The Best Summer Camps in the USA for 2023

The Best Summer Camps in the USA represent a vibrant world of incredible, life-changing opportunities for kids and teens. Places where they can develop new confidence, explore their curiosities, truly appreciate the world around them, serve others with selflessness, and find their best selves.

These lists of the best summer camps in the USA comprise of different types of summer camps that are operating in multiple states and internationally. There are over 40 national summer camps for kids and teens within our exclusive Summer Camp Search that feature popular programs in States across the country.

Open inclusion, nation-wide access, camp values, financial aid availability, the level of instruction, and cost were all important considerations in helping us to determine the Best Summer Camps in the USA.

As we always recommend, be sure to include your kids and teens in this search for their ideal summer camps. These particular summer camps have a unique focus for their programs, and could set the participants onto life-long journeys of positive commitment. They also might be rare chances for teens to get a taste of college life at their dream campuses.

Whatever the intent, kids and teens will be far more comfortable if they are included in the entire search process.

Take a look at our Summer Camp Search to see all of the possible options! In no particular ranking order, these are our selections for the Best Summer Camps in the USA.

Summary of the Best Summer Camps in the USA


Camp
Name
Program
Focus
Gender
& Ages
Session
Lengths
Financial
Aid
iD Tech Camps Academic & STEM Summer Camp Coding, Game Development, Robotics, Creative, Math, Business Coed
7 to 19
1 - 3 weeks YES
NYLF Explore STEM Camps
Academic & STEM Summer Camp
Forensic Science, Engineering, Robotics, Medical, Galaxy Labs Coed
11 to 14
1 week YES
Emagination Tech Camps
Academic & STEM Summer Camp
Digital Media, Coding, Video Game Design, Engineering Coed
8 to 17
2 - 4 weeks YES
Game Camp Nation
Academic & STEM Summer Camp
Pixel Art, 3D Graphics, Video Game Design, Programming, Leadership Coed
9 to 19
1 week NO
American Collegiate Adventures
Academic & STEM Summer Camp
Business / Entrepreneurship, Culinary, Marketing, Medicine, Law, Tech, Sports Coed
15 to 18
1 - 4 weeks NO
American Dance Training Camps
Arts & Performance Summer Camp
Mainly Jazz, Hip-Hop & Contemporary Girls Only
8 to 17
1 - 3 weeks YES
US Performing Arts Camps
Arts & Performance Summer Camp
Acting, Musical Theatre, Film & Media, Dance Coed
11 to 19
1 - 2 weeks YES
Camp Jam Arts & Performance Summer Camp Music Camp & Band Experience Coed
11 to 17
1 week NO
AMDA High School Summer Conservatory
Arts & Performance Summer Camp
Musical Theatre, Acting, Dance & Pop Star Coed
14 to 19
2 weeks YES
SOCAPA
Arts & Performance Summer Camp
Filmmaking, Dance, Music, Photography, Acting, MTX & Action Film Coed
14 to 18
2 - 3 weeks YES
Apogee Adventures
Trips & Adventure Summer Camp
Hiking, Biking, Community Service, Writing, Photography Coed
11 to 18
1 - 6 weeks YES
Rein Teen Tours
Trips & Adventure Summer Camp
Adventure Travel, Cultural Exploration, Community Service Coed
13 to 17
2 - 6 weeks NO
OVERLAND
Trips & Adventure Summer Camp
Hiking, Community Service, Language Immersion Coed
9 to 18
1 - 3 weeks YES
Outward Bound
Trips & Adventure Summer Camp
Hiking, Rafting, Community Service, Mountaineering, Sailing, Kayaking Coed, Boys Only & Girls Only
12 to 18+
1 - 8 weeks YES
The Road Less Traveled
Trips & Adventure Summer Camp
Community Service, Cultural Immersion, Adventure Activities Coed
11 to 18
2 - 3 weeks YES
Camp Erin
Special Needs Summer Camp
Bereavement / Close death Coed
6 to 17
1 week YES
Camp Mariposa
Special Needs Summer Camp
Addiction / Substance Abuse Coed
8 to 17
1 week YES
Camp PALS
Special Needs Summer Camp
Down Syndrome Coed
12 to 30
1 week YES
Camp Corral
Special Needs Summer Camp
Injured or fallen military service members Coed
8 to 15
1 week YES
Camp Kesem
Special Needs Summer Camp
Coping with a parent’s cancer diagnosis Coed
6 to 18
1 week YES

