10 Specialty Summer Camps For Kids and Teens
You’ll be surprised and inspired by these unique ideas!
By Devin Miller -
With more than 6 million kids in the U.S attending camp every summer, camp remains one of America’s favorite pastimes. Yet there is a new camp experience that has dramatically increased in popularity over the last decade - and that is the “specialty” camp. Never before have kids and teens had so many one-of-a-kind camp options to choose from.
While traditional camps offer programs that encourage kids to try a variety of activities, a specialty camp focuses on one topic - or a few related topics. There are now thousands of unique (and sometimes unusual) day and overnight summer camps inspiring children and teens to learn more about what they love.
After considerable research, we’ve gathered a list of some of America’s most unique and rewarding specialty summer camps. Take a look:
ACTING FOR FILM CAMP - Ages: 7-19
Young Actors Camp
Location: Hollywood, California
For kids and teens who dream of acting for the silver screen, this camp is the ultimate learning experience. At Young Actors Camp, campers are taught the tools-of-the-trade for succeeding in Hollywood’s film and television acting industries – and the word on the street is, they have a great time doing so.
This overnight summer camp offers four programs to choose from that include pre-professional activities such as taking headshots, writing a resume, building auditioning skills and improving film-acting techniques.
And what really excites kids is their chance to be in a real Hollywood movie. All YAC campers visit working movie sets and meet real Hollywood movie stars (who come by camp to offer advice and technique tips). This is a true chance of a lifetime for young actors dying to get a glimpse into the world they dream of succeeding in - and after attending Young Actors Camp, kids have a much better chance of doing so.
Young Actors Camp is the only summer camp experience that can lead to a young actor moving to Los Angeles for real work opportunities; and YAC will guide actors and families through the transitional period of this complicated, yet rewarding, process.
SURF CAMP - Ages: 6-18
WB Surf Camp
Location: Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
This seriously radical camp is a dream-come-true for kids and teens (and adults!) who want to learn how to surf. WB Surf Camp offers a wide variety of summer camp options. From day and overnight camps to advanced private lessons and international surf tours, WB Surf Camp does it all.
WB teaches kids how to predict, select and ride waves, but they also educate surfing beginners about ocean safety (rip current identification, surf and sun advisories and first-aid), coastal environments, marine life and ocean dynamics.
At this full immersion camp, kids gain knowledge, confidence and surfing ability through progressive and professional instruction – and they have an awesome time doing it!
CIRCUS CAMP - Ages: 7-14
Location: Mendocino, California
Learning about the BIG TOP is BIG FUN! This colorful and positive camp embraces the joy of creativity and personal achievement. For 30 years, Winnarainbow camp leaders have been teaching kids about circus performing arts techniques, such as timing, balance, humor, acting, juggling, dancing, gymnastics, the tightrope, the trapeze, clowning, falling, magic and much more!
Along with the great fun of clowning around, Camp Winnarainbow is also dedicated to providing a beautiful training ground in Northern California that supports a strong communion with nature. One of the camp’s main goals is to show future kids how to embrace and contribute to a harmonious and sustainable world. The creative spirit is nurtured in an atmosphere of approval and mutual encouragement. This truly unique camp experience leaves kids with a powerful sense of the creative community.
COOKING CAMP - Ages: 10+
Chef Kelly Q. Dietrich’s Kids Culinary Summer of Vermont
Location: Highgate Center, Vermont
For kids who are always asking to help in the kitchen and have a natural love for cooking and baking, there isn’t a more suitable camp than Kids Culinary Summer Camp. Offering two programs – The Sauté Kitchen and The Baking and Pastry Arts – this taster’s delight introduces kids to the life of a chef.
A wide berth of culinary skills are taught during the one or two week summer camp sessions, including menu planning, bread and pastry baking, beef and poultry cooking, vegetable cookery, seafood, garnishes, cake decorating, soups and sauces, ethnic cooking, knife and chopping skills, utensil skills, kitchen hygiene and healthy eating habits.
And it’s not all just about the kitchen! The curriculum also includes valuable lessons about nutrition and organic food sources; aquaponics (the integrated growing of tilapia fish and micro-greens and herbs in our greenhouse); organic square foot and container gardening; composting beekeeping; and olive oil herbing and bottling.
This unique camp experience provides kids and teens with valuable skills to use with their families throughout the year, in addition to learning how to pursue a career in the culinary arts. Wouldn’t it be amazing for you son or daughter to skillfully prepare delicious meals for the family on a daily basis?
ARCHEOLOGICAL CAMP - Ages: 12+
Canyon Crow Summer Camp
Location: Cortez, Colorado
Are your kids constantly out in the yard looking for old arrowheads or digging for buried pottery and other hidden treasures? Well, now there’s a perfect summer camp for these little archeologists to-be.
