Awesome Tips Bucket List Worthy
Wet Hot American Summer. Heavyweights. American Pie. The Parent Trap. Our list of classic summer-camp comedies goes on — and for good reason. From lakeside “BLOB” wars and makeshift talent shows, to mess halls, partner relays and summertime crushes, sleepaway camps have become a quintessential part of American life in recent years.
Why? Perhaps it’s our nostalgia for a lost time; our quest for an idyllic escape far away from the clutches of an iPhone and Snapchat. Or maybe it’s because U.S. sleepaway camps have transformed into a cottage industry as of 2017.
Yes, it’s true. Did you know that U.S. summer camps were recently estimated to be a $15 billion industry nationwide? And that figure doesn’t even take into account just how incredible they’ve become within the Millennial age.
Now, there’s coding courses, equestrian centers, 3-D printing classes, laser tag arenas, and everything in between. That’s why we’ve scoured the nation, from the sprawling valleys of California to the serene mountains in Maine, to find the American sleepaway camps that overwhelmingly reside in a league of their own.
So get those campfire songs ready. Below is your guide to the ultimate U.S. sleepaway camps, and the summer of a lifetime.
Location: Trinity, Texas
Dates: June 4 – August 12
You know what they say — everything is bigger in Texas. And in the case of Camp Olympia, an overnight hideaway located on the brisk shores of Lake Livingston, the same idea applies.
With access to over 1,000 acres of private land, Camp Olympia has more than enough space to house its own swimming pool, challenge course, archery field, and just about every kind of athletic court imaginable. What’s more? Campers get to choose from 45 activities over the course of their stay, whether that be water skiing, horseback riding, or some adrenaline-filled “Spartan/Athenian” competition.
All campers ages 6-16 are welcome. For more information, visit Camp Olympia here.
Location: Portola Valley, California
Dates: June 11 – August 5
Settled in the heart of California’s Portola Valley, Mountain Camp Woodside is your ticket to stunning vistas, first-rate survival skills, and a summer to remember. Not to mention 63 acres of primetime California real estate.
For starters, every camper gets to choose their own schedule. That could mean one full day of music, mountain biking, crafts, and campfires, or a night of karaoke and pool parties by moonlight. The idea harkens back to Camp Woodside’s “free choice” format, which helps campers build independence miles from home. Oh, and did we mention there is a giant slip ‘n slide?
All campers ages 5-15 are welcome. For more information, visit Mountain Camp Woodside here.
Location: Leaf River, Illinois
Dates: June 11 – August 5
Welcome to a sleepaway camp where borders are shattered, and friendships are born. At Camp Kupugani, a multicultural oasis in Leaf River, Illinois, campers from all backgrounds are brought together in the name of inclusion, empowerment, and classic summer fun.
Girls-only, boys-only, and blended camps are offered on-site, as are a host of other teen leadership programs, and wide-ranging activities. Come paddle board, canoe, fish or frisbee golf. Most of all though, come prepared to get a real glimpse at a little world peace. Every year, Camp Kupugani welcomes visitors from as far as China, Liberia, Japan, Jordan, Spain, Mexico, and Germany.
All campers ages 7-15 are welcome. For more information, visit Camp Kupugani here.
Location: Mills River, North Carolina
Dates: June 11 – August 4
Camp Highlander’s tagline is “A Place Like No Other,” and we couldn’t possibly agree more. It’s spread across 240 acres of land in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains. It offers 34 cabin units, alongside a host of athletic programming and family-friendly activities for all ages. And yes, there’s always enough waterfront to go around.
This is the place to be if you’re an elder camper. Aside from a later curfew, you’ll also get to enjoy extra privileges, like whitewater rafting on the Nantahala River. But fear not, young ones. Camp Highlander also has something for mini-Paul Bunyan. At the “Rookie Camp,” juniors can enjoy a ride along the on-site zip line, or a jump on the unforgettable BLOB.
All campers ages 5-16 are welcome. For more information, visit Camp Highlander here.
Location: Eagle River, Wisconsin
Dates: June 15 – August 10
Ask an adolescent boy what their idea of paradise looks like, and it’s quite likely they’ll answer Camp Menominee. This Wisconsin-based sleepaway camp is a brotherly mecca of sorts; a place where ski boats and sportsmanship reign supreme, and male campers learn what real camaraderie looks like.
