Elementary School Programs

SSA Summer provides a nurturing, supportive and fun experience for elementary school-aged children entering grades PK-5. Sports camps, focus camps and traditional day camps offer an endless array of choices and opportunities.

Day Camp Discovery (K-5)

Shady Side Academy Elementary Summer Camp Students Swimming

One of the oldest (and most fun) traditional day camps in the Pittsburgh area, Day Camp Discovery offers a complete program of activities for children entering grades K-5. Our camp community is focused on providing a developmentally appropriate, safe and warm environment for all campers. With an attentive and well-trained staff, we've infused Day Camp Discovery with opportunities for creativity, autonomy, resilience, empathy and a sense of community.

Campers are grouped into co-ed squads by grade. With kids from more than 40 schools (and several countries), campers have the chance to make lifelong friendships. Kids enjoy a full day of activities, from swimming to media arts to outdoor adventure. Special activities complement regular programming and include competition days, Friday picnic dance parties and field trips. Lunch is included, and bus transportation is available.

2017 Dates & Rates

Location: SSA Senior School, Fox Chapel

Ages: Children entering grades K-5 in 2017-2018

Time: 9 a.m.–4 p.m.

Full Summer: June 19-July 28
Session I:
June 19-30
Session II:
July 3-July 14 (closed July 4)
Session III:
July 17-28

Full Summer (six weeks): $1,925
Each Two-Week Session: $725

After-Care: $10 per day, available until 6 p.m.

Lunch included, free before-care beginning at 7:30 a.m. included, busing available.


Elementary Student reading at Shady Side Summer Camp

  • Arts and Crafts
  • CampFit
  • Fitness and Aerobics
  • Media Arts
  • Outdoor Adventure
  • Science
  • Sports (Basketball, Soccer, Tennis)
  • Swimming
  • Theater Spotlight

A Typical Day at Day Camp Discovery

  • 7:30 a.m. – Before-Care
    Early-arriving campers gather in the camp office.
  • 8:30-8:45 a.m. – Arrival
    The gym fills with the sounds of kids playing and laughing as campers arrive via cars and buses.
  • 9 a.m. – Morning Meeting
    Our camp director welcomes campers and staff, takes attendance and explains the schedule for the day.
  • 9:15 a.m. – Morning Activities
    Campers rotate through three activity periods with their squads. Tennis, soccer and outdoor adventure are awesome ways to spend a cool morning outside!
  • Noon – Lunch
    Campers and staff gather in the dining hall for family-style lunch. Our on-site caterer prepares a delicious and nutritious hot meal each day, with vegetarian and gluten-free alternatives.
  • 1:20 p.m. – Afternoon Activities
    Squads enjoy two additional activity periods – it's a great time to swim or make a film in media arts! With a fully rotating schedule, we make sure campers have a chance to enjoy all of the activities at Day Camp Discovery!
  • 3:45 p.m.Afternoon Meeting
    Campers gather in the gym to hear highlights from the day, take part in a game or contest, and prepare for dismissal.
  • 4 p.m. – Dismissal
    Campers head out to cars and buses after a fun and fulfilling day of camp.
  • 4:15-6 p.m. – After-Care
    For parents who need a little more time, we offer after-care for an additional fee. Campers relax in our air-conditioned lounge while watching kid-friendly movies, playing board games and working on art projects.

East End Explorers Day Camp (PK-3)

Elementary school campers at East End Explorers Day CampEast End Explorers Day Camp offers fun, age-appropriate activities on our Junior School campus in Point Breeze for kids entering grades PK-3. The camp offers age-based programming in both full- and half-day sessions, and includes lunch.

Campers enjoy traditional day camp experiences such as water play and outside games as well as safe, fun adventures in the city. Our convenient East End location allows campers to easily visit trails and museums in the same day. It's the best of both worlds!

Each week has its own theme, coupled with daily opportunities for educational enrichment. In addition to daily water games and outdoor play, campers will excavate fossils, solve mysteries, make movies and more!

2017 Dates & Rates

Location: SSA Junior School, Point Breeze

Ages: Children entering grades PK-3 in 2017-2018

Times: Full-day 9 a.m.–4 p.m.; half-day 9 a.m.–12:45 p.m.