Summary of the Best Summer Camps in the USA

Camp
Name
Program
Focus
Financial
Aid
iD Tech Camps
Academic & STEM Summer Camp
Coding, Game Development, Robotics, Creative, Math, Business YES
NYLF Explore STEM Camps
Academic & STEM Summer Camp
Forensic Science, Engineering, Robotics, Medical, Galaxy Labs YES
Emagination Tech Camps
Academic & STEM Summer Camp
Digital Media, Coding, Video Game Design, Engineering YES
Game Camp Nation
Academic & STEM Summer Camp
Pixel Art, 3D Graphics, Video Game Design, Programming, Leadership NO
American Collegiate Adventures
Academic & STEM Summer Camp
Business / Entrepreneurship, Culinary, Marketing, Medicine, Law, Tech, Sports NO
American Dance Training Camps
Arts & Performance Summer Camp
Mainly Jazz, Hip-Hop & Contemporary YES
US Performing Arts Camps
Arts & Performance Summer Camp
Acting, Musical Theatre, Film & Media, Dance YES
Camp Jam
Arts & Performance Summer Camp
Music Camp & Band Experience NO
AMDA High School Summer Conservatory
Arts & Performance Summer Camp
Musical Theatre, Acting, Dance & Pop Star YES
SOCAPA
Arts & Performance Summer Camp
Filmmaking, Dance, Music, Photography, Acting, MTX & Action Film YES
Apogee Adventures
Trips & Adventure Summer Camp
Hiking, Biking, Community Service, Writing, Photography YES
Rein Teen Tours
Trips & Adventure Summer Camp
Adventure Travel, Cultural Exploration, Community Service NO
OVERLAND
Trips & Adventure Summer Camp
Hiking, Community Service, Language Immersion YES
Outward Bound
Trips & Adventure Summer Camp
Hiking, Rafting, Community Service, Mountaineering, Sailing, Kayaking YES
The Road Less Traveled
Trips & Adventure Summer Camp
Community Service, Cultural Immersion, Adventure Activities YES
Camp Erin
Special Needs Summer Camp
Bereavement / Close death YES
Camp Mariposa
Special Needs Summer Camp
Addiction / Substance Abuse YES
Camp PALS
Special Needs Summer Camp
Down Syndrome YES
Camp Corral
Special Needs Summer Camp
Injured or fallen military service members YES
Camp Kesem
Special Needs Summer Camp
Coping with a parent’s cancer diagnosis YES
 

The Best Summer Camps in the USA for 2023

BEST ACADEMIC & STEM SUMMER CAMPS

# 1 – iD Tech Camps

iD Tech Camps is a premier STEM education summer camp that has gained a world-wide reputation as the original and most trusted tech camp on the planet. iD Tech is committed to bridging the digital divide in STEM education, and ensuring that every child has the opportunity to learn these important, life-long skills.

iD Tech Camps is a premier STEM education summer camp that has gained a world-wide reputation as the original and most trusted tech camp on the planet. iD Tech is committed to bridging the digital divide in STEM education, and ensuring that every child has the opportunity to learn these important, life-long skills.

Their mission is “to create life-changing tech experiences that embolden students to shape the future.”

Operating at over 75 of the most prestigious colleges across the US, iD Tech offers a wealth of course topics divided into Coding, Game Development, Robotics, Creative, Math, and Business.

Choosing a college is one of the most influential decisions for many teens, and one that they are likely pondering even before their teenage years. iD Tech provides children with an incredible opportunity to get a taste of what it would be like to live and learn at their dream college campuses.

Founded in 1999, iD Tech Camps offers 1 to 3 week sessions for 7 to 19 year olds. Their programs can be experienced almost anywhere with a range of on-campus programs, online private lessons, after schools, and virtual tech camps.

iD Tech maintains smaller class sizes in their programs to ensure that every child receives personalized learning and can progress at their own pace. Popular courses include mentoring in Python, Java, Photoshop, Computer Science, C++, Roblox, Algebra, Calculus, and much more.

The instructors at iD tech are recruited from top universities, are 100% USA-based, go through rigorous background checks, receive extensive in-person training, and boast professional experience from the biggest tech companies in the world.

iD Tech Camps provides a safe, professional, and collegiate learning environment “Where Kids & Teens Learn From the Best.”

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# 2 – NYLF Explore STEM Camps

NYLF Explore STEM Camps is a STEM summer camp program for 6th to 8th graders to develop our future innovators by challenging them to plan and execute a theoretical mission to explore Mars. The program at NYLF Explore STEM Camps is “built on a multidisciplinary curriculum designed to help students find their passion through hands-on activities in forensics, robotics programming, medicine, and civil engineering.”

NYLF Explore STEM Camps is a STEM summer camp program for 6th to 8th graders to develop our future innovators by challenging them to plan and execute a theoretical mission to explore Mars. The program at NYLF Explore STEM Camps is “built on a multidisciplinary curriculum designed to help students find their passion through hands-on activities in forensics, robotics programming, medicine, and civil engineering.”

These STEM summer programs are operated by “Envision by WorldStrides.” This is a company whose mission is to “give high-aspiring students in elementary school through college the unique opportunity to turn their career and life aspirations into reality.”

With a range of innovative, safe, fun, and empowering programs across the country, students are able to explore careers and discover their passion.

Founded in 1985, NYLF Explore STEM Camps offers 1 week sessions for 11 to 14 year olds. Although most students are nominated by educators or selected through their many academic partnerships, students can apply through their application process.

The program concentrates on 5 key program simulations: Forensic Science, Engineering Design, Robotics Programming, Medical, and Galaxy Labs. Students will be challenged to create meaningful solutions as a group through these hands-on simulations, as well as workshops and competitions.

One of the biggest highlights of the program are the visits by former NASA astronauts to share experiences from their careers in space exploration. This provides students a unique and rare look into the lives of these highly specialized career professionals.

NYLF Explore STEM Camps currently operates and offers programs at 11 universities in 10 US States.

# 3 – Emagination Tech Camps

Emagination Tech Camps is a STEM summer camp for children and teens interested in computers and technology. They offer a unique combination of tech-learning and fun within a safe, inclusive summer camp experience. Their mission is “to educate, entertain, and help kids and teens grow into well-rounded, self-assured young adults.”

Emagination Tech Camps is a STEM summer camp for children and teens interested in computers and technology. They offer a unique combination of tech-learning and fun within a safe, inclusive summer camp experience. Their mission is “to educate, entertain, and help kids and teens grow into well-rounded, self-assured young adults.”

Believing that “every summer has a story,” campers are free to create their own personalized schedules based on their own preferences that allow them to mix and match courses, or commit themselves to a single focus area.

