We scoped out the best sleepaway camps in NY and the tristate area to ensure that summer 2019 is one for the books. While en route to your destination, make sure to play these festive summer songs for kids to get the party started.
But don't get teary-eyed, Mom and Dad: Sending the littles to one of these epic sleepaway camps not only exposes them to cool outdoor activities, fun sports and one-on-one time with Mother Nature—they help kids gain independence and hone in on their interests.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to summer camps in NYC
No matter what your kids explored in after-school programs, there are sleepaway camps in NY and beyond that cater to their interests—sports, arts, crafts and unusual offerings such as circus stunts and even farming!
Nothing's off limits, so prepare for an adventure! If you have the jitters, read what the experts have to say about summer camp here. Breathe a sigh of relief!
Sleepaway camp in NY
Tucked away on a New England mountainside, this charming upstate camp invites boys and girls from around the world for an unforgettable summer. Adirondack Camp offers two-week sessions for seven, eight and nine-year-old first-timers, making it a great option for new campers (and, of course, there are full-summer session lengths for kids who just can't get enough). Families can also help their kids pick their daily itineraries, which means that each camper can either focus largely on their favorite activities (like arts and crafts) or try something new (like wakeboarding or archery) for their time at Adirondack. Ages 7–17.
Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp is a unique overnight leadership camp for kids who desire to change the world! For eight days and seven nights, kids will learn how to be an advocate for causes they care about and work on their very own action plan to help make a difference out in the real world. The camp website shares, "Whether you care about racism, climate change, bullying, homelessness, animal cruelty, women's rights, gay rights, gun control, police brutality, all of the above, or another important issue, YEA Camp will help you bring about change on a cause you care about." Ages 12–17.
Though this camp is just under two hours from NYC, the majestic Catskill Mountains couldn’t feel farther away from the bustle of Manhattan. Two hundred scenic acres are filled to the brim with activities! The options are endless: Soccer, lacrosse, basketball, softball, GaGa and tennis are just a few of the sports on offer, and kids will also get their fill of water sports such as sailing, swim team, banana boats and waterskiing. Lakota also caters to equestrians, gymnasts, artists and skateboard fanatics (the campground just got a new skateboard park!) Ages 6–16.
Camp Echo encompasses 200 acres of fields and trails and plenty for kids to enjoy, complete with art class, boating, horseback riding and traditional camp activities like roasting marshmallows and flag-raising/lowering! We especially love that every cabin comes up with a "Code of Living"—a set of rules created by bunkmates that everyone can agree to follow during their summer together. Did we mention there are also milk and cookies before bed? Ages 6–17.
Though it also offers year-round retreats of all kinds, Camp DeWolfe is best known for its children's summer camp. Sailing, swimming, kayaking and climbing are just some of the popular activities at this Christian Episcopal–affiliated program. Sessions vary in length and are meant for specific age groups: Explorer Camp for ages 7–12, Discovery Camp for ages 7–13, Adventure Camp for ages 11–15, Teen Advance camp for ages 15–17 and Leadership in Training for ages 15–17. Ages 7 to 17.
Six activity sessions each day give campers every chance to pursue their passions. Three periods are taken up by “majors,” or concentrations that stay the same for a full three-week session, and these include classes as varied as learning an instrument or playing in a rock band, perfecting that pirouette in ballet, grasping the art of leather craft or woodworking—even disappearing in a magic class. The remaining periods are used for “minors,” which are chosen each morning. Kids always have the opportunity to try a different skill outside their wheelhouse, work more on their favorite subject or cut loose with waterfront activities like swimming, zip-lining or clowning around (literally, in a circus class). Ages 7 to 17.
You name it, Camp Hilltop's got it. Youngsters choose from more than 60 indoor and outdoor activities, including trapeze, laser tag, waterskiing 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. Depending on what session you sign up for, the camp also hosts exciting day trips to local attractions like Dorney Park, Howe Caverns and Hersheypark—even baseball games! Ages 6 to 16.
