By Ty Collins

Specialty camps are an unconventional antidote to childhood boredom during those long summer months, and the Atlanta area has many to choose from.

Circus Camp

With locations in Decatur and Dunwoody, Circus Camp staffs professional circus performers and variety-arts entertainers to instruct and perform for kids ages 5 and up. Here, it’s all about fun, not competition. Tim Dwyer, co-director of Circus Camp, says his camp builds self-esteem through the magic of circus arts.

“We celebrate a child learning to do a summersault as much as we do a child learning to ride a six-foot unicycle,” says Dwyer.

Days include: magic, tightrope walking, clown skits, and acrobatics. The first of eight one-week sessions begins June 1. Winter and spring camps are also available. Each session ends with a show for parents and campers. For more information, visit circuscamp.org or call (404) 370-0001.

The Young Chefs Academy

The big top isn’t for everyone, though. The Young Chefs Academy, with locations in Sandy Springs and the Emory area, is tailored for freshmen foodies. Chefs and nutritional experts provide an interactive learning experience for children 3-14. Each facility has kid-friendly kitchens where campers spend the morning preparing lunch. Even picky eaters enjoy the three-course meals (dessert included).

“When kids know the ingredients going into [a meal],” says Rita Glaser, owner of the Toco Hills academy, “they’re more apt to eat it. It broadens their horizons as far as what they’ll eat. Parents see the menus for that day and say: ‘no way is my child going to eat that.’”

To parents’ amazement, kids not only try the healthy dishes they prepare but confess to liking them, too, says Glaser.

The Young Chefs Academy offers classes June to August. Register at youngchefsacademy.com or call (404) 633-2633.

Creative Writing Camp

If making Baked Alaska isn’t your kid’s thing either, Creative Writing Camp at the Margaret Mitchell House is great for youngsters with more cerebral tendencies.

This camp offers a different writing genre every week. Themes include: fantasy writing, stream-of-consciousness writing, journaling, and free-verse poetry. Kids hone their skills with the help of Atlanta writers, appropriately, in the former home of the city’s most celebrated author.

Melanie Eisenhart, Manager of Literary Programs at the Margaret Mitchell House, says some kids hope to use her camp as a stepping-stone for a career in writing. The Creative Writing Camp is for children ages 7-18 starts June 7. Visit margaretmitchellhouse.com for more information.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.