Full Summer: June 19-July 28

Full Summer, Full-Day: $1,925
Full Summer, Half-Day: $1,350
Weekly Session, Full-Day: $355
Weekly Session, Half-Day: $230

After Care: $10 per day, available until 6 p.m.

Lunch is included.
Free before-care begins at 8 a.m.
Bus transportation NOT available.

Weekly Themes

Counselor and camper working together on arts and crafts

Campers have age-appropriate activities related to a weekly theme.

Week 1: June 19-23 - Wilderness Explorers

Week 2: June 26-30 - Artists Week

Week 3: July 3-7 (closed July 4) - Circus Week

Week 4: July 10-14 - Community Helpers

Week 5: July 17-21 - Fairytale and Magical Lands

Week 6: July 24-30 - Silly Scientists

A Typical Day at East End Explorers

  • 8 a.m. – Before-Care
    Early-riser campers gather in the Junior School gymnasium.
  • 9 a.m. – Arrival
    The gym and outdoor field begin to fill with the sounds of children playing as campers arrive from parent drop-off.
  • 9:30 a.m. – Morning Meeting
    Counselors gather their squads, take attendance and explain the day's schedule.
  • 9:30-11:45 a.m. – Morning Activities
    Campers alternate between thematic programming, enrichment classes and a mid-morning snack to keep their minds and bellies full.
  • 11:45 a.m. – Lunch
    Our community gathers in the cafeteria (or PK building) with lunch served family-style. Our on-site caterer prepares a delicious and nutritious meal each day, offering vegetarian and gluten-free alternatives.
  • 12:45 p.m. – Half-Day Dismissal
    Our half-day campers head home after an exciting morning.
  • 1:15-3:45 p.m. – Afternoon Activities
    Full-day campers enjoy two additional activities each afternoon. More time to enjoy deeper learning about the theme of the week, splash around with water toys or lounge in the outdoor wading pools!
  • 3:45 p.m. – Afternoon Meeting
    Campers and staff gather in the gym to hear highlights from the day, take part in a silly game or contest, and prepare for dismissal.
  • 4 p.m. – Dismissal
    Campers and staff head outside to cars after a fun and fulfilling day of camp.
  • 4-6 p.m. – After-Care
    For parents who need a little more time to pick up their kids, East End Explorers Day Camp offers after-care to continue the fun!

Sports Camps (K-8)

Baseball playerSSA Summer offers plenty of sports camps to pique the athletic interests of kids entering grades K-8. All camps are one week in length and directed by SSA coaches, ensuring the programs remain developmentally appropriate.

Our coed camps welcome boys and girls of all ability levels. From beginners looking to try a sport for the first time, to intermediate players looking to enhance their skills, SSA sports camps provide kids with a fun and exciting opportunity to learn from great coaches and players! As an added benefit, each camp includes a swim period, giving young athletes a chance to cool off in the summer heat!

2017 Dates & Rates

Ice hockey playerLocation: SSA Senior School, Fox Chapel

Ages: Varies by sport (see below)

Time: 9 a.m.–4 p.m.

Boys and Girls Lacrosse: June 12-16 (grades 4-7)
SOLD OUT Boys and Girls Tennis: June 12-16 (grades K-5)
Sold Out Boys and Girls Basketball
: June 12-16 (grades 2-6)
Boys and Girls Baseball:
July 31- Aug. 4 (grades 2-6)
Boys and Girls Golf Camp
: July 31-Aug. 4 (grades 4-8)
Boys and Girls Ice Hockey:
Aug. 7-11 (grades K-8)

Ice Hockey: $400
Golf: $460
All Other Sports Camps: $380

After Care: $10 per day, available until 6 p.m.*

Lunch, free before-care at 7:30 a.m.*, and daily swim period included. Busing available. *No before- or after-care for June 12-16 tennis, basketball, and lacrosse camps