Get ready to play. Brant Lake Sports Academy focuses on four core sports—volleyball, basketball, lacrosse and soccer—but there's more on the menu than just athletics. Campers at the all-girls program also receive professional instruction in the fine arts and dance. They have the option to start their day with various core sport clinics, strength and fitness training or non-core sport clinics such as tennis or water skiing. Participants can even "major" in their favorite sport for one-on-one instruction. Fun evening activities include bunk games, socials, talent shows and movie nights. Ages 11–16.
Founded back in 1963, this campground was once a place where visitors could milk cows and kick back in the great outdoors. Now, it's come a long way from its humble beginnings. Today, Camp Eagle Hill offers 100 acres of surrounding woodland, which provides an ideal environment for adventures and exploration! Campers will try everything from rock climbing and rowing, to sculpting. No one is going to be able to resist camp's private go-kart track, gymnastics pavilion (Big Red), archery area and ropes course. Ages 6–16.
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 7–15.
This is the quintessential camp experience your kids have been dreaming of. Youngsters can spend their summer by designing jewelry in the art studio, making clocks in the wood shop, playing with animals in the nature center and learning 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 7–17.
This free-form sleepaway camp in the Adirondack Mountains is a hit with all kids who like to pick and choose their own adventure. They can break free from their bunkmates to take a crack at ropes courses (which includes a 300-foot t zipline through the forest), play capture the flag, ride ATVs, set out on horseback and even hit the lake for wakeboarding and more water activities. For more downtime, kids can also opt for kayaking, fishing, cooking, puppet making and more. Everyone can look forward to twice-weekly trips involving white-water rafting on the Hudson, scenic hikes, area amusement parks and more.The fun doesn’t stop when the sun sets, either—campers can 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. Ages 8–16.
There's no shortage of things to do at Iroquois Springs' summer program. Offerings for adventurous kiddos inclue land and water sports (from soccer to zip-lining and water skiing), art, theater and a variety of outdoor activities. The friendly, welcoming staff emphasizes friendly competition and providing campers with the confidence they need to face new challenges and meet new friends in the process. Ages 7–16.
Throughout the summer, kids learn the importance of friendship, play baseball and softball at Tiger Stadium and make great memories in the process. 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, however, is the camp's epic color war. Say no more! Ages 7–16.
This isn't camp as you've pictured it—it's better. While traditional activities such as basketball, kayaking and pottery are offered, unusual specialties such as sheep shearing, fire spinning and circus arts truly set this Jewish camp apart from other offerings. Eden Village's mission focuses on sustainability and children making an impact on the world around them. Ages 8–16.
For those worried about sending their little one off to camp, 92Y offers a program created especially for preschoolers, which should make your teary goodbye easier to bear on the first day. Early childhood educators plan a variety of activities touching on music, science, movement and more. Tots can also splash around in 92Y’s three pools under the supervision of Red Cross–trained instructors, and those staying till 1pm can participate in the soccer program—just for kicks. Ages 3–5.
Sleepaway camp in PA
The overall focus at Camp Zeke is wellness, and campers learn the value of a healthy lifestyle during their summer stay. The program is structured with electives, so children have the option to choose activities, such as Krav Maga, soccer, dance or go for more low-key pastimes such as yoga, running and boating. There's plenty more, too—including dance and circus arts programs 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. Ages 7–17.
True to its name, Independent Lake Camp is all about kids doing it their way, whether that means sticking with a close-knit group of friends for go-karting, a cappella or powerboating on the 100-acre lake. It could also mean breaking away from the herd to explore tagging graffiti, ride the rails in the state-of-the-art skate park or hold on tight on the giant swing. Activities even include magic sessions, digital arts like building your own computer or making your own game, and circus arts like trapeze and unicycle. The vibe here is relaxed but well supervised. Ages 6–17.
