Arts-Based Camps Invite Kids to Paint, Act or Dance Through Summer


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Is your child more of a Picasso than Archimedes or Usain Bolt? Maybe you’ve heard about the cognitive and social benefits arts-based camps offer and you’d like your child to experience them. Whether you’re raising an artist, mathematician or athlete, an arts-based camp may be just what your child needs to balance out, or further enrich, his developing brain.

Plentiful arts-based camp options abound in North Carolina. Your student can train with musical masters at UNC-Greensboro and University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, or participate in summer acting programs at the North Carolina Theatre Conservatory in Raleigh, Children’s Theatre of Charlotte or East Carolina University in Greenville. If your child likes to dance, internationally acclaimed instructors offer summer programs as part of the American Dance Festival in Durham.

Whether you’re enriching an already-artistic-child’s journey or just making an introduction, North Carolina claims a variety of exceptional programs to choose from. Deciding which dream to chase may be the toughest decision your young artist has to make.

More Than Music

Music’s benefits have long been obvious to parents who have crooned soft melodies to soothe agitated babies and later observed the positive effects of an arts education on their growing children. Now, recent studies document the benefits of music on a child’s cognitive and social development, particularly when experienced at a young age and over a long period of time.

Research presented at the 2013 meeting of the Society for Neuroscience reported positive changes to the brain and sensorimotor capabilities of subjects who participate in musical training. Lead author Julie Roy of the University of Montreal presented research suggesting that musical training improves the nervous system’s ability to integrate information from all senses into an understandable whole.

Dr. Gottfried Schlaug, M.D., Ph.D, of Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, says music stimulates reward systems in the brain. An expert on music, neuroimaging and brain plasticity, Schlaug wrote the following in a conference statement from the 2013 meeting of the Society for Neuroscience:

“Playing a musical instrument is a multisensory and motor experience that creates emotions and motions — from finger tapping to dancing — and engages pleasure and reward systems in the brain. It has the potential to change brain function and structure when done over a long period of time.”

Another study presented by Yunxin Wang of the State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning at Beijing Normal University in China, suggests that musical training at an early age yields positive affects on brain development. Wang and colleagues investigated the effects of musical training on the brain’s structure in 48 Han Chinese adults between the ages of 19 and 21 who had formal musical training for at least one year between the ages of 3 and 15. Researchers found that the volume of brain regions related to hearing and self-awareness were larger in those adults who began taking music lessons before age 7.

The advantages of music education on cognitive function have been well documented by previous studies as well. These studies show that children who have experienced musical education often score higher on IQ and standardized tests. A study published in 2007 by Christopher Johnson, professor of music education and music therapy at the University of Kansas, showed that students in elementary schools with high-quality music education programs scored approximately 22 percent higher in English and 20 percent higher in math scores on standardized tests, compared to students attending schools with low-quality music programs, regardless of socioeconomic disparities between the schools.

Shirley Brice Heath, a Margery Bailey Professor of English and Dramatic Literature, Emeritus; and Professor of Linguistics and Anthropology at Stanford University, discovered that young people who participate in the arts for at least three hours, three days each week for one full year are:

- Four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement.
- Four times more likely to participate in a math and science fair.
- Three times more likely to win an award for school attendance.
- Four times more likely to win an award for writing an essay or poem.

Social Perks

The California Alliance for Arts Education recently asserted that arts education helps students become globally competitive by developing their ability to innovate, communicate and collaborate. Lauren Richardson of Raleigh has witnessed the academic benefits of music and arts on her four children, but values the social benefits most.

Her son, a participant in the North Carolina Theatre Conservatory for the Performing Arts’ Summer Theatre Arts School, recently scored his first paid professional gig with a role in Frosty the Snowman by Broadway Series South in Raleigh. Richardson says she saw dramatic improvement in his maturity thanks to this experience.

“It was a complete turnaround as far as his focus and maturity this year in school after doing (Summer Theater Arts School at the conservatory),” she says.

Her three daughters have also benefited from studies in music and arts. Her oldest daughter is a successful playwright in New York City and her 18-year-old daughter studies musical theater at American University. Richardson’s youngest daughter transformed from a reticent 4-year-old to a confident, young woman, in large part because of her experiences at the conservatory.

“She experienced tremendous growth in just one week of improv,” Richardson says.

The conservatory directors have a Broadway background, which creates a high level of professionalism and authentic theater experiences. “The kids learn a lot about working together with other people and what it takes to collaborate on a project,” Richardson says. “They are doing very grown-up work.”

Ray Walker, artistic director for the conservatory who made his Broadway debut as “Marius” in the hit musical Les Miserables and who played “Annas” in Jesus Christ Superstar and “Doody” in Grease!, says the conservatory originated as an offshoot from the popular summer theater camp run by North Carolina Theatre in the 1980s.

One current conservatory student, 12-year-old Reed Shannon, who has been with the conservatory since age 4, recently booked a national tour starring as a young Michael Jackson in Motown.

