Years ago, summer camp was pretty straightforward — kids went to a sleepaway camp, usually in the woods, explored nature, learned to make a campfire, told scary stories, and enjoyed s’mores.
Today, there is a camp for every interest and budget, and myriad options based on your location and schedule. Does your child excel at archery? No problem. Horse backing? Done. STEAM focused? There’s a camp for you. Future sports star? Local colleges are ready for you.
Choosing the right camp for your child can be challenging, so let’s delve into some important factors.
Advantages of Camp Life
Camps provide an opportunity for your child to make new friends outside of their current friend circle, and they will meet kids from other parts of the state with different backgrounds and life experiences.
According to the American Camp Association, “camp provides children with a community of caring adults who nurture experiential education that results in self-respect and appreciation for human value. For years, campers’ parents have reported that when their children return home from camp they are more caring, understand the importance of giving, are more equipped to stand up for what they know is right, and are willing to be more responsible.”
In addition to making new friends, camp professionals can serve as role models, mentors, and coaches to help your child succeed even after camp concludes.
Camp stays vary from few days, a week, a month, or the entire summer.
Resident camps are geared toward children aged 7 and up where campers stay in cabins, tents, or dorm-like facilities. Check with the camp to see if accommodations are single-sex or co-ed if that is a factor for your comfort level. Day camps are pretty straight-forward—campers attend camp for the day, and then return home each afternoon. These are especially appealing for parents with younger children.
Camps can also be broken down between general, encompassing a variety of activities catering to different interests, and specialty, which are more focused on a particular area such as sports, the arts, or nature.
There are also special needs camps for those campers with a physical, medical, or mental disability.
Of course, there are no right or wrong questions to ask a camp director before making your choice, and there’s nothing wrong with asking A LOT of questions. The camp you choose will be responsible for your child’s well-being and safety, as well as ensuring they have a great time. A few to consider:
- How intense are the physical activities? Will the camp focus on competition and/or teamwork? Depending on your child’s personality and your parenting philosophy, you may want to determine the camp’s focus—are activities geared toward fun or more toward winning prizes?
- What training do counselors receive? According to the ACA, “at a minimum, camp staff should be trained in safety regulations, emergency procedures and communication, behavior management techniques, child abuse prevention, appropriate staff and camper behavior, and specific procedures for supervision.” It’s also a good idea to inquire about the ages of counselors. The ACA recommends that “80 percent or more of the counseling/program staff be at least 18 years old. Staff must be at least 16 years old and be at least two years older than the campers with whom they work. In special needs camps, 100 percent of the counseling/program staff must be at least 18 years old.”
- What is the counselor-to-camper ratio? In order to manage the safety of campers, your camp should have ample staff to ensure that each camper is being looked after.
- What is the camp’s discipline philosophy? At some point, a camper may break the rules or act out. What is the approach? Time out? Positive reinforcement? If a camper offends another one, how are apologies handled? Again, parents may want to find a camp that handles discipline in a manner similar to what is utilized at home.
- What is the technology policy? Some camps encourage everyone to unplug, while others may allow Tik-Tok time at night. Find a camp that matches your needs.
- Are references available? If not, it may be a red flag.
Involve Your Child
One of the most important tactics when choosing a camp is to make sure your child is involved in the decision-making process. First of all, allowing them a voice may help ease any anxiety they may have about going away from home. Plus, in the end, you want to make sure that they find a camp they will enjoy.
Camp Guide 2024
Below is a sampling of the myriad camps available in the Baltimore metropolitan area sorted by county. Most camps encourage parents to register online, and many camps may not finalize summer dates and some details until late February/early March, so it’s prudent to check each camp’s website for current information.
Anne Arundel County
Annapolis Recreation and Parks
Annapolis, 410-263-7958, annapolis.gov/camp
A variety of exciting and well-planned camps for your child to attend throughout the summer for youth ages 4-17. Camps are held at different locations and are grouped in varying age groups. Specialty camps include those focused on sports, dance, LEGO, and STEM.
