Special Section

Camp Mania

Every year, there are countless opportunities for summer camp. The hardest part is choosing which one to attend.
By Samantha Carey — March 2024

any people fondly remember summer camp in their youth—be it campfire s’mores, lake swims, or wilderness hikes—and want to share that experience with their children. While you can still find those traditional camp experiences, summer fun has expanded to include offerings for athletes, artists, acrobats, musicians, and everything in between. According to Tom Rosenberg, who as president and CEO of the American Camp Association has seen camps weather the COVID-19 storm, this beloved summer tradition may be more relevant now than ever.

“Summer learning and summer camp experiences, which are a part of summer learning, are a critical part of a child’s year-long learning landscape,” he says.

There’s an increasing mental health crisis across the nation, enough to where the surgeon general of Maryland in May of 2023 declared a loneliness epidemic, says Rosenberg. It is now vital to push the importance of camps and have children rebuild that sense of belonging within a community.

There are all kinds of camps, specialty or traditional, ones that are overnight, family camps, day camps, and more. Although there is a very large variety, Rosenberg assures that all camps are trying to focus on building a safe community for all campers, counselors and administrators.

An example is Beth Tfiloh Camps. The camp hosts a variety of activities for children pre-K through 8th grade and leadership training for 9th and 10th graders, according to program director Hannah Mayer. Activities include swimming, music, dance, nature, Shabbat, sports, and arts and crafts. Mayer explains that camps provide a fun experience, but they do a lot more for your children too.

“The benefits of going to camp are creating bonds that last beyond the eight weeks of camp, growing as an individual, and learning how to be independent,” she says.

“The operative thing right now is around the whole child development that [camps] are trying to achieve, like practicing communicating, learning how to be a part of a group, and social connectedness, social intelligence,” adds Rosenberg. Through activities, children can learn life skills like teamwork, collaboration, cooperation, problem-solving, resilience, and emotional learning.

Another key aspect of attending camp is independence. “We hold our kids super tight,” says Rosenberg when referring to his own. He says that camps allow children to have moments of independence and allow them to safely make decisions for themselves.

This camp experience is not exclusive, as camps are becoming much more diverse and encouraging kids with all kinds of interests to participate in summer camp. “All kids should have the opportunity to go to camp and so we’re eager to see more camps created and see camps be more culturally responsive to communities that haven’t necessarily gone to camp traditionally,” says Rosenberg.

If your kids have outgrown arts and crafts and capture the flag but still want to take in all the joys of the camp experience, becoming a counselor may be the perfect solution to making their summer a busy and rewarding one.

“It would be an excellent summer employment opportunity,” said Rosenberg. Counselors learn to manage people, mediate conflict, communicate, plan, and so much more. Many camps also provide training courses to help build on leadership and real-life skills, like the JCC Counselor in Training program for teens entering 9th and 10th grade.

If there’s one drawback to the current camp landscape, it is that there are so many more offerings than there once were. Mayer suggests visiting a camp and following your gut. “My recommendation on choosing a summer camp is that when you walk through the door of a program, you get that feeling of home and how excited the staff is to welcome you back to your summer home,” concludes Mayer.

If you’re still struggling to find the perfect fit, the ACA website (acacamps. org) has parent resources that not only have sample questions to ask camps but also a tool that can help you search for nearby camps in your area. Even better, check out our following guide to local camps that has everything you need to know to make your child’s summer memorable.

CAMP 101: Finding the perfect fit.

We asked Tom Rosenberg, president and CEO of the American Camp Association, what questions parents should ask when choosing a camp. Here’s what he had to say. (Even more tips are available at ACA’s website, acacamps.org.)

• Is the camp accredited? (Relating to safety, health, and risk management of the camp.)

• What is the philosophy of the camp?

• What kind of activities does your camp offer?

• How do you hire your staff?

• What’s a typical day at your camp look like?

• When would I be able to speak to you over the summer to see how my child is doing?

• Who’s going to take care of them in terms of their mental health and/or physical health?

• How are you supporting campers’ mental health?

