Best Summer Camps for Kids: Top destinations for children 3-18Christina Couch
Navigating the world of summer camps for kids is almost as hard as picking the right school. There’s an overwhelming number of good camps out there, but not every camp appeals to every kid. While these day and residential camps may not have the most mind-blowing facilities, they each offer outside-the-box programs designed to get your kids active, artsy, and out of the house. Here are some of the coolest camps in the country to get you started in your search, arranged first by age range (of the kids, not the camps!) and then by whether they’re predominately Sports and Fitness, Arts, or Academic/Specialty camps. Did we miss your favorite? Feel free to add your nominations for best camps in the comments!
Tykes at this age are exploring the world around them and preparing to enter kindergarten. Camps that focus on the younger set primarily center on developing basic movement, coordination, language, and reading skills necessary for kindergarten and first grade. They also introduce children to worlds outside of what they see in their own homes and communities. Expect to find camps geared to this age at virtually any day care, fitness center, dance studio, library, or community center.
With solid verbal skills down pat, kids at this age are more focused on exploring new academic arenas, testing their physical limits, and getting themselves into anything their older siblings like. Expect camps focused on this age group to be fairly broad in terms of what they offer and to concentrate on multi-disciplinary study combined with hands-on activities that reinforce lessons. Parents can find these camping options at libraries and community centers as well as museums, tutoring centers, YMCAs, and college campuses.
Finally, your kids are old enough to focus. Here’s where summer camps become more specialized, more extreme, and more competitive. Instead of offering a broad range of classes, many focus on one specific field and provide in-depth analysis and accompanying activities. If your child has any specialized interest, whether it be dinosaurs or drag racing, trust us: there’s a summer camp dedicated exclusively to that field. Find them by investigating local colleges, children’s performing arts groups, and museums.
Here’s where camps get cooler – and significantly more expensive. Since your child is now light-years away from the days when a game of hop-scotch made for an amazing afternoon, summer camps focused on the teen demographic capture fleeting attention spans by recruiting working professionals in their fields of interest and providing facilities and resources teens wouldn’t have access to otherwise. In addition to the camps listed below, parents can find local options at their nearest college and through their child’s high school.