Best Specialty Camps for Kids in Michigan

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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 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’s southeast region.

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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, 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:

Camp BHC – Beverly Hills Club

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

Sports skills, swimming, tennis, ninja warriors (and a “little” ninjas class for kids 3-5), martial arts, basketball and more.

Franklin Athletic Club

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

Sports skills, tennis, basketball, swimming, kickboxing, track and field, soccer and flag football.

TGA Premier Junior Golf Camps

  • Address: Locations throughout southeast Michigan
  • Phone: 248-252-0208

Golf camps offered throughout the metro Detroit area.

Jewish Community Center of Metro Detroit

  • Address: 6600 W. Maple Road, West Bloomfield
  • Phone: 248-661-1000

Kids in grades 1-10 can take archery, baseball, basketball, cheerleading, inline hockey, horseback riding 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:

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: 248-203-7470

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

Ann Arbor Young Actors Guild Summer Theatre Academy

  • Address: The University of Michigan Student Theatre Arts Complex (STAC), 1201 Kipke Drive, Ann Arbor
  • Phone: 734-926-5629

The academy offers morning workshops in performing arts and afternoon rehearsals for the upcoming production. Grades 3 and up.

Jewish Community Center of Metro Detroit

  • Address: 6600 W. Maple Road, West Bloomfield
  • Phone: 248-661-1000

Five-day and three-week programs for new and seasoned actors and actresses, singers and stage technicians.

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

Technology, robotics and engineering camps for ages 6-17.

Bricks 4 Kidz

  • Address: Locations in Ann Arbor, Brighton, Canton, Farmington, Grosse Pointe, Huntington Woods, Rochester, Southfield and Troy
  • Phone: Call nearest center for details

STEM-focused