Baltimore Lab School
Designed for students in grades 1-12 with learning differences, this program has a low student-teacher ratio, on-site specialists, and an innovative arts-based curriculum. Baltimore Lab School’s summer program is designed to help students discover their strengths, exercise their creativity, overcome academic difficulties, and prepare for the school year ahead. Session runs July 1-26.
2220 St. Paul St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
(410) 261-5500.

Beth Tfiloh
Located on 70 acres, “BT Camps” offers a range of traditional and specialty camps for kids ages 2-15. The facility includes four swimming pools and an aquatics center (with a triple-decker double-barreled water slide), a lake with boats and a 25-foot slide, as well as arts and crafts, ropes course, zip line and plenty of ballfields and green space for play. Sessions run June 24-August 16.
400 Delight Meadows Rd., Reisterstown, MD 21136.
(410) 517-3451.

Camp Fairlee
Camp Fairlee is a traditional overnight summer camp located outside of Chestertown on the Eastern Shore. Programs are for children and adults aged 6 and up. Camp is for people of all abilities, providing accessible recreation for campers and family respite. Accessible activities include canoeing, kayaking, wall climbing, swimming, nature trails, and indoor games. There is a health center staffed with nurses. Sessions run June 23-August 25.
22242 Bay Shore Dr., Chestertown, MD 21620.
(410) 778-0566.

Camp Jemicy
The five-week summer camp for co-ed students ages 6-14 run by Jemicy School offers skills instruction, tutoring, and recreation for children with dyslexia and other related language-based learning differences. Full, half-day, and extended-day programs are offered. Sessions run from July 1-July 26.
11 Celadon Rd., Owings Mills, MD 21117.
(410) 753-8035.

Camp Horizons
ACA accredited since 1983, Camp Horizons specializes in sports, outdoors, arts, sciences and technology, aquatics, outdoors, and equestrian activities as well as classic camp traditions. Open to campers ages 6-16. Camp will run June 16-August 17.
3586 Horizons Way, Harrisonburg, VA 22802.
(540) 896-7600.

Camp Puh’tok
Located on over 60 wooded acres in northern Baltimore County, Puh’tok has provided kids 5-16 with camp activities emphasizing leadership, appreciation of nature, and teamwork since 1942. Activities include archery, pony rides, swimming, tubing, and zip lines. Day and overnight camps are available. Camp will be open for one-week sessions from June 23-August 16.
17433 Big Falls Rd., Monkton, MD 21111.
(410) 329-6590.

The Catholic High School of Baltimore
This school offers a variety of programs from June-August. For the most up-to-date programs, please visit the website or contact directly for 2024 dates.
2800 Edison Hwy., Baltimore MD 21213.
(410) 732-6200.

Center for Jewish Camping
If you’re looking for a Jewish summer experience perfect for your child, consult Alli Muser or Janna Zuckerman for free, unbiased, and personalized guidance for families considering Jewish day or overnight camp. The Center for Jewish Camping is a collaboration between The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore and The Louise D. and Morton J. Macks Center for Jewish Education.
101 W. Mt. Royal Ave., Baltimore, MD 21201.
(410) 727-4828.

Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound School
Expeditions are open to middle and high school students and teach students technical skills like navigation, camp craft, the basics of backpacking or rock climbing, and much more. As students learn these skills in challenging situations, they also learn the value of teamwork, compassion for others, and the pursuit of excellence. Check the website for excursion dates.
1900 Eagle Dr., Baltimore, MD 21207.
(410) 448-1721.

College Summer Academic Programs at Gettysburg College
Gettysburg College offers a variety of academic summer camp opportunities for high school students in grades 10-12. Campers will experience an immersive learning environment, welcoming atmosphere and historic yet contemporary campus setting. Each one-week program is led by subject-matter experts, their own faculty, staff and students. Offerings for summer 2024 include subjects such as psychology, public policy, and Civil War history.
300 N. Washington St., Gettysburg, PA 17325.
(717) 337-6300.

Columbia Academy
Every week, elementary and middle-school campers explore a new theme. Just a few activities include engaging STEM activities, team-building quests, outdoor water days, and planned weekly virtual field trips and enrichment. To find out more, visit their website or contact them directly for 2024 dates.
Five locations in Columbia, Ellicott City, and Fulton.

