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Sleepaway camps for kids near New York City

Youngsters who are ready to trade city lights for summer nights under the stars will dig these stellar sleepaway camps for kids

Photograph: Kelly Warwick
Camp Hilltop

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. At these sleepaway camps for kids—situated in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Massachusetts—they'll get the real camp treatment, bonfires and mosquitos included. Before sending them off on their summergetaways, check out the coolest camp gear to make sure your child has everything they need for those nights away from home.

RECOMMENDED: Summer camps for kids

Sleepaway camps in NY

Brant Lake Camp

With a strong emphasis on appropriate competitive athletics, this all-boys camp is organized into mini-camps where kids are grouped by age. Brant Lake even hosts a passionate Color War to keep competitive spirits high. Ages 7 to 15.

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Brant Lake Dance Camp

Campers receive professional instruction in several dance styles—including ballet, tap, jazz and hip-hop—as well as in sports and fine arts at this girls camp that is connected to Brant Lake Camp for boys. Ages 11–16.

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Brant Lake Sports Academy

Specializing in soccer, basketball, volleyball and lacrosse, plus fitness and full waterfront, program for girls, which is connected to Brant Lake Camp for boys, offers top-notch sports instruction in facilities that include a major league–style baseball field with stadium seating and dugouts, 15 tennis courts, two soccer pitches and seven basketball courts. Ages 11 to 16.

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Camp Echo

Kids looking to concentrate on a specific subject (such as tennis, ceramics, or horseback riding) will have the chance to work with artists and athletes-in-residence, who will be on hand all summer long to lend their talent and expertise. Every Friday—also known as "change-it-up day"—campers eat breakfast on the beach and participate in special activities like a luau, a dinosaur-egg hunt or an intercamp games tournament. Other notable activities include woodworking, cooking and videography. Ages 6 to 16.

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Camp DeWolfe

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.

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Camp Eagle Hill

One hundred acres of surrounding woodland provide campers with an ideal environment for overnight adventures and exploration. Parents of children who have celiac disease can rest easy, as Eagle Hill recently added a gluten-free kitchen. Ages 6 to 16.

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Camp Greylock

With a staff of 250, 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.

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Camp Hilltop

Youngsters choose from more than 80 indoor and outdoor activities, including trapeze, laser tag, waterskiing, knitting and photography. Campers share bunks with kids who are entering the same grade as they are in the fall. Ages 6 to 16.

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Camp Huntington

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 the program, which incorporates art, sports and nature studies. Ages 6 to 21+.

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Camp Lakota

Celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, Camp Lakota embraces a mix of spirit, adventure and fun. Days spent on 200 acres in the scenic Catskill Mountains are packed with seven periods of sports, arts and outdoor fun-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 zipline or waterskiing on Masten 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 activities. Finally, the evenings bring Lakota's signature events, such as a talent show or a game night. Ages 6 to 16.

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Camp Lokanda

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, a lakefront waterpark, a ropes course and rock wall. Ages 7 to 17.

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Coyote Tracks

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. From July 6 to 11, for example, campers ages 5 to 18 and families can learn about survival in the woods. Ages 4 to 17, depending on program. Campers under age 10 must be accompanied by an adult.

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Eden Village Camp

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 and pottery are offered, unusual specialties like sheep sheering, fire spinning and circus arts truly set this four-year-old camp apart. Ages 8 to 16.

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French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts

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. Ages 7 to 17.

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Iroquois Springs

Iroquois Springs' comprehensive program consists of land and water sports, as well as horseback riding, art, theater and extensive outdoor-adventure activities. Warm staff emphasize self-esteem boosting and individual development over competition. Ages 7 to 16.

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Timber Lake Camp

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. The highlight of the summer, though, is the camp's over-the-top color war. Ages 7 to 16.

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Youth Empowered Action Camp

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 in the cause of their choice when they go home. Ages 12–17.

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Sleepaway camps in PA

B'nai B'rith Perlman Camp

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. Camp runs June 29–Aug 15; seven-week session $7,465–$7,825, four-week session (June 29–July 25) $5,590–$5,650, three-week session (July 27–Aug 15) $4,290–$4,590, two-week session (June 29–July 11 or July 27–Aug 8; first-time campers only) $,2,530. Ages 7 to 18.

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Camp Lohikan

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. Camp runs June 29–Aug 21; eight-week session $8,500, six-week session (June 29–Aug 8 or July 13–Aug 21) $7050, four-week session (June 29–July 26 or July 26–Aug 21) $4,700, two-week session (June 29–July 12, July 13–26, July 27–Aug 8 or Aug 10–21) $2,600, one-week session (Aug 21–Aug 27; first-time campers only) $850.

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Camp Setebaid at Swatara

Set on the 800-acre grounds of Camp Swatara in Pennsylvania, this camp offers kids with type 1 diabetes a range of activities, including diabetes education, boating, fishing and a high ropes course. Separate junior camp (ages 8–12) and senior camp (ages 13–18) programs ensure age-appropriate activities for all who attend. Camp runs July 21–27. Please call 570-524-9090 or 1-800-SETEBAID for pricing. Financial assistance available. Ages 8 to 18.

