Best Specialty Camps for Kids in Michigan

Traditional camp will always be among the best kids’ summer camps, but these days, there are a lot more options for your child. Here are 10 types that are breaking the mold of your childhood and getting today's kids psyched for summer.

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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.

Looking for more kids’ summer day camps? Browse our day camps directory for tons of summer day camps in Michigan southeast region.

Here’s our list of the top 10 hottest kinds of 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.

Sports

Why they’re hot: 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.

Some examples:

Camp BHC – Beverly Hills Club

  • Address: 31555 Southfield Road, Beverly Hills
  • Phone: 248-642-8500

Sports skills, swimming, tennis

Franklin Athletic Club

  • Address: 29350 Northwestern Highway, Southfield
  • Phone: 248-352-8000

Sports skills, tennis, basketball, swimming, synchronized swimming

TGA Premier Junior Golf Camps

  • Address: Locations in Farmington Hills, Holly, Macomb, Northville, Oakland Township and Troy
  • Phone: 248-252-0208

Theater

Why they’re hot: 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.

Some examples:

Mosaic’s Broadway Workshop’s Summer Musical Theatre Intensive

  • Address: 2251 Antietam Ave., Detroit
  • Phone: 313-872-6910

Drama, music, theater

Roeper Summer Programs

  • Address: 1051 Oakland Ave., Birmingham
  • Phone: 248-203-7470

Summer Stock Theatre divided by age group

Lego

Why they’re hot: 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.

Some examples:

Brain Monkeys

  • Address: 3765 Plaza Drive, Ann Arbor (Note: Camps are also offered at two additional Ann Arbor locations. Contact for more details.)
  • Phone: 734-355-6872

Technology, robotics

Bricks 4 Kidz

  • Address: Locations in Ann Arbor, Canton, Farmington, Rochester, Southfield and Troy
  • Phone: 248-295-2778

Building, movie making, robotics, digital media

Cranbrook Schools TECHNO-botics Robotics Camp

  • Address: 39221 Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Hills
  • Phone: 248-645-3674

Technology, robotics and STEM, computer programming

The Robot Garage

  • Address: 637 S. Eton St., Birmingham; 172 N. Adams Road, Rochester Hills
  • Phone: 248-723-9100 (Birmingham), 248-213-9960 (Rochester Hills)

Building, robotics

Animals

Why they’re hot: “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.

Some examples:

Camp PAWS, Humane Society of Huron Valley

  • Address: 3100 Cherry Hill Road, Ann Arbor
  • Phone: 734-661-3575

Animal-themed activities and interactions with pets

Charles L. Bowers School Farm

  • Address: 1219 E. Square Lake Road, Bloomfield Hills
  • Phone: 248-341-6475

Nature focus, farm animals

Detroit Zoo Summer Safari Camp

  • Address: 8450 W. 10 Mile Road, Royal Oak
  • Phone: 248-541-5717

Zoo exploration

Pottery

Why they’re hot: 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.

Some examples:

Pewabic

  • Address: 10125 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit
  • Phone: 313-626-2062

Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center

  • Address: 1516 S. Cranbrook Road, Birmingham
  • Phone: 248-644-0866

Creatopia: Paint-It-Yourself Pottery

  • Address: 924 W. Ann Arbor Trail, Plymouth
  • Phone: 734-453-8797

Looking for that perfect summer vacation for your kids? Read our FREE Guide to Summer Camps in Michigan. Download it for FREE right now!
BONUS: Get a FREE subscription to Metro Parent magazine for year-round fun!

Music

Why they’re hot: 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.

Some examples:

The Carr Center Summer Arts Academy

  • Address: 311 E. Grand River Ave., Detroit
  • Phone: 313-965-8430

Music, dance

The Community House Theatre Camp

  • Address: 380 S. Bates St., Birmingham
  • Phone: 248-644-5832

Music, dance, theater

Macomb Center for the Performing Arts

  • Address: 44575 Garfield Road, Clinton Township
  • Phone: 586-286-2044

Show choir, children’s chorus (theater, flute and clarinet also available), drama

Mostly Music Camp

  • Address: 2000 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor
  • Phone: 734-678-4168 or 734-428-8687

Music (dance, art, theater also available)

Adventure

Why they’re hot: 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.

Some examples:

Ann Arbor Parks & Recreation Day Camps

  • Address: Various locales in Ann Arbor
  • Phone: 734-794-6240 (contact depends on the camp)

Kayaking, canoeing, fishing, rafting, swimming

Camp Fire’s Camp Wathana

  • Address: 9750 Milford Road, Holly
  • Phone: 248-382-8382

Swimming, boating, archery

Mystic Lake YMCA Camp

  • Address: 9505 W. Ludington Drive, Lake
  • Phone: 517-827-9650

Offers “Teen Extreme” and “Discovery Adventure” camps (sleep away)

Tech

Why they’re hot: 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.

Some examples:

DAPCEP

  • Address: 2111 Woodward Ave., Suite 506, Detroit
  • Phone: 313-831-3050

Visual programming, biomedical and mechanical engineering, software design, robotics

IT Day Camp of Ann Arbor

  • Address: 945 Pauline Blvd., Suite D, Ann Arbor
  • Phone: 734-646-0251

Five-day technology courses for kids

Michigan State University

  • Address: 220 Trowbridge Road, East Lansing
  • Phone: 517-432-2129

Two-week sleep away or day camp for children in grades 7, 8, 9

University of Detroit Mercy Pre-College Summer Programs

  • Address: 4001 W. McNichols Road, Detroit
  • Phone: 313-993-3374

Product development, architecture, robotics

Career exploration

Why they’re hot: 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.

Some examples:

College for Creative Studies

  • Address: 201 E. Kirby St., Detroit
  • Phone: 313-664-7456

Range of programming including graphic, fashion and automotive design

iD Tech Camps & iD Teen Academies

  • Address: Takes place at University of Michigan, 500 S. State St., Ann Arbor
  • Phone: 888-709-8324

Computer skills for tweens/teens

Anton/Frankel Center

  • Address: 20 S. Main St., Mount Clemens (Note: Locations vary depending on the program; contact for more information)
  • Phone: 248-370-2100

Broad career exploration camp, engineering, nursing, math and others held by Oakland University

Cooking

Why they’re hot: 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.

Some examples:

Schoolcraft Kids on Campus, Schoolcraft College

  • Address: 18600 Haggerty Road, Livonia
  • Phone: 734-462-4448

Cooking and baking skills for grades 7, 8, and 9

Sur La Table: Kids’ & Teens’ Summer Cooking Camps

  • 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 each day for a week

This article was originally published in 2014 and is updated annually.

Looking for that perfect summer vacation for your kids? Read our FREE Guide to Summer Camps in Michigan. Download it for FREE right now!
BONUS: Get a FREE subscription to Metro Parent magazine for year-round fun!

Comments
  • Diana A.

    Hello, I didn’t see any listed that are in Wayne County, the Henry Ford has a great summer program. Also HYPE Athletics in Dearborn Hts, MI has a summer program as well as the Dearborn Public Schools, summer adventure program.

    Thanks!

    Reply

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