RECOMMENDED: Full guide to summer camps in NYC
We can't argue that NYC is the best place to raise a family, but at a certain point, it's time for our adventurous youngsters leave the nest and get acquainted with the great outdoors beyond Central Park via awesome sleepaway camp programs. At these sleepaway camps for kids—situated in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Massachusetts—your kids, tweens and teens can skip out on hot summer city sidewalks in favor of gooey marshmallows, tents and cabins, sporty outdoor explorations and more! Oh, and before you go, check out our favorite camp gear picks and our favorite 101 things to do with kids!
Sleepaway camp in NY
Your tykes can get out of town for a sleepaway experience and return home on Friday afternoons to spend the weekend with the family. The sprawling Camp Minisink grounds stretch over more than 600 acres of woodlands, giving visitors access to scenic cabin villages, a 70-acre private lake and tons of outdoorsy activities. Campers create their own schedules daily, using their vacation time for high-energy pursuits such as sailing, hiking, swimming, fencing and ropes courses, as well as laid-back recreation like photography, chess and science exploration. Gathering around a crackling campfire in the evening gives everyone a chance to reset and get ready for more recreation the next day. Transportation to and from locations in NYC is included in the cost. Ages 7–15.
Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp is a unique leadership camp for kids who want to change the world! Campers build their confidence to speak up for what they believe in and learn skills like starting a school club, fundraising and effective communication. By the end of the weeklong session, they'll have created an in-depth action plan to make a difference on the cause of their choice when they go home. This special session of YEA camp is dedicated to animals, and kids are welcome to spend free time visiting with rescue animals each day. Ages 12–17.
Kids looking to concentrate on a specific subject (such as cheerleading, martial arts or ceramics) have the chance to work with artists and athletes-in-residence who are there all summer long to help campers hone their skills. Every Friday—also known as “change-it-up day”—campers eat breakfast on the beach in their PJs and participate in unexpected events like a luau, a dinosaur-egg hunt or an intra-camp tournament. In a special weeklong program, they’ll tackle high-flying feats when the troupe from Circus of the Kids comes to perform acrobatics, bicycle stunts and tons of exciting tricks, plus pass on their expertise. Kids who can’t get enough of the water will relish swimming in spring-fed Lake Echo and taking part in the aquatics program, which offers boating, tubing, water games and playtime on the aqua park inflatables. Ages 6–16.
Days spent on 200 acres in the scenic Catskill Mountains are packed with seven periods of sports, art and outdoorsy games, as well as plenty of camp traditions. After breakfast, kids may spend the morning horseback riding, scaling the climbing wall, gliding down the camp’s zip line or waterskiing on Mastens Lake. In the afternoon, campers get to take a rest, tell stories and write letters back home before gearing up for three more hours of events. Finally, the evenings bring Free-Play Plus, during which campers fit in one last activity of their choice before the beginning of Lakota’s signature event, which can be a talent show, dance or game night. Every Wednesday, all the campers convene for a group outing, which could mean Color War or a trip off-site to amusement parks and other local spots. Ages 6–16.
Throughout the summer, kids learn the importance of making and keeping friends; they also spend time playing baseball and softball in the on-site Tiger Stadium. Campers also have access to plenty of exciting activities, including digital photography, movie making, painting, mountain biking, water trampolines, martial arts and rollerblading. The highlight of the summer, though, is the camp's over-the-top color war. Ages 7 to 16.
Iroquois Springs' comprehensive program consists of land and water sports, as well as horseback riding, art, theater and extensive outdoor-adventure activities like soccer, ziplining, basketball, swimming and waterskiing. Warm staff emphasize self-esteem boosting and individual development over competition. Ages 7 to 16.
Each bunk at this Jewish camp has its own snack garden where campers can pick fresh fruit and vegetables when hunger strikes between meals. While traditional activities like basketball, kayaking and pottery are offered, unusual specialties like sheep shearing, fire spinning and circus arts truly set this camp apart. Ages 8 to 16.
At this all-around sleepaway camp, youngsters can design jewelry in the art studio, make clocks in the wood shop, play with animals in the nature center and learn how to water-ski. Other notable facilities include two swimming pools with massive tube slides, an extensive lakefront waterpark with bouncy structures, a ropes course and rock wall. Ages 7 to 17.