2017 Sports Camps

Boys and Girls Lacrosse Camp

June 12-16, Grades 4-7

SSA’s varsity lacrosse coaches invite all interested campers for a week of building lacrosse fundamentals. Campers will learn basic stick skills, game concepts, and offensive and defensive strategies for beginners. Advanced players will receive additional instruction in stick skills, shooting, ground ball work, in game strategy, man up and man down, and situational plays for offense and defense. Fun activities include a 3-on-3 tournament, capture the flag, swimming, plus more. Current and former college lacrosse players assist in coaching the camp. Campers must bring the following equipment:

  • Boys: Helmet, gloves, elbow pads, shoulder pads, mouthpiece and stick
  • Girls: Goggles and stick

SOLD OUT - Boys and Girls Tennis Camp

SOLD OUT June 12-16, Grades K-5

Please email summerprograms@shadysideacademy.org to be added to our wait-list.

Tennis pro Mark Haffner has been running a tennis camp at Shady Side for more than seven years and is thrilled that he can now teach a full day camp. Campers will learn basic front-hand and backhand skills, practice serves, learn game strategy and have a blast with the best kids' tennis coach around!

SOLD OUT - Boys and Girls Basketball Camp

SOLD OUT June 12-16, Grades 2-6

SSA varsity basketball coach David Vadnais welcomes all future hoops stars for a week of fun and training. From shooting and ball-handling to defense and strategy, Coach Vadnais and his staff will work with kids on fundamental skills.

Boys and Girls Baseball Camp

July 31-Aug. 4, Grades 2-6

SSA varsity baseball coach Bob Grandizio will take beginning and intermediate baseball players and prepare them for the next level. Athletes will spend the week improving their hitting, defensive skills, base-running and knowledge of baseball situations. We'll also make sure to have plenty of scrimmages. Come spend a week on the diamond at SSA!

Boys and Girls Golf Camp

SOLD OUT July 31-Aug. 4, Grades 4-8

SSA varsity coach Mark Hessler will take beginning and immediate golfers and prepare them for the next level. Golfers will spend mornings at the Pine Creek driving range honing their short game, putting and driving skills, while competing in fun skills games for prizes! After lunch, golfers will head to the Fox course at Pittsburgh North to play nine holes. Coach-to-golfer ratio is 4:1. Current varsity coaches, college golfers and a few pros will coach this camp. Must have own clubs.

Boys and Girls Ice Hockey Camp

Aug. 7-11, Grades K-8

SSA boys prep hockey coach Jonathan Johnson and his staff lead two simultaneous ice hockey camps in our McKnight Hockey Center. The beginners' camp focuses on the fundamental skills necessary to play hockey. The advanced camp focuses on conditioning, strength and refinement of skills for the more experienced player. Players must provide their own equipment:

  • Helmet with full face mask, should pads, elbow pads, hockey gloves, hockey pants, hockey jock, shin pads, skates and a stick

Focus Camps (K-5)

Camper painting at Focus CampJoin us for Shady Side Academy’s weeklong Focus Camps! Each fun and exciting camp is focused on specific skills to further develop your child's mind, body and spirit - from arts to science to sports and games!

Creative activities and fun games supplement the learning process, all while enjoying life on our beautiful Senior School campus. Also, in conjunction with The Handwork Studio, we are proud to offer a hands-on, project-based camp.

Instructed by Shady Side Academy coaches and teachers, and SSA Summer staff, Focus Camps are the perfect start or end to the summer!

2017 Dates & Rates

Student sewing at Focus Camp

Location: SSA Senior School, Fox Chapel

Ages: Varies by program, see below

Time: 9 a.m.–4 p.m.

Week I: July 31-Aug. 4

  • Sports & Games! (grades 1-5)
  • Jr. Filmmakers (grades 3-5)
  • Mad Science (grades 2-5)
  • Superhero (grades K-1)
  • The Handwork Studio Day Camp (grades K-5)Camper working with LEGO robotics

Week II: Aug. 7-11

  • Run! Jump! Swim! (grades K-5)
  • Jr. Filmmakers (grades 3-5)
  • The Handwork Studio Day Camp (grades K-5)

The Handwork Studio Day Camp: $485
All Other Focus Camps: $380

After-Care: $10 per day, available until 6 p.m.*

Lunch, free before-care at 7:30 a.m., and daily swim period option are included. Busing is available.

