Sign up your kids now for summer fun at summer camp

Published on: May 21, 2020

BETH STEIN PHOTO Holly Talley, an English teacher at Lennard High School, rehearses a song to be presented in a play during last year’s Musical Theater Camp at Firehouse Cultural Center. This year, social distancing will be observed and PPP measures taken to keep all campers safe.

Sign up your kids now for summer fun at summer camp


The Firehouse Cultural Center is set to kick off Summer Camp 2020 on June 1, with every child’s safety first and foremost.

“We’re going above and beyond by taking measures to ensure our campers, volunteers and staff can enjoy camp in the safest possible environment,” said Beth Stein, the center’s marketing and operations coordinator. “We’re observing Hillsborough County guidelines in setting class sizes. Our new half-day mini-camp will be limited to 10 children.”

“Safely helping to restore the community to a new normal is our short-term goal,” added Executive Director Chris Bredbenner. “Children need to sing, play, laugh, imagine, explore and discover. Whatever camps we can safely deliver, we will and believe the community trusts us to do it well.”

Toward that end, the Firehouse Cultural Center has partnered with the Sysco Corp. to purchase hand sanitizer stations with refills, peroxide-based disinfectant for the cleaning of all surfaces, spray bottles of hand sanitizer for kids to use throughout the day as they move from station to station.

“We already have all these items, no-touch laser thermometers and other PPE (personal protection equipment) on hand, enough to last several months,” Stein said. “We couldn’t have summer camp without this partnership.”

Children will have their temperatures checked when they arrive and will be masked if they have a fever and isolated until a parent or other authorized party can pick them up.

Summer Camp 2020 includes up to nine weeks of fun for children ages 8 to 14. Parents can sign up their kids for one, several or all nine. Themed weeks will include musical theater, visual arts, cartooning and animation and robotics. Campers are required to bring their own brown bag lunch. Snacks and water will be provided.

Here’s a breakdown:

Weeks 1 through 4 (June 1 to 26) – Musical Theatre.

Each week features its own distinct production. Children learn all aspects of putting on a live, theatrical play.

Week 5 and 6 (June 29 to July 10) – Visual Arts.

Each week features a different art media, i.e. drawing, painting and printmaking.

Week 7 (July 13 to 17) – Cartooning and Animation.

This is a week of creating cartoon and anime characters, learning stop-motion photography and piecing them together into comic books and videos.

Weeks 8 and 9 (July 20 to July 31) – Robotics.

Using Lego Mindstorms, campers build and code robots to run through mazes and compete in bot challenges.

All supplies are furnished at no charge.

The cost is $160 per week for FCC members or $175 for nonmembers, but there are discounts for multiple weeks and 10% off any week by calling in a registration by May 20. Scholarships are available for families needing assistance.

This year, three new, two-week, half-day minicamps called Clay and Play will take place June 15 to 26, July 6 to 17 and July 20 to 31.

These include ceramics Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and ukulele lessons, while learning the components of music.

Ukuleles have been loaned to the Firehouse by the Tampa Bay Ukulele Society.

“This is a great way to introduce children to summer camp and two different art mediums,” Stein said.

The cost is $150 per camp for members and $175 for nonmembers.

All summer camp teachers are local, experienced, certified educators who have had a Level 2 Federal background check.

Amanda Gary, of Sundance, has enrolled two of her three children the past four years.

“Theater camp has been a wonderful experience for them both,” she said. When they started, they never had done any kind of acting before; they both love it, especially my son Rayne.

“It’s built their confidence, made them more social with other kids and helped them learn to communicate better,” she continued. “I feel very secure in leaving my kids at the Firehouse.”

Rayne, 12, agreed.

“I’ve made a lot of friends, and the teachers are great. It’s a great place to start when you’re learning to act. Camp kind of gives you a push, especially when you’re nervous,” he said.

“I also love the robotics classes. They’re a lot of fun,” he added. “But I’m not into the arts part as much.”

Registration is underway now by calling 813-645-7651 or visiting

Children participating in last year’s Robotics Camp at Firehouse Cultural Center test the robots they built with Lego Mindstorms and coded.