When exploring Camp Menominee’s 65 acres of land, you’ll also find every recreation imaginable. We’re talking baseball fields, football fields, a hockey rink, tennis courts, basketball courts, soccer fields, sand volleyball courts, and even a four-sided 50-foot climbing wall with a zip line. What more could a kid ask for?
All boys ages 7-16 are welcome. For more information, visit Camp Menominee here.
Location: Susanville, California
Dates: June 17 – August 11
Nestled along the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada MountainsSierra Nevada Mountains, Mountain Meadow Ranch is a tree-filled nirvana, complete with 900 acres of supreme natural beauty, and starry skies.
But what truly sets this sleepaway camp apart from others is its overall message: children should grow, unplug from their electronic devices, and reconnect with the outside world. It’s an idea that remains core to this family-owned and operated venture, which offers campers the chance to participate in everything from ceramics and drama class, to photography, water sports, fencing and paintball.
All campers ages 7-17 are welcome. For more information, visit Mountain Meadow Ranch here.
Location: Santa Rosa, California
Dates: June 18 – August 13
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to wake up in the middle of the Wild West? Or how it might feel to soar across the sky on a 1,000-foot zip line? If so, it may be smart to pay little visit to Cloverleaf Ranch.
Complete with 160 acres of rolling hills and hiking trails, Cloverleaf Ranch is a rustic haven for horseback riding, swimming, hiking, tie dying T-shirts, and pretty much anything else you can think of. There’s a full ropes course on the property, and older campers are encouraged to partake in leadership training courses that will help to better prepare them for their exciting futures.
All campers ages 5-17 are welcome. For more information, visit Cloverleaf Ranch here.
Location: Woodruff, Wisconsin
Dates: June 19 – July 15; July 16 – August 11
Although many all-boys sleepaway camps tend to emphasize a sports-laden, competitive environment, Wisconsin’s own Camp Timberlane is not one of them. Sure, there are plenty of athletic activities available here, but competition is nowhere to be found.
Instead, fun and friendship are the most valued commodities at Camp Timberlane, and that’s evident in all of the camp’s team-oriented programs. Whether you’re a lacrosse fan, digital photography maven, or floor hockey fanatic, this is the kind of camp boys come to find lifelong friends, and make lifetime memories.
All boys ages 8-15 are welcome. For more information, visit Camp Timberlane here.
Location: Hayward, Wisconsin
Dates: June 19 – August 11
In case you weren’t aware, the quaint city of Hayward, Wisconsin has become a gem of the Midwest. It’s surrounded by the immense Chequamegon National Forest, and made up of countless fishing areas along the Namekagon River. It’s also home to the North Star Camp for Boys, which only helps to further cement its lovely reputation nationwide.
The North Star Camp for Boys is nestled in Wisconsin’s legendary Northwoods — a locale which has made the sleepaway camp one of the most sought-after in the region. Then there’s the matter of the “North Star Experience,” a diverse array of programming that appeals to every type of male camper.
Not into athletics? No problem. This camp offers lessons in rocketry, photography and guitar. Want to learn some survival skills? Take up fire building, outdoor cooking, and bouldering.
All boys ages 8-15 are welcome. For more information, visit North Star Camp for Boys here.
Location: Monmouth, Maine
Dates: June 22 – July 16; July 19 – August 12
You may not know how to pronounce Lake Cobbosseecontee, but you certainly won’t be able to forget its exceptional natural beauty as you stroll along the edges of Camp Kippewa.
This private summer camp for girls has established itself as a Monmouth, Maine mainstay over the years. From a first-rate equestrian center and unbeatable gymnastics facility, to sailing lessons and drama classes, Camp Kippewa makes a point of offering young ladies a little bit of everything. However, it all makes sense when you understand the camp’s overall purpose: No two girls are alike, so why should their summers be?
All girls ages 7-15 are welcome. For more information, visit Camp Kippewa here.
Location: Freedom, New Hampshire
Dates: June 23 – August 10
Harkening back to the legend himself, Camp Robin Hood focuses on encouraging campers to gain self-confidence, build relationships, and embrace their creative sides. So, what exactly does that entail?
Tubing. Basketball. Hiking. Yoga. Paddle-Boarding. Lacrosse. Essentially, anything and everything that makes a summer worthwhile — and it gets better. Since 1927, Camp Robin Hood has been comfortably settled only minutes from New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest, making it home to a long line of outdoor campers, dreamers, and young explorers.
