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Specialty summer camps for kids on Long Island

The College at Old Westbury hosts a two-week

The College at Old Westbury hosts a two-week Circus Arts camp in which young people learn static trapeze, juggling, unicycling, acrobatics with silks, the tight wire and floor acrobatics. Here, a young girl works with silks while being spotted by another. Credit: College at Old Wesbury, Circus Arts

Once children reach third, fourth or fifth grade, they start to exhibit interests that parents may want to cultivate through specialized summer camp programs. From ice hockey to video game design to nutrition, options for focusing on a developing passion abound.

Hofstra University Summer Camps, for instance, has expanded its offerings this year in conjunction with Nassau BOCES to offer new programs such as veterinary medicine, aviation and culinary arts. "It's kind of like the next step for campers," says Hofstra Camps director Terry Ryan.

Here are 12 specialized programs on Long Island that go beyond the traditional swimming, archery and arts and crafts:

1. 3D Game Design with Minecraft

Adelphi University, 1 South Ave., Garden City, 888-709-TECH,

FOR AGES 9 to 12

COST $879 for one week, not including transportation

WHAT IT IS A new day-camp program guides beginner to advanced players in exploring new skills in Minecraft, a video game with millions of users. "They're going to be taking Minecraft and modifying the game. Gamers love to do this," says Karen Thurm Safran, vice president of marketing for iD Tech Camps, which runs the program. "They're going to enter into the world of Minecraft and rebuild ancient cities, construct pyramids, excavate for gems and minerals, and more. This lets kids learn game design. They see firsthand that this could be a viable career that they may want to pursue."

2. Circus Arts

Future Stars at SUNY Old Westbury, 223 Store Hill Rd., 516-876-3490,

FOR AGES Primarily for those entering 3rd through 7th grades

COST $950 for two-week session, includes lunch; transportation available for $165 a week in Nassau County (and beyond by arrangement)

WHAT IT IS Circus Arts teaches static trapeze, silks, juggling, unicycling, tight wire, floor acrobatics and more. It culminates in a showcase performance for family and friends. Open house 10 a.m. May 4.

3. Nutrition Camp

Summer Camps at Stony Brook University, Nichols Road, 631-632-4550,

FOR AGES Entering fifth through 10th grades

COST $575 a week, includes lunch

WHAT IT IS Campers in this new program will attend nutrition workshops, practice healthful cooking and work in the university's rooftop garden. The day will be rounded out with physical activity. Josephine Connolly-Schoonen, a professor of family clinical medicine at the university, will be directing the program. There will be open houses from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 27, and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 11.

4. Camp Broadway

Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, 76 Main St., 631-288-2350 ext. 114,

FOR AGES 10 to 17

COST $750 for the week

WHAT IT IS Staff is made up of touring Broadway professionals who are in Westhampton Beach only between Aug. 5 and 9. On Wednesday, campers ride by motor coach to see a Broadway show and take a look behind the scenes. Last year, campers saw "Nice Work If You Can Get It" and participated in a Q&A with the show's stars, including Matthew Broderick and Kelli O'Hara. On Friday, students put on a performance of Broadway numbers for family and friends.

5. Passport to the Past

Kissam House, 434 Park Ave., Huntington 631-427-7045, ext. 401,

FOR AGES 7 to 12

COST $360 to $400 for a two-week session

WHAT IT IS History comes alive as kids learn Colonial crafts, such as weaving on looms, making candles, crafting wooden toys, churning butter, dancing around a maypole and more. Campers also visit local historical sites, such as an old burial ground.

6. Veterinary Medicine Camp

Hofstra Summer Camps in conjunction with Nassau BOCES, Barry Tech Center, 1196 Prospect Ave., Westbury, 516-463-6961,

FOR AGES Entering grades 7 through 10

COST $1,795 for two-week session, including lunch and transportation

WHAT IT IS Hofstra has expanded its camp program this summer to allow campers to participate in programs at Nassau BOCES facilities, including veterinary science. Kids will work with live animals, such as dogs, rabbits and reptiles. Other new Hofstra/BOCES camps include culinary arts and aviation academy. There's an open house today at 6 p.m.

7. Culinary Arts Preliminary Series

A La Carte Cooking School, 32 Atlantic Ave., Lynbrook, 516-599-2922,

FOR AGES 8 to 15

COST $475 a week

WHAT IT IS This three-hour-a-day, hands-on course involves culinary training in knife skills, vegetable cookery and techniques such as sauteing, braising, roasting and grilling. Class also does a baking project. "At the end of the week, they've got a pretty good taste of cooking," says Polly Talbott, owner. Kids will eat the foods they prepare.

8. Sew Fun! Weekly Camp

Sew Fun!, 225 Main St., Suite 100, Northport, 631-754-2010,

FOR AGES 5 to 18

COST $149 to $249, depending on chosen project and materials

WHAT IT IS Kids come every day for two to three hours and complete a chosen project in a week. They can make a summer dress, bathrobe, quilt or other item. "It's a very productive time because they're coming daily. In five days, they have a very significant project to show," says Judy Jones, owner.

9. Long Island Chess Nuts camp

Adelphi University, 1 South Ave., Garden City, 516-739-3907,

FOR AGES Entering grades 2 through 12, lunch included

COST $168 for two-day option, $248 for three-day option, $398 for five-day option

WHAT IT IS This educational program for beginners through advanced players divides players into groups by level of play. Days include a combination of lessons, tournaments and special events.

10. Forensics Camp

LuHi Summer Programs, 131 Brookville Rd., Brookville, 516-626-1100,

FOR AGES Entering grades from 7 through 12

COST $1,100 for two-week session. Lunch available for extra $60. Includes transportation.

WHAT IT IS The camp is led by Joseph Cohen, a high-school science teacher in Huntington district. Kids experience "CSI"-style crime-fighting techniques, including hands-on lab investigation and use of fingerprint, handwriting and hair and fiber analyses. The camp culminates with a simulated crime scene mystery to process. There's an open house from noon to 3 p.m. April 28.

11. Ice Hockey Skills Camp

The Rinx, 660 Terry Rd., Hauppauge, 631-232-3222 ext. 0,

FOR AGES 5 to 16

COST $470 a week

WHAT IT IS Get out of the sun and onto the ice. This program teaches skills such as skating, puck handling, shooting and more to kids who have had some hockey experience. The Rinx also offers an introduction camp and an advanced hockey camp, says Alison Chlanda, hockey camp director.

12 Camp Italia

Ethical Humanist Society, 38 Old Country Rd., Garden City, 855-226-7481,

FOR AGES 4 to 13

COST In 2012, it was $225 to $350 for four days, depending on age group; 2013 prices still to be determined.

WHAT IT IS The Bambini group is ages 4 to 6, Ragazzi is ages 7 to 10, and Giovanotti is ages 11 to 13. Kids go to camp for two to three hours a day to learn Italian language, culture, music and dance. An Italian meal is served. "Our mission is to carry on the Italian language and culture and inspire young children to stay connected to the Italian language and culture," says Maria Arianas of Garden City, president of Camp Italia.

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