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Camp Starlight

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. Camp runs June 29–Aug 17, seven-week session $10,950. Ages 8 to 16.

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Camp Watonka

This boys-only camp offers a unique mix of science, sports and adventure. Inside, kids take classes in electronics, astronomy, earth science and computers. Outside, an extensive on-site ropes course includes zip lines and a 50-foot climbing wall. Camp runs June 21–Aug 16; eight-week session $7,200, six-week session $6,200, four-week session $4,500, two-week session $2,600. Ages 8 to 16.

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Camp Wayne for Boys and Girls

Brother-sister campuses, located on either side of a private, 95-acre lake, operate separate programs but bring campers together for socials and special events like Carnival, July 4th fireworks and plays. Camp runs June 28–Aug 16, seven-week session $10,700. Ages 6 to 16.

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Camp Weequahic

Campers build their own summer experience, gaining skills in the areas that interest them, from traditional athletics and water sports to out-of-the-box specialties like magic and fashion design. Camp runs June 28–Aug 10; six-week session $8,750, three-week session $4,800 (June 28–July 19 or July 20–Aug 10). Ages 7 to 16.

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Camp Zeke

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. 31 Barry Watson Way, Lakewood, PA (212-913-9783, campzeke.org). June 28–Aug 9. One week $4,100, six weeks $7,600. Ages 7–17.

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Indian Head Camp

Indian Head Camp is a traditional full season 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. IHC offers first class facilities across all program areas. Camp runs June 28–Aug 17, seven-week session $11,100, plus canteen fees. Ages 7 to 16.

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Island Lake Camp

Set in the Pocono Mountains, Island Lake Camp offers kids intense instruction in an array of activities including golf, fencing, gymnastics, waterskiing and photography. Camp runs June 28–Aug 18; three-week session $5,450 (June 28–July 17) or $5,550 (July 17–Aug 5); two-week session $3,300 (Aug 5–Aug 18); combined sessions receive substantial discounts. Ages 7 to 17.

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Lake Owego Camp

This boys-only camp boasts small numbers for individualized attention and instruction. Before camp starts in early June new campers and their families are invited to sleep over on campus to experience firsthand what camp life is like. Camp runs June 28–Aug 16; seven-week session $10,550, five-week sessions $8,650 (June 28–July 5 or July 9–Aug 16), three-and-a-half-week session $6,620 (June 28–July 26 or July 23–Aug 16), two-week session $3,350 (June 28–July 11 or July 23–Aug 5, 7- to 9-year-olds only). Ages 7 to 17.

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Pine Forest Camp

Boasting a state-of-the-art fitness center, newly renovated cabins and a media center, Pine Forest has been owned and operated by the same family for more than 85 years. For those children interested in testing out camp life, the organization also hosts a weeklong cooking camp and a five-day-long basketball camp. Camp runs June 28–Aug 16, seven-week session $10,550. Ages 7 to 17.

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Pinemere Camp

Summer highlights at this JCC-affiliated kosher camp in the Poconos include a private lake, color war, intercamp games and a variety of off-campus trips. Camp runs June 22–Aug 10; seven-week session $7,825, four-week session $5,175 (June 22–July 20), three-week session $4,200 (July 21–Aug 10), one-week session $800 (July 21–July 27, ages 7–12; first-time campers only), three-day session $400 (July 11–July 13, ages 6–10; first-time campers only). Ages 7 to 14.

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The Susquehannock Camps

Comprising a girls' camp and a boys' camp, this brother-sister operation functions as two separate programs with one philosophy: self-reliance, self-confidence, sportsmanship and leadership. Campers develop tolerance and respect for others and learn how to deal with conflict through athletics, adventure activities, family-style dining, and cabin life. The staff here is particularly noteworthy—more than 95 percent of them attended Susquehannock for at least four years. Camp runs June 29–Aug 18 (first session June 29–July 22, second session July 24–Aug 18); seven-week session $6,550 (ages 7 to 11), $6,750 (ages 12 to 17). Two-week sessions available (ages 7 to 11). Ages 7 to 17.

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Sleepaway camps in CT

Buck's Rock Creative and Performing Arts Camp

With more than 30 programs to choose from, tweens can always find a satisfying new way to express themselves at this 70-year-old performing arts camp. Located in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains in central Connecticut, this bucolic spot offers older kids the chance to get creative through music, dance, improv, theater or stand-up comedy. In the theater program, campers audition for several plays and take classes from professional actors. Young dancers study a variety of disciplines, from ballet to hip-hop, and help choreograph pieces for the final performance. Music students have access to Studio 59, the camp’s professional-grade recording facility, where they can record, mix and edit their own songs. It’s practically impossible to get stir-crazy here, with off-campus field trips to see concerts at Caramoor and Tanglewood and dance performances at Jacob’s Pillow, plus visits to local museums, art galleries and theaters. There are spelunking (cave exploring) trips at nearby state parks and overnight camping excursions for a change of pace, and kids can try other arts, like metalsmithing, glassblowing and cooking. The final day of the season culminates in a festival, with performances and demos by campers, a picnic lunch and dinner. Parents and kids from earlier sessions are welcome to attend. 59 Buck's Rock Rd, New Milford, CT (860-354-5030, bucksrockcamp.com). July 1–Aug 22; $3,590–$10,390. Ages 9–16.