Emagination Tech Camps has been family owned since 1982, and offers 2 to 4 week overnight sessions for 8 to 17 year olds. Their programs are available on college campuses in 6 US States for all skill levels, and they offer day camp options as well.

The STEM-based programs at Emagination are divided into 4 key program areas: Digital Art & Media, Learn to Code, Game Design, and Explore Engineering. Within these key program areas, kids and teens can explore a range of courses that includes 3D Animation, Graphic Design, Coding in Java, Unreal game design, robotics, and much more.

A Teen Leadership Program is also available for teens to continue their personal development and receive guiding support in pursuing their goals beyond camp.

The Emagination counselor team comprises mainly of recent college graduates and students who not only love computer science, digital art, and game design, but also love working with kids as well!

When the campers are not learning, they’ll have the opportunity to enjoy open labs, field games, indoor games, LARPing, girl’s nights, theme days, super saturdays, LAN parties (for senior campers), and talent shows. There might even be the occasional day trip off campus to attend events and explore their local surroundings.

# 4 – Game Camp Nation

Game Camp Nation is an educational game studio for kids and teens that blend the fun of summer with an education in computer programming. They believe that the best way to learn to code is by designing, building, and testing your own video games. Game Camp Nation is a unique and rare opportunity for kids and teens to turn their video game ideas into reality.

Game Camp Nation is an educational game studio for kids and teens that blend the fun of summer with an education in computer programming. They believe that the best way to learn to code is by designing, building, and testing your own video games. Game Camp Nation is a unique and rare opportunity for kids and teens to turn their video game ideas into reality.

Small class sizes combined with a talented faculty creates an ideal environment for kids and teens to explore the exciting worlds of computer programming and video game development. In creating these games, participants will have the opportunity to learn programming languages such as C++, Java, and Python.

Founded in 2005, Game Camp Nation offers 1 week sessions for 9 to 19 year olds. Courses are open to any experience level, and they also offer day camps and online courses.

Pics courtesy of Game Camp Nation.

Pics courtesy of Game Camp Nation.

The game development courses are divided into the following key areas: Pixel Art, 3D Graphics, Game Design, Programming, and Leadership (for 16 to 19 year olds). These courses are taught primarily through hands-on lessons, studio practice, and social activities.

Kids and teens will also be exposed to the highly competitive world of eSports. Game Camp Nation even maintains a leader board for their most popular video games where campers can battle it out. Recreational activities include swimming, court sports, and video games.

The programs at Game Camp Nation operate out of popular hotel resorts that can afford plenty of amenities as well as a safe, open space to learn in their conference areas. Game Camp Nation operates and offers programs in Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Virginia. Game on!

# 5 – American Collegiate Adventures

American Collegiate Adventures (ACA) is a summer camp for teens with enriching programs in pre-college, teen tours abroad, and adventures. They balance their programs with a vibrant mix of academics, activities, and adventure to create “new avenues of intellectual stimulation” that will prepare them for success in college.

American Collegiate Adventures (ACA) is a summer camp for teens with enriching programs in pre-college, teen tours abroad, and adventures. They balance their programs with a vibrant mix of academics, activities, and adventure to create “new avenues of intellectual stimulation” that will prepare them for success in college.

The mission of ACA is “to provide university based pre-college summer programs creating an interactive environment which allows students to benefit from a well-balanced and structured experience both in and out of the classroom.”

ACA blends their educational programs with cultural experiences that raise awareness and positively impact the lives of both students and local communities. Weekday activity and weekend adventure trips within the local communities are an important component of all ACA programs.

Founded in 1993, American Collegiate Adventures (ACA) offers 1 to 4 week sessions for 15 to 18 year olds.

The teen programs at American Collegiate Adventures encompass Pre-College Programs, Study Abroad Programs, Career Exploration Programs, Malibu Surf & Sports Camps, Community Service Programs, Teen Tours, and Middle School Programs.

Within these programs, an exciting range of subjects are on offer that present pathways to develop in Business / Entrepreneurship, Culinary, Marketing, Medicine, Law, Tech, Sports and more. The staff at ACA have extensive experience working with teens, and serve as mentors, advisors, and friends to the students.

For those teens searching for a bigger opportunity to serve, American Collegiate Adventures offers Community Service Programs with impacting trips to Costa Rica, Panama, Hawaii, and Southern California. ACA also offers sports camps under the hot California sun in Malibu with Surfing, Soccer, and Tennis Camps.

American Collegiate Adventures operates and offers programs in 6 US States, as well as internationally in Florence, Italy and Barcelona, Spain. Their Pre-College programs operate out of campuses at UCLA in Los Angeles (CA), University of Vermont in Burlington (VT), University of Maryland in College Park (MD), and in Madison, Wisconsin (with lakeside and upscale residence halls).

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The Best Summer Camps in the USA for 2023

BEST ARTS & PERFORMANCE SUMMER CAMPS

# 1 – American Dance Training Camps

American Dance Training Camps is an overnight dance camp that promotes a friendly, spirited and inclusive community that is focused towards girl empowerment. Their mission is “to empower girls to move to love.”

American Dance Training Camps is an overnight dance camp that promotes a friendly, spirited and inclusive community that is focused towards girl empowerment. Their mission is “to empower girls to move to love.”

This mission embodies a wide range of positive emotions and developing the girls’ connection to them through movement. The wider intent is to promote love, peace, understanding, and happiness through their programs. This will then resonate deeply within the girls and carry with them for the rest of their lives.