2017 Focus Camps

Sports & Games!

Week I (July 31-Aug.4), grades 1-5

This multi-sport camp offers basic guided instruction and semi-competitive play in sports including tennis, soccer, basketball and track & field. Recreational sports such as kickball, dodgeball and volleyball will complement “training” sessions. All campers will get a chance to relax and recuperate in our beautiful indoor pool.

Jr. Filmmakers Camp

Week I or II (July 31-Aug.4 and/or Aug. 7-11), Grades 3-5

Technology and computer skills abound in Jr. Filmmakers Camp. Our media arts lab serves as the hub of operations for our tech-savvy campers. Young filmmakers will use the entire campus to complete creative activities such as film editing, slideshow creation, graphic design, audio manipulation and LEGOmation.

Mad Science

Week I (July 31-Aug. 4), Grades 2-5
Join our Day Camp Discovery science instructors for a fun-filled week of exploring science in a fun, hands-on and project-based class! Campers will compete in physics-based egg drop contests, examine the science of flight and explore the natural world around them on our 135-acre campus.

Superhero Camp

Week I (July 31-Aug. 4), Grades K-1

Our youngest campers will join us for a fun-filled week of superhero imaginative play! Campers will dive deep into the realm of superheroes by creating their very own persona to save the day. Throughout the week, our newly branded superheroes will take part in superhero training, create secret identities in arts and crafts, and complete top-secret missions.

The Handwork Studio Day Camp

Week I or II (July 31-Aug.4 and/or Aug. 7-11), Grades K-5

Imagine knitting, crocheting and sewing the day away, making wonderful creations! Our team of fabulous counselors are not only well-versed in crafts but also trained in child development. Our goal is to foster a space where kids have fun and are allowed to express themselves. Each week, campers will create a different array of amazing crafts. Whether building on old skills or learning brand new ones, our camp is sure to delight!

Run! Jump! Swim!

Week II (August 7-11), Grades K-5

Campers will prepare delicious and super-healthy snacks, enjoy meditation and yoga, learn the latest aerobic exercises, and discover plenty of new ways to keep their bodies healthy and happy. At its core, the camp will promote positive self-image, support for others and individual goal-setting.

A Typical Day at Focus Camp

Camper drawing

  • 7:30 a.m. – Before-Care
    Our early-riser campers gather in the camp office.
  • 8:45 a.m. – Arrival
    The gym begins to fill with the sounds of play as campers arrive from parent drop-off and bus transportation.
  • 9 a.m. – Morning Meeting
    Each camp's lead counselor welcomes campers, takes attendance and explains the day's schedule.
  • 9 a.m.-12 p.m. – Morning Activities
    Campers move to their Focus Camp locations and begin with introductory and team-building activities. Instructors focus on teaching new skills and honing old ones that will culminate in a final project or activity.
  • 12 p.m. – Lunch and Recess
    Our community gathers in the Dining Hall with lunch served family-style. A period of free play follows on the quad.
  • 1:20-3:45 p.m. – Afternoon Activities
    A period of swim and/or gym games is also offered for older campers.
  • 3:45 p.m. – Afternoon Meeting
    Campers and staff gather in the gym to get ready for dismissal and reflect on the awesome day!
  • 4 p.m. – Dismissal
    Campers head outside to cars and buses after a fun and fulfilling day of camp.
  • 4-6 p.m. – After-Care
    For parents who need a little more time to pick up their kids, we offer after-care. Campers relax in our air-conditioned lounge area, watch kid-friendly movies, play board games and work on art projects.

Summer School (2-5)

Campers working on an iPadShady Side Academy offers Summer School courses to meet the needs and interests of elementary school students entering grades 2-5. Courses reinforce learning from the prior school year and prepare students for the challenges of the school year ahead.

Language arts and mathematics classes enrich the academic experience through hands-on engagement with subject material and close, working relationships with teachers. Class sizes range from 5-14 students and are assigned by grade level and ability. Sixty-minute periods are typically followed by moderate homework assignments to deepen understanding and prepare for the next day of learning. We recognize that summer is a time for play, and our aim is to provide students the opportunity to bolster their academic skills in a supportive and joyful environment.

