Don’t waste your summer! While summer can be a great time to relax and recharge, it’s also the best time to build skills and push yourself to reach your goals. This blog shares summer programs for high school students to develop their skills and challenge themselves.

Note: Some programs are virtual or awaiting decisions for summer 2021. Please check each program’s website for updated information. 

San Francisco Summer Art Experience

San Francisco, California (portions virtual in 2021)  | July | Grades 10-12

The on-campus Pre-College Art Experience (PCAE) program is a four-week program offering up to three classes. Students get a glimpse into college life, meet other young artists, and explore a variety of art & design fields. The program has been specially designed to accommodate students from all educational and artistic backgrounds who are interested in exploring the possibilities of an education in art and design.

Camp Shakespeare

Omaha, Nebraska |  late June through early July  |  8-18 Years Old

Over the course of two weeks, students work with the professional artists and educators of Nebraska Shakespeare. The campers are given the tools necessary to understand Shakespeare’s 400-year-old version of the English language and to analyze his broad array of exciting and complex plots and characters. On the final three days of the camp, the students are given the opportunity to share their “Shakesperience” by performing for audiences at Nebraska Shakespeare’s Shakespeare on the Green.

LEAD Global Summer Learning Institute

Various universities (virtual in 2021)  |   mid June – early July |  Rising 12th Grade

Students will participate in experiential activities through applied learning facilitated by college professors, case studies, joint masterclasses, virtual corporate site visits that links scholars to corporate executives in a variety of industries, as well as prepare competitive pitch presentations for the LEADing for Life Challenge.  The LEADing for Life Challenge is an opportunity for scholars to compete for seed capital to further develop their enterprise idea to make meaningful change in the world․  

National Youth Leadership Forum: Business Innovation

Various Locations  |   Sessions in June and July  |   Grades 9-12

Define yourself on an interactive journey that includes hands-on business experience, site visits to leading corporations, and exposure to the knowledge and skills necessary for success in high school, college, and beyond!

4-H Nebraska Summer Camps

Nebraska  |  June through August |  16-18 Years Old

As summer camp counselors, you will be trained to provide active, hands-on, fun, and cooperative outdoor programming designed to develop respect for self, others, and the environment. You will have the opportunity to affect children’s lives in experiential, outdoor settings. You will be challenged to find new ways of teaching, motivating, and learning.

University of Nebraska-Omaha—Summer Scholars Program

Omaha, Nebraska  |   June through July   |   Application deadline: May 1

Open to rising juniors in the greater Omaha metropolitan area, the Summer Scholars Program is a college preparation program. Selected students will participate in leadership building and career exploration, take a UNO college academic course (3-credits), and experience college life through an engaging, interactive, virtual pre-college program.

University of Northern Colorado Leadership Enrichment Program

Greeley, Colorado (Virtual in 2021)  |  mid July  |   Grades 11-12 

The Leadership Enrichment Program (LEP) for students entering 11th or 12th grade is a residential program. Its focus is on understanding one’s personal, unique gifts and talents, learning about leadership styles, and developing traits and characteristics of leadership.

Curriculum is developed and differentiated according to basic principles of gifted education, providing a unique opportunity for enrichment not ordinarily possible in regular classrooms.

iD Tech Cybercamps

Various Locations (virtual in 2021)  |  13-18 Years Old

Whether they are designing games or programming a robot, campers spend their summer unleashing technology. Courses at the Tech, Digital Media, and Gaming Camps are designed by industry professionals and tested at Giant Campus for fun, relevance, and instructional impact. Campers do hands-on projects and learn new skills in Web design, gaming, digital photography, graphics, video production, programming, robotics, and general computing.

Engineering Summer Program, University of Wisconsin—Madison

Madison, Wisconsin (awaiting a decision for 2021)  |   Grades 11-12  

Engineering Summer Program (ESP) is a free, six-week residential program for students who will be high school juniors or seniors in the upcoming school year. The ESP course curriculum includes math, physics, chemistry, engineering, and technical communications. Other structured programming such as industry site visits, field trips, guest lectures, workshops, and faculty mentoring will help students gain a better understanding of the field of engineering and its applications.

