Give Your Kid the BEST SUMMER EVER!

Featured Article, Growth and Development, Sports and Activities

These days, summer camps are big business. Gone are the simple days of roasting marshmallows, braiding lanyards and singing a round of “Kum-ba-yah.” Sure, traditional outdoorsy camps are still tons of fun, but nowadays, the options are literally endless. So if you want to give your kids the best summer ever? No, it may not be the most cost-effective choice you’ll ever make. But with options like these? It’s the one-of-a-kind, coolest-thing-ever, MAN!-It’s-great-to-be-a-kid! experience that you’re paying for. And we think you’ll agree by just reading about them that you will, in fact, wish you were a kid again!

French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts
Hancock, New York

Don’t let its name fool you: Even though French Woods was founded as and continues to be a leading camp for kids interested in theater, music and other performing arts, it also offers summer programs in sports, film and video, visual arts, horseback riding, circus, skateboarding, magic and more. Located in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York, French Woods offers four three-week summer sessions for boys and girls ages 7 to 17. Fee: $4,750 and up

French Woods' circus camp participants | CREDIT: French Woods

A summer at French Woods? There’s nothing quite like it, as these circus camp participants will attest! CREDIT: French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts

Camp Gid D Up
Los Angeles, California

Horsing around is the main focus of this free Western-style camp for at-risk and disenfranchised inner-city kids ages 9 to 18. Founded in 1992 by actor Glynn Turman and his wife Jo-An, the nonprofit camp gives city kids an opportunity to participate in traditional outdoor camping activities and learn how to care for and ride horses on a 20-acre ranch just outside Los Angeles. Campers can tap into their inner cowboys and cowgirls at the camp’s rodeo events. Fee: Free to qualifying campers

Digital Media Academy
Multiple locations in nine states plus Washington, D.C., and Canada

Who says learning can’t also be fun? At Digital Media Academy’s (DMA) summer day camps, kids ages 6 through 17 interested in STEM can hone their skills in programming and app development, 3-D modeling and animation, game design and development, robotics and engineering, filmmaking and visual effects—and more. DMA’s Made by Girls program offers computer science courses just for girls as a way to encourage young women to develop the confidence and skills to pursue careers in science and technology. Sessions are held at schools and universities across the United States and Canada, including Stanford, Northwestern, Bryn Mawr and Harvard. Fee: $775 and up

Farm & Wilderness
Plymouth, Vermont

The “no phone zone” extends way beyond the dinner table at Farm & Wilderness, located on 4,000 secluded acres in central Vermont. In fact, the camp is entirely tech-free—even recorded music is on the no-no list. The outdoor farming and adventure camp focuses instead on the Quaker values of self-reliance, community-building, cooperation and simple living. Food is grown on the camp’s own organic farm and dairy, and there is no running water or electricity in the cabins. What it lacks in modern comforts, Farm & Wilderness more than makes up for in fun. Boys and girls ages 4 to 17 can attend a day camp, family camp or one of six overnight camps, where they hike, swim, rock-climb, canoe, bake, garden and more. Fee: $2,700 and up

Farm & Wilderness campers enjoy an unplugged, tech-free summer in Vermont. CREDIT: Farm & Wilderness

Farm & Wilderness campers enjoy an unplugged, tech-free summer in Vermont. CREDIT: Farm & Wilderness

Camp Zoofari
Houston, Texas

Little animal lovers will have a wild time at this day camp, located at the Houston Zoo. Kids ages 4 to 12 can participate in 10 week-long sessions to learn about—and get close to—creatures great and small. Older children can enroll in Keeper Camp, where they’re taught the basics of being a zookeeper, including how to train, clean and feed the zoo’s inhabitants. Fee: $145 per half-day session; $250 per full-day session; $450 for Keeper Camp

Science Camps of America
Ka’u, Hawaii

Science buffs can explore and learn in one of the most beautiful places on Earth—Hawaii’s Big Island. Campers in grades 8 through 12 choose one of two week-long camps (or both): Land & Sea or Air & Space. Land & Sea focuses on geology—specifically volcanoes—and oceanography, and campers visit Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano, and spend time in the surf and sand. In Air & Space, kids learn about climate, weather, atmosphere and space. Fee: $2,395 per session

Science Camp is exciting! CREDIT: Science Camps

Science Camp is exciting! CREDIT: Science Camps of America


Pali Adventures
Running Springs, California

Located in the San Bernadino Mountains of southern California, Pali Adventures is basically 21 camps rolled into one, with specialties of all kinds. The action-adventure camps include Hollywood Stunts Camp, Motorsports Camp and Secret Agent Camp. The creative camps include Culinary Camp and Fashion Design Camp, while the performing camps include Rock Star Camp and Broadcast Journalism Camp. Kids enroll in one- or two-week sessions and participate in their specialty each morning and choose elective sports, crafts or other activities for the afternoons. Fee: $1,945 and up

SOAR Camps
Multiple locations in five states

Founded in 1977, SOAR Camps are adventure-based camps where children with ADHD and learning disabilities can come together to have fun, forge friendships and community, develop life skills and build self-confidence. Campers partake in activities such as backpacking, hiking, whitewater rafting, horseback riding and SCUBA diving in a supportive, encouraging environment. Camps are located in gorgeous mountain or coastal settings in North Carolina, Wyoming, Florida, New York and California. Fee: $2,800 and up

Silver Lake Camp
Swan Lake, New York

With its picturesque lake and mountain setting, Silver Lake Camp sure looks like summer camps of old, but its offerings are thoroughly modern. The camp’s 300 acres house all manner of sports venues—basketball, tennis and volleyball courts, soccer and baseball fields, and a skate park. Kids can also golf, practice martial arts, fence, or scale the ropes course and climbing wall. Silver Lake Camp even offers circus training, as well as courses in performing and visual arts. And, of course, there’s the lake, where campers can sail, fish, waterski and more. Fee: $4,850 and up

Smithsonian Summer Camps
Washington, D.C.

Washington D.C.’s Smithsonian Institution’s 19 museums, galleries and zoo make our nation’s capital a popular summertime vacation destination. The Smithsonian also offers week-long summer day camps in a variety of topics, like “Flights of Fantasy,” in which kids channel their inner Rowlings and Tolkiens and try their hands at fantasy and science fiction writing, or “Dancing Dynamics,” where campers learn about dance and movement by visiting the National Zoo, the Hirshhorn Museum and the African Art Museum. Open to kids entering kindergarten through ninth grade. Fee: $450 general admission per session; $385 for Smithsonian members

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