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Camp Awosting

Boys go mountain boarding, flip out on the bungee trampoline and play zombie apocalypse at this sleepaway camp on Connecticut’s scenic Bantam Lake. Summers at Awosting are packed with the classic camp activities of yore, from swimming and sports to wilderness survival lessons and weekly campfire storytelling. Young dudes can sharpen their soccer skills in a special program or try something new, like fencing or martial arts. Regular activities with Camp Chinqueka—Awosting’s all-girls sister camp six miles away—like field games, dances and overnight camping trips, restore their sense of gender balance. 296 West St, Morris, CT (860-567-4924, awosting.com). June 28–Aug 22; $1,500–$8,200. Ages 6–16.

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Camp Chinqueka

With everything from swimming, sailing, wakeboarding and sports to dance, drama and gymnastics on their agendas, campers at Awosting’s all-girls sister camp make the most of the sprawling Connecticut campus every action-packed day. Coed dances (complete with DJs), movie nights, an annual Fourth of July barbecue, and a four-day overnight camping trip to Cape Cod and Lake George give senior campers the opportunity to mix and mingle with boys. 1519 Bantam Rd, Bantam, CT (860-567-9678, chinqueka.com). June 28–Aug 22; $1,500–$8,200. Ages 6–16.

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SJ Riding Camp

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. Camp runs June 22–Aug 23; three-week session $3,200, two-week session $2,320, one-week session $1,185. Ages 8 to 16.

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Sleepaway camps in NJ

Appel Farm Arts Camp

Celebrating the artist in every child, Appel Farm offers a full range of arts, including theater, music, dance, visual arts, photography, recording arts and creative writing. Campers also take part in traditional camp activities like sports and swimming. Camp runs June 22–Aug 15; eight-week session $8,500, six-week session (June 22–Aug 3) $7,800, four-week session (June 22–July 18 or July 20–Aug 15) $5,700, two-week session (June 22–July 6 or July 20–Aug 3) #3,100, one-week session (Jul 6–July 13 or Aug 3–Aug 10) $1,500. Ages 7 and up.

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Camp Louemma

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. Camp runs June 29–Aug 10. Six-week session $7,100, three-week session $3,950. Ages 7 to 15.

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Trail Blazers Sleep Away Camp

If your kid pines for the ultimate sleepaway camp, this 125-year-old summer program maintains all its traditions through experiential outdoor programming: hiking, fishing and nightly powwows around a crackling campfire. The programs at Trail Blazers are based on the camp’s six core values—being a friend, being healthy, learning to learn, self-growth, being a steward and learning to survive—and they’re still fun! Small groups of eight to 10 campers vote on activities like archery, hiking, mountain biking and canoeing, so no two sessions are ever the same. City kids get tons of fresh air living in teepees with their fellow campers and cooking their meals alfresco. 210 Deckertown Tpke, Montague, NJ (973-875-4116, trailblazers.org). Four two-week sessions June 28–Aug 22; $1,500 plus $100 registration fee, scholarships available. Ages 7–17 (some programs 12 and up).

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Sleepaway camps in NH

Camps Kenwood & Evergreen

Boys attend Camp Kenwood, while girls head to Camp Evergreen for a summer packed with activities ranging from rock climbing to rustic furniture making. Camp runs June 28–Aug 16; seven-week session $11,900, four-week session $8,000 (first-time campers only). Ages 7 to 15.

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Camp Robin Hood

Currently owned and run by three 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, riflery and theater. Camp runs June 27—Aug 14; full session $10,200, first session $6,900 (June 27—July 27) second half session $4,400 (July 27–Aug 14), two-week session $3,900 (June 27—July 13). Ages 7 to 16.

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Camp Winaukee

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. Camp runs June 28–Aug 16; seven-week session $10,800, five-week session $8,750, three-week session $5,250. Ages 7 to 15.

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Pierce Camp Birchmont

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. Camp runs June 29–Aug 17; seven-week session $10,650, four-week session $6,950 (June 29–July 25), three-week session $5,250 (July 27–Aug 17). Ages 7 to 16.

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Sleepaway camps in MA

Belvoir Terrace

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. Camp runs June 30–Aug 14, seven-week session $11,000. One-week session available for girls grades 2–5 from Aug 16–Aug 23. Ages 8 to 16.

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Camp Mah-Kee-Nac

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. Camp runs June 27–Aug 15; seven-week session $9,450, four-week session $6,100 (July 20–Aug 15), three-week session $5,300 (June 27–July 18), five-day session $800 (July 20–24, for ages 7–10 only). Ages 7 to 15.

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