A Day at CAMP Columbus Circle
“The word ‘no’ does not exist here,” says Justin, one of the counselors at CAMP, a new and exceedingly fun concept store and accompanying interactive experience called Art CAMP that recently opened on the second and third floors of The Shops at Columbus Circle.
Justin is just one of the many counselors working at this colorful, light-filled, two-level space with dazzling views overlooking Central Park. Though you can hardly call it work: As a counselor, his job is to have as much fun as the guests here, making sure that everyone who visits CAMP and Art CAMP are inspired, engaged, and entertained—and that they never hear the word “no.”
Whether you’re familiar with CAMP or not, you’re in for something special. This experiential retailer has created a fresh concept that is like nothing you’ve seen before. It’s part toy store, part day camp, and 100% focused on having a good time. And while it's targeted at kids and families, adults have also discovered CAMP’s appeal for a fun date night out. More on that in a few.
Walking into the main CAMP entrance on the second floor of The Shops at Columbus Circle, a vintage Chevy pickup truck sets the scene for exploration. Kids can jump in the driver’s seat, play the radio, and rev the engine. (Don't worry: Even though it’s a working truck, it’s not driving anywhere.)
Next to the truck is a race track where kids can road test scooters and plasma cars. A few steps away is a disco-inspired dance cabin with walls covered in reversible flip sequins and lights that make patterns in response to your moves. There’s also a hidden slide, a faux campfire for book reading sessions, and other interactive experiences just waiting to be discovered.
Interspersed throughout the space is an expertly curated collection of toys, projects, books, and more. Wherever your kid’s passion and interests lie, you’ll find it here. For instance, in a section devoted to science, you’ll find a chemistry terrarium kit, architect building blocks, and a plant pot that doubles as a music speaker. (Pro-tip: There are great gifts for grown-ups, as well.) Pool toys, fake tattoos, L.O.L. Surprise Dolls—you name it, you’ll find it at CAMP.
Upstairs on the third floor of The Shops at Columbus Circle is Art CAMP, where kids can choose from what seems like hundreds of open-ended visual arts experiences, from tie-dyeing to sand art to ceramic painting. In the mood to get your hands dirty? At the Slime Lab, you can mix up one-of-a-kind creations like a glow-in-the-dark version scented with banana and interspersed with gold leaf and mini watermelons. Or head to the spin art table and combine colors to create a technicolor frisbee that will definitely make a statement in nearby Central Park.
Then there’s the star of the Art CAMP show: the Splatter Room, where budding artists are given a range of brushes, tools, paints, and a blank canvas. (According to Justin, the Splatter Room has also become a secret date night location for couples looking for a unique night out on the town.) Guests suit up in a plastic poncho and booties and splash paint on the canvas as they channel their inner Jackson Pollock. And don't worry about making a mess. As Justin will remind you: “The word ‘no’ does not exist here.”
Besides the art projects, Art CAMP also has a theater for performances plus scheduled workshops for kids ages 2-12 and their parents. Tickets for experiences, workshops, and performances at Art CAMP start at $15; you can just show up, but it’s always a good idea to book in advance online. There’s no charge to play on the second level.