Fork Union Military Academy Summer Camps and School
Fork Union will offer three athletic-themed summer camp programs this year. Camp is for ages 7-17 (some are co-ed). There is also a non-military summer school program that combines academic study, leadership development, athletic activities, and summertime fun. Summer activities are located in Central Virginia. Sessions run July 8-August 3.
4744 James Madison Hwy., Fork Union, VA 23055.
(434) 842-3212.

Gilman Summer
Enrichment and skill-building programs for kids grades K-12 are designed and taught by Gilman faculty and field experts. Camp experiences include art programs, STEM courses, cooking and music, foreign language, and sports camps, as well as Young Scientists, Makerspace, Outdoor Experience, and Nature Explorers camps. To find out more, visit their website or contact them directly for 2024 dates.
5407 Roland Ave., Baltimore, MD 21210.
(410) 323-3800.

Glenelg offers a variety of camps from traditional day and sports camps to specialized camps for everyone from the budding chess player to nature explorers. There’s even a training program for high-school students ready to move up as counselors, and campers enrolled in Adventure Camp take off-campus trips for hikes and tour local landmarks like Fort McHenry. Camp runs June 17-July 26.
12793 Folly Quarter Rd., Ellicott City, MD 21042.
(410) 531-8600 ext. 2157.

Howard County Arts Council
This year, campers can select from a wide range of age-appropriate visual and performing arts camps, including Cardboard Creations, Dance & STEAM, Monster Madness, Tiny Playwrights, and much more. Camps conclude with an exhibit or performance of student work on the last day of each camp session. Programs are open to the public, regardless of residency, for grades K-7. There are full and half-day programs as well as before and after care available. Sessions run June 24 -August 23.
8510 High Ridge Rd., Ellicott City, MD 21043.
(410) 313- 2787.

ID Tech Camp at Towson University
Students ages 7-17 can code using Java, design video games, engineer robots, produce a YouTube series, and more. Kids meet new friends and gain a competitive edge for school and future STEM careers. One-week sessions start June 17 and run through July 26.
8000 York Rd., Towson, MD 21252.
(888 )709-8324.

Imagination 101 Summer Arts Camp
This nonprofit camp conducted by Charm City Players at Roland Park Country School offers two-week performing arts classes for boys and girls ages 7-17, including acting, dancing, and singing. June 17- June 28: Mean Girls Jr.; July 8-July 19: Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr.; July 22-August 2: Legally Blonde Jr.; August 5-August 16: Finding Nemo Jr.
5204 Roland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21210.
(410) 472-4737.

It’s All Fun and Games
Held on the 20 secluded acres of Valleybrook Country Club, this camp is open to children K-13 looking for old-fashioned fun. Activities include swimming, tennis, nature and science exploration, arts and crafts, field trips and special visitors, and individual and team sports. To find out more, visit their website or contact them directly for 2024 dates.
1810 Valleybrook Dr., Kingsville, MD 21087.
(410) 879-4460.

J Camps
The Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore has 10 camps for all ages and stages of life. JCC’s facilities including a performing arts center, ceramics studio, adventure park, nature trails and tennis courts, plus their signature swim lesson program. In addition to before and after care options, JCC offers express bus routes. Sessions run June 24-August 16.
3506 Gwynnbrook Ave., Owings Mills, MD 21117.
(410) 559-2391.

Maryvale offers seven camp options for those interested in athletics, STEM, and teen etiquette. Camps are led by varsity coaches and esteemed professionals, with a variety of choices in basketball, robotics, finance, ultimate frisbee and much more. Ages K-6 grade, 5-8 grade, and 9-12 grade are accepted for different areas. Sessions run June 17-20: basketball, June 24-28: Camp Invention: STEM, June 10-13: lacrosse, June 10-14 Stay Classy: Teen Etiquette and Finance, August dates coming soon: softball, June 24-27: Summer Activities, and June 10-28: volleyball.
11300 Falls Road, Lutherville, MD 21093.
(410) 252-3366.