“What we are trying to do (at the conservatory), our goal, is to create working actors, dancers and performers who can get jobs and have viable careers, and we have had some success with that,” he says.

The popularity of arts-based camps indicates that children are gravitating toward what they inherently know is good for them. A 2005 Harris Poll revealed that 93 percent of Americans consider the arts to be vital to providing a well-rounded education and a critical link to learning and success. When it comes to shaping young minds, arts-based camps have become an essential piece of the puzzle.

Carol McGarrahan is a freelance writer in the Triangle.

Arts-Based Camps Across NC

Research shows that arts-based education can wire the brain for creativity in ways we are only beginning to understand, and programs across North Carolina can help students explore the arts. Here are some to consider.

Playmakers Repertory Company Summer Youth Conservatory: playmakersrep.org/outreach/syc
Raleigh Area Children’s Theatre: raleighact.com
Raleigh Little Theatre: raleighlittletheatre.org
North Carolina Theatre Conservatory for the Performing Arts' Summer Theatre Arts School in Raleigh: nctheatre.com/education
UNC-Greensboro Summer Music Camp: smcamp.org
ECU Summer Drama Camp: ecu.edu/cs-cfac/theatredance/outreach/Summer-Drama-Camp.cfm
American Dance Festival Summer School: americandancefestival.org/education/school/2014-summer
University of North Carolina School of the Arts Summer Session: uncsa.edu/summersession

For additional arts resources, browse our Camps Directories and Enrichment Directory, and check your city’s parks and recreational classes for youth. Read our feature, Kids Camp in Carolinas and Virginia Offer Unique Overnight Experiences.

 

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Where:
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Cost: 20

Where:
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5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
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Cost: Free

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
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View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
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Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
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View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
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Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

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Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

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Cost: Varies depending on camp week

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd
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View map »


Sponsor: JC Raulston Arboretum
Telephone: (919) 513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
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Telephone: 191-990-25432
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4709 Ten-Ten Rd
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
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More information

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Cost: 20

Where:
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5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
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Sponsor: USNWC
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More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
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Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
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More information

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Cost: See website for fees

Where:
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Contact Name: Kelly
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More information

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Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
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View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

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Cost: See website for fees

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Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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Cost: Free

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Short class advertising for local class   I am a mom and retired CPA who is passionate about teaching teens about the high cost of their choices. I teach a fun, interactive "Game of Life meets...

Cost: $225

Where:
Hope Community Church- Apex
2080 E Williams Street
Apex, NC  27539
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Sponsor: Beyond Personal Finance
Contact Name: Charla McKinley
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Azevedo Family Psychology and Kym Azevedo will host an Art for Life group each Thursday from 5:30-6:30PM beginning January 16 and running through March 26. This group is completely free, kid...

Cost: FREE

Where:
1903 N. Harrison Ave
Suite 201
Cary, NC  27513
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Sponsor: Azevedo Family Psychology
Telephone: 919-624-9568
Contact Name: Kym Azevedo
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Explore astronomy, biology, architectural and engineering principles, technology and so much more through our hands-on, play-based activities. Spend an evening with your preschooler, experiencing...

Cost: free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: Saint Rapahel Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Katie Mistele
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The goal of the How To Talk So Kids Will Listen Group workshop is to help you communicate more effectively with children.   In each session of the workshop you'll be introduced to an...

Cost: $12.95 materials fee

Where:
Wildflower School at Belle Vie Farm
3100 Damascus Church Road
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
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Sponsor: Wildflower School at Belle Vie Farm
Telephone: 919-260-6859
Contact Name: Shelley Welch
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Hounded by Death, the character of Everybody desperately seeks out everyone and everything they know in hope of finding something meaningful to take to the grave. These 90 minutes of theatrical...

Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

Where:
PlayMakers' Repertory Company
120 Country Club Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27599
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Telephone: 919-962-7529

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Forget tourist-filled museums, make your own memories with a photo scavenger hunt tour in Raleigh! On a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, you and your team will work together to wander throughout...

Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
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Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
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Summer Garden Camps at the JCRA invite your child to investigate nature during half or full day camps.  Campers tend to the garden, harvest vegetables, catch insects, and create crafts from the...

Cost: Varies depending on camp week

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Sponsor: JC Raulston Arboretum
Telephone: (919) 513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
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Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
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Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 sq. ft of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three distinct programming areas and an on-ice...

Cost: 20

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
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Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

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Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring  honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
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Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

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Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

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Join us for Family Trivia Night!  Test your knowledge of pop culture, books, music and more. Pizza and drinks provided.  Call or stop by to register: 919-245-2532. Best for kids ages 8 and up...

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

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Art Walk featuring local galleries and artist studios in historic downtown Hillsborough on the Last Friday of every month (no Art Walk in December).

