Giraffe BoBo is fed maple tree leaves at Long Island...

Giraffe BoBo is fed maple tree leaves at Long Island Game Farm in Manorville. Credit: Morgan Campbell

Summer can be a time for children to explore niche interests. Maybe they are intrigued by animals, or fairy tales, or they want to learn more about cooking or auto mechanics.

“We want to give campers a wide range of knowledge about where they might want to go in their careers. It gives you a good taste of it,” says Terry Ryan, camp director at Hofstra University Summer Camps, which runs programs in carpentry and auto mechanics, and other specialty areas.

Here are three niche summer programs offered on Long Island:


This summer program at the Long Island Game Farm in Manorville immerses children ages 5 to 10 in nature through hands-on, close-up experiences with animals including turtles, goats, wallabies and llamas as well as outdoor exploration, games, crafts and other activities. Campers will keep an animal journal about what they learn, explore about habitats and animal tracking and more. “We might do scavenger hunts based on different animal clues,” says camp director Shannon Swanson. Camp runs from 9 a.m. to noon and is $200 for each three-day session; campers can sign up for multiple sessions. Dates are June 28 to 30, July 12 to 14, July 19 to 21, July 26 to 28 and Aug. 2 to 4. 489 Chapman Blvd.; 631-878-6670,


Campers will learn a dance combination to the music of the movie “Encanto” at this one-day camp at The Ballet Center in Ronkonkoma. They’ll also play games, make a craft and do other dance-related activitieks. Campers are encouraged to dress up in the “Encanto” theme. Camp is from 9 a.m. to noon on July 6, and campers will be broken into two groups according to age – 5 to 7 years old or 8 to 11 years old. Cost is $35 per dancer and no prior dance experience is necessary. Can’t make it for "Encanto"? The Ballet Center is also offering Fairy Tale Camp from 9 to 11:45 a.m. during the first week of July, during which children will do warm-up exercises, have ballet class and story time and meet movie princesses. On July 5, it’s the “Little Mermaid,” July 6 is “Cinderella Day,” July 7 is “Beauty & The Beast” and July 8 is “Frozen.” Cost is $35 for one day or $125 for all four days. 1863 Pond Rd.; 631-737-1964,


Kids entering seventh grade through high school can spend their summer learning about a trade at Hofstra University and Nassau BOCES Camp in Westbury. Construction Trade Academy, for instance, offers two sessions. Introduction to Carpentry teaches the basics of carpentry, plumbing and electrical work; Woodworking Projects focuses on residential carpentry. The Mechanical and Automotive Institute also has two programs. The introductory session teaches campers how a car operates and ways to fix and maintain it; the intermediate session includes more advances topics such as diagnostics, hybrid cars and brake system theory. Hofstra University and Nassau BOCES have teamed up for over nine years to offer career immersion camps. Four camp sessions run between June 27 and Aug. 12. Sessions are $2,125 for a two week-session, including lunch and transportation. Camps are at Joseph M. Barry Career & Technical Center, 1196 Prospect Ave., 516-463-2267,