Kiddos who like to choose offerings that suit their interests will dig this free- form sleepaway camp in the Adirondack Mountains. They can break free from their bunkmates to take a crack at ropes courses, play paintball and capture the flag, ride ATVs, set out on horseback and even hit the lake for wakeboarding and Jet Skiing. For more downtime, kids can also opt for kayaking, fishing, cooking, puppet making and more. The fun doesn’t stop when the sun sets either—campers might join up with Long Lake Camp for the Arts to enjoy rock concerts, dances and theater, face off in bunk challenges or just chill with some games and a campfire. Everyone can look forward to twice-weekly trips involving white-water rafting on the Hudson, scenic hikes, area amusement parks and more. Ages 8–16.
The camp serves developmentally delayed children, including those who have Asperger's syndrome, autism, MR, ADHD, OCD or PDD/NOS. A psychologist and special-education teacher designed program, Camp Huntington incorporates art, sports and nature studies. 2016 themes include BLASTOFF! Space week, Dr. Seuss Week, Harry Potter Week and Disney Pixar week! Ages 6 to 21+.
Youngsters choose from more than 60 indoor and outdoor activities, including trapeze, laser tag, waterskiing, knitting and photography. Campers are housed by age and share bunks with kids who are entering the same grade as they are in the fall, making it easier for little ones to make fast friends and explore exciting camp activities with kids their own age. Ages 6 to 16.
With a strong emphasis on appropriate competitive athletics, this all-boys camp is organized into mini-camps where kids are grouped by age. Facilities include 14 tennis courts, four baseball fields, two soccer fields with artificial turf, nine basketball courts, a roller hockey rink, an archery range and a thirty-foot climbing wall (just to name a few)! Brant Lake even hosts a passionate Color War to keep competitive spirits high. Ages 7 to 15.
Campers at this all-girls program receive professional instruction in several dance styles—including ballet, tap, jazz and hip-hop—as well as in sports and fine arts. On a typical day, they might try arts & crafts, dabble in sports and take up to three different dance classes. Fun evening activities include bunk games, socials, talent shows and movie nights. Ages 11 to 16.
Campers at this all-girls program receive professional instruction in several dance styles—including ballet, tap, jazz and hip-hop—as well as in sports and fine arts. On a typical day, they might try arts & crafts, dabble in sports and take up to three different dance classes. Fun evening activities include bunk games, socials, talent shows and movie nights. Ages 11–16.
Sailing, swimming, kayaking and climbing are just some of the popular activities at this Christian Episcopal–affiliated camp. Sessions vary in length and are meant for specific age groups: Explorer Camp for ages 7–11, Discovery Camp for ages 8–12, Adventure Camp for ages 12–15 and Leadership in Training for ages 15–17. Ages 7 to 17.
Youngsters enjoy more than 85 activities, most of which focus on music, art, dance and theater, at a camp equipped with all the trappings for a theater lover, including a pavilion stage, a proscenium theater, a theater in the round and a circus pavilion. There are also plenty of sporty activities to try, like skateboarding, horseback riding, tennis and soccer. Ages 7 to 17.
Sleepaway camp in PA
The overall focus at Camp Zeke is wellness, so campers learn the value of a healthy lifestyle that includes fitness and a nutritious diet during their stay. It’s structured with electives, meaning kids can choose from activities, such as Krav Maga, soccer or dance, or opt for more chill pastimes, like yoga or boating. Children interested in food can try the culinary-arts program, explore the teaching kitchen, compete in cooking competitions and learn recipes they can whip up at home. Campers often help prepare the wholesome dishes served in the dining hall, a.k.a. Cafe Zeke, using organic, locally sourced ingredients. Ages 7–17.
This camp in the Pocono Mountains, which celebrates both pluralism and Judaism, provides a balanced summer experience while merging well-rounded programming with a sense of family and community. Among its offerings are an outdoor adventure course, a lake and a pool aquatics program, a garden program and many athletic sports. Popular summer events include Maccabiah (color war) and College Day, as well as various off-campus trips to theme parks and overnight trips for the older camps. Ages 7 to 18.
