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The best day camps for kids in NYC

There's no shortage of day camps for kids in the NYC area, and now's the time to pick the perfect one!

Photograph: Courtesy FIAF & Alexandre Ayer

Summer 2018 is upon us, which means school is out and camp is in. Thanks to these day camps for kids, your little ones will be treated to a wide variety of subjects, experiences and of course, entertainment. There's no shortage of programs—from the traditional to the avant garde. Day camps in NYC and the surrounding area promise to be an awesome experience. Cheers to an unforgettable summer!

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to summer camps in NYC

Have something particular in mind? There's a day camp for that. You'll want to explore our roundup of sports camps, STEM and science camps, creative art camps, sleepaway camps, performing arts camps and family camps. We told you there was something for everyone! 

Best day camps in New York

Steve and Kate's Camp

The big idea behind this flexible camp is to give children the power to structure their own learning. Kiddos can select from a wide variety of hands-on classes on topics like stop-motion animation, fashion, coding, breadmaking, sports, music and dance. United Nations International School, 24-50 FDR Dr (Jun 25–Aug 24) • Blue School, 241 Water St, (Jun 25–Aug 24) • Trevor Day School 312 E 95th St (Jun 18—Aug 17)• Trevor Day School, Lower School, 1 W 88th St (Jun 18—Aug 17). Ages 4–12. 

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Carroll Gardens

The Nature Place Day Camp

The 200-acre camp is perfect for exploring the great outdoors. Kids get their hands dirty roaming and working in the farmland, gardens, fields and ponds—plus they master valuable farm skills such as harvesting crops and taking care of cute little chickens. Art projects, noncompetitive sports, hiking, music and a hilarious storyteller further round out the experience. Farm and Garden Days offer your children even more opportunities to help with the harvest and animal work. Ages 4–16.

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WCS Zoo and Aquarium Camps

Thanks to the fantastic Wildlife Conservation Society-backed zoos (and aquarium) in NYC, families have the opportunity to see animals from across the globe without leaving the city. The Bronx Zoo—as well as the Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, Queens Zoo and the New York Aquarium—all invite kids to learn about numerous species through hands-on summer programs. Offerings are slightly different for each location, but youngsters are guaranteed to get up close with all sorts of creatures, explore cool exhibits, conduct science experiments and learn from the zookeepers. Campers of all ages (starting at 12 mos) get to visit exhibits, solve animal mysteries and enjoy the fun. All ages.

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Midtown West

Play:ground NYC Summer Camp

Supplied with their imaginations and a “junkyard” playground filled with discarded plastics, ropes,
 tires and other unwanted items, campers are given the freedom to play, create and build at this Governors Island camp. Children call on each other and the dedicated instructors for help when stacking items and handcrafting unusual multimedia materials. For the first time this year, Girls Week will take place from July 23–27. Ages 6–13.

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Governors Island

Summers at LREI

Regardless of your childrens' interests, LREI is a wonderful place for them to grow and explore what they love. There is no shortage of options, and the program offers a wide range of activities such as sports, tech, theater and crafts, among others. A second location at 40 Charlton St also hosts various programs. Ages 4–13. 

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Greenwich Village

92nd Street Y's Camp Yomi

It might only be 20 minutes outside of NYC, but this Pearl River campsite will make little ones feel as though they're in a different world. The lineup at the 50-acre grounds includes something for everyone—swimming, sports, fine art, music and more. Ages 5-12. 

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Oasis Early Start Imagination Camp

This mega camp—with various locations in NYC and the surrounding area—provides days filled with art, swimming, dancing and more. The Early Start Imagination Camp's stress-free environment (held in Oasis' Central Park location) allows children to try new activities, meet friends and have tons of fun! Ages 3–5. 

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Lower East Side

Camp Chaverim

Little campers are treated to a wide array of activities—sports, music, performances and more. Even better? Tinky tykes get a chance to participate in outdoor activities on the awesome rooftop playgrounds. Tiny Campers Music Class, $30 per class with a minimum of two consecutive weeks required • My Special Person and Me, $205 per two-day classes with a minimum of two consecutive weeks required • Beginning Campers, $205 per three-day classes with a minimum of two consecutive weeks required • Option A, $550 per three-day classes with a minimum of three weeks required • Option B, $730 per five-day classes with a minimum of three weeks required • Option C, $770 per five-day classes with a minimum of two weeks required • Option D, $825 per five-day classes. Ages 18 mos–5 years.

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Lenox Hill

Camp Zeke

The overall focus at Camp Zeke is wellness, so campers learn the value of a healthy lifestyle. The program is structured with electives, meaning kids can choose from activities, such as Krav Maga, soccer, dance or go for more low-key pastimes such as yoga, running and boating. Those interested in food have the option to try the culinary arts program. Campers often help prepare the wholesome dishes served in the dining hall using organic, locally sourced ingredients. There's plenty more, too—including dance and circus arts programs. Ages 7–17.

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Taste Buds Kitchen Camps

The teachers at Taste Buds Kitchen help children create scrumptious, sweet and savory dishes. Each day camper learns a new skill thanks to themes such as Culinary Cocoa and Tasty Tales. Campers are guaranteed to bring home many new kitchen techniques. For the first time this year, there will be an advanced teen program. Ages 4–17.

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Sending your kiddos to camp for the first time can be tough, but offering them the summer of the lifetime is an easy choice...plus, there are so many great camp options!