I especially love their ADTC Movement Manifesto that is an ever-evolving collection of the messages being promoted at American Dance Training Camps. They include inspiring messages such as “Find your Spirit,” “Happiness can only exist in Acceptance,” and “The best things in life are not things.”

American Dance Training Camps was founded in 2003, and offers 1 to 3 week sessions for 8 to 17 year olds. In keeping with their inclusive culture, ADTC is open to dancers of all types – from first-timers all the way up to the very experienced.

Pics courtesy of American Dance Training Camps.

Pics courtesy of American Dance Training Camps.

The core dances at ADTC are in Jazz, Hip-Hop, and Contemporary (styles of jazz vary and may include Broadway, lyrical or acro). They also offer core elective classes in Ballet, Tap, World Dance, and a wide variety of other dance disciplines.

The ADTC staff is a team of professional dancers and teachers that boasts Radio City Rockettes, Broadway dancers and MTV performers.

Depending on the location, other camp activities can include ropes courses, canoeing & kayaking, trampoline houses, rock walls, swimming, ice skating, water slides, horseback riding, bowling, sky jumps, tennis, whitewater rafting, alpine slides, build-a-bear visits, aerial dance, theme parks, hiking, paintball, mini golf, pottery, and more.

As you can see, American Dance Training Camps combines the best of camp with an inclusive and professionally-taught dance program for girls. They can be found in 9 locations in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, Texas, Vermont and Wisconsin. Never miss a chance to dance!

# 2 – US Performing Arts Camps

US Performing Arts Camps (USPAC) is a top tier camp for performing arts and digital media with expert coaching from Hollywood and Broadway professionals. Their mission is “to immerse students in learning their craft from the best teaching artists in the country at some of the most prestigious and beautiful colleges in the U.S.”

US Performing Arts Camps (USPAC) is a top tier camp for performing arts and digital media with expert coaching from Hollywood and Broadway professionals. Their mission is “to immerse students in learning their craft from the best teaching artists in the country at some of the most prestigious and beautiful colleges in the U.S.”

USPAC offers programs that are focused on expert progression with the goal of preparing students for their journeys into college. The programs require a passionate commitment to their crafts as the students will participate in daily schedules that feature both morning, afternoon, and evening sessions.

Founded in 2001, US Performing Arts Camps offers 1 to 2 week sessions for 11 to 19 year olds.

Most of their programs don’t require an audition. However given the disciplined commitment required, I would think that teens would need to be passionate about developing in these crafts. They’ll be setting themselves on an awesome path of development where they will walk away stronger, more confident, and ready to tackle the world of college.

The programs at US Performing Arts Camps are centered on Acting, Musical Theater, Film & Media, and Dance with over 25 specialty training workshops.

Operating from within some of the most beautiful college campuses in the country, US Performing Arts Camps boasts a team of award-winning artists from Hollywood and Broadway to mentor and teach the teens. These colleges are Georgetown University (Washington DC), Pepperdine University (Malibu CA), Stanford University (Palo Alto CA), and Yale University (New Haven CT). They also offer virtual workshops for wider access.

The recreational facilities (including swimming) on the college campuses are available for students to enjoy themselves in their free time.

US Performing Arts Camps are committed to taking teens to the next level in their creative pursuits – introducing them to a culture where they are encouraged to Dream, Create, and Collaborate!

# 3 – Camp Jam

Camp Jam is the ultimate teen music camp where teens can immerse themselves in a highly energetic world of bands, studio recording, and live concerts. They will have the opportunity to play in a band, write songs, record in a studio, make a music video, play concerts, and learn from the pros.

Camp Jam is the ultimate teen music camp where teens can immerse themselves in a highly energetic world of bands, studio recording, and live concerts. They will have the opportunity to play in a band, write songs, record in a studio, make a music video, play concerts, and learn from the pros.

Camp Jam promotes a culture that is “clean, safe, non-competitive, community-oriented, and fun-spirited!” Their staff team consists of “musicians who play or have played in major label and independent label bands, professional audio engineers, music teachers, and industry professionals.”

Founded in 2005, Camp Jam offers 1 week sessions for 11 to 17 year olds.

Teens will be strategically placed into bands according to their age, experience, style, interest, and ability. Musicians are welcome to attend solo, with some mates, or even with their own band.

Each band will have a practice room where they can write, revise, and practice songs to their hearts content.

Due to the intensive program schedule, there won’t be too much free time for students. During the free time that is available, students can participate in fun activities, play games, watch movies, and hang out.

Camp Jam recommends that teens have at least 6 months experience playing their instruments. All of their programs are designed for beginners all the way up to advanced. They currently operate and offer programs at Cal State Fullerton in Orange County, CA and Lake Forest Academy in Chicago, IL.

Each program ends with a final concert that is professionally filmed and recorded by Camp Jam. This final concert can be attended by friends and family, and serves as the culminating, final achievement for each band. A fantastic way to cap an unforgettable experience full of confidence-building and raw creative expression!

# 4 – AMDA High School Summer Conservatory

AMDA High School Summer Conservatory is an intensive performance camp with “an immersive program that provides extraordinary performing arts training for passionate artists.” Designed to expose students to the fast-paced cultures of New York and Los Angeles, students will learn within a concentrated conservatory experience.

AMDA High School Summer Conservatory is an intensive performance camp with “an immersive program that provides extraordinary performing arts training for passionate artists.” Designed to expose students to the fast-paced cultures of New York and Los Angeles, students will learn within a concentrated conservatory experience.

AMDA features a world-class faculty of working artists, with frequent visits from respected and well-known professionals in Broadway, stage, film, television and dance.

