A gathering of young wizards and witches in Holladay
Wizards and witches get to spend time with cold-blooded friends during the summer’s Wizarding Academy. (Kim Bouck/The Wizarding Academy)
By Cassie Goff | [email protected]
A magical summer camp will begin sorting attendees into communities on June 10. The Wizarding Academy will be running until June 27 for its fourth consecutive year (which means this year’s theme derives from the fourth book of the series created by J.K. Rowling). Creator and Organizer Kim Bouck aims to provide students from second to eighth grade an opportunity to live within a world of magic and unleash their inner witch or wizard. The Wizarding Academy has received the Best Summer Camp Award from Utah’s Best of State 2019.
“We have something for every kid,” says Bouck. Children who enjoy reading and trivia get to test their knowledge of the books; science and math specialists use their engineering skills while attempting to protect a dragon egg; theater performers get to role-play and show off their talents during a skit competition; and athletes learn how to play Kidditch from the University of Utah’s Crimson Quidditch team.
Such partnerships created through community outreach has been a highlight for Brouck. In addition to the University of Utah’s Quidditch team: Mad Science has taught potions, Red Butte Gardens aided with herbology, the Clark Planetarium outlined astrology, and various animal handlers introduced attendees to cold-blooded creatures and, new this year, owls.
"It was a magical experience that was the highlight of my kids' summer. They will be analyzing herbs, pondering black holes, and practicing spells long after summer has ended,” said parent Melanie Dance.
The Wizarding Academy accepts students of all levels. Students with varying levels of anxiety, intellectual abilities, etc., are placed into the same houses as everyone else. “We take someone who might fit in a gen-ed classroom and put them in an environment where they are valued and able to contribute. It changes their whole world. The other attendees learn acceptance as they are all contributing to one goal,” says Bouck.
“My 8-year-old couldn't wait to go to the Wizarding Academy every day. He loved meeting other kids who shared his love of the books, and all of the well-organized classes planned for each day. He uses his specially crafted wand to cast spells on his little brother when he's back home,” said parent Karina Payne.
The main theme of the book for the basis of this year’s camp is that “money and status don’t matter, bloodline doesn’t matter. What matters is an individual’s courage and ability to stick by your friends. That’s a powerful message for kids who might not have those skills in a normal school live,” says Bouck.
Bouck enjoys watching the attendees grow over the course of the camp. The Wizarding Academy is geared toward students who may be a little more introverted, as they get immersed in literary worlds. After assuming a role with their robes the first day, “after really putting themselves into that role, they become a totally different child,” Bouck says.
"The robes were awesome! And getting sorted into houses was really fun!” said attendee Russell Brinton.
One of the unique things about the Wizarding Academy is that the attendees get to make friends they otherwise never would have met. “We have people drive in from all across the state,” says Bouck. “We even had an attendee last year come all the way from Evanston every day.”
“Moms usually look for camps that will get their kids off the screens and into communities where they can learn amazing skills in commination and teamwork. Moms look for comradery. That’s what we have,” says Bouck.
The Wizarding Academy enrolls more and more students every year. Staring out with only 32 available spots the first year, they have grown from 64 attendees, to 80 attendees with 160 on the wait list, to now more than 120 attendees in Salt Lake, with a franchised summer camp in Davis County.
Bouck originally began the Wizarding Academy as a fun summer activity for she and her children to experience together. While doing so, a through struck her, “There must be other local moms who can’t afford taking their entire family to theme parks, or believe the theme parks may be too adult for their children. We’ve got to get all these kids together to have a magical experience.”
The Wizarding Academy has even received interest from adults. Bouck is considering creating a weekend camp for those adults, but as of right now, that’s a dream of the future.
As previously mentioned, the Best of Utah 2019 Awards recognized the Wizarding Academy as Best Summer Camp in the education category. “It is an amazing honor to be considered among the people,” says Bouck.
For more information on the Wizarding Academy, visit the website at www.thewizardingacademy.com, or their Instagram @thewizardingacademyslc.