Campers build their own summer experience and gain skills in the areas that interest them, from traditional athletics and water sports to out-of-the-box specialties like magic and fashion design. Their only difficulty will be picking which activities they'd like to try most! Ages 7 to 16.
Give youngsters a gentle introduction to overnight camp with these short sleepaway sessions in the foothills of the Poconos. Kids can opt for one- or two-week programs at the 1,250-acre facility, where they have ample time to make new friends and delight in first-time experiences like chowing down with their bunkmates in the mess hall or gathering around a campfire at dusk. Staff is always ready to help little ones struggling with homesickness, but with a private lake, Olympic-size pool, athletic facilities, art studio, and hiking and biking trails nearby, they’ll likely be having too much fun to think about what Mom and Dad are up to! Ages 6–14.
Give your kiddos a rough 'n tumble time at this energetic boys-only camp! It boasts small numbers for individualized attention and instruction, offering activities ranging from your usual soccer, basketball and tennis to fencing, mini golf, archery, outdoor cooking and high ropes. Ages 7 to 17.
This Poconos camp aims to send kids home with more independence, stronger self-confidence and better social skills than they had when they arrived. While younger campers have a structured daily schedule, older kids can design their own program, choosing from more than 65 activities ranging from skateboarding and field sports to pottery and wake boarding. There's even a circus arts program featuring juggling, unicycle, tight wire, clowning, fire eating and acrobatics! All ages.
Brother-sister camps for kids who like to do it all, Camp Starlight offers creative and performing arts, athletics, water sports and outdoor adventure. The camp also boasts covered hockey rinks, a regulation lighted soccer field, and a 12,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor facility for gymnastics, dance, fitness and art programs. Ages 8 to 16.
Sleepaway camp in CT
The active participants at Camp Awosting’s all-girls sister camp are sure to give the boys a run for their money when it comes time to compete. With everything from swimming to sailing, a water trampoline, on-land sports, dance, drama and gymnastics on the agendas, the campers rarely stand still, and they are encouraged to do it all! Mornings and afternoons are packed with exciting happenings, and when the sun goes down, there are coed dances (complete with DJs), movie nights and more to keep everyone entertained. Adventurous campers will love the chance to venture out for a weekly overnight camping trip to Litchfield Hills for campfires complete with ghost stories, plus visits to their brother camp just five miles away. Ages 6–16.
Lads are set loose on a slew of outdoorsy games at this boys-only sleepaway camp in Connecticut. With so many offerings, trying something new could be a daily occurrence, whether it’s wakeboarding on Bantam Lake, mountain biking on nearby trails, piecing together an original video or braving the bungee trampoline. Campers pick up their fair share of survival skills in the breathtaking wilderness setting, but with special events like rock concerts and magic shows popping up throughout the summer, they won’t really be roughing it. Coed get-togethers with the girls at Awosting’s sister location, Camp Chinqueka, provide a chance to mingle and make new friends—plus, there are chances to face off in fun competitions to see which gender prevails. Ages 6–16.
This camp for creative kiddos has so much to offer! Nestled in the foothills of the Berkshires, this program offers over 30 options for aspiring artists of all kinds. Dabble in digital photography, glassblowing, metalworking, printmaking and silkscreen, ceramics, woodshop, painting and drawing, papermaking and even culinary arts. There are opportunities to try other stuff too, including helping out on the animal farm, trying circus arts and even lighting and sound design. Ages 9–16.
Girls learn about horses and take on the responsibilities of caring for them at this riding camp. They also get quality instruction in English riding—practice takes place in one of three rings, a cross-country course and nearby wooded trails. Riding highlights include a supper ride, swimming with the horses and an end-of-session horseshow. Campers fill the rest of their time with activities like arts and crafts, archery, tennis and swimming. Ages 8 to 16.
Indian Head Camp is a traditional full season, seven-week sleep away camp, focusing on excellent instruction in athletics, aquatics, creative arts and outdoor adventure. IHC prides itself in fostering meaningful childhood friendships and offers children and adolescents a safe and fun environment to grow in character and confidence. Ages 6 to 16.
