Best Specialty Camps for Kids in Michigan
Traditional camp will always be in style, but these days, there are a lot more options for how your child whiles away his summer days. Here are 10 types that are breaking the mold of your childhood and getting today's kids psyched for summer.
What comes to mind when you think about summer camp? Days spent splashing in the lake with friends. Or evenings around the campfire roasting marshmallows. Maybe it's learning to tie square knots or identifying plants and flowers on a hike. While you can still find plenty of traditional summer camps that offer kids these types of experiences, more and more summer camps are going specialized.
Kids can trade in their sneakers and sweats for chef hats to become bakers for a week. They can learn more about pets by attending a summer camps all about helping, training and caring for animals. The list of specialty camp offerings is going up each year, which means you can match your child's specific interests with a camp all about that topic.
Here's our list of the top 10 hottest kinds of summer specialty camps around.
For each type of trendy camp, you'll find information about a few locations in southeast Michigan where you can sign up your child.
Please note: Those listed are day camps unless otherwise marked.
Why they're popular: Justin Verlander, Serena Williams, LeBron James, Missy Franklin. If your kids are regularly chatting about their favorite baseball, tennis, basketball, swimming or any other type of sports star, they'd jump at the chance to go to sports camp.
What they offer: There are several different kinds of sports camps. For younger children, there are camps that introduce kids to a range of sports instead of concentrating on one. Grade- and high-schoolers can choose from camps that will help them develop skills needed for their specific sport.
Sports camp options
- Address: 31555 Southfield Road, Beverly Hills
- Phone: 248-642-8500
Sports skills, swimming, tennis
- Address: 29350 Northwestern Highway, Southfield
- Phone: 248-352-8000, ext. 247
Sports skills, tennis, basketball, swimming, synchronized swimming
- Address: Locations in Glen Oaks, Holly, Madison Heights, Northville, Sycamore Hills, Troy and Oakland Township
- Phone: 248-252-0208
Why they're popular: Many kids like to spend some time in the spotlight. Theater camps give them the chance to discover more about stagecraft – from preparing sets and costumes to acting and performance skills.
What they offer: For many of these theater camps, your child doesn't need any previous experience to participate. Some of these camps also include a performance at the end of the session, so that you can see the campers demonstrate their skills.
Theater camp options
- Address: 2251 Antietam Ave., Detroit
- Phone: 313-872-6910
Drama, music, theater
- Address: 19176 Northrop St., Detroit
- Phone: 313-531-3720
Drama, film, theater
- Address: 41190 Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Hills
- Phone: 248-203-7370
Summer Stock Theatre divided by age group
Why they're popular: Legos have a long history of encouraging kids to tap into their imagination – one block at a time. Legos have expanded from toys to robotics and even onto the big screen. If your child was a fan of the toys, and now The LEGO Movie, then a Lego-themed summer camp may be the way to go.
What they offer: Campers use Legos to create robotics, electronics – and some even mix in computer programming.
Lego camp options
- Address: 3765 Plaza Drive, Ann Arbor
- Phone: 734-355-6872
- Address: 39221 Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Hills
- Phone: 248-207-8562
Technology, robotics, computer programming
- Address: 637 S. Eton St., Birmingham
- Phone: 248-723-9100
Why they're popular: "We know that children have such a strong sense of compassion towards animals," says Karen Patterson, director of humane education at the Humane Society of Huron Valley, which has been expanding its camp program. "Every year we're adding more camps, and they keep filling up. We always have a waiting list."
What they offer: These camps give kids the chance to learn more about animals and their care from experts.
Animal camp options
- Address: 3100 Cherry Hill Road, Ann Arbor
- Phone: 734-661-3575
Animal-themed activities and interactions with pets
- Address: 1219 E. Square Lake Road, Bloomfield Hills
- Phone: 248-341-5475
Nature focus, farm animals
- Address: 8450 W. 10 Mile Road, Royal Oak
- Phone: 248-541-5717
Why they're popular: Surprised? Yes, pottery is popular. For kids who love crafting and creating with their hands, these camps are perfect!
What they offer: Kids get to take home the pottery pieces that they create during camp.
Pottery camp options
- Address: 10125 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit
- Phone: 313-626-2000
- Address: 1516 S. Cranbrook Road, Birmingham
- Phone: 248-644-0866
- Address: 924 W. Ann Arbor Trail, Plymouth
- Phone: 734-453-8797
Why they're popular: For children who want to hone their playing or singing skills, music camps can be a guaranteed high note.
What they offer: There's a music camp to fit just about any focus. Kids can concentrate on a specific instrument – including their voice. Or there are general camps that introduce kids to music.
Music camp options
- Address: 380 S. Bates St., Birmingham
- Phone: 248-644-5832
Music, dance, theater
- Address: 44575 Garfield Road, Clinton Township
- Phone: 586-286-2044
Show choir, children's chorus (theater, flute and clarinet also available)
- Address: P.O. Box 3139, Ann Arbor
- Phone: 734-426-8337
Music (dance, art, theater also available)
Why they're popular: Thrill seekers alert! If your child likes to be active and has a bit of a daredevil streak, sign him or her up for an adventure camp.
What they offer: While you can find day camps, for maximum thrills you might want to check out overnight options, where kids are busy doing everything from backpacking to horseback riding.
Adventure camp options
- Address: Various locales in Ann Arbor
- Phone: 734-794-6240
Kayaking, canoeing, fishing, rafting
- Address: 9750 Milford Road, Holly
- Phone: 248-382-8382
Game-based (sleep away)
- Address: 9505 W. Ludington Drive, Lake
- Phone: 517-827-9650
Offers "Teen Extreme" and "Discovery Adventure" camps (sleep away)
Why they're popular: These days most tweens and teens have cell phones – and many are smartphones, meaning they're carrying around a piece of high-tech gadgetry wherever they go. No wonder so many kids are all about technology!
What they offer: All things tech. Kids can learn computer-aided design, build their own computer apps and much more.
Tech camp options
- Address: Various locales
- Phone: 734-646-0251
Five-day technology courses for kids
- Address: 220 Trowbridge Road, East Lansing
- Phone: 517-432-2129
Two-week sleep away or day camp for children in grades 7, 8, 9
- Address: 4001 W. McNichols Road, Detroit
- Phone: 313-993-1435
Product development, architecture, robotics
Why they're popular: Kids have a week-long opportunity to explore an area that they're interested in to see if it's something they want to pursue as a career.
What they offer: Often, these programs are affiliated with a college or university – so whatever programs are available through the school may be something offered as a summer camp experience.
Career exploration camp options
- Address: 201 E. Kirby St., Detroit
- Phone: 313-664-1532
Range of programming including graphic, fashion and automotive design
- Address: Takes place at University of Michigan, 500 S. State St., Ann Arbor
- Phone: 888-709-8324
Computer skills for tweens/teens
- Address: 20 S. Main St., Mount Clemens
- Phone: 248-370-2100
Broad career exploration camp, engineering, nursing, math and others held by Oakland University
Why they're popular: The Food Network has turned chefs into rock stars. Children with an interest in the kitchen have taken notice, and they're interested in sharpening their culinary skills too.
What they offer: Camps give kids a chance to learn everything from basic skills in the kitchen to more advanced baking and cooking techniques.
Cooking camp options
- Address: 5060 Jackson Road, Ann Arbor
- Phone: 734-645-1030
Parent/child, family dining, kids' only classes
- Address: 18600 Haggerty Road, Livonia
- Phone: 734-462-4448
- Address: Locations in Ann Arbor, Clinton Township, Novi and Troy
- Phone: 586-226-1452 (Clinton Township), 248-319-0025 (Novi), 248-283-1057 (Troy), 734-531-0304 (Ann Arbor)
Focuses on cooking one dish