Anne Arundel County Recreation and Parks
Locations throughout Anne Arundel County, 410-222-7313, aacounty.org/RecParks
Camps are offered for every interest, including nature, sports, chess, arts and crafts, music and drama, Teens on the Go, adaptive day camp, cycling, agriculture, dance, and more! Before & After Care is also available at many camp locations.
Millersville, 410-987-1300, ecoadventures.org
Each specialty camp is themed and designed to get kids excited about the natural world. Whether it’s providing campers with a once in a lifetime experience with an endangered species, learn new skills from an expert, discover newfound confidence from one of the knowledgeable instructors, or simply make new friends in a safe and stimulating environment.
Indian Creek School Summer Program
Crownsville, 410-923-3660, indiancreekschool.org/summer
The Indian Creek Summer Program offers immersive adventures filled with hands-on activities that keep kids moving and provide exciting challenges that create memorable experiences. And don’t forget about “Water Wednesdays”!
Musical Theatre Summer Camp
The Key School, Annapolis, and Mercy High School, Baltimore, musicalstages.org
Taught by musical theater professionals, the two-week camp has campers assigned to small groups by age, and take classes in singing, dancing, acting, costumes, and stagecraft. Learning age-appropriate songs from great Broadway shows, the campers are taught healthy vocal technique, develop poise and coordination through dance, explore acting skills and improvisational games, rehearse scenes, make their costumes, design and paint the backdrop.
Peabody Preparatory of the Johns Hopkins University
Annapolis Campus at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. Additional locations in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Howard County, peabody.jhu.edu/prepsummer
Programs focus on early childhood instruction in music, dance, instrumental theory, and voice, plus intensive offerings in strings, piano, harp, woodwinds, brass, and guitar.
St. John’s College Summer Academy
A college summer program for high school students modeled after St. John’s discussion-based, interdisciplinary method of teaching great books. A genuine introduction to college life, Summer Academy helps students hone their reading, critical thinking, and discussion skills in classes led by St. John’s faculty.
Summer at Summit
Edgewater, 410-798-0005, https://thesummitschool.org/summer-programs/
Academic enrichment programming to mitigate summer learning loss and strengthen skills. Classes include reading, writing, math, and organizational skills.
West River Sailing Club
Students will not only learn through repetitive drills but also through creative ways such as an Adventure Sail, an inquisitive Treasure Hunt, a game of Jeopardy on a stormy day, and through so many other fun and creative ways. Each session culminates with a special activity that will use all the skills that they have learned—whether it be it a sail to High Island in the Rhode River for lunch or a quiet picnic to Round Bay to observe the horseshoe crabs hatching their young.
14 locations in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, and Howard Counties, ymaryland.org/camp
Y Camp is the place to be for summertime fun, friends, and excitement with a great lineup of summer fun to keep kids and teens safe, happy, active, and engaged all summer long, including swimming, archery, hiking, camp rallies, weekly themes, sports, science, and more! Choose from day camps, overnight camps, teen camps, and specialty camps.
Baltimore Center Stage
Baltimore City, 410-986-4000, centerstage.org/learning/camp-bcs/
Campers will spend two weeks creating artistic work for a retrospective to be shared at the end of each session. Throughout their time at Camp BCS, students will practice artistic skill building through theatre games and exercises, writing, visual arts, movement with music, and STEAM workshops.
Baltimore Lab School
Baltimore City, 410-261-5500, baltimorelabschool.org/admissions/summer.cfm
Summer is the time for fun! It’s also the time when academic skills can slip, making it hard for students to maintain the progress they achieved during the school year. The four-week summer program is brimming with imagination, excitement, and innovative teaching.
Coppermine Fieldhouse Summer Camps
Each day brings new adventures, new friends, and new experiences in this fun-filled camp! Check out the variety of camps offered in Mt. Washington, Baltimore, Pikesville, Canton, Hampstead, and now Bel Air, at Coppermine Bel Air Athletic Club!
