When people envision youth summer camps, they likely visualize athletic or hobby-based programs. Another choice is academic programs. Although kids may not be thrilled about working on academic skills over the summer, it could be greatly beneficial for their upcoming school year. Reading support, assistance with math, and writing practice are all good options for kiddos who could use an extra knowledge boost during the summer. For kiddos who are on track, there are fun courses that could give a glimpse of advanced material or further their interests in core subjects like reading, writing, or math. Here are some local and online offerings.

Saturday Academy-

This program is based in North Portland and offers classes in-person and online. The in-person classes are offered to second through eighth-graders from June 28th through August 6th. The age range for their math and writing classes is from 2nd grade to 12th grade. Aside from writing, they offer college study skills, computer science and technology, medical science, science, engineering and robotics, and arts (performing and visual). They also offer a sliding scale for tuition. There is an online calculator section in the class search to reduce cost based on family factors that can reduce tuition by “10-85%”. They do a good job creating engaging classes for the kids. One of their math classes for 6th to 8th graders blends geometry with drawing in a “character drawing” class. A great idea. For more info, here is the link to their offerings: https://www.saturdayacademy.org/catalog

Oregon State University-

A few years back, I looked into this program for my daughter. Unfortunately, we had to wait a few weeks until the start date. We worked with her during that time, and eventually, we were able to help her at home. But this program looks to be excellent. They offer reading help for every grade level. Back then, they offered classes at varied locations in Portland. Currently, it looks like it is only offered online. Once a week, your kiddo will hop online with a teacher from the “Institute of Reading Development” and work together on reading certain books. It’s an 8-week program, and the teachings depend on the grade level. For example, the website reads that a first-grader would work on sight words, reading comprehension, and phonics. The cost listed on the website is $37 a week. To get started, you can call 1.800.470. 2891 or explore their page online: https://precollege.oregonstate.edu/summer-reading-programs-children-and-adults.

Write Now Portland-

This camp sounds awesome! Unfortunately, most of the sessions are full, but two remain open. For ages 8-12, a class called “The 14th Goldfish and writer’s workshop” takes place between August 9th through 13th. The other class is for 9–13-year old’s and is called “Writer’s workshop and punctuation skills.” Both classes are offered outside only at Mt. Tabor Park. They are half-day camps with breaks in between and a time to share writing at the end. Tuition is based on a sliding scale but is listed between $120-205. There are also online classes for creative writing and online or in-person tutoring. I am definitely going to keep this in my “saved” tabs and check back on other writing classes in the future. What an amazing idea to hold a writing class outside our beautiful Portland summer weather. Here is the link for more info: http://www.writenowportland.com/summer-camps.html.

Jams Abacus Math School-

This program welcomes kiddos as young as five and promises “lightning speed adding, subtracting, and multiplying by week 3”. The company was founded here in Portland in 2001.  They are now enrolling for an 8-week long summer boot camp. Classes start on June 22nd. The class meets via Zoom twice a week for around 45 minutes per class. There is also a link to schedule a “free class” for first-time enrollees. The first step is an assessment online. The website boasts about the people involved in the program: two of them received perfect SAT scores in math, one is a “doctor of pharmacy” through OSU, and the other attends Stanford for computer science. Here is the link for more info on summer sign-up: https://www.jamsportland.com/summer-bootcamp-online-abacus-classes/.

Varsity Tutors-

When I Googled “Portland summer kids reading help,” Varsity Tutors popped up with a headline that read, “S.E. Portland reading help.” It looks like there are “Ivy-League” tutors available right here in Portland to assist kids in their journey with reading. The website requires an inquiry to learn more about pricing and schedule but states that help is available right away and can be done during days, nights, or weekends. Here is the link for more info: https://www.varsitytutors.com/tutoring-portland.


This company is in Portland near 42nd and Fremont. Assistance is available for kids from “Kindergarten to Calculus.” There aren’t classes or programs, but more of a tutoring offering. A consultation happens first, and then a personalized plan is set into place. Kids can come to their center to work with the instructors, or online visits are also available. Here is the link to their website: https://www.mathnasium.com/northeastportland.

The Telling Room-

Well. This company is not local. I researched it, fell in love with it, and realized it’s in Portland, Maine, not Portland, Oregon (LOL). I am still going to list it because they have virtual options. I am blown away by one of the things I found on their homepage. This company was recently “visited” by Barack Obama! He gave insights on writing, discussed his latest work, “A Promised Land,” and conversed with kiddos about their writing. This company works with kids between the ages of 6 and 18. Their goal is to improve literacy skills and provide real audiences with their writing skills. There are week-long virtual camps and weekly virtual camp options. This place has a lot to offer, and I’m confident kiddos from Portland (Oregon and Maine!) would love it. Here is the link to their camp offerings: https://www.tellingroom.org/programs/camps.

Kumon Math and Reading Center of Portland-

This center is around SE 82nd street in Portland. They offer incentive programs and an honor roll placement depending on how they are doing in their reading/math/or both classes. They offer points as rewards for students who complete an entire month of their chosen program. The points can be used for exciting rewards. The honor roll recognizes students who are placing above their grade level. It looks like they offer in-center classes as well as online courses. For more info, an orientation is required. Here is the link to the Portland Kumon website: https://www.kumon.com/portland-southeast-or/.

It may be a tough sell to get kids on board with an academic course over the summer, but it could end up being fun for them (and certainly useful for their upcoming school year!). A way to sweeten the deal could be offering an additional hobby-based class, a fun summer camp session, or a vacation of their choosing in a timeframe outside of their commitments. I am currently trying to build a fun summer for my two kiddos that still contains some learning. There is a lot to explore out there. I plan to layer the courses in the pattern of fun, academic, fun, academic, and repeat (ha-ha!). The kids definitely deserve a restful, fun summer after this crazy pandemic. But this year has also caused me a bit of concern about their academic standing due to the heavy online learning. I want to be sure they are ready for the next school year to do at least a little bit of formal learning over the summer. Best of luck to you all in finding summer programs that will work well (and be fun!) for your kiddos.

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