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What Are the Different Types of Summer Camps?

By Sherry Holetzky
Updated May 23, 2024
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There are two main designations for summer camps, but there are many different types. The first designation is day camp, where attendees participate in a program during the day, but return home in the afternoon or evening. The other designation is "sleep away" or overnight camp. Either kind of camp can last from a single day up to one week or more.

Various entities offer summer camps, from schools and churches to sports programs. There are cheerleading camps, dance camps, camps for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and even specialized camps, including those for people with disabilities or special needs. Summer camps may be strictly for boys or girls, or they may be co-ed but strictly for children. There are camps available for adults as well, such as performing arts camps, but adults and children are not usually included in the same camp setting.

Aside from sports and scout camps, there are also spa camps, exercise and training camps, weight loss camps and boot camps, as well as summer camps for most hobbies. These include everything from art and music to science. You should have no problem selecting a camp that matches your child's needs, interests and personality. Friendly reminder though, make sure that if they join hiking or trekking activities, they will be supervised by a competent grownup. Camping tools like utility knives, ropes, or axes should always be handled by experts and not kids.

The activities available at different camps include everything from learning how to skateboard or ride a horse, to preparing for higher education and performing community service. Your child can experience everything from diving, fishing and archery, to learning about computers or learning new forms of worship. From dirt bike racing to snorkeling, and from tennis to dancing, there is something for every taste.

Choosing a camp depends quite a bit on the children who plan to attend. For example, a child who has never been away from home may be reluctant to attend a camp that lasts more than one week. Find out if the camp you are considering offers a "trial" stay, allowing the child to visit for a day or two before making a final decision. Since most camp fees are non-refundable, you don't want to pay for a two weeks' stay if the child is ready to return home in two days.

Summer camps can be a form of vacation, a learning experience, or a bit of both. Some of the greatest benefits these camps offer is the chance for children to make new friends, learn new skills or simply improve upon current ones, and remain busy and active throughout the summer months. Make sure you ask the facilitators regarding the activities during summer camp and find out if they're age appropriate. You wouldn't want your young kids to handle hunting tools long before they've learned how to use them.

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Discussion Comments

By SauteePan — On May 21, 2011

@Cupcake15 - That does sound like a good idea. I have also heard of summer camps for girls and I think that at certain ages it is a good idea because around age ten, I know that girls prefer to have same sex parties and the camp is another extension of that.

I know that these camps have a variety of activities but I prefer the idea of a summer sports camp because I have a boy and a girl and for planning purposes it is much easier for me to have them go to the same camp.

By cupcake15 — On May 19, 2011

@SurfNTurf - I think that summer camps for teenagers help them prepare for college. There are many colleges across the country that offer really bright students an academic summer camp experience from grades seven and up.

You have to take a qualifying exam, but students that I know that have gone through the experience said that they enjoyed it immensely. Usually the programs are three to six weeks and are offered my some of the most prestigious universities in the country.

By surfNturf — On May 17, 2011

Anon132727 - I have heard of those, but I don’t think that I would be comfortable sending my kids to an international camp like that. I have a hard time with an overnight summer camp although there are some terrific ones out there and it does give older children a chance to bond with other kids.

I never went to sleep away summer camp as a kid, but I could see how it could be fun. I also know that I would miss my kids terribly.

By anon132727 — On Dec 08, 2010

There are also many international summer camp options for older kids who are independent enough to want to explore new countries during their summers. There are many great high school summer programs in China including Next Step Connections entrepreneur programs.

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