Downtown Sailing Center
The Downtown Sailing Center is a unique sailing school for youth ages 8-16 that teaches the joys of navigating open waters aboard keelboats in the historic port of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. For every four campers on a boat, there is one designated staff member to instruct them personally. Every program participant gets as much direct instruction as possible from the US Sailing certified staff!
Gilman School, 410-323-3800, gilman.edu/gilmansummer
With enrichment and skill-building programs for children grades K-12 designed and taught by Gilman faculty and field experts, your child will have a summer they won’t forget!
Maryland Institute College of Art Summer Art Camp
Students in Grades K-12 can maximize their summer by engaging in classes that promote freedom of expression in a structured way at MICA.
NDMU Summer Camps
Notre Dame of Maryland University, 410-532-5732, ndm.edu/news-events/auxiliary-conference-services/ndmu-summer-camps
NDMU offers camps for all ages including Camp Notre Dame, Cooking with SAGE, A Child’s Place Summer Camp, High School Pharmacy Camp, and STEM Camp.
Red Hot Summer Camps at Roland Park Country School
Baltimore, 410-323-5501, rpcs.org/summer
No matter what your child’s interest, Red Hot Summer Camps at Roland Park Country School will provide experiential, hands-on experiences led by talented and expert teachers in STEAM, arts, sports, cooking, performing arts, and more!
Summer at Friends
Friends School of Baltimore, Baltimore City, 410-649-3218, fscamp.org
Offering a full lineup of camps with flexible options with intentionally small group sizes, fun-filled daily schedules, and terrific counselors, campers can look forward to a summer of fun! All programs are open to both Friends School and non-Friends School students.
Beth Tfiloh Camps
Reisterstown, 410-517-3451, btcamps.org
Beth Tfiloh has provided a well-organized summer day camp in Baltimore County since 1943. Site includes ball fields, hiking trails, the Sachs Family Challenge Course with two 60-foot towers, creative arts center, Sachs Nature Center, regulation-sized multi-purpose sports court, and an amphitheater for special events. The aquatics area encompasses 3 pools, dual water slides, boating lake, kayaks, water mats, and a splash pad interactive water area.
Owings Mills, 410-753-8032, jemicyschool.org/outreach/summer-at-jemicy
Summer at Jemicy, for students with dyslexia or related language-based learning differences, endeavors to minimize the problem of “summer learning loss” by providing daily academic intervention and remediation designed to reinforce and maintain reading, language arts, math, and organizational skills learned throughout the preceding year. In addition, engaging creative and recreational activities provide opportunities for students to enjoy art, woodshop, outdoor adventures, drama, fieldtrips, and more.
Genesee Valley Summer Camp
Parkton, 410-343-0138, geneseevalley.org
This summer day camp offers campers the opportunity to explore the outdoors, step outside their comfort zone, and build relationships with others. Highly trained counselors foster a nurturing environment to allow campers to discover their highest potential and be themselves!
Irvine Nature Center
Owings Mills, 443-738-9200, explorenature.org
Summer nature camp at Irvine offers children an immersive experience in the outdoors throughout the 211-acre campus. Campers learn about the animals, habitats, and conservation issues. The vast forests, meadows, and wetlands are the classroom, and the unique collection of Animal Ambassadors serve as teaching assistants.
Owings Mills, 410-559-3555, jcampsbaltimore.org
At J Camps, you’ll find a place that celebrates your child for exactly who they are. Dive into a world of extraordinary programs that inspire kids to do what they love most with the freedom to be their most authentic, fantastic, energetic selves. J Camps offers a wide variety of different camp options for your child to discover and explore all summer long with over 10 summer camp programs that fit the needs of every child. From preschool to Teen Programming, from arts to sports to STEM, and everything in between, your camper will have a blast exploring all the options.