Founded in 2012, AMDA High School Summer Conservatory offers 2 week sessions for 14 to 19 year olds.

The main on-campus programs at AMDA are broken into Musical Theatre, Acting for Stage & Screen, Dance Theatre, and Pop Star: Recording Artist.

There are admission requirements for each program that typically involves submitting an application and attending a short interview.

Pics courtesy of AMDA High School Summer Conservatory.

Pics courtesy of AMDA High School Summer Conservatory.

The programs are offered at their two college campuses in New York and Los Angeles – AMDA College of the Performing Arts and The American Musical and Dramatic Academy.

Each program is introduced and taught in its own unique way. The Pop Star: Recording Artist program even includes a professional recording studio experience to guide students on their way to unleashing their inner vocal artist.

Students will spend on average of 9 hours per day in classes designed to develop and refine their crafts. They will also be given the opportunity to participate in cultural activities that could include shows, museums, amusement parks, and tours.

Regardless of the program, there will be a large focus on audition training and every student will have the opportunity to audition for AMDA College and alternate AMDA High School Conservatory programs.

# 5 – SOCAPA

SOCAPA (School of Creative and Performing Arts) is a summer camp for creative teens that feature premier visual and performing arts programs. The mission at SOCAPA is to “constantly strive to be the best at what we do, which is provide summer intensives in the arts while engaging students in a fun, productive and enriching summer experience.”

SOCAPA (School of Creative and Performing Arts) is a summer camp for creative teens that feature premier visual and performing arts programs. The mission at SOCAPA is to “constantly strive to be the best at what we do, which is provide summer intensives in the arts while engaging students in a fun, productive and enriching summer experience.”

The students at SOCAPA will be coached and mentored by a team of industry artists whose professional credits span the worlds of Hollywood, Broadway, independent film, television, and dance.

Founded in 2001, SOCAPA offers 2 to 3 week sessions for 14 to 18 year olds.

The SOCAPA Summer Intensive programs feature the following crafts – Filmmaking, Dance, Music, Photography, Acting, and Mountain Bike & Action Film.

Teens of all experience levels are welcome to advance their skills. A completed application along with a recent school report card is necessary for consideration for all programs. Each program also carries with it an expectation of some level of experience and passion for the chosen craft.

SOCAPA operates on a “work hard, play hard” approach with the students. During their classes, they maintain a high level of intensity in the students’ creative expression and artistic development.

Outside of their classes, they make sure to balance their schedules with fun and enriching activities. Activities are scheduled every night and on the weekends that allow the students to explore their vibrant surroundings in one of their beautiful campus locations.

These SOCAPA campus locations include Occidental College in Los Angeles (CA), NYU facilities and New School’s Residence Hall in the East Village of Manhattan (NY), Pratt University and FGSC on the Steiner Studios Film Lot in Brooklyn (NY), Champlain College in Burlington (VT), and the Burke Mountain Hotel in East Burke (VT).

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The Best Summer Camps in the USA for 2023

BEST TRIPS & ADVENTURE SUMMER CAMPS

# 1 – Apogee Adventures

Apogee Adventures is a summer camp that offers impacting adventures, service, and education programs for teens. Through these programs, Apogee is creating future outdoor stewards with a keen awareness and passion for nature, the great outdoors, and those who came before us. They believe in “Building Confidence, Character & Community through Adventure Travel.”

Apogee Adventures is a summer camp that offers impacting adventures, service, and education programs for teens. Through these programs, Apogee is creating future outdoor stewards with a keen awareness and passion for nature, the great outdoors, and those who came before us. They believe in “Building Confidence, Character & Community through Adventure Travel.”

Founded in 2001, Apogee Adventures offers 1 to 6 week sessions for 11 to 18 year olds. Their trips require little to no outdoor experience. And with group sizes of 12 participants or less, the teens are able to forge life-long bonds within their small, close-knit, and coed groups.

The programs at Apogee are divided into Hiking (expeditions), Biking (bike touring), Community Service Trips, Writing, and Photography. All of their programs promote community, diversity and inclusion within their wider Apogee Family. As a result, community service is an important component of almost all trips; giving teens a chance to serve communities in impacting ways that will carry with them far beyond their time with Apogee.

Apogee operates and offers their programs in locations throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Latin America. They use a 1-10 Challenge Level system to separate their programs, with the higher level programs being the most physically challenging for teens.

Within their Hiking expeditions, they feature programs such as Alaska Mountains & Coast, Alps Explorer (starts in Geneva, Switzerland), California’s Coastal Mountains, Pyrenees Mountains & Coast (starts in Barcelona, Spain), and New England Mountains & Coast.

And their Biking (touring) programs give teens the chance to engage in programs such as Cape Cod & the Islands, Europe Coast to Coast, Pacific Coast, and Vermont to Montreal.

Apogee Adventures also offers a Community Service trip to Puerto Rico where teens will have the opportunity to support rural farmers, maintain trails in the rainforest, and help to reforest a coastal nature preserve.

# 2 – Rein Teen Tours

Rein Teen Tours is a summer camp that specializes in teen tours, community service trips, and teen travel programs. They believe in creating “exciting discoveries, personal growth, unimaginable adventures, and life-long friendships.”

Rein Teen Tours is a summer camp that specializes in teen tours, community service trips, and teen travel programs. They believe in creating “exciting discoveries, personal growth, unimaginable adventures, and life-long friendships.”

Believing that group dynamics is key to a successful and meaningful adventure, the leadership staff at Rein place huge importance on ensuring that each teen feels comfortable and able to succeed within their groups.

