The Summer Camp for Kids + Teens is an informal, interest-based program which provides young people entering grades 2-12 with the chance to experiment with and learn about media arts and technology from experienced teaching artists. No previous experience is required, just the desire to participate in an active, fun, and educational learning experience. We provide the equipment and mentorship (and snacks). Kids and teens provide the ideas and bring them to fruition!
Summer Camp for Kids + Teens is a program of the Northwest Film Center’s Classes & Admin Office, which is located at 934 SW Salmon Avenue, on the corner of SW 10th and Salmon, across from The Bike Gallery, along the Portland Streetcar line, near the tree-lined South Park Blocks in downtown Portland. The immediate neighborhood includes the Portland Art Museum, Portland State University, Portland Center for the Performing Arts, Central Branch of the Multnomah County Library, and other Cultural District destinations. The MAX light rail line and TriMet bus mall are just four blocks away.
Please note that our mailing address is shared with the Portland Art Museum and is different than our street address. Mailing address: 1219 SW Park Avenue, Portland, OR 97205.
Our faculty members are hand-picked, award-winning, independent filmmakers who devote a portion of their professional lives to teaching and who are devoted to helping young people experience the creative process and the rewards of learning to express themselves through the film arts. Many have years of experience working as artists-in-residence in K-12 schools or in community youth programs, in addition to their work as Summer Camp instructors. See individual camp listings for their bios.
Classes and camps are limited to between 11 and 14. There is one instructor and one assistant instructor per class, making the average instructor-to-student ratio 1:6.
The Northwest Film Center facility consists of three air-conditioned classrooms, a digital video editing lab, equipment room, faculty offices, registrar’s office, restrooms, and staff offices. You will sign your child in and out with the instructor (unless you have granted permission for your older child to arrive and depart on his/her own). Students are not allowed to leave the facility during a class unless accompanied by their instructor and/or assistant instructor. Our Summer Camp Coordinator is available to answer questions you may have during regular business hours.
The Film Center’s equipment pool includes up-to-date digital video cameras, sound recording equipment, lights, microphones, and Macintosh-based digital editing work stations.
As an arts-based program, our mission is to teach visual storytelling and media production in a manner that supports creative expression. This is accomplished through small group exercises and low-key, hands-on instruction in a project-oriented environment. Students are encouraged to try new experiences and contribute in a positive manner to the class as a whole, while discovering something about themselves and receiving support for their participation. By the end of the week, we want them to leave with a richer understanding of the collaborative nature of media production and the value of their own personal voice. Along the way, they will acquire an impressive vocabulary and be able to watch television programs and movies with new insight.
Every camp concludes with a student-hosted film premiere (generally 30 minutes) held in your child’s classroom on the last day of camp. Friends, parents, siblings, grandparents, and your child’s other champions are invited to take a seat, nibble on popcorn, and watch the show as the lights go down and the movie(s) and behind-the-scenes footage unfold. All of the work is then uploaded to a private, online video album created just for your child’s camp. Campers receive a password to the album and may download their work or otherwise share access with family and friends. We ask that parents help to ensure that sharing is conducted in a manner that is respectful of all members of the class.
Drop-off starts 15 minutes before the start time of your camp (e.g., doors open at 8:30 a.m. for a camp that starts at 8:45 a.m.). Upon arrival, campers and their parents will be directed to their classroom by the Summer Camp Coordinator. The instructor or assistant instructor will sign the child in just inside the door. At the end of class, parents will pick their child up in their classroom and sign them out with the instructor or assistant instructor.
There is metered off-street parking along SW 10th Avenue along the side of the Film Center’s admin and classes building and on SW Salmon Street in front of the NWFC entrance. The parking lot next to our building is unavailable for public parking on weekdays.
During the online registration process, if your child is entering grade 6 or above, we will ask whether you want to grant permission for them to be able to depart independently (self sign-out). Please make your request at this time. Note: this does NOT include leaving the facility to purchase food during class time.
Children entering grades 2-5 must be signed in and out each day by one of the adults indicated during registration.
Also, regardless of whether you grant permission for your child to arrive/leave independently, we request that ALL campers entering grades 2-8 be accompanied by a parent/guardian for a brief orientation session on the first day of camp.
No. Due to space limitations, we cannot offer care before and after camp.
Camps for 2nd-6th graders include a morning break, lunch break, and afternoon break. The lunch break includes a walk to the South Park Blocks for fresh air and playground games like Capture the Flag and Freeze Tag.
We serve healthy snacks such as fresh or dried fruit, whole wheat crackers, and cheese (and yes, low-sugar afternoon treats). Water is also served. Please let us know if your child has a special dietary restriction at the time of registration so we can do our best to accommodate you.
Campers should bring a sack lunch that does not require refrigeration. Participants in the Media Arts Academy for Teens are provided catered lunches each day. Students may not leave the facility to purchase food during class time.
No. Due to staffing limitations, we cannot administer medication.