Kids@CCBC Summer Classes
Onsite and Online classes allow kids to learn, grow and have fun on campus or from home. Choose from Academics, Cooking, Fitness & Wellness, STEM, and Visual & Performing Arts.
Mast Tennis Academy
Various locations, 443-739-3655, masttennisacademy.com
Come learn the sport of a lifetime tennis with the best coaches in town. See you on the courts. Now offering Pickleball!
McDonogh Summer Camps
Owings Mills, 443-544-7100, mcdonogh.org/community/parents/summer-camps
McDonogh has been offering quality summer camps for children ages 4 to 17 for over 80 years. The camps are conducted on the school’s 800-acre campus, complete with outdoor athletic fields, three playgrounds, two fishing ponds, 18 tennis courts, and a new state-of-the-art rock-climbing tower in addition to a high and low ropes course. Indoor facilities include an Olympic-size swimming pool, as well as a 54,000-square-foot field house with seven basketball courts and a wrestling room. Campers also benefit from McDonogh’s fine arts center with a 588-seat theatre, multiple computer labs, and art rooms.
Merritt Clubs Summer Camps
Merritt Clubs in Canton, White Marsh and Towson, 800-NEW-SHAPE, merrittclubs.com/programs/camps
Merritt Clubs offers a wide variety of half-day and full-day interactive summer camps. Enjoy multiple camp settings, before & after care, extended hours and more throughout the camp session. Your children will enjoy a variety of activities in a fun safe environment at Merritt Clubs and make memories that will last a lifetime.
PADONIA Summer Camps
Cockeysville/Lutherville/Timonium/Towson, 410-252-2046, padonia.com/summer-camp
The ultimate fun-filled summer experience awaits! Make lifetime friends as well as develop social skills, critical thinking, creativity, self-esteem, individuality, and fitness. Two camps led by highly qualified leaders and educators are offered on a beautiful 30-acre countryside campus.
Park Camps/Park School of Baltimore
Baltimore, 410-339-4120, parkcamps.com
The Park School’s Summer Program provides dynamic experiences for children ages 3 ½-15. Park’s unique approach to learning flourishes amid the beauty and wonder of a wooded 100-acre campus. Camps are infused with the school’s progressive approach to learning that inspires students to pursue their passions and push outside their comfort zones.
Puh’tok in the Pines
Monkton, 410-329-6590, ymaryland.org/puhtok
Located on 67 acres of pristine woodlands and bordered by the scenic Gunpowder Falls River and State Park, Puh’tok in the Pines in Northern Baltimore County provides the quintessential setting where campers can unplug and return to nature and fun—no batteries or chargers necessary!
Summer at The St. Paul’s Schools
Brooklandville, 443-632-1083, stpaulsmd.org/summer
For decades, children ages 4-16 have been building lifelong friendships and skills during the summer at The St. Paul’s Schools. Located on a 120-acre campus just 10 miles north of Baltimore City, campers quickly connect and feel safe in a nurturing environment. With a ropes course, swimming pool, athletics facilities including a state-of-the-art indoor golf training center, as well as facilities for arts, drama, cooking, and scientific exploration, your camper can unplug, try new and exciting activities, make great new friends, and gain self-esteem!
Summer @ Blakefield
Loyola Blakefield, Towson, 443-841-3328, loyolablakefield.org/summer-programs
Themed camps include academics, cooking, chess, mountain biking, archery, baseball, basketball, lacrosse, soccer, tennis, and more.
Summer at Garrison Forest
Owings Mills, 410-559-3433, gfs.org/summer
Summer at Garrison Forest programs are for boys and girls ages 3 and up. With a variety of offerings, every child has plenty of opportunities to explore, learn, and make new friends. Campers will discover new skills, dive deep into creativity, play with passion, and take talents for a ride.
Summer Camp at The Odyssey School
Lutherville, 410-580-5551, theodysseyschool.org/summer
A specialized summer camp for children with dyslexia and other language learning differences, Summer Camp at The Odyssey School is an enriching and creative program offering instruction in writing, math, and reading in the morning, and games, sports, and outdoor discovery in the afternoon!