Sleepaway camp in NJ
Outdoorsy kids of all ages will dig Trail Blazers—with four sleepaway camp options (general, biking, canoeing, climbing) plus a day camp offering in Prospect Lefferts Gardens (ages 4–7), there’s something for everyone. At sleepaway, kids will fish and swim in Lake Mashipacong, cook meals alfresco, learn about the environment and sleep under the stars in one of Trail Blazer’s canvas tents. During day camp, little ones will unplug (yes…iPad-free!) and explore the nature that Brooklyn has to offer. Even better, you can choose how many days your kids will go per week! Ages 7–17 (some programs 12 and up).
Run by the Children of the Earth Foundation, this camp offers junior environmentalists unique, six-day sessions throughout the summer, each focusing on a different topic and geared to a different age group. Please read the website carefully; some camps require prerequisite programs. Ages 4 to 17, depending on program.
Kids old enough to say so-long to their parents for a few weeks can hop over the Hudson to this 152-acre, co-ed sleepaway camp, where they’ll spend their days boating on a private lake, ziplining, diving into a new Olympic-sized pool or playing sports like beach volleyball, roller hockey or handball. They’ll also be introduced to the arts through courses in ceramics, theater, dance and pottery, plus have the chance to work on the camp’s resident radio station. Twice-weekly special events might include an Olympics, color war or special field trip to a nearby water park or Renaissance Festival. All ages.
Sleepaway camp in NH
At this brother-sister camp, boys attend Camp Kenwood, while girls head to Camp Evergreen. They'll have access to an amazing rock climbing and ropes course, try sports like volleyball and ultimate frisbee and dive into individual sports like archery and yoga. The program also has a rich selection of arts offerings like digital photography, cooking science, music and furniture building. Ages 7 to 15.
Owned and run by former campers, New Hampshire's Camp Robin Hood focuses on encouraging campers and boosting self-esteem. Separate girls' and boys' programs include activities like riding, archery, riflery, flag football and theater. Waterbugs will also dig the camp's awesome waterfront, complete with tubing, water skiing, wakeboarding, boating and paddleboarding. Ages 7 to 16.
While this camp offers instruction in most team sports, tennis and waterfront activities receive particular emphasis (the camp has a mile of shorefront property). Campers also take age-appropriate excursions to nearby cities (Boston, Quebec, Montreal) water and amusement parks, and local hiking trails throughout the summer. Ages 7 to 16.
This New England boys' retreat known for its sports concentration and exciting outdoor adventure program is really two camps in one: a mainland campus for ages 7 to 12, and an island campus for ages 13 to 15. Campers and staff embrace the Winaukee "Tree of Values," which highlights enthusiasm, loyalty, sportsmanship, friendship, achievement and cooperation. Ages 7 to 15.
Sleepaway camp in MA
Camp Greylock touts one of the smallest camper-to-counselor ratios in the Northeast. Set on 300 acres of land in the Berkshires, campers at this boys-only program focus on improving their skills in sports and nonathletic areas. The first "color war" in American camping was also held here in 1917. Ages 6 to 16.
This stellar YMCA spot draws campers back year after year, fostering tight bonds between kids with its welcoming atmosphere and laid-back vibe. With Hi-Rock campers waking up in the beautiful Massachusetts Berkshires and taking on each day’s agenda with the same small group, it’s no wonder they’re attached at the hip by the end of the session. Tykes try super cool offerings like air riflery, geocaching, frisbee and rocketry, and get into aquatic sports such as snorkeling, waterskiing and wake boarding. Whether it’s your kid’s first year or eighth, they’ll think of this misty-mountains campground as their home away from home. Ages 7–16.
Camp Mah-Kee-Nac offers a solid athletics program with collegiate- and professional-level coaching. The all-boys camp boasts pool and waterfront activities as well as adventure and creative endeavors including wood shop, where kids can craft anything from a folding Ping-Pong table to a canoe. Ages 7 to 15.
This girls-only camp specializes in art, dance, music and theater. Campers create their own individualized schedules, focusing on specific activities (tap dancing, sculpture, acting) that suit their interests. Additional activities include day trips, theme nights, carnivals and campfires. Socials are scheduled throughout the summer with Camp Greylock, a boys' camp located just 30 minutes away. Ages 8 to 16.