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13 residential camps to refresh high school students this summer

Summer refreshment
Summer refreshment
Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images for Laureus

Summer provides a reprieve from the school year grind. It's a season for rejuvenation, an opportunity to seek out fun, a chance for some well-deserved downtime. Think family vacations, relaxing with friends and sleeping in.

But stifling some of summer's traditional freedoms is the increasing concern about college admission. Nervous students feel compelled to schedule their summers with activities chosen to bolster their college applications. As a result, summer programs offering pre-college academics have flourished. Many students also plow through year round sports training or continued achievement in performing arts to show their depth and passion.

Novelty, however, also has a place in pre-college summer enrichment activities. Exploring a new interest in an unfamiliar environment can cultivate self-confidence, self-understanding and self-awareness; and developing each of these attributes makes for a better college applicant.

Here are a baker's dozen of summer programs for high school students that offer a refreshing change from the usual.

American Sign Language Camp

Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. offers two sessions and three skill levels. Applications accepted on a first come, first served basis.

Baking & Pastry Culinary Camp

Kendall College in Chicago runs basic and advanced sessions, plus classes in culinary arts, the culinary business, and food photography & styling. Early registration deadline is February 28.

Ceramic and Glass Engineering Camp

Offered by Alfred University in New York for rising juniors and seniors. Application deadline is April 15.

Circus Camp

Circus Smirkus in Vermont gives instruction in Acrobatics, Aerials, Clowning, Juggling, Performance and more. Introductory to advanced sessions. Classes are filled on a first come, first served basis.

Digital Media Camp

Boston University runs these camps at both their Boston campus and their Washington D.C. campus in Georgetown. Choose Audio Production (Boston only,) 3D Animation, Filmmaking, Graphic & Web Design or Photography. Dates TBD.

Great Smokies Experience Camp

Experiential learning course in Introductory Environmental Studies offered by Maryville College in Tennessee. Physical, hands-on, outdoors. Three college credits awarded. Application deadline is May 30 and space is limited to 20.

Inner Space Camp

Eastern Kentucky University program covers Clinical Psychology, Neuroscience, Forensic Psychology, Sensation & Perception, Cognitive Psychology, Developmental Psychology and Animal Behavior. Application deadline is June 1, but space is limited.

Media Education Camp

At the Washington Media Institute in Washington, D.C., rising high school juniors and seniors will shoot and edit videos, build a portfolio and create an online presence using new media. Early admission deadline is May 9.

Motion Picture Arts Camp

Located in Northwest Michigan, the Interlochen Center for the Arts features Animation, Digital Filmmaking, Documentary and Screenwriting sessions. Grades 9-12. Rolling applications.

Rail Camp

Sponsored by the National Railway Historical Society. Choose Wilmington, Delaware (housing is at the University of Delaware) or Tacoma, Washington (housing is at the University of Puget Sound.) Learn all about light rail transit and railroad operations, history and preservation. For students currently in 8th to 12th grade. Application deadline is April 15.

Sea Camp

At Texas A & M in Galveston study Coastal Ornithology, Sea Turtles, Coastal Photography, Nautical Archaeology, Marine Engineering, Ecology, Fishing and much more. Registration is open and spaces are filling.

Space Camp

The Virginia Space Flight Academy takes place at the Marine Science Consortium on Wallops Island and at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility. Rocketry, Robotics and an inside look at the US Rocketry program and aerospace careers are highlights.

Weather Camp

Howard University's NOAA Center for Atmospheric Studies in Washington, D.C. provides hands-on activities, field experiments and seminars designed to expand a student's knowledge of the atmospheric sciences. For students entering grades 10-12. Application deadline is February 28.