Need full-day child care? Our Stay & Play option pairs Summer School classes with Day Camp Discovery for a full day of learning and fun! See below for details.

2017 Dates & Rates

Location: SSA Senior School, Fox Chapel

Ages: Children entering grades 2-5 in 2017-2018

Six-Week Session: June 19-July 28, all courses are six weeks long.

Times for Stay & Play: 8:45 a.m.–4 p.m.
*Estimated Times for Courses Only:

Language Arts

  • Grade 2: 8:45-9:45 a.m.
  • Grade 3: 9:50-10:50 a.m.
  • Grade 4: 10:55-11:55 a.m.
  • Grade 5: 8:45-9:45 a.m.


  • Grade 2: 9:50 to 10:50 a.m.
  • Grade 3: 10:55-11:55
  • Grade 4: 8:45-945 a.m.
  • Grade 5: 9:50 to 10:50 a.m.

One Course + Stay & Play: $2,495
Two Courses + Stay & Play: $2,995
Individual Courses Only: $975 each

Lunch included for Stay & Play students only.

*Times subject to change for courses

Stay & Play

Need full-day child care? Your kid will enjoy the best of both worlds when you register for SSA Stay & Play! Kids enroll in six weeks of Summer School, and when they're not in class they enjoy the rest of day in Day Camp Discovery! This option is only available for the entire six-week session. Lunch and free before-care is included. Busing and after-care are available for an extra fee.

Progress Reports

Progress reports are issued at the end of the summer session to provide parents with individualized and detailed feedback on their child's experience. In addition, teachers provide parents with weekly newsletters to keep them informed about their child's coursework with individualized comments as needed. Classroom teachers keep the Summer School Director up to date on student progress; parents are contacted and action plans formulated for students in need of additional support.

Elementary Language Arts

Summer elementary language arts classes build upon and encourage our students' love for reading, writing and storytelling. Using the C.A.F.E. approach, the courses help students bolster their comprehension of stories, decode with accuracy, read aloud fluently and expand their vocabulary.

Students read books from Shady Side Academy's summer reading lists. The selected books provide opportunities to discuss the literary elements of setting, characters and plot. Students learn to discern a story’s main ideas, as well as increase appreciation and understanding of the story: text-to-text, text-to-self and text-to-the-world. These are hands-on courses that meet students at their current level and help prepare them for the challenges of the school year ahead.

Elementary Mathematics

Elementary math classes are hands-on, skills-based, engaging courses that meet students at their current level and help prepare them for the challenges of the next school year. Through projects, play and problem-solving activities, students bolster their math skills and passion for the subject.

The use of the Math in Focus curriculum (Singapore Math) bolsters mathematical stamina and understanding. Students entering grade 2 will be led through the concrete-to-pictorial-to-abstract progression, while students entering grades 3-5 will learn problem-solving using bar modeling.

We recommend enrolling your child in the course most closely aligned with the math course he or she will be taking in the 2017-2018 school year. For most students this is their grade level for the 2017-2018 year.

School Break Camps (PK-5)

Elementary school student having fun a break campShady Side Academy's After School Explorers program offers programming during winter and spring breaks for children in grades PK-5. These exciting day- and week-long camps offer six hours of safe, enriching care, and are available to students from any school.

Each affordable camp is centered on a central theme; over the course of the week students will create their own comics, explore a veterinarian's office, visit with some animals, make their own felt bugs, and more!

Learn more.

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Contact Us

Nate Verbanets

Nathan Verbanets
Director of Programs


"My daughter was ecstatic to learn she was able to attend the East End Explorers camp again. Each day she came home, she poured out the day's events like a faucet. She was extremely happy. It was truly a blessing to know that it was made possible because of your thoughtfulness. Thank you so much for all your assistance. Somehow I don't feel thank you is quite enough."

"Our son has been attending [camp] for the past six years. He has enjoyed every summer attending Discovery Camp and Camp Ren and looks forward to coming back year after year!"

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