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. Bunks house 10–15 kids, meaning each kids gets the individualized attention they need, plus exciting activities like soccer, rollerblading, ziplining, swimming, banana-boating, woodworking, painting and rocketry keep 'em plenty busy during the day. Ages 6–14.
This boys-only camp offers a unique mix of science, sports and adventure to cater to your child's interests. Once there, campers take can classes in electronics, astronomy, earth science and computers, and outside fun includes an extensive on-site ropes course, which includes zip lines and a 50-foot climbing wall—there are even options for riding dirt-bikes and building rockets! Ages 8–16.
Give your kiddos a rough 'n tumble time at this energetic boys-only camp! It boasts small numbers for individualized attention and instruction, offers activities ranging from your usual soccer, basketball and tennis to the more unique, such as fencing, mini golf, archery, outdoor cooking and high ropes. There's also hearty, social breakfast, lunch and dinner, and rest time scheduled into each day. Ages 7–17.
Set on the 800-acre grounds of Camp Swatara in Pennsylvania, Camp Setebaid offers a range of activities for teens with type 1 diabetes. Activities include archery, mini golf, swimming, boating, fishing, a high ropes course and diabetes education. It's a chance for young adults to meet others who have gone through similar experiences, while simultaneously gaining independence away from home. Ages 13–18.
Kids pick and choose what works for them at Camp Weequahic. Those who attend build their own summer experience with traditional athletics and water sports, to out-of-the-box specialties such as magic and fashion design. Super active kids will be in heaven with the camp's Adventure Camp activities, which include archery, skateboarding, in-line skating, hiking, a ropes course, zip-lining and mountain biking. Everyone looks forward to events like Backwards Day, beach and pool parties and an all-out color war. Ages 7–16.
This stellar camp aims to send kids home with improved self-confidence and social skills at the end of the summer. While younger campers have a structured daily schedule, older kids can design their own program, choosing from over 65 activities such as 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! Looking for a guaranteed bunk situation with your child's friends? Camp Lohikan honors bunk requests as long as the kids in question are entering the same grade and enrolled in the same session. Ages 6–15.
A Brother-sister camp for kids who like to do it all, Camp Starlight offers creative and performing arts, athletics, water sports and outdoor adventure. It's been around for over 70 years and boasts a 385-acre co-ed campus on private lakes. The camp also known for its athletic facilities such as hockey rinks, a regulation lighted soccer field and a 12,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor venue for gymnastics, dance, fitness and art programs. Attendees will also be able to enjoy excursions to nearby destinations in Pennsylvania and NYC. Ages 8–16.
This camp nestled in the Pocono Mountains, which celebrates both pluralism and Judaism, provides a balanced summer experience while merging well-rounded programming with a sense of 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; overnight trips are available for the older campers in attendance. Ages 7–18.
The WriCampia program in the Poconos is perfect for those craving to pen the next great American novel. Buses transport campers from Manhattan and Westchester for a 12-day escape filled with intimate writing workshops and creative electives. Published authors and playwrights help kids learn the secrets to memoir writing, poetry and what makes a great novel, while campers also enjoy arts activities such as photography, ceramics, theater, zine-making and filmmaking. In the evening, everyone gathers around the campfire to swap stories or test their team-building skills in a scavenger hunt or “escape the room” challenge. Ages 7–18.
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 summer program boasts over 30 options for aspiring artists of all kinds. Campers can dabble in digital photography, batik, glassblowing, metalsmithing, ceramics, woodshop, painting, drawing and papermaking. There are opportunities to try unique activities, such as helping out on the animal farm, trying circus arts and even lighting and sound design. Ages 9–18.
Do horses mean the world to your girls? Sign 'em up for this unique program that focuses in on the care and keeping of horses, as well as English riding technique. The campground offers 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 and more. Ages 8–16.