Founded in 1985, Rein Teen Tours offers 2 to 6 week sessions for 13 to 17 year olds. The programs at Rein are split between Teen Tours & Adventure Travel, and Cultural Exploration & Volunteer Travel Programs.

Within the Teen Tours & Adventure Travel programs, there is a range of exciting options that includes Eastern Adventure, California Cruisin’, Hawaiian / Alaskan Adventure, European Adventure, and Australia / New Zealand Adventure. Teens will fill their days exploring the local communities, visiting universities, enjoying local attractions, engaging in cultural activities, and taking in some of the most beautiful views on Earth.

For those teens looking to give back through Rein’s Cultural Exploration & Volunteer Travel Programs, they can travel and serve in places like Hawaii, Costa Rica, the Galapagos Islands, Thailand, and more. A world of service exists where teens can “teach English at a Thai children’s home in Bangkok, work with abandoned animals at a sanctuary on the Big Island of Hawaii, assist the indigenous Kichwa tribe in the Amazon Jungle, or help families on the verge of homelessness in California.”

Rein also offers Mini Tours. This is a program where teens can participate in multi-week programs that allow them to travel during the week and stay at home during the weekends. It serves as an introduction for teens that would prefer a more balanced structure.

The counselors at Rein Teen Tours mainly come from the world of education with an average age of 27 years old. They are a fun and energetic bunch that passionately believe in giving back.

Rein Teen Tours operates and offers programs in the US, Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and Costa Rica.

# 3 – OVERLAND

OVERLAND is a summer camp that offers adventure, language and community service trips for kids and teens. They are “a life experience with value and resonance that extends far beyond the boundaries of a single summer.”

OVERLAND is a summer camp that offers adventure, language and community service trips for kids and teens. They are “a life experience with value and resonance that extends far beyond the boundaries of a single summer.”

At Overland, students will be immersed within adventures where they hit the trails, explore remote towns, hike up summits, and challenge themselves to be the best that they can be. The focus is on small groups, carefully crafted challenges, and clearly defined goals. The teens develop their own sense of leadership and personal responsibility as they contribute to a group living environment on and off the trail.

I really appreciate the emphasis that Overland places on positive attitudes, enthusiasm, and consideration for others.

Founded in 1984, OVERLAND offers 1 to 3 week sessions for 9 to 18 year olds. Programs are completely phone and internet free to allow participants to fully engage with their group and their trip. Most trips feature a backpacking component where groups will be living on the trail and in the wilderness for a time.

The Overland programs are divided into Introductory, Hiking, Service, and Language. The Introductory trips are designed for the youngest campers, and feature a fun balance of outdoor activities. These can include day hikes, bike rides, kayaking, rafting, rock climbing, and more.

The Overland Hiking trips are the core programs with adventures in New England, the Rockies, Yellowstone and the Tetons, the Sierras, the Olympics, Alaska, Europe, and Africa. There’s even a trip for teens where you get to hike the famed and majestic Appalachian Trail for 2 weeks. These trips can be a step-up in difficulty, and include activities such as rafting, rock climbing, and mountaineering.

The Service Trips create impacting achievements with trips in New England and Alaska. Overland also offers Language Trips with a focus on developing conversational skills within beautiful locations in France and Spain.

Trip leaders at Overland are recruited from top colleges and universities across the country, with a talented mix of high academic achievers, athletes, and campus leaders. They are expected to be role models that create wholesome, supportive environments for their students to thrive in.

# 4 – Outward Bound

Outward Bound is a summer camp that offers outdoor education and adventure programs for teens and adults. They are one of the leading providers of outdoor education programs across the country, and have been inspiring confidence in our youth for decades.

Outward Bound is a summer camp that offers outdoor education and adventure programs for teens and adults. They are one of the leading providers of outdoor education programs across the country, and have been inspiring confidence in our youth for decades.

Their mission is to change lives through challenge and discovery within their extensive range of impacting programs and adventures. At their heart, they are an education organization “that serves people of all ages and backgrounds through challenging learning expeditions that inspire strength of character, leadership and service to others, both in and out of the classroom.”

The core beliefs of Outward Bound are pushing boundaries, social responsibility, access & opportunity, compassionate leadership, and the life-long adventure of learning.

Founded in 1962, Outward Bound offers 1 to 8 week sessions for 12 to 18+ year olds. The programs for kids and teens can be found within their Community and Expeditions programs.

The Classic Expeditions are transformative life experiences that build confidence and deliver adventure on-the-trail at pristine wilderness locations across the country. Teens embark on unforgettable adventures of backpacking, rafting, canoeing, rock climbing, canyoneering, sailing, dog sledding, service intensives, kayaking, skiing & snowshoeing, and mountaineering.

These adventures are set against some of the most beautiful and serene natural environments in California, Georgia, Texas, Florida, Colorado, New England, and more.

The Community program introduces the Outward Bound experience to kids and teens in their local communities through school and community partnerships. The Outward Bound values are taught through confidence building challenges and teambuilding initiatives.

Outward Bound operates and offers more than 20 course areas nationwide from coast to coast. The programs are lead by professional instructors that are required to meet rigorous and intensive standards, as well as hold a number of necessary certifications.

# 5 – The Road Less Traveled

The Road Less Traveled (RLT) is a summer camp for teens that combines adventure, community service, and impacting travel experiences across both the US and abroad. The mission of The Road Less Traveled is “to facilitate life-changing experiences that foster personal growth in those who travel with us.”

