Try these day camps for your kid's best summer camp experience ever! This lineup is dedicated to general day camps that really give your kids a taste of everything—including a good mix of arts & crafts, sports and outdoor activities, games and traditional camp activities like tie-dye and capture the flag!
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to summer camps in NYC
*Looking for more day camps in a specific category?* You'll want to see our dedicated day camp lists for sports camp, STEM and science camps, creative art camps, sleepaway camps, performing arts camps and family camp, to name a few. Visit the guide link above to see even more categories.
Best day camps in New York
The campus is vast (200 acres), and the number of campers is small—a winning combination for a program dedicated to exploring the great outdoors. Kids get their hands dirty roaming and working in the farmland, gardens, fields, swamp and ponds, plus they master valuable farm skills like how to harvest crops and take care of cute little chickens. Art projects, noncompetitive sports, hiking, music and a hilarious storyteller further round out the experience for all. Farm and Garden Days (August 14–25) offer your children even more opportunities to help with the harvest and work with animals, which includes milking a cow. Ages 4–16.
Thanks to the fantastic zoos in NYC, which are backed by the Wildlife Conservation Society, families have the opportunity to see animals from across the globe without ever leaving the city. The massive Bronx Zoo (one of the biggest in North America), as well as the Central Park, Prospect Park and Queens zoos, 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. Families love Coney Island for the rides, but after attending Wildlife Conservation Society’s summer program at the Aquarium, children will have a new favorite spot at America’s Playground. These weeklong sessions center around wacky aquatic themes: Preschoolers and kindergartners can play hide-and-“sea”k with the fish and other animals that easily blend into their environment, first- and second-graders yell “Ahoy!” and draw their own maps during Walk the Plank-Ton week, and big kids learn about the communication skills of marine mammals. Ages 3–13.
Supplied with their imaginations and a “junkyard” playground filled with discarded plastics, ropes, tires and other unwanted stuff, campers are given the freedom to play, create and build all day long at this new Governors Island camp. Children call on each other, as well as the dedicated, patient and artistic instructors, for help when stacking items and handcrafting unusual multimedia materials to finish projects that could be anything from a pirate ship to a martian evening gown. Ages 7 to 11.
Parents hoping to help their kids gain confidence, learn new skills and build strong friendships should look no further than LREI, a NYC summer camp that offers sessions with fun focuses like art, sports and musical theater! *Specialty camps like basketball, musical theater, robotics, art and woodworking are held at Elisabeth Erwin High School, 40 Charlton St (see website for more details). Ages 3.5–13.
For 60 years, the Upper East Side’s favorite learning annex and community center, 92nd Street Y, has been making its summer pilgrimage to Rockland County to host a daily getaway. Kids take the bus (pickup locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn) to the nearby suburb for sports (tennis, soccer, yoga and more) and art projects (jewelry making, painting, etc.). When possible, the camp applies a STEM angle to unexpected subjects: For example, children learn about circumference while shooting hoops during basketball. While kids can further test their minds in fun and exciting ways with coding and Lego robotics, and they can dare themselves to new heights with the climbing wall and zip line or by taking a trip down a waterslide into one of the three pools. As one famous amphibious New Yorker said: “Cowabunga!” Ages 5–15.
This mega camp gives parents three Big Apple locations to choose from, and gives children days filled with art making, swimming lessons, movement and dance classes and more. The folks at Oasis have been hosting youth programs for the past 17 years, providing tykes with attentive, stress-free environments in which they can try new things and meet new friends—and have tons of fun! Ages 3 to 5. Locations: • 285 Delancey St at Cannon St (646-519-5058, oasischildren.com). • 180 Remsen St at Court St, Brooklyn (646-519-5069). • 32 W 92nd St at Central Park W (212-799-2534).
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, running 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. There's plenty more, too—including dance and circus arts programs. Ages 7–17.
Any little one who’s longing for a Girl Scout vest dotted with patches will feel like she’s earned her stripes after a weekend at Camp Kaufmann. Both members and nonaffiliated newcomers are welcome to choose from a mom and daughter trip or the mini sleepaway program, in which they are supervised by experienced staff. The girls are divided into groups based on age or program track (Daisies, Brownies, Juniors, etc.) and spend their days diving into classic camp offerings like archery, swimming, boating and ropes courses. The gorgeous rolling hills of Dutchess County are the perfect setting for nighttime hikes and evocative campfire gatherings, and special themed parties on Saturday nights make weekends especially memorable. Newbies will cherish time-honored traditions like friendship songs, the Trading Post and the flag ceremony. Ages 5–17.
The teachers at Taste Buds Kitchen’s half-day camp create scrumptious sweet and savory dishes each day. Each day campers learn a new skill like creaming butter and sugar for twist-and-twirl cookies or kneading the dough for mouthwatering apple- honey challah bread. Morning sessions are for kids ages 4 to 8, with afternoons for kids ages 9 to 13 years. Each week is a different theme, so campers can learn many techniques. All ages.