Summer Engineering Experience, University of Dayton

Dayton, Ohio (Virtual in 2021) |  mid-July |  Rising 9-12 

High school students join the University of Dayton for a summer engineering experience where they will interact with engineering faculty and students, design robots, solve engineering problems, and network with professional engineers. 

Student Conservation Association Youth Programs

Various Locations  |   Ages 15-19   |    Application Deadline: April 2021

Are you a high school student who is passionate about conservation? Do you like working as part of a team to get things done? Do you just love being outdoors? Join an SCA Crew and plug yourself into SCA’s nationwide network of young conservationists – thousands of students who are as passionate as you are about preserving wildlands, protecting nature in urban areas, and keeping the planet green. 

Nebraska High School Press Association Summer Workshop

Lincoln, Nebraska   |   Mid-July   |   Rising 9-12 

Choose from workshops on editorial leadership, yearbook, journalistic writing, video production, newspaper productions, and digital photography. Get to know other student journalists from across the state and be educated by the highest quality professionals that the journalism education world has to offer.

National Teen Leadership Program

California (awaiting a decision for 2021)  |  July and August  

Three days and two nights long, the National Teen Leadership Program encourages students to understand that it is within their power to help those in need and to show peers how they can contribute. Their mission is to empower, motivate, and inspire teens to creatively and positively influence their community.

YMCA Leadership Training Programs

Estes Park, Colorado  | June – August  | 15-18 Years Old

Over two weeks in beautiful Estes Park, grow in confidence and communication skills by participating in adventurous activities like hiking, rafting, backpacking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.

AGAM Mathematics Summer Camp at UNL

Lincoln, Nebraska (virtual in 2021)  |  1 Session in July  |  Rising 10-12 

This weeklong summer mathematics camp for high school students provides a stimulating and supportive environment. It was originally designed for young women but is now open to all students who want to develop their mathematical ability and interest. Participants learn about the exciting mathematics of codes, interact with peers who share an interest in mathematics, and work with mathematics graduate students and professors.

Cost: $350 for virtual conference. Financial aid is available. 

Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering Program

Urbana-Champaign, Illinois (virtual in 2021)  |  mid July  |   Rising 9-12 

WYSE High School Summer Camps at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Grainger College of Engineering are designed to provide STEM-interested students the opportunity to experience advanced curricula at one of the best engineering schools in the nation and the world. The camps provide exposure to different areas of engineering through demonstrations, classroom presentations, hands-on activities, and interactions with various students, staff, and professors in those fields.

Michigan Math and Science Scholars Program

Ann Arbor, Michigan (virtual in 2021)  |  Two-week sessions in June & July  |  Rising 10-12 

Michigan Math and Science Scholars (MMSS) is a program designed to expose high school students to developments and research in the sciences and to encourage the next generation to develop and retain a love of mathematics and science. Students are given the opportunity to participate in the exciting research that is ongoing at the University of Michigan.

National Institutes of Health—Summer Internship Program (SIP)

National Institutes of Health laboratories  (virtual in 2021) | Eight weeks minimum |  Rising seniors

High School Summer Internship Program (HS-SIP) provides an opportunity to spend a summer working at the NIH side-by-side with some of the leading scientists in the world in an environment devoted exclusively to biomedical research. 

Omaha Jazz Workshop, University of Nebraska—Omaha

Omaha, Nebraska (portions virtual in 2021)   |  mid June  |  Grades 7-12

Budding musicians can enhance their skills through instrument and voice master classes, improvisation, and the performance of combo big band, and/or vocal jazz music. This week-long camp concludes with students performing as the opening act for an internationally renowned jazz artist. This workshop runs daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Iowa Summer Music Camps at the University of Iowa

Iowa City, Iowa (cancelled for 2021)  |  sessions in June   |  Rising 8-12

The Iowa Summer Music Camps offer students musical training and experience, including group instruction, master classes, and classroom instruction in most phases of instrumental music. The entire program is an invaluable experience for young people, not only in music but also in human relations.