The Road Less Traveled (RLT) is a summer camp for teens that combines adventure, community service, and impacting travel experiences across both the US and abroad. The mission of The Road Less Traveled is “to facilitate life-changing experiences that foster personal growth in those who travel with us.”

Serving others is at the very heart of what The Road Less Traveled is all about. Therefore community service is an important part of every program, and gives teens the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the world around them.

Service projects for the teens can range from basic construction tasks and outdoor development projects to assisting in farming efforts and helping with everyday tasks at a wildlife sanctuary. The RLT programs will develop “open-mindedness, understanding, and respect for a common humanity through interactions with people from cultures and faiths different from our own.”

Pics courtesy of The Road Less Traveled.

Pics courtesy of The Road Less Traveled.

Founded in 1991, The Road Less Traveled offers 2 to 3 week sessions for 11 to 18 year olds. Each traveling group has between 6 to 16 participants.

The RLT leaders are mainly recruited for their personal values of honesty, integrity, respect for the environment, and compassion for others. They all have tons of experience working with teens, and are required to have strong medical certifications for every trip. The average age of their leaders is 26 years old.

Within the United States, teens will be helping to protect, restore and maintain important conservation efforts in Alaska, Utah, Hawaii, Colorado, Florida and Maine. They will also have plenty of opportunities to explore their surroundings with kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, day hiking, biking, cultural immersion, and other local activities.

International locations include scuba diving in Mallorca (Spain), helping a chocolate farm in Belize, exploring a glacial lagoon in Iceland, hiking the rainforest in Costa Rica, supporting marine conservation in Greece, learning the culture of the Galapagos Islands, and much more.

The Best Summer Camps in the USA for 2023

BEST SPECIAL NEEDS CAMPS

# 1 – Camp Erin

Camp Erin is a transformational weekend camp for youth grieving the death of someone close to them. Most of us have experienced this level of significant loss in our lives, but unfortunately it hits even harder for kids who depended on these people. Camp Erin provides a safe and supporting environment “where children and teens learn to grieve and heal.”

Camp Erin is a transformational weekend camp for youth grieving the death of someone close to them. Most of us have experienced this level of significant loss in our lives, but unfortunately it hits even harder for kids who depended on these people. Camp Erin provides a safe and supporting environment “where children and teens learn to grieve and heal.”

This special needs camp was created by the Eluna Network – a non-profit in Seattle that was founded in 2000 by former MLB pitcher Jamie Moyer and child advocate Karen Phelps Moyer. The mission of the Eluna Network is “to support children and families impacted by grief or addiction.” They also operate Camp Mariposa that is next on our Best Special Needs Camp list.

Camp Erin was founded in 2002, and offers 1 week sessions for 6 to 17 year olds. What’s really impressive about Camp Erin is that it is available completely free of charge for all families.

During each camp session at Camp Erin, kids will have the chance to enjoy traditional camp activities such as high ropes courses, zip lines, arts, swimming and more.

Each camper will receive a level of support far beyond a traditional camp experience, as they learn that they are not alone, build a tool-box of coping skills, process their grief in healthy ways, and more.

Led by a highly qualified team of grief professionals and trained volunteers, kids will find an accepting, fun, and supportive environment surrounded by others who know exactly what they are going through.

Camp Erin is the largest national bereavement program for children and teens. They offer camps at 32 locations across 23 US States and in Toronto, Canada.

# 2 – Camp Mariposa

Camp Mariposa is another transformational camp that operates “year-round addiction prevention and mentoring programs for youth affected by the substance use of a family member.” Unfortunately this modern, fast-paced world is riddled with stress for far too many. And too often kids and teens find themselves exposed to foul substances. Camp Mariposa provides a sheltering and supportive haven – “A Place Where Kids Transform.”

Camp Mariposa is another transformational camp that operates “year-round addiction prevention and mentoring programs for youth affected by the substance use of a family member.” Unfortunately this modern, fast-paced world is riddled with stress for far too many. And too often kids and teens find themselves exposed to foul substances. Camp Mariposa provides a sheltering and supportive haven – “A Place Where Kids Transform.”

Just as with Camp Erin, this special needs camp was created by the non-profit Eluna Network. As mentioned above, the Eluna Network is on a mission to support children and families impacted by grief or addiction. They have partnered with youth-focused organizations across the entire country to create this award-winning program.

Camp Mariposa operates 87 day and overnight camps, 79 virtual activities, and 79 social activities at 17 locations across 13 US States.

Founded in 2012, Camp Mariposa offers 1 week sessions for 9 to 17 year olds. All activities throughout the year are available completely free of charge for all families.

At Camp Mariposa, kids and teens attend transformational weekend camps every other month for a year or more. During these sessions, the campers gain confidence, life knowledge, coping skills and more to break the cycle of addiction.

During each camp session at Camp Mariposa, campers will have the opportunity to enjoy traditional camp activities such as horseback riding, zip lines, arts, swimming and more.

The heart of the Camp Mariposa program can be found in its 3 core components of Mentoring, Mindfulness, and Activities for Youth and Families. The support afforded by these programs equips campers with social support, coping skills, and a positive outlook to carry with them far beyond their time at camp.

# 3 – Camp PALS

Camp PALS is a special needs camp for kids, teens, and adults with Down Syndrome. They strive to create a camp culture that is welcoming, genuine, passionate, supportive, and fun. The PALS mission is “is to create inclusive camp experiences for people with and without Down Syndrome.”

Camp PALS is a special needs camp for kids, teens, and adults with Down Syndrome. They strive to create a camp culture that is welcoming, genuine, passionate, supportive, and fun. The PALS mission is “is to create inclusive camp experiences for people with and without Down Syndrome.”