McDonogh School Summer Programs
McDonogh offers extensive summer programs for ages 4-18, including traditional day camps, arts and academic experiences, STEM-centric camps, and day and overnight sports clinics. Camps utilize the school’s many facilities including riding rings, fishing ponds, an arts center—even a rock-climbing tower and ropes course. Check their website on Dec. 18 for lineup of 2024 camps.
8600 McDonogh Rd. Owings Mills, MD 21117.
(443) 544-7100.

Mercy High School’s “Magical Summer”
Beginning June 24, A Magical Summer at Mercy provides many opportunities for summer enrichment for 6-9 grade girls. Campers will be coached and instructed by Mercy faculty and coaches, area professionals, and Mercy Girl athletes and artists. Basketball camp (June 24-27) is open to all levels for skills building; at dance camp (June 24-27) students work with professional instructors offering daily technique classes in ballet modern dance, hip hop and more; field hockey (June 24-27) offers skills building, tactics training, game strategies and full-field games. There are two sessions of volleyball camp (July 8-11 and 15-18), a lacrosse camp (July 15-18), as well as cheer and soccer camps.
1300 E. Northern Pkwy., Baltimore, MD 21239.
(410) 433-8800.

MICA Summer Art Camp
Have a budding artist? Then the art camp at Maryland Institute College of Art may be the place for your camper this summer. Camp is open to children in grades K-12. Sessions run June 20-July 28. Check the website for more details.
1300 W. Mt. Royal Ave., Baltimore, MD 21217.
(410) 225-2219.

The Park School of Baltimore – Park Camps
Park’s experienced staff welcomes children ages 3 1/2 –15 for exciting summer activities hosted on its 100-acre campus. In addition to traditional day camp activities, age-specific camps offer sports and games, nature exploration, and music and movement. Sessions run July 11-July 26.
2425 Old Court Rd., Baltimore, MD 21208.
(410) 339-7070.

Red Barn Ranch
This traditional day camp is open to kids in K-8 grades. Campers engage in arts and crafts, science, sports—even high ropes. All staff have had FBI and CPS background checks, and have been trained by Kids After Hours and Maryland State Licensed trainers to ensure a safe and fun summer experience. Before and after care are available. To find out more, visit their website or contact them directly for 2024 dates.
175 Klees Mill Rd., Sykesville, MD 21784.
(301) 933-6888.

Summer at Garrison Forest
Summer at Garrison Forest has extensive program options, including traditional day camps, specialty camps, equestrian camps, and overnight programs. Campers can play nearly every sport, including riding and polo, express themselves in an array of arts programs, make STEM discoveries, learn to cook, and more. Before and after care, lunch, and combo camp packages available. Located on Garrison Forest School’s 110-acre campus, Summer at Garrison Forest dates for 2024 will be announced in January.
300 Garrison Forest Rd., Owings Mills, MD 21117.
(410) 559-3433.

Summer Nature Camp at Irvine
Campers learn about nature in Maryland by exploring and playing in the woodlands, meadows, wetlands, and streams of Irvine Nature Center’s 211-acre campus. Campers get up, get active, and get outdoors daily. Led by professional educators, offering different themed programs weekly, no two sessions are alike. Irvine Summer Nature Camp 2024 dates are coming soon; check their website for updates. Full-day and half-day options available for 2-12 year-olds, with a new Counselor in Training program for ages 13-16.
11201 Garrison Forest Rd., Owings Mills, MD 21117.
(443) 738-9200.

Summer Camp at the Odyssey School
The Odyssey School’s camp is a specialized summer program for children with language learning differences in grades 1-8. The camp incorporates an individualized, structured academic experience in the mornings, designed to promote ongoing skill development in the areas of reading, written language, and math, followed by afternoons of outdoor activities and athletics. Full and half day options. June 24-July 26.
3257 Bridle Ridge Ln., Lutherville, MD 21093.
(410) 580-5551.

Summer at the St. Paul’s Schools
The St. Paul’s Schools offer a range of co-ed and single-gender programs for children ages 4-16, including Gatorland Day Camp, sports, arts, cooking, and babysitting training. Summer sessions run June 10-August 16.
111232 Falls Rd., Brooklandville, MD 21022.
(443) 632-1083.

You May Also Like