Explore 13 Great Options for Kids' Summer Camps

A picture of a happy camp counselor and children with marshmallows around campfire
Today's summer camp options include everything from your typical nights around the campfire to rock climbing up a mountain. Photo © Hero Images / Digital Vision/Getty Images

With hundreds of kids' summer camps to choose from, it can take you longer to find the right camp than it will for your child to actually attend the session. Find one of the summer camps you don't want your child to miss this year and make your decision easier with this breakdown of 13 summer camp options for kids of all ages.

Get more help on finding the right kids' summer camps. Read the free Summer Camp Guide.

Academic Camps

Children who prefer to learn during the summer can take part in an academic camp. These camps teach everything from astronomy to veterinary medicine.

Types of academic camps include:

  • Archaeology
  • Astronomy
  • Biology
  • Business
  • Chemistry
  • Computer
  • Debate
  • Foreign Language
  • Gifted
  • Geology
  • Journalism
  • Marine Science
  • Math
  • Medicine
  • Robotics
  • Science
  • Veterinary Science

Adventure Camps

Kids can climb rocks, go canoeing or spend time in the wilderness at a general camp but adventure camps are centered around unique expeditions. Rock climbing, canoeing and outdoor activities don't become a couple of hours of fun, they become an entire camp experience.

Types of adventure camps include:

  • Backpacking
  • Biking
  • Canoeing
  • Caving
  • Fishing
  • Marine Biology
  • Rock Climbing
  • Sailing
  • Scuba Diving
  • Survival
  • Whitewater Rafting

Arts Camps

The budding artist in your family may be interested in a camp that teaches fine or performing arts. Art camps focus on developing a child's certain artistic talents.

Children may attend workshops, practice for a performance or prepare for an exhibit, all to take the child's love of that particular art to the next level.

Types of arts camps include:

  • Acting
  • Art
  • Dance
  • Music
  • Theater
  • Writing

Family Camps

Can't imagine spending a week away from the kids? Head to family camp. These camps invite your whole family out for traditional wilderness activities or you can expose the family to music and dance camps that teach everyone how to clog, appreciate folk music and square dance.

Many family camps overlap with other types of summer camps on this list with the exception being that everyone in your family attends instead of kids only.

Types of family camps include:

  • Dance
  • Special Needs
  • Sports
  • Wilderness

General Camps

Most parents who went to summer camp usually think of a general camp when considering programs for their own children. Swimming, arts and crafts and spending time in the great outdoors are some of the many activities offered at general camps. Most take place in the woods and are budget-friendly kids' summer camps.

Religious Camps

Children of a certain religious denomination may enjoy religious camp. Many churches hold Vacation Bible School during the summer, which is usually a day camp. For overnight camps, denominations offer sessions by region. Children from other counties and states go to a camp that's based on their religious beliefs. Kids experience traditional camp activities, such as water play, arts and crafts and sports but there is prayer time, Bible studies and other religious services throughout the session.

Military Camps

Military camp may sound like a boot camp where troubled teens go but that's not the case. Military summer camps teach loyalty, build confidence and give kids the chance to see what life in the military is like. Campers also get to participate in typical summer camp activities like arts and crafts, paintball, rappelling and more. These camps can be found on military bases as well as other sites.

Scouts Camps

Boys and girls have been attending scouts camps for about 100 years. Some scouting camps allow children who are not scouts to attend for an extra fee. Kids can enjoy horseback riding, swimming, arts and crafts or themed summer sessions such as water fun or wilderness survival. Scouts also work toward earning badges while they're at camp.

Service Organization Camps

Kids involved in service organizations, such as 4-H, Future Farmers of America (FFA) and Kiwanis Kids, can attend camps related to their group. Campers may get to swim, play field games, learn new skills and explore nature. Since service organization members range from elementary school students all the way up to seniors in high school, many of these camp programs are broken up into age-appropriate sessions.

Sports Camps

Name a sport and there's probably a camp for it. Cheerleading, baseball, football and basketball camps are the typical sports camps that come to mind. But sports camps also include surfing, lacrosse and BMX, to name a few. A lot of sports camps have a professional athlete or coach associated with them so children learn from some of the most experienced people in their sport.

Types of sports camps include:

  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • BMX
  • Cheerleading
  • Cross Country
  • Fencing
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Gymnastics
  • Hockey
  • Lacrosse
  • Rowing
  • Skating
  • Skiing
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball
  • Water Polo
  • Wrestling

Special Needs Camps

Children with special needs often look forward to camp each year so they can be surrounded by their peers and participate in activities geared just for them. Many of these camps provide a counselor to tend to each child and her specific needs, giving them the individual attention they deserve. These camps usually have a full medical staff on location to distribute the children's medications and treat the kids for any situations that may arise.

Types of special needs camps include:

  • Asperger's
  • Asthma
  • Autism
  • Burn
  • Celiac Disease
  • Crohn's and Colitis
  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Hearing Impaired
  • HIV and AIDS
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Leukemia
  • Oncology
  • Physical Disabilities
  • Speech Impaired
  • Spina Bifida
  • Visually Impaired

Technology Camps

You'll find some crossover between art and technology camps. However, technology camps give kids hands-on training in areas such as animation, graphic design and digital photography.

Types of technology camps include:

  • Animation
  • Computer Programming
  • Digital Photography
  • Film Production
  • Graphic Design
  • Video Game Design
  • Website Design

Theme Camps

Do your kids have dreams of becoming an astronaut? Crime scene investigator? Circus performer? Theme camps make kids' dreams come true, living as everything from secret agents to magicians. But theme camps aren't just about fantasy role playing. Fitness, etiquette and yoga are other types of camps that fall into this category.

Types of theme camps include:

  • Aviation
  • Circus
  • Construction
  • Cooking
  • CSI
  • Engineering
  • Etiquette
  • Farm
  • Fashion
  • Fitness
  • Gaming
  • Magic
  • Modeling
  • Secret Agent
  • Space
  • Yoga