Through these camp experiences, PALS campers foster close connections and a sense of belonging with their new camp family. A medical team is present and on-site at every program to ensure that campers can enjoy an unforgettable adventure with their peers.

Founded in 2004, Camp PALS offers 1 week sessions for 12 to 25+ year olds. The programs are separated by age with specific age-appropriate programming for 12 to 17 year olds, 18+, and 25+ age brackets.

The model at Camp PALS is based on one-to-one pairings between individuals with and without Down syndrome. The pair will bunk and enjoy camp together for the week as both learn the true meaning of inclusion.

The week will be full of fun activities such as ice cream socials, reflection time, paint parties, aerobics, carnivals, karaoke, theater, off-campus trips, beach time, concerts, the Camp PALS Olympics, and more. There is also plenty of time for campers to explore the local sights and experience life on a college campus.

Admission to Camp PALS does require submitting an application, submitting a recent physician’s examination, and participating in an informal get-know-you-call with a PALS staff member or welcome lead. Camp PALS is committed to building inclusive communities and its participants will reflect a diverse set of backgrounds in each of their locations.

Camp PALS operates and offers programs in 11 States on popular college campuses across the country. Their volunteer-led programs “change attitudes, transform lives, and inspire a world of belonging.”

# 4 – Camp Corral

Camp Corral is a non-profit summer camp for the children of wounded, ill, injured, or fallen military service members. In a world where more than 50% of service kids feel that no one understands what is like being a military child, impacting camps like these are very necessary. Camp Corral’s mission is “to transform the lives of children of wounded, ill, and fallen military heroes by providing camp, advocacy, and enrichment programs.”

Camp Corral is a non-profit summer camp for the children of wounded, ill, injured, or fallen military service members. In a world where more than 50% of service kids feel that no one understands what is like being a military child, impacting camps like these are very necessary. Camp Corral’s mission is “to transform the lives of children of wounded, ill, and fallen military heroes by providing camp, advocacy, and enrichment programs.”

The main focus of Camp Corral is providing support for Connection, Caregiving, and Mental Health. Within their family units, service kids can be suddenly launched into adult roles serving as additional care-givers. Every participant at Camp Corral is given the opportunity to just be kids, and to be recognized as the heroes that they are.

Founded in 2011, Camp Corral offers 1 week sessions for 8 to 15 year olds. All camp sessions are available completely free of charge for all families.

The fun is non-stop as participants will engage in traditional camp activities ranging from canoeing, swimming, fishing, arts, ropes courses, archery and more. Trained medical staff is always on-hand and every host camp is ACA accredited for the highest safety standards.

Camp Corral is working to transform the lives of our wounded warriors with camp sessions available in 15 US States across the country. The camps are primarily hosted at YMCA and 4-H Camps with a diverse group of participants from different ethnicities and service branches.

These sessions at Camp Corral represent an unforgettable adventure for the kids where they are given “opportunities to build emotional resilience and transformational skills to live their best lives possible.”

# 5 – Camp Kesem

Camp Kesem is the largest non-profit, special needs camp for children coping with a parent’s cancer diagnosis. They believe that “all children facing a parent’s cancer deserve the chance to fully experience the joys of childhood and be their best selves.”

Camp Kesem is the largest non-profit, special needs camp for children coping with a parent’s cancer diagnosis. They believe that “all children facing a parent’s cancer deserve the chance to fully experience the joys of childhood and be their best selves.”

Unfortunately at any given time, there are as many as 5 million children beset by these unfortunate and devastating circumstances. Camp Kesem serves youth who have lost a parent to cancer, have a parent undergoing cancer treatment, or a parent that is a cancer survivor.

With the transformative support of the empowering Camp Kesem family, kids and teens are able to join a loving, supportive community of other children who all understand and respect what each other have gone through. At the heart of Camp Kesem is a core set of shared values that guide their work – “We are optimistic. We leave a lasting and positive impact. We empower others. We care deeply about the work we do. We are grateful.”

Pics courtesy of Camp Kesem.

Pics courtesy of Camp Kesem.

Founded in 2000, Camp Kesem offers 1 week sessions for 6 to 18 year olds. They welcome campers of all backgrounds and gender identities, and every session is offered completely free of charge for all participants.

Camp Kesem operates over 130+ college-based chapters across 44 US States. They are staffed and led mainly by passionate college students who are all about empowering, comforting, encouraging, and inspiring the campers. Every session is also staffed with professionally trained nursing and mental health personnel.

Participants will escape into a world of outdoor adventures as hundreds of kids camps host Camp Kesem across the country. I’ve personally worked at several camps where we were lucky enough to welcome the vibrant Kesem family. Depending on the camp, the participants will enjoy traditional camp activities such as hiking, horseback riding, high ropes courses, swimming, hiking, archery and more.

Kids and teens will also find a loving, supportive community that will foster long-lasting bonds, build confidence, and create lasting feelings of hope and joy. That’s just the magic of Kesem!

That’s A Wrap!

Thank you for joining us as we explored the Best Summer Camps in the USA. We know it’s a tough time for parents to prepare the kiddoes, and we are here to help. There are many other camps in our exclusive Summer Camp Search. Explore more summer camps right HERE!

And feel free to reach out if you have any questions or need any help reaching out to these camps. Have a great time preparing your young camper for their unforgettable camp adventures!

“I went to Camp expecting to make friends but I ended up with family.”

– Former Camper

Want to Share Your Experience or Ask a Question About the Best Summer Camps in the USA and abroad?  Leave A Comment Below!

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