Middle School Programs

Middle school students can reach new heights at SSA Summer programs. Camps, classes and clinics give adolesents the chance to hone individual interests and discover new talents.

Camp Ren (6-9)

Camp RenShady Side Academy Middle School Summer Camp Students Gathered in Circle is an innovative summer day camp designed specifically for students entering grades 6-9. The Camp Ren staff is devoted to maintaining a developmentally appropriate experience while engaging kids' bodies, minds and spirits through arts, sciences, sports and fun social activities. Campers can choose to focus on forensics, rocketry, robotics, food science, ceramics, filmmaking and multi-media studio art. Each camper can personalize his or her experience to create a perfect summer fit.

Campers entering ninth grade have the option to sign up for the Leaders-in-Training (LIT) Program to develop leadership and service learning skills.

2017 Dates & Rates

Location: SSA Middle School, Fox Chapel

Ages: Kids entering grades 6-9 in 2017-2018

Times: 9 a.m.–4 p.m.

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

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

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

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

Specialty Areas

  • Ceramics
  • Food Science
  • Cooking
  • Dance
  • Filmmaking/Film Editing
  • Forensics
  • Geocaching
  • Jewelry-making/Glasswork
  • Painting
  • Robotics
  • Rocketry
  • Theater

Group of campers playing fuse ball

A Typical Day at Camp Ren

  • 7:30 a.m. – Before-Care
    Our early-riser campers gather in the gym.
  • 8:45 a.m. – Arrival
    The gym begins to fill with sounds of basketball and chatter during car and bus arrival.
  • 9 a.m. – Morning Meeting
    Our Camp Director welcomes campers and staff, takes attendance and explains the day's schedule.
  • 9:10-11:15 a.m. – Morning Activities
    Campers rotate through two activity periods each morning with their squads. From robotics to cooking, there's plenty to do each day!
  • 11:20 a.m.-12:25 p.m. – Morning Choice
    Each day, campers break from their normal squads to take part in different activities, such as swimming, frisbee golf, 3-on-3 basketball, tie-dyeing, solar cooking, comic book-making and more!
  • 12:30 p.m. – Lunch
    Our on-site caterer prepares a delicious and nutritious meal each day, offering vegetarian and gluten-free alternatives.
  • 1:30-2:35 p.m. – Afternoon Activities
    Squads enjoy an additional activity period each afternoon. It's a great time to play sports, work on a ceramic masterpiece or edit a film!
  • 2:40–3:45 p.m. – Afternoon Choice
    Three times a week, campers take part in a massive camp-wide activity such as human foosball, capture the flag or our annual film festival. During the other two days, all activity areas are open so campers can choose to finish old projects or start new ones.
  • 3:45 p.m. – Afternoon Meeting
    Campers and staff gather in the gym to hear the day's highlights and prepare for dismissal.
  • 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, Camp Ren offers after-care for only $10 a day.

Check out a Camp Ren Sample Schedule!

Summer School (6-8)

Students work in groups to finish a project

Shady Side Academy offers a variety of Summer School courses to meet the needs and interests of students entering grades 6-8. We offer Literature & Composition, Math and French classes that enrich the academic experience of students through hands-on engagement with subject material and close, working relationships with classroom teachers. Class sizes range from 5-14 students and are assigned by grade level and ability. Sixty-minute periods are typically followed by homework assignments to deepen understanding and prepare for the next day of learning.

Check out our Stay & Play option, which pairs Summer School classes with Camp Ren for a full day of learning and fun! See below for details.

Many of our Enrichment Courses are open to students entering grades 7-12. Students can explore filmmaking, robotics and game theory in mixed-grade groups.

2017 Dates & Rates

Location: SSA Senior School, Fox Chapel

Ages: Children entering grades 6-8 in 2017-2018

Middle School Literature & Composition
June 19-July 28

  • Grade 6: 8:45-9:45 a.m.
  • Grade 7: 9:50-10:50 a.m.
  • Grade 8: 10:55-11:55 a.m.

Middle School Mathematics
June 19-July 28

  • Grade 8: 8:45-9:45 a.m.
  • Grade 6: 9:50-10:50 a.m.
  • Grade 7: 10:55-11:55 a.m.

Adventures in Reading
July 17-28

  • Grades 6-8: 1:30-4 p.m.

Introduction to French
June 19-July 28

  • Grades 6-8: 9:50-10:50 a.m.

Middle School Study Skills Workshop
July 24-28

  • Grades 6-8: noon-1:15 p.m.

SSA Stay and Play
June 19-July 28, 8:45 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Enrichment Courses
Dates and costs vary (see course listings below)

One Course + Stay and Play: $2,495
Two Courses + Stay and Play: $2,995
Individual Courses Only: $975 each
Study Skills Workshop: $175

Lunch is included for Stay & Play students only.

Stay & Play

Your child will enjoy the best of both worlds when you register for SSA Stay & Play! Students enroll in six weeks of Summer School, and when they're not in class they enjoy the rest of day in Camp Ren! 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.

Note: Summer School classes are held on our Middle School campus.

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.