Marching Band Camp, University of Nebraska—Lincoln

Lincoln, Nebraska  (cancelled for 2021)  |  July   |  Grades 9-12 

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Cornhusker Summer Marching Band Camp fosters leadership, fundamental marching, and performance skills in all areas of the high school marching band. Participants receive intensive instruction from clinicians on an individual and group basis. The camp finale is an exhibition performance in Memorial Stadium on the final day of the camp. All camp participants perform at this exhibition. 

Summer Music Camps—Florida State University

Tallahassee, Florida  |  Sessions in June & July  |  Grades 7-8, 9-12 

Florida State University offers camps in multiple areas of musical interest from Honors Piano to Choral Ensemble under the direction of FSU faculty members.

World Affairs Seminar

Waukesha, Wisconsin (virtual in 2021)  |  late June  |  15-18 Years Old

Hundreds of students from around the world meet at the World Affairs Seminar to discuss the pressing global issues while learning about each others’ cultures. Students spend their days listening to experts speak on a wide variety of topics related to globalization, international relations, human rights, arms control, and the environment. Local service organizations (such as Rotary Club, Lions, Kiwanis, Optimists, Key Club) often provide scholarships.

American Legion Boys State

Various locations |  Various dates  |  Rising 12th Grade

American Legion Boys State is among the most respected and selective educational programs of government instruction for high school students. It is a participatory program where each participant becomes a part of the operation of his local, county, and state government. At American Legion Boys State, participants are exposed to the rights, privileges, duties, and responsibilities of a franchised citizen. The training is objective and practical with city, county, and state governments operated by the students elected to the various offices.

American Legion Girls State

Various locations |  Various dates  |  Rising 12th Grade

The American Legion Auxiliary Girls State Program has provided students all across the country the opportunity to participate in a hands-on citizenship training program for over sixty years. Students learn government by actually creating a mythical state through the election of public officials on local, county, and state levels and then by carrying out the duties of these respective offices.

Research Science Institute at the Center for Excellence in Education at MIT

Cambridge, Massachusetts  |  Seven weeks |   Rising 12th Grade   |   Application Deadline: January

RSI scholars first participate in a week of intensive STEM classes with accomplished professors. The heart of RSI is the five-week research internship where students conduct individual projects under the tutelage of mentors who are experienced scientists and researchers. During the final week of RSI, students prepare written and oral presentations on their research projects.

Summer Science Camps, Hillsdale College

Hillsdale, Michigan (cancelled for 2021)  |  mid June  |   Rising 10-12 

The science camps seek to promote scientific literacy among high school students. These camps are designed to instill a deeper appreciation of what science is about and the idea that science is both exciting and practical.

Illinois Aerospace Institute Summer Camp, University of Illinois

Urbana-Champaign, Illinois (virtual in 2021)  |  July   |  Rising 9-12 

Many students have some experience with aerospace through model rockets, remote control airplanes, or a family member who is a pilot. But no experience is necessary—just an interest in learning about aerospace engineering. Students will learn about topics regarding aerospace engineering through classroom sessions, laboratories, demonstrations, and hands-on activities.

Nike Advanced Soccer Camps

Varies  | Sessions in June, July, August  | High School Students 

Nike Advanced Soccer Camps have attracted some of the most respected and accomplished soccer instructors and coaches in the country. They stress what is needed of a camper to play at the next level in college!

Champions are made during the off-season. Summers are the perfect chance to explore your interests, refine your skills, and practice hard to accomplish your goals! Take advantage of summer programs like these to grow and develop—and make yourself stand out on college applications.

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