All campers ages 6-16 are welcome. For more information, visit Camp Robin Hood here.
Location: Fayette, Maine
Dates: June 24 – August 11
For over 75 years, Camp Vega has presided in the small, scenic town of Fayette, Maine, though its mission is anything but pocket-sized. In just about every respect, this private all-girls summer camp has steadily transformed into a girl power haven — a progressive place where young women can come into their own, while building a tight-knit community for life.
One of the standout qualities of Camp Vega is its vast range of exciting activities, which go beyond the summertime fold. Here, young campers can partake in figure skating lessons and culinary arts classes. They can also practice their own original tunes within the on-site recording studio, or sharpen their dance skills inside a private, glass-sided hall. So, where do we sign up?
All girls ages 8-15 are welcome. For more information, visit Camp Vega here.
Location: Moultonboro, New Hampshire
Dates: June 24 – August 12
If there’s one place that understands the importance of tradition, it’s undoubtedly Camp Robindel. Since 1951, this all-girls summer camp has worked hard to preserve its Moultonboro sense of community, all the while paving way for new, exciting programs that teach campers what sisterhood is really about.
After waking up to the classic morning bugle, Robindel campers flood out of their cabins, eager to embrace the world of indoor and outdoor activities at their disposal. Horse enthusiasts should take a look at the camp’s English-style equestrian program. As for young adventurers? They can typically be found on the ropes course, playing sports, doing gymnastics, mastering their archery skills or the legendary “Aqua-Zip,” a zip line that leads right into Lake Winnipesaukee.
Creative campers will love Robindel’s rich creative and performing arts programs, including arts and crafts, dance, theatre, and more.
All girls ages 7-15 are welcome. For more information, visit Camp Robindel here.
Location: Lee, Massachusetts
Dates: June 24 – August 12
Each and every summer, 420 children flock to the outskirts of Lee, Massachusetts with one destination in mind: Camp Lenox. Many have been here before, so they already know the drill — several weeks of fun, food, and friends await. Oh, and an incredible list of evening events.
From an old-fashioned hoe-down and summer prom, to movies under the stars, game nights and DJs, Camp Lenox has long pioneered nightlife activities for all ages. But don’t think for one second that daytime programs are lacking. In fact, this co-ed sleepaway camp lets attendees choose from over 40 activities, electives, and special events, like Halloween in July, Casino Night, and the coveted “Color War.”
All campers ages 7-16 are welcome. For more information, visit Camp Lenox here.
Location: Pittsford, Vermont
Dates: June 25 – August 19
With origins tracing back to the American Revolutionary War, the town of Pittsford, Vermont, has long made a name for itself as a lovely, historic meeting place for the ages. And for the past 95 years, Camp Sangamon has followed its storied lead.
Every day, campers are invited to work on Sangamon’s on-site garden and homestead-style farm, which is complete with a milk cow, chickens, pigs, ducks, sheep, kittens, and rabbits. They can also take up pottery, weaving and blacksmithing, or spend the late afternoon relaxing along the waterfront.
All boys ages 8-15 are welcome. For more information, visit Camp Sangamon here.
Location: Mount Washington, Massachusetts
Dates: June 25 – August 19
Look to the east, and you’ll gaze upon the glory of the Berkshire Mountains. Peer to the west, and you’ll marvel at the stunning Catskills. This is what it’s like to be in the center of YMCA Camp Hi-Rock, a co-ed sleepaway camp settled around a crystal clear, 90-acre private lake in Mount Washington.
Only the novelties don’t stop there. Can you guess Hi-Rock’s most famous alumna? We’ll give you a clue: she puts on quite the poker face. That’s right, folks, pop star Lady Gaga is part of the Hi-Rock family, which has grown to include campers and counselors from over 20 countries in the world.
It’s little wonder this home-away-from-home has gathered such a loyal following. Complete with outdoor leadership programs, and activities ranging from snorkeling to martial arts, Camp Hi-Rock is a diverse retreat for the books.
All campers ages 7-17 are welcome. For more information, visit YMCA Camp Hi-Rock here.
