens from diverse backgrounds to create positive social change. Entering 9th-12th graders attend workshops on social justice, leadership, service learning and more. Hands-on projects help youth apply their skills to impact issues like education equity and poverty.

Free to youth worldwide, need-based scholarships cover travel and expenses. Higher Ground’s immersive program expands perspectives while challenging teens to recognize their ability to transform communities as leaders. Campers gain a global network of friends and mentors. The 10-day summer experience inspires lifelong civic participation.

19. Providence Tennis & Swim Club Summer Camps

With 38 tennis courts and an Olympic sized pool, Providence Tennis & Swim Club offers exceptional athletic training for youth ages 4-16. Expert instructors teach tennis fundamentals alongside sportsmanship and personal growth lessons. Swim camp develops stroke techniques through instruction, drills and water safety skills.

Specialty sports like basketball, pickleball, soccer and flag football provide cross-training options. Leadership programs give teens hands-on coaching experience. Located in College Hill, PTSC provides first-class facilities and instruction for summer athletic development. Multi-week discounts are available.

20. Trinity Repertory Company Young Actors Summer Workshop

At the renowned Trinity Repertory Company, teens train alongside professional actors and directors in the Young Actors Studio Workshop. Participants immerse themselves in intensive acting, voice and movement classes while rehearsing a Shakespeare production.

The three-week, tuition-free program provides mentorship and college audition preparation. Young actors develop their stage presence and skills while learning to bring Shakespeare’s words to life. For almost 50 years, this prestigious workshop has motivated Rhode Island teens to pursue theater arts.

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