Cell phones, iPads, iPods, etc. must be turned OFF during camp. Use before or after camp is fine.
All camps are hands-on. Each camp is oriented to planning, shooting, and editing a movie (or movies) to completion by the end of the week. The finished work of the class is uploaded to a private, online video album, which can be accessed by a password provided to class members at the end of the week. Work can be downloaded from the album and sent to friends and family.
No, all equipment is provided. Instruction is much more effective if we teach the same format and platform to the entire class.
We advise students to enroll in classes that match their age/grade. Our instructors are adept at finding ways for students with experience to increase their skill level within the class. Feel free to let us know about your child’s skill level when you register so we can discuss it with you and notify the instructor.
We expect all children to behave in a way that is conducive to a fun and healthy learning environment. In the event that a child is being overly disruptive, we reserve the right to remove the child from the classroom. If the behavior persists, parents will be notified. If the behavior does not improve, the child may be asked not to return to class. In these situations, tuition will not be refunded.
Please notify the Northwest Film Center at 503-221-1156 x18 in advance if your child has learning disabilities, mental health issues, physical health issues, or other challenges, so that appropriate responses or strategies may be discussed prior to the beginning of camp.
No. We sometimes offer weekend and school break classes during the school year as well. Please sign up for our email list to find out more about these opportunities.
Email summercamp@nwfilm.org or call us at 503-221-1156 x18 during regular business hours.
Registration & Payment
No. Our classes are small so we require payment at time of registration.
Cash, Check, Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.
Yes. Often, openings become available. We highly recommend getting on the wait list.
Click here and follow the prompts to register online.
No. We no longer accept phone, fax, or US mail registrations.
Using the online registration process, you will have the option to add your child to the wait list for any sections of camps that are full. You will be notified by Northwest Film Center staff if space becomes available. We do not encourage those on the wait list to come to the camp unless notified by a staff person.
You may receive a full refund, be placed in a second choice camp, or apply your payment to another class in the future.
The refund schedule is as follows:
30 or more days before the first class: 90% Refund
15-29 days before the first class: 50% Refund
0-14 days before the first class: No Refund Available
It varies. Some classes will be full by late April. Most will be full by June 1.
Email summercamp@nwfilm.org or call us at 503-221-1156 x18 during regular business hours.
Families with a high interest child or teen and significant financial need may complete a Tuition Assistance Application. Significant need means that it would be impossible for a family to participate in Summer Camp if tuition and fees are not substantially reduced. There is no deadline; assistance is awarded on a rolling basis until this year’s funds are granted. Download the Tuition Assistance Application Form.Note: Teens specifically interested in the Media Arts Academy for Teens may request support through the Frank Hood Scholarship Program. Please scroll down to the MEDIA ARTS ACADEMY FOR TEENS section below for more information. Frank Hood Scholarships are not available for other camps.

The Media Arts Academy for Teens is our premier offering for young people with a serious interest in applying to film school or who want to experience the challenges of creating an entire dramatic film from scratch. Now in its 14th year, the Academy meets for a total of 64 hours, compared to our other teen camps that meet from between 20 and 30 hours. Mimicking the professional crew experience as closely as possible, including providing “craft services” (catered lunches) to keep the intensity going, the Academy heavily emphasizes original writing and the teamwork it takes to successfully cast, plan, shoot, and edit a film.
No previous experience is required. This is an opportunity to learn about yourself, focus your aspirations, learn professional protocols, and experiment with a group of like-minded others.
Yes, the Frank Hood Scholarship Program makes possible a limited number of full and partial awards toward Academy tuition/fees. Priority is given to those whose career goals include working in film. The application deadline is June 1. Download the Frank Hood Scholarship Application. Please note: Frank Hood Scholarships are not available for other camps.
There will be a student-hosted film premiere for parents and friends on the last day of the Academy, generally around 4 p.m. The premiere is held in the state-of-the-art, 365-seat Whitsell Auditorium, located inside the Portland Art Museum, just up the street. It’s a free event and your guests are welcome.
The class film and behind-the-scenes footage will be uploaded to a private, online video album set up just for the Academy. You will receive a password to the album and may download the work or otherwise share access with family and friends. We ask that you share in a manner that is respectful of all members of the class.
Some high schools may offer a .5 elective credit for this course. If you have questions regarding this, speak with your high school counselor or contact summercamp@nwfilm.org.
We can supply this upon request. Simply tell us whom the letter should be addressed to. Some high schools will award high school elective credit based on the letter, but we encourage you to discuss this with school officials ahead of time.
Reasonably priced dormitory housing with private bathrooms and internet access (and optional meal plan), operated by the Portland State University Housing Office, is available in the Ondine Residence Hall, a short walk from the Film Center. Arrangements must be made directly with PSU. For more information, click here or call 503-725-4336. Discuss with your parents whether this is an appropriate option, as PSU does not provide on-site supervision and is not affiliated with the Film Center.