At Canyon Crow’s overnight summer camp, kids and teens are invited to study the fascinating past of Pueblo Indians who lived in the American Southwest’s Four Corners area. During their weeklong stay, campers join professional archeologists at a real excavation site to learn the proper procedure of sorting and identifying important artifacts.
Kids also have great fun playing traditional Native American games like spear throwing with an atlati and learning ancient practices like building a fire without matches. This interesting camp experience brings kids closer to the heritage of our country and the people who inhabited the region 700 to 2500 years ago.
SPY CAMP - Ages: 7+
Location: Lake Como, Pennsylvania
Camp Lohikan has taken the game of hide-and-seek to a whole new level. Here campers learn the secrets behind covert operations as they train for exciting missions. Spy camp teaches teamwork, critical thinking, practical skills and physical discipline.
Lohikan’s mini-agents train on 4-wheelers, jet skis and rope courses for quick getaways. (But don’t worry, “quick getaways” in reality means learning safe, evasive driving techniques.)
Kids are also taught combat tactics, martial arts, how to conduct surveillance, code breaking, survival training, interrogation techniques undercover maneuvers and even paintball! (Paintball is limited to 5th grade and up.)
At Camp Lohikan the mission truly IS possible. And what’s the final camp mission? Finding the mole! The kids’ final exam is to participate in a role-playing adventure that is, as they say, “high octane FUN.” This specialty camp experience is an exciting opportunity to understand exactly what it means to be a spy.
GARDENING CAMP - Ages: 4-10
Children’s Peace Summer Camp
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Children’s Peace takes kids back to the roots of a simpler time. Spending warm summer days learning about the beauty of the natural world is a wholesome experience that any child will benefit from and enjoy.
This non-profit day camp teaches campers organic gardening practices and environmental stewardship, in addition to the importance of biodiversity and sustainability.
All hands-on activities encourage peace, respect, friendship and the beauty of connecting with the earth. And Children’s Peace is a lot of fun! Beyond gardening, camp activities include scavenger hunts, writing poetry, dancing, making natural dyes from vegetables and candles from bee hive wax and creating a rich variety of art to be appreciated at community coffee shops.
FASHION CAMP - Ages: 2nd grade and up
Sewnow! Fashion Studio
Location: Lafayette, California
If much to your dismay, your little Diane von Furstenberg is cutting up their clothes only to sew them back together again, it might be time to send them to Sewnow! Fashion Studio. At this overnight summer camp, open to boys and girls, kids are allowed to let their creative colors fly.
Known for being a fun, energetic and friendly atmosphere, Sewnow! is a great experience for those starting from scratch, as well as kids with ample experience. Beginners will learn things like basic sewing, cutting and assembly methods, while advanced campers will learn about computerized drafting systems and machine embroidery.
So if your son or daughter is glued to the TV every time Project Runway comes on, this could be his or her own chance of a lifetime.
ASTRONOMY CAMP - Ages: 12-17
Location: Tucson, Arizona
This camp is truly out of this world. At Arizona’s longest running science camp, kids are invited to explore the universe by operating research-class telescopes. For the young scientist, engineer, physicist, astronomer and astronaut this experience could be the perfect opportunity to accelerate their hobby and motivate them to explore further.
Astronomy Camp is a full immersion overnight camp where young night owls keep nighttime hours, interact with leading scientists, interpret their own observations and have a great deal of fun hanging out with likeminded kids.
During daylight, campers get to participate in other exciting activities like building rockets, mountain biking, bouldering huge rocks, zip lining, treasure hunting with hand-held GPS and exploring microgravity using SCUBA.
What an amazing experience for any young stargazer!
ROCK AND ROLL CAMP - Ages: 8-16
The Rock Farm
Location: Camptown, Pennsylvania
For kids who have experience playing guitar, drums or electric bass guitar, it’s time to rock out! Seriously, for 25 years The Rock Farm is the place for kids with a big passion for big music.
This intensive rock music program gets kids playing right away. 36 campers and 5 instructors are divided into 12 bands that begin rehearsing immediately. But The Rock Farm is not about superstardom or divas; it’s about progressing, jamming and having fun with other young musicians.
Everyday campers take lessons on their primary instrument, in addition to a lesson on any other instrument of choice, “jam-time” and a nightly show. All of the hard work and practice culminates on the last night of camp where all 12 bands perform in an exciting show called “Band Night”.
Specialty Camp Choices Abound!
With all of these incredibly fun specialty camp options to choose from, kids are more likely than ever to find an amazing summer camp that is just right them.
Devin Miller is an editorial journalist and senior copywriter at Word Refuge, Creative SEO Copywriting Services. From parenting and health to travel and fashion, Devin enjoys writing on a wide variety of subjects for print and online publications.