Location: Lakewood, Pennsylvania
Dates: June 25 – August 6
One of the most defining qualities of Camp Weequahic is its approach to interactive programs. Focused on attitude, gratitude and courage, this co-ed sleepaway camp is all about encouraging children to choose their own journey, while enjoying activities that foster their sense of teamwork.
When campers are not testing out the creative limits of fashion design, newspaper or radio, some are in-line skating, putting on magic shows, and even playing European handball. Within the 12,000-square-foot recreational hall, campers also have access to a professional theater, dance studio, wrestling room, photography studio, and canteen. In other words, don’t be afraid to explore.
All campers ages 6-16 are welcome. For more information, visit Camp Weequahic here.
Location: Freedom, New Hampshire
Dates: June 25 – August 19
Quietly settled in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, Camp Cody is precisely the kind of place that Gen Zers come to get away from the digital world. This incredible summer camp bills itself as “technology-free,” but it more than compensates by offering a range of facilities that appeal to any age.
Just to note a few of the highlights: an archery range, modern laser tag course, six tennis courts, and a volleyball court. Between the horseback riding, jewelry-making and drums courses, it’s also pretty easy to forget how much we miss our iPhones. And iPads. And i-Everything.
All campers ages 7-15 are welcome. For more information, visit Camp Cody here.
Location: Marlinton, West Virginia
Dates: June 25 – August 19
When you hear a chorus of laughter from within the Allegheny Mountains, chances are that its coming from Camp Twin Creeks. This fun, caring, and one-of-a-kind sleepaway camp has become one of West Virginia’s prized possessions over the years, and we’re happy to report that its lively spirit remains fully intact.
If your child is a first-time camper, be sure to read up on “Dream Week,” which is a one-week introduction into the camp itself. As for veterans? They’re likely already gearing up for the pool parties and twilight tubing, or those epic games of ultimate frisbee.
All campers ages 7-16 are welcome. For more information, visit Camp Twin Creeks here.
Location: Winsted, Connecticut
Dates: June 25 – August 12
“Choose Your Own Trail” is the official motto of Greenwood Trails, and it couldn’t be more fitting. This Connecticut, co-ed sleepaway camp not only allows young attendees to customize their own summer days, but it encourages them to develop “the 4 C’s” throughout the course of their stay: communication, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity.
It’s little wonder that all four of those qualities are at the core of countless Greenwood Trails activities. Whether you’re into woodworking, wacky science experiments, or a water trampoline, creativity and collaboration are fostered here in a diverse number of ways. The same can be said for communication and critical thinking, which are best showcased by the camp’s in-depth athletics and arts programming.
All campers ages 7-16 are welcome. For more information, visit Greenwood Trails Summer Camp here.
Location: Bonsall, California
Dates: June 25 – August 25
Let’s face it: there aren’t too many summer camps that allow a kid to be a zombie, and a cowboy. Then again, Rawhide Ranch is anything but typical. This Wild West-themed sleepaway camp is all about providing children and teens with a template for their imaginations to soar, even if that means being a secret agent in the process.
Every summer, new session dates and themes are established, which usually means that campers get the chance to try out an array of new costumes, and activities. With themes like “World War Color” and “Into The Jungle,” to “Race Through Space: Aliens and Astronauts,” it’s clear that Rawhide Ranch doesn’t hold back when it comes to keeping programs fresh, and attendees happy.
All campers ages 7-15 are welcome. For more information, visit Rawhide Ranch here.
Location: Lyon Mountain, New York
Dates: June 28 – August 15
Serenely settled in New York’s Adirondack Mountain range, Camp Chateaugay is the ideal place for teens and kids to live up their dream sleepaway experience. In other words, “homesickness” need not apply.
While some campers choose to bike around the stunning waters of Lake Placid, others can delight in the incredible world of Chateaugay arts and crafts. Yes, that includes stone carving, leatherwork, macramé, sewing, and glass blowing. Or nature photography, if you’re a burgeoning shutterbug.
All campers ages 7-15 are welcome. For more information, visit Camp Chateaugay here.
From the idyllic slope of West Virginia and the lakeside wonders of Wisconsin, to the fun-filled, Wild West-themed lands of California, U.S. sleepaway camps have truly set the precedent for how to have an unforgettable summer. That said, we hope our list of the ultimate overnight camps has showed you all of the amazing options at you and your families‘ disposal.
The best part of all? There’s still time to sign up!