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The joys of camp

Hands on Children’s Museum offers Winter Camp

Youth participating in Winter Camp activities at Hands On Children’s Museum in Olympia. The children’s museum has been holding youth camps for over 20 years. Photo courtesy of Hands On Children’s Museum

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Forget about presents this winter and give your kids an experience. We're talking action-packed, weekend-long camp experiences filled with science, art and nature activities to keep youth happily entertained and out of the house. Hands On Children's Museum is offering families exactly that, with its Winter Camp this holiday season.

"We're really excited about our STEAM-focused winter camps," said Emily Ehrlich, the Education Department manager at Hands on Children's Museum. "We're offering a nice variety of topics this winter, with maker and tinkering camps, science camps, and art-focused camps. It's a great way to keep kids engaged and learning through the school break, and they get to do awesome hands-on experiments and projects and play in the museum."

Hands on Children's Museum, which is an interactive, nonprofit museum geared towards youth, has been offering camps for over 20 years now. This year's Winter Camp will begin mid-December. It is divided into two three-day sessions (Wednesday-Friday) consisting of half-day programming. Youth may sign up for one or both sessions. This winter's camp schedule is:

Dec. 19-21

Youth 3 years old to Kindergarten-enrolled:

  • Winter Tinker Lab: A science, technology, engineering art and math (STEAM) focused camp in which youth will build icy forts and fly snowflakes in a wind tunnel (9 a.m. to noon).
  • Snowed In: Listen to winter stories, create a game from scratch and make warm, delicious drinks to pass the time indoors (1-4 p.m.)

Youth enrolled in Grades 1-4:

  • Cool Chemistry: Let your inner scientist go wild with chemistry experiments -- in which cold materials are used to create chemical reactions -- then watch demonstrations by "Dr. Science" (9:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.)
  • Winter Games: If you've ever wanted to stage your own version of the Winter Olympic Games, this is your chance. Build miniature clothespin skiers, mountain climbers, toboggan racers, or a catapult for snowball fights (1:15-4:15 p.m.)

Dec. 26-28

Youth 3 years old to Kindergarten-enrolled:

  • Arctic Art: Investigate the structure of one-of-a-kind snowflakes, learn about animals that inhabit the Arctic and then paint with ice (9 a.m. to noon).
  • Cool Science: Combine science with curiosity as you learn about cold weather phenomenon, sculpt ice blocks and investigate snowflakes under the microscope (1-4 p.m.)

Youth enrolled in Grades 1- 4:

  • Winter Nature Makers: Learn how to identify animal tracks of Washington state creatures in snowy weather, build bird feeders and create art from found, natural materials (9:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.)
  • Winter Wonder Lab: Delve into the world of science and art by learning about different states of matter, using dry ice and making your own ice cream (1:15-4:15 p.m.)

In addition to the activities above, all Winter Camp sessions include ample time for play and exploration in the museum's Outdoor Discovery Center and galleries. Parents should note that youth currently enrolled in kindergarten through fourth grade may participate in "Combo Care," which is a combination of a.m. and p.m. camp sessions.

HANDS ON CHILDREN'S MUSEUM'S WINTER CAMP, Wednesday-Friday, Dec. 19-21, 26-28, Hands On Children's Museum, 414 Jefferson St. NE, Olympia, Winter Camp single session: $80 members / $90 non-members (plus $10 materials fee); Winter Camp Combo Care: $210 members / $230 non-members (plus $30 materials fee), 360.956.0818,

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