Cost: FREE

Where:
Downtown Hillsborough (multiple locations)
102 N. Churton St.
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Hillsborough Arts Council
Telephone: 919-643-2500
Contact Name: Torey Mishoe
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Kids! Are you sick of the Winter? Enjoy a Summer's night at Peach Road Center. Enjoy a Summer-like evening with us. Get into the luau spirit and play summer games!  

Cost: Free

Where:
Peach Road Community Center
911 Ileagnes Rd
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: City or Raleigh Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-807-8545
Contact Name: Christy Famolare

More information

Hounded by Death, the character of Everybody desperately seeks out everyone and everything they know in hope of finding something meaningful to take to the grave. These 90 minutes of theatrical...

Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

Where:
PlayMakers' Repertory Company
120 Country Club Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27599
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-7529

More information

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Forget tourist-filled museums, make your own memories with a photo scavenger hunt tour in Raleigh! On a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, you and your team will work together to wander throughout...

Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Website »

More information

Join our bird enthusiast, Vernon, for an easy walk while looking and listening for our feathered friends. Discover different types of birds and their habitats.​ No preregistration required. Meet...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

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How did people predict the weather before The Weather Channel, and can animals really help? Come to the Finley Center to put our colonial weather proverbs to the test and make a pop-up woodchuck...

Cost: For all ages; FREE. Registration is not required

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

Summer Garden Camps at the JCRA invite your child to investigate nature during half or full day camps.  Campers tend to the garden, harvest vegetables, catch insects, and create crafts from the...

Cost: Varies depending on camp week

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: JC Raulston Arboretum
Telephone: (919) 513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Join us to meet the educators, see the farm and learn more about our Preschool for 3-5 year olds and Camps for 4-10 year olds. We'll have a campfire for some warmth but please come dressed for the...

Cost: 0

Where:
Longleaf Forest School
4826 Mt. Moriah Road
Durhan, NC  27707
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Sponsor: Longleaf Forest School
Contact Name: Tara Lawson
Website »

More information

Chinese New Year Festival, also Lunar New Year Festival. Largest public event in the Triangle. MAIN STAGE has vocal and orchestral music, folk dance, Lion and Dragon dances, martial arts, and comic...

Cost: $10 entry at door, military and senior discounts, kids<6 free

Where:
Dorton Arena, NC State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Road
Enter Gate 1,2,4,5,11
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Sponsor: NC Triangle Area Chinese American Society
Contact Name: Michael, Shin
Website »

More information

Chinese New Year Festival or Lunar New Year Festival, largest public event in the Triangle. MAIN STAGE with musical and dance performances, Lion Dance Dragon Dance, martial arts, comic skits emceed...

Cost: $10 entry at door, military and senior discounts, kids<6 free

Where:
Dorton Arena, NC State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Road
Enter Gate 1,2,4,5,11
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Sponsor: NC Triangle Area Chinese American Society
Contact Name: Michael, Shin
Website »

More information

Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 sq. ft of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three distinct programming areas and an on-ice...

Cost: 20

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring  honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Spanish Alive is providing Family Spanish classes starting in January! Join us to learn Spanish as an entire family in an immersive, fun environment. Our teachers are trained Spanish educators and...

Cost: $75-$216

Where:
Spanish Alive
156 E. Chatham St
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Did you know that Disney, Netflix, Google and NASA, just to name a few, are all using Python? Python can be used for creating web applications, automation, programming robots and artificial...

Cost: Free: registration required

Where:
, NC


Website »

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FEB. 1, 2020 | 1 – 4 P.M. | BLUE JAY POINT COUNTY PARK Spend a winter afternoon getting to know Blue Jay Point County Park at our Winter Open House. Whether you’re a regular visitor or have...

Cost: Free

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Road
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Telephone: 919-870-4330
Website »

More information

Hounded by Death, the character of Everybody desperately seeks out everyone and everything they know in hope of finding something meaningful to take to the grave. These 90 minutes of theatrical...

Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

Where:
PlayMakers' Repertory Company
120 Country Club Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27599
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-7529

More information

Come on out to support the NC State Gymnastics team as they take on North Carolina in a RED out on February 1st! The first 300 fans in attendance will receive an exclusive red NC State Gymnastics...

Cost: $3-$7

Where:
Reynolds Collisuem
2411 Dunn Ave.
Raleigh , NC  27607
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More information

Come on out to support the NC State Gymnastics team as they take on North Carolina in a RED out on February 1st! The first 300 fans in attendance will receive an exclusive red NC State Gymnastics...

Cost: $3-$7

Where:
Reynolds Collisuem
2411 Dunn Ave.
Raleigh , NC  27607
View map »

More information

Hounded by Death, the character of Everybody desperately seeks out everyone and everything they know in hope of finding something meaningful to take to the grave. These 90 minutes of theatrical...

Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

Where:
PlayMakers' Repertory Company
120 Country Club Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27599
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-7529

More information

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Annual Guides

Education Guide

The 2019-20 Education Guide offers 718 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. In our 2019-20 issue, explore 1,028 resources for family fun.