BELLINGHAM - When most kids imagine summer camp, they picture cabins by the lake and campfires with s'mores.
But a Whatcom Community College program called Kids' College turns that idea on its head with challenging and offbeat classes in an urban setting.
"We have been offering Kids Camp for over 10 years. It started as with a handful of art classes and gelled into a collection of classes offered for children and youth," said Shandeen Gemanis, a program specialist in the Community Education Department.
"What really kicked the bigger program off was Jennifer (Bryan-)Goforth and the Hogwarts program," which drew on the popularity of the "Harry Potter" series and its fictional school for wizards, Gemanis said.
Now, Bryan-Goforth, a local teacher and entrepreneur, is teaching a course called "camp Half-Blood," based on the "Percy Jackson" book series, and several other classes linked to mythology and popular teen literature.
"She runs multiple businesses and she's wonderful with children," said Mary Vermillion, WCC director for marketing and communications. "She's wonderful and engaging, You just want to sit in on her class."
Classes start Monday, June 23, and many still have space available, Vermillion said. Course offerings include robotics, technology and digital photography, sewing and fiber arts, and business sense for kids.
Prices vary, with classes ranging from $10 to $175. Some have materials fees.
"There are all kinds of choices for kids of all ages. It's a really great mix with some outstanding local instructors," Vermillion said. "Regardless of what your child is interested in, there's going to be something there for them," Vermillion said.
Most instructors are not WCC faculty, but rather experienced and skilled professional in their fields.
"We're really excited about the robotic engineering camp, partnered with Bricks and Beyond," a local company that offers robotics instruction featuring Lego blocks, she said.
Other classes that are drawing attention - possibly because of the popularity of the PBS series "Downtown Abbey" -- are "Young Ladies and Gentlemen" and "The Art of Etiquette."
"Even adults inquire about it," Vermillion said.
Suggest your ideas for local family-friendly events, hikes or day trips to Robert Mittendorf at 360-756-2805 or email@example.com.