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Virtual to Reality


From gaining extra lives, to beating someone two feet taller than you in basketball, anything is possible in video games. Today, they’re virtually reality. Only one problem—they’re not. Video games get a bad rap, but in reality they mix challenge and reward in a way that promotes exploration. Now, if only they could be played outdoors with real children. For parents wanting just that, YS has uncovered five secret ways to translate a favorite game into actual adventures.

Zelda / Renaissance Adventures

If your kid clutches onto a controller like it’s the coveted golden band on Lord of the Rings, then biting it off and throwing it into a volcano might be a little overkill (unless he’s referring to said controller as “my precious.” Then, do what you gotta do). But if he’s into movies like Lord of the Rings or live-action, role-playing games like Zelda, then there might be a solution that includes daylight.

It’s called Adventure Quest Camp at Renaissance Adventures and the only controller is your kid, who will be moving arms and legs—his own!—to make his way through the game.

Renaissance Adventures offers half- and whole-day summer quests starting May 28 for youths ages 6 to 16 that will have your child exploring nature in an in vivo experience. From completing puzzles and riddles to challenging players on multiple levels, kids get outdoors and think outside-the-box. We love how they get to create their own character with any super power they can think up. They’ll be challenged physically and mentally when discovering the secret to spotting shape-shifted creatures, battling monsters with foam swords and exploring foreign cultures.

Renaissance Adventures also offers programs specifically for girls ages 8 to 14 that consist of increased character interaction and lighthearted themes. So, whether your kid is a Link or a Zelda (boy, girl respectively), there will be something for them at Renaissance Adventures.

Rock Band / Band Camp

Your daughter jams out to Rock Band and has broken all your best vases. She’s asking for a blonde wig so that she can swoon like Swift while singing “Love Story.” You’re worried. Tell her to put down the fake guitar, stop singing songs that rhyme “love” with “above,” and take a lesson.

Thankfully, Dog House Music offers Summer Rock and Roll camps for teens 11 to 17 years old and Junior Rocker Kids Camps for youths 6 to 10 years old. The instruments are real, and the music is original. Rockers will collaborate to write and record original songs with band coaches. They’ll rehearse in studios where Joe Cocker, Modest Mouse and the Indigo Girls have laid tracks.

“All of our camps down here at Dog House profess writing original music,” Gary Lennox, the studio’s owner said. “So these kids are going to come in—and some haven’t even played an instrument—and they’re going to be getting a lesson on an instrument of choice.”

At Dog House Music, which offers 11 three-day intensives for kids and teens starting May 28, participants can play as loud as they want—and parents won’t have to hear a thing. That is, not until the final performance for friends and family.

DDR / Dance camp

The last time people danced around on a lighted board to bumpin’ beats, bell bottoms were “in” and afros were “out.” Literally. Dance Dance Revolution is only slightly cooler than the disco era, so if your kid thinks rhythm means frantically gyrating his lower body, it might be time to teach him a thing or two about dance. Put down the Village People album … that’s not what I meant.

The summer music camps at Eisenhower Elementary School offer 30 hours of instruction in dance, music and theater for kindergarten through sixth graders from June 4 to June 15.

The young ones act out Welcome to the Jungle, a mini-musical based on Aesop’s fable The Lion and the Mouse in a camp that takes place from 9 am to noon. The older kids dance jazz to toe-tappin’ rhythms in a production of The Jungle Book, a musical that includes all our favorite songs from the Disney movie like “Bare Necessities,” and “I Want to Be Like You.” It takes place from 1 to 4 pm on the same days.

Replacing the DDR mat with an actual dance teacher might not be the worst idea. Teaching a kid to dance takes a village, not its people.