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.

2018 Dates & Rates

Location: SSA Middle School, Fox Chapel

Ages: Kids entering grades 6-9 in 2018-2019

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

Full Summer:
June 18 - July 27
Session I:
June 18-29
Session II:
July 2-13 (closed July 4)
Session III:
July 16-27

Weekly enrollments available, however, all projects are based on the full two week sessions above.

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!

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!

2018 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.

Soccer Shots: June 11-15 or Aug. 6-10 (grades 4-6)
Boys and Girls Basketball: June 11-15 (grades 2-6)
Boys and Girls Golf Camp: July 30 - Aug. 3 (grades 4-8)
Boys and Girls Ice Hockey: Aug. 6-10 (grades K-8)

Ice Hockey: $400
Golf: $465
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 June 11-15 for tennis and basketball camps.

2018 Sports Camps

Boys and Girls Basketball Camp

June 11-15, 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 Golf Day Camp

July 30 - Aug. 3, 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. 6-10, 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.

Soccer Shots

June 11-15 or Aug. 6-10, grades 4-6

If you’re looking for an exciting week of camp for your child, come join us at Soccer Shots Summer Camp. We have a special curriculum for our camps, and your kids will be sure to have a great time with some of their favorite Soccer Shots coaches! The week will focus on individual skill, fitness and sportsmanship, and learning through fun games and team interaction. Sneakers or athletic shoes, and a water bottle is all that is needed (we will provide a Soccer Shots water bottle on the first day).

Soccer Shots is an engaging children’s soccer program with a focus on character development. Our caring team positively impacts children’s lives on and off the field through best-in- class coaching, communication and curriculum. Our coaches are the best-trained in the business. Our expert-approved curriculum is age-appropriate and aligns with childhood education standards. In addition we provide an exceptional customer experience and ongoing communication with parents.

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!

2018 Dates & Rates

Location: SSA Senior School, Fox Chapel

Ages: Kids entering grades 6-9 in 2018-2019

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

Week 1: June 11-15
  • Chess Camp (grades 1-7)
Week II: July 30 - Aug. 3
  • The Handwork Studio Fashion & Machine Sewing Camp (grades 6-9)
  • Chess Camp (grades 1-7)
Week III: August 6-10
  • The Handwork Studio Fashion & Machine Sewing Camp (grades 6-9)
  • Future Filmmakers Camp (grades 6-9)
  • Ultimate Drone Racing & Obstacle Course (grades 6-9)

The Handwork Studio Fashion & Machine Sewing Camp: $525
Drone Racing: $425
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.

*No before- or after-care June 11-15

2018 Focus Camps

The Handwork Studio Fashion & Machine Sewing Camp

Week II or III (July 30 - Aug. 3 or Aug. 6-10), grades 6-9

Whether you are an aspiring fashion designer or a creative camper looking for new skills, immerse yourself in the wonderful world of machine sewing! Designed with older campers in mind, this program is all about choice and creative expression. Campers will be taught how to read and use a wide variety of Simplicity Creative Group patterns, our exclusive pattern partner. In addition to a catalog of over 20 patterns, campers get to choose from dozens and dozens of bolts of tempting fabrics to bring individual style and flare to every creation. There are more than enough options to keep you coming back week after week and year after year!

Future Filmmakers Camp

Week III (Aug. 6-10), 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!

Ultimate Drone Racing & Obstacle Course

Week III (August 6-10), grades 6-9

Drone Racing is filled with pure action as students enjoy one of the world’s fastest growing sports. Campers will first learn about the basic safety of drone flying and the history behind drone racing as a sport. Flight squads post up against one another in friendly competition when they race themselves and the clock. Participants contribute fully in this program as they create the design and help build the the obstacle course in preparation for the last day’s final activities and competition. All campers go home with interactive workbooks. For more information on Drobots Drone STEM Camps please visit: www.drobotscompany.com

Chess Camp

Week I or Week II (June 11-15 or July 30 - Aug. 3), grades 1-7

Whether brand new to chess, or already a checkmate champion, your child can learn more about the royal game at the Chess Camp. Led by USCF National Master Ben Johnson, the camp will feature daily interactive chess lessons, but also fun activities like team chess, chess puzzles and chess trivia. Chess teaches higher order thinking skills and sportsmanship, so chess camp is a great way to help your child stay sharp over the summer. Chess sets are provided for use at the camp.

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.

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. Literature & Composition and Math classes 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 in the mornings 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 Mathematics/Literature and Composition, 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.

2018 Dates & Rates

Location: SSA Senior School, Fox Chapel

Ages: Children entering grades 6-8 in 2018-2019

SSA Stay and Play (School + Camp): June 18 - July 27, 8:45 a.m. - 4 p.m.

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

Robotics & Invention: $380

Lunch is included for Stay & Play students only.

Stay & Play

Your child will enjoy the best of both worlds when you register for 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

June 18 - July 27, Class Times TBD, SSA Middle School

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

June 18 - July 27, Class Times TBD, SSA Middle School

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 2018-2019 school year. For most students this is their grade level for the 2018-2019 year. Questions regarding placement? Contact Dr. David Barndollar.

Study Skills Workshop

July 9-13, 1-2:15 p.m., SSA Middle School

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.

This one-week workshop is NOT a part of the Stay and Play program.

Robotics and Inventions

June 11-15, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., SSA Senior School

In this week-long seminar, students 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, react to light and temperature, and interface with remote controls, joysticks and even smartphones. The seminar begins with an introduction to microcontrollers using the Arduino board. Students will get an overview of electronics and how software transforms ideas into reality.

Prerequisite: rising eighth grader or above. This class will meet on the Senior School campus in the Hunt computer lab.

This one-week workshop is NOT a part of the Stay and Play program.

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 career as an educator.

Please contact Dr. Barndollar with any questions.

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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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