UMBC Summer Day Camp
Catonsville, 410-455-2638, summerdaycamp.umbc.edu
For over 45 years UMBC has built and grown a summer program that emphasizes having fun in a positive, well structured, and exciting environment. Designed for children ages 6-13, the camp curriculum has been created to offer a wide variety of programs to meet the interests, abilities, and needs of campers and aimed at delivering both fun and learning opportunities for children.
Camp BY & Terrific Two’s
Bet Yeladim Preschool, Columbia, 410-997-7378, betyeladim.org
With the start of summer, Bet Yeladim Preschool transforms into “Camp Bet Yeladim” (AKA Camp “BY”). Half-day “Specialty Camp” style program for 3, 4 & 5-year-old campers not only includes art, water play, music and movement, but special activities such as the Jump Bunch, Paragon Gymnastics, Super Science, Creative Cooking, and more! “Terrific Two’s” program includes water play, cooking, art, music, movement and plenty of time on the playground.
Columbia Association Summer Camps
Multiple locations throughout Columbia/Howard County, 410-715-3165, columbiacamps.org/community-program/camps/
The CA Summer Camp program offers a safe and fun environment that will help campers build community, cultivate a unique sense of place, and create lifelong memories. With a range of camp options and locations to choose from, your kids will have the summer of a lifetime!
Howard Community College’s Kids on Campus
Columbia, 443-518-4110, howardcc.edu/programs-courses/continuing-education/courses/kids-on-campus/
When school’s out, the fun and learning doesn’t stop! HCC’s Kids on Campus program offers summer enrichment education for youth ages 6 to 17 in areas such as STEM, creative arts, test prep, and more! The college campus setting is the perfect location to present engaging programming right here in the heart of Howard County.
Howard County Arts Council’s Visual & Performing Arts Camp
Ellicott City, 410-313-2787, hocoarts.org
Summer will be here before you know it, so get a jump on those summer activities now! Register early and have access to our full range of visual and performing arts adventures for your child. Camps are open to students entering grades K–7. Full- or half-day sessions and morning and afternoon extended care are available.
Howard County Conservancy Nature Camps
Woodstock, 410-465-8877, howardnature.org/camp/
Make new friends, play among the trees, learn survival skills and more. Campers will explore habitats, engineer devices to solve environmental challenges, and connect to nature through immersive games, hikes, crafts, and STEM challenges.
Howard County Recreation & Parks Summer Camps
Howard County parks, schools, community centers and local businesses
A variety of camp offerings, including adventures and outdoors, chess, baking, cooking, crafts and fine arts, dance, personal development, music, theatre, LEGO, magic, and more.
SAC Soccer Training Academy
Ellicott City, 410-203-9590, sackick.com/sac-summer-camps/
The structure of the SAC Training Academy is based on a combination of the highest quality soccer instruction with a fun atmosphere that encourages the player’s love of the game. SAC Training Academy is a highly organized and well-supervised camp environment utilizing innovative and challenging training sessions.
St. John’s Summer Camp
St. John’s Parish Day School, Ellicott City, 410-465-7644, stjohnspds.org/apps/pages/sjpdssummercamp
Early Childhood Camp will be open for students 3.5 through 5 years old (entering Kindergarten) and run for 10 weeks. Lower School Camp will be open for students entering Kindergarten through 5th grade and run for 6 weeks.
Summer in the Country
Glenelg Country School, Ellicott City, 410-531-8600, glenelg.org/summer
Camp options include adventure camps, counselor-in-training, sports, pool and tennis, traditional day camps, and specialty camps such as Harry Potter, chess, superhero, nature explorations, and more.
Terrapin Adventures Summer Camp
Howard County, 301-725-1313, terrapinadventures.com/adventure-camps/
Camps provide campers with active and adventurous experiences that help them build confidence in themselves and try new things! Give your child a new experience that they’ll remember for years to come.