Middle School Literature & Composition

Avid readers know that the page can take you on amazing journeys! Fill your summer with book talk and workshop experiences that will challenge you to develop your reading identity, practice and exercise the skills that more challenging texts require and respond through analytical, expressive and reflective writing.

Students will leverage new technologies as they read, annotate, discuss and write about the books that will spark their imagination. Through hands-on engagement with texts and a close working relationship with the teacher, students will reinforce critical skills and prepare themselves for the challenges of the coming school year.

Middle School Mathematics

We offer three levels of Middle School mathematics in Summer School. All classes engage students in a hands-on exploration of math concepts and bolster existing math and problem-solving skills to prepare students for the challenges of the school year ahead.

Our sixth grade course includes an exploration of operations with whole numbers, variables, decimals, geometry, number theory, fractions and solving equations.

Our seventh grade course includes an introduction to Algebra; decimals; positive, negative and rational numbers; equations; geometry; ratios, proportions and percentages; and the coordinate plane.

Our eighth grade course offers a preview to Algebra, including expressions, equations, negative numbers, distributing, axioms, operations with polynomials and radials, quadratic equations, two-variable expressions and equations, and a focus on solving more complex equations.

In all three courses, students learn by doing. We recommend enrolling your child in the course most closely aligned with the math course he or she will take in the 2017-2018 school year. For most students this is their grade level for the 2017-2018 year. Questions regarding placement? Contact Dr. David Barndollar.

Adventures in Reading

Reading transports you to new worlds and creates pathways for you to discover your own identity. Enhance and enrich your reading skills while finding new joys in books this summer. This team-taught class will emphasize valuable reading (decoding and vocabulary building) and comprehension (fact & detail, inference, analysis, summary) skills. Students will work individually with teachers in conferences each day and participate in active group discussions. Daily reflection pieces will inspire the students to refine their thoughts and draw advanced analysis of the material. Teachers will use the Shady Side Academy Middle School Summer Reading List material as the core curriculum. Do not miss this chance to dive into new literary adventures!

Introduction to French

The Eiffel Tower! Baguettes! Napoleon! The impressionists! Join us as we discover the riches of French history, culture and language. In this five-week course, Middle School students will engage in hands-on activities that allow them to acquire basic language skills. They will learn how to start a conversation; ask and answer questions; identify colors, numbers, seasons, and animals; and talk about the weather. They will play games, listen to stories and sing songs. Equally as important, they will explore the products, practices and perspectives of francophone cultures. They will discover how the French have contributed to music, art, sports, science and technology. Come participate in the adventure, and see why speaking French is so relevant in our global societies.

Middle School Study Skills Workshop

This one-week workshop will provide students with the tools they need to improve self-regulated learning, study and organizational skills. We will explore individual learning characteristics, mindfulness techniques, time management, note-taking and learning strategies such as PROTO and SQ3R, test preparation and self-advocacy skills.

Enrichment Courses at the Senior School

Digital Storytelling (grades 7-12)

June 19-30, 1:30-4 p.m. – $360

This is a short but comprehensive course on all things related to video production and the world of visual storytelling. The course will explore three main areas - writing, production and editing. In phase one, each student will conceptualize a short film, such as a fictional story or a documentary. In phase two, students will learn the fundamentals of video production, including the techniques and aesthetics of framing, lighting and shooting. Hands-on production experience using digital video cameras will be emphasized. Students may also use film footage they bring to the course. The third phase will focus on editing to finalize a 5- to 7-minute HD production. Students will edit on Macs using Adobe Premiere editing software. The class is taught by SSA videographer Jason Deal '09 and Jeff Miller, who regularly teaches film studies in the Senior School English Department. Mr. Miller will focus primarily on phase one to help create great stories and improve writing skills as a digital storyteller. Students with potential scheduling conflicts should contact the instructor to see if accommodations can be made. Please note that lunch is not included with this course.

Robotics and Inventions (grades 7-12)
June 19-22, 9 a.m.-noon – $360 (includes robotics kit)

In this week-long seminar, students will explore some of the essentials of robotics and computer science with microcontrollers. Some of the projects involve how to build LED displays, turn servos and motors, measure reactions to light and temperature and interface with remote controls, joysticks and even smartphones. The course begins with an introduction to microcontrollers using the Arduino board. Students will get an overview of electronics and how software transforms ideas into reality, as well as have the opportunity to work on projects involving GPS-controlled boats and Quadcopter photography.

This course is taught by John Wizzard, chair of the Senior School Computer Science Department.

Meet the Summer School Director

David BarndollarDr. David Barndollar is Shady Side Academy's Summer School Director. He is an experienced educator and school leader deeply committed to the development of students. He serves as the chair of the Senior School's English department and has served in a number of capacities over his 27-year career as an educator.

Please contact Dr. Barndollar with any questions.

Sports Camps (K-8)

Campers playing basketball

SSA Summer offers plenty of Sports Camps to pique the athletic interests of kids entering grades K-8. Camps are one week in length and directed by an SSA coach, ensuring the programs remain developmentally appropriate.

Each coed camp welcomes 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 of our sports camps includes a swim period, giving everyone a chance to cool off!

2017 Dates & Rates

Location: SSA Senior School, Fox Chapel

Ages: Children entering grades K-9, varies by sport (see below)

Time: 9 a.m.–4 p.m.

Boys and Girls Lacrosse: June 12-16 (grades 4-7)
Boys and Girls Basketball
: June 12-16 (grades 2-6)
Boys Elite Lacrosse:
June 20-22 (grades 6-11)
Boys and Girls Baseball: July 31-Aug. 4 (grades 2-6)
SOLD OUT Boys and Girls Golf Camp: July 31-Aug. 4 (grades 4-8)
Boys and Girls Ice Hockey: August 7-11 (grades K-8)

Ice Hockey: $400
Elite Lacrosse:
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

Boys Elite Lacrosse Camp

June 20-22, Grades 6-11

The Shady Side Academy Elite Lacrosse Camp provides experienced players with top-level instruction from SSA varsity coaches and current D-1 collegiate lacrosse players. Campers will improve their game, hone their skills and learn about the college recruitment process. The camp is open to experienced players only. There will be two age groups: Middle School players (grades 6-8) and high school players (grades 9-11). Participants must bring their own helmet, gloves, elbow pads, shoulder pads, mouthpiece and stick. Pinnie provided.

Boys and Girls Basketball Camp

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!

SOLD OUT - Boys and Girls Golf Day 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

August 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 (6-9)

Campers sewing in Focus CampJoin us for Shady Side Academy’s week-long Focus Camps! Each fun and exciting camp is focused on specific skills to further develop your adolescent's mind, body and spirit.

Creative activities and fun games supplement the learning process, all while kids enjoy life on SSA’s beautiful Senior School Campus. Also, in conjunction with The Handwork Studio, we are proud to offer a hands-on, project-based camp. With some of the finest professionals in the Pittsburgh area complementing our day camp staff, our Focus Camps are the perfect start or end to the summer!

2017 Dates & Rates

Location: SSA Senior School, Fox Chapel

Ages: Kids entering grades 6-9 in 2017-2018

Time: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Week I: July 31-Aug. 4

  • The Handwork Studio Fashion & Machine Sewing Camp (grades 6-9)
  • Future Filmmakers Camp (grades 6-9)
  • Inventor's Workshop (grades 6-9)

Week I: August 7-11

  • The Handwork Studio Fashion & Machine Sewing Camp (grades 6-9)
  • Future Filmmakers Camp (grades 6-9)

The Handwork Studio Fashion & Machine Sewing Camp: $515
All Other Focus Camps: $380

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

Cost includes lunch, free before care at 7:30 a.m. and daily swim period. Busing available.

2017 Focus Camps

The Handwork Studio Fashion & Machine Sewing Camp

Week I or II (July 31-Aug. 4 and/or Aug. 7-11), Grades 6-9

Whether you have a budding fashionista with his or her own sense of style, or a crafty kid who craves making one-of-a-kind creations, this camp is just the thing. Patient, fun-loving counselors understand that your child wants control over his or her choices. With 20 patterns and bolts and bolts of tempting fabrics, there are projects to make every crafty dream a reality!

Future Filmmakers Camp

Week I or II (July 31-Aug. 4 and/or Aug. 7-11), Grades 6-9

Both in front of and behind the lens, all kids get the chance to practice their acting and directing skills. Campers will learn how to operate cameras and film creative skits, songs, dances and movies with a variety of media. Instruction, planning and editing will take place in our film lab, located in the Benedum Visual Arts Center. Sign up your budding Steven Spielberg now!

Inventor's Workshop

Week I (July 21-Aug. 4), Grades 6-9

Join our Middle School science instructors for a week of hands-on exploration. Their task? Debunking the world's greatest scientific theories! Campers will assist in creating the camp by dreaming up experiments to test theories and then actually executing them. This camp is an awesome chance for older campers to enjoy a week of (safe) explosions, reactions and shocks.

A Typical Day at Focus Camp

Campers gather around to work on a project together

  • 7:30 a.m. – Before-Care
    Our early-riser campers gather in the camp office.
  • 8:45 a.m. – Arrival
    Campers begin to arrive at the gym from parent drop-off and our 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
    Our campers head to their Focus Camp locations and begin their week-long projects. From films to hypothesis testing, busy mornings await!
  • 12 p.m. – Lunch and Recess
    Our on-site caterer prepares a delicious and nutritious meal each day, offering vegetarian and gluten-free alternatives. A period of free play follows on the quad.
  • 1:20-3:45 p.m. – Afternoon Activities
    Campers continue to hone their skills and work on final projects, while also getting a chance to swim in our indoor pool.
  • 3:45 p.m. – Afternoon Meeting
    All campers and staff gather in the gym to prepare for dismissal.
  • 4 p.m. – Dismissal
    Our campers and staff head outside to cars and buses after a fun and fulfilling day.
  • 4-6 p.m. – After-Care
    For parents who need a little more time to pick up their kids, our Focus Camps offer after-care for $10 a day. Campers relax in our air-conditioned lounge area, while watching kid-friendly movies, playing board games and working on art projects.

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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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