Sleepaway camp in NJ
Have your kids ever wanted to bunk in a teepee? Now’s their chance! Children sleep in real teepees, alongside seven to nine other children of their gender and age, and over the course of the two weeks these tentmates become like family as they eat, sleep and plan their activities together. As a unit, the children explore all that the camp has to offer—archery, crafts, mountain biking, swimming, canoeing, fishing and outdoor cooking—while embracing nature, the 55-acre lake and each other’s company. The camp is a totally unplugged, back-to-basics outdoor adventure that teaches them to rely on themselves and learn how to adapt to living in nature. Ages 6–15.
Now's the time to get in tune with Mother Nature. Run by the Children of the Earth Foundation, this camp offers junior environmentalists unique sessions throughout the summer that focus on various topics (survival strategies, camping etc.) and are geared toward different age groups. Take a good look before you book; some camps require prerequisite programs and many require accompanying adults (family camp, for example). Ages 4–17.
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 such as volleyball, ultimate frisbee and yoga. The program also has a rich selection of arts offerings such as digital photography, cooking science, music and furniture building. If you're looking for a traditional camp experience with cute cabins and live-in counselors, a private lake and...well, even the opportunity to take aim at huge foam and rubber dinos in archery, this one's for you! There's even a color war! Woohoo! Ages 7–15.
Owned and run by former campers, New Hampshire's Camp Robin Hood focuses on encouraging kiddos and boosting self-esteem. Separate girls' and boys' programs include activities such as riding, archery, riflery, flag football and theater. Waterbugs will also dig the the awesome waterfront views, complete with tubing, water skiing, wakeboarding, boating and paddleboarding. Did we mention that this camp also boasts six tennis courts, three football fields, three outdoor basketball courses, two regulation baseball diamonds, soccer fields, volleyball courts and a street-hockey rink? (Just to name a few.) Ages 7–16.
Active kids will love spending a summer at this New Hampshire camp. While Birchmont offers instruction in most team sports, waterfront activities receive particular emphasis (and the camp has a mile of shorefront property). Kids also take age-appropriate excursions to nearby cities (Boston, Quebec, Montreal) for day trips to water and amusement parks and local hiking trails. Ages 7–15.
This New England boys' camp on Lake Winnipesaukee (with two separate campuses that divides kids by age) is known for its sports concentration and exciting outdoor adventure program, so active kids will definitely be intrigued. Campers and staff embrace the Winaukee "Tree of Values," which highlights enthusiasm, loyalty, sportsmanship, friendship, achievement and cooperation. Ages 7–15.
Sleepaway camp in MA
Kids will hardly be able to control their excitement on the drive to Hi-Rock. Between the picturesque views, wooden cabins and myriad activities to try, it’s an idyllic camp setting. Gender- and age-specific cabins make for a slumber-party–style experience, plus everyone (boys and girls!) comes together for meals and activities. Whether your kiddos are busy scaling a high-ropes course, geocaching in the Berkshires, swimming in the pristine 90-acre lake or playing capture the flag, one thing’s certain: Every summer here is definitely one to remember. Ages 7–16.
Camp Greylock touts one of the smallest camper-to-counselor ratios in the Northeast, divided between junior and senior campers. Set on 300 acres of land in the Berkshires, this boys-only program focus on improving kids' skills in sports and nonathletic areas, such as the arts and nature activities. The first "color war" in American camping was also held here in 1917. Ages 6–16.
Camp Mah-Kee-Nac offers a solid athletics program with collegiate- and professional-level coaching. The all-boys camp, now in its 90th year, 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. Elective activities are offered, and campers have the options to switch up activities of their choosing. Ages 7–15.
There's a little bit of everything at this girls-only camp, which specializes in art, dance, music and theater. Attendees 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 8–16.
This gorgeous campground off the coast of Maine offers the chance for kids to dabble in outdoor activities such as horseback riding, lake and pool adventures and other quintessential summer fun. At Hidden Valley Camp, kids can explore various electives and choose offerings that are of interest to them. The menu is lengthy, from arts and crafts, performing arts, music and plenty of other areas. Two, four and eight-week sessions are available. Ages 8–14.