Best Specialty Camps for Kids in Michigan

Traditional camps will always be among the best kids’ summer camp options. But here are 10 types of specialty camps for kids that break the mold.

Specialty camps for kids in Michigan

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 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 specialty camps for kids. 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.

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Sports

Why they’re hot: Justin Verlander, Serena Williams, LeBron James, Misty Copeland. If your kids are regularly chatting about their favorite baseball, tennis, basketball, ballet 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:

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

Sports skills, swimming, tennis, ninja warriors, martial arts, basketball, soccer and more.

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

Soccer, volleyball, basketball, swim, tennis and more. There’s even a Nerf Commanders Camp.

High Velocity Sports
  • Address: 46245 Michigan Ave., Canton
  • Phone: 734-487-7678

Kids rotate through soccer, volleyball, flag football and more.

TGA Premier Junior Golf Camps
  • Address: Locations throughout southeast Michigan
  • Phone: 248-252-0208

Golf camps offered throughout the metro Detroit area.

TRUE Summer Camp
  • Address: 6363 Orchard Lake Road, West Bloomfield
  • Phone: 248-419-2307

Martial arts, gymnastics, dancing, kickball, basketball and other sports options offered here.

Jewish Community Center of Metro Detroit
  • Address: 6600 W. Maple Road, West Bloomfield
  • Phone: 248-661-1000

Offers flag football, archery, basketball, baseball and more.

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 other performance skills.

What they offer: For many 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 you can see the campers demonstrate their skills.

Some examples:

Acting Out Kids Community Theatre
  • Address: Royal Oak First United Methodist Church, 320 W. 7th St., Royal Oak
  • Phone: 248-302-8947

Introduces kids ages 8-18 to film acting and production.

Jewish Community Center of Metro Detroit
  • Address: 6600 W. Maple Road, West Bloomfield
  • Phone: 248-661-1000

One four-week camp that culminates in a production of The Wizard of Oz. Improve and dance options too. Kids must be entering grades 3-6.

Mosaic Broadway Workshop’s Summer Musical Theatre Intensive
  • Address: 2251 Antietam Ave., Detroit
  • Phone: 313-872-6910

Drama, music, theater camps for various levels of experience.

Roeper Summer Programs
  • Address: 1051 Oakland Ave., Birmingham
  • Phone: 248-203-7370

Summer Stock Theatre is divided by age group. Students participate in activities to build acting, singing and dancing skills.

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, 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 Dr., Ann Arbor (Note: Camps are also offered at four additional Ann Arbor locations. Contact for more details.)
  • Phone: 734-355-6872

Technology, recycling, physics and other camps for kids in grades K-8.

Bricks 4 Kidz
  • Address: Locations in Ann Arbor, Brighton, Farmington, Grosse Pointe, Huntington Woods and Rochester
  • Phone: Call nearest center for details

STEM-focused activities for kids ages 5-13-plus using LEGO bricks.

Cranbrook Schools Robotics Camp
  • Address: 39221 Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Hills
  • Phone: 248-645-3674

Camp programs for grades 1-7 explore STEM curriculum using the latest robotics software to let kids design, build and program robots.

The Robot Garage
  • Address: Locations in Birmingham and Rochester Hills
  • Phone: 248-723-9100 (Birmingham), 248-213-9960 (Rochester Hills)

Building and robotics camps with cool themes like Super Heroes in the D.C., Minecraft and Robot Discovery.

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. “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: 734-662-5585

Animal-themed activities and lessons and interactions with pets for kids ages 4-15. Spots fill quickly; sign up soon!

Charles L. Bowers School Farm
  • Address: 1219 E. Square Lake Road, Bloomfield Hills
  • Phone: 248-341-6481

Variety of camps for ages 3-14 with a focus on nature and farm animals including “Love a Pony” and “Life on the Farm.”

Detroit Zoo Summer Safari Camp
  • Address: 8450 W. 10 Mile Road, Royal Oak
  • Phone: 248-541-5717

The Detroit Zoo offers a different themed Zookeeper Camp for each grade level K-8 and Animal Welfare Workshops for grades 9-12. Single day options available.

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:

Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center
  • Address: 1516 S. Cranbrook Road, Birmingham
  • Phone: 248-644-0866
Cranbrook Art Museum Create Camps
  • Address: 39221 Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Hills
  • Phone: 248-645-3314
Creatopia: Paint-It-Yourself Pottery
  • Address: 924 W. Ann Arbor Trail, Plymouth
  • Phone: 734-453-8797
Pewabic
  • Address: 10125 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit
  • Phone: 313-626-2000
The Bee’s Knees
  • Address: 149 E. Main St., Northville
  • Phone: 248-347-6718

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 Community House Theatre Camp
  • Address: 380 S. Bates St., Birmingham
  • Phone: 248-644-5832

Band camp, singer camp, songwriter camp and others.

Detroit Opera House
  • Address: 1562 Broadway St., Detroit
  • Phone: 313-237-7464

Operetta, dance training and summer intensive options for teens. Children’s chorus, too.

Macomb Center for the Performing Arts
  • Address: 44575 Garfield Road, Clinton Township
  • Phone: 586-286-2141

Summer workshops in show choir, drama, children’s chorus and musical theatre.

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: 734-794-6000 (contact depends on the camp)

Activities include kayaking, canoeing, fishing, rafting and more.

Camp Fire’s Camp Wathana
  • Address: 9750 Milford Road, Holly
  • Phone: 248-382-8382

Offers swimming, boating, archery and more.

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

“The Mystic Experience” for ages 7-14 includes archery, high ropes, rock climbing, kayaking and more. Overnight options available.

Tech

Why they’re hot: These days most tweens and teens have 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:

Classroom Antics
  • Address: Various locales in metro Detroit
  • Phone: 800-595-3776

Week-long tech camps are offered at several locations in metro Detroit.

DAPCEP
  • Address: 2111 Woodward Ave., Suite 506-1, Detroit
  • Phone: 313-831-3050

Camps for grades 3-12 include visual programming, biomedical and mechanical engineering, software design and robotics. Residential and commuter programs offered.

Michigan State University Math, Science & Technology Camp
  • Address: 220 Trowbridge Road, East Lansing
  • Phone: 517-432-2129

One-week overnight or day camp offered for children in grades 7 and 8.

University of Detroit Mercy Pre-College Summer Programs
  • Address: 4001 W. McNichols Road, Detroit
  • Phone: 313-993-1435

STEM camps for high schoolers including product design, robotics and more.

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 for high school students including graphic, fashion and automotive design.

iD Tech Camps & iD Teen Academies
  • Address: Located at the University of Michigan at the Ann Arbor campus
  • Phone: 888-709-8324

Programs include coding, game design, robotics engineering and more for ages 7-17.

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:

Jewish Community Center of Metro Detroit
  • Address: 6600 W. Maple Road, West Bloomfield
  • Phone: 248-661-1000

Cooking 101 camp for beginners and Mad Batter Camp for bakers. Plus, Food Network-inspired camps like Chopped Junior and Cupcake Wars.

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, Novi and Troy
  • Phone: 734-531-0304 (Ann Arbor), 248-319-0025 (Novi), 248-283-1057 (Troy)

Camp topics for kids and teens include “Kids Can Cook,” “Cooking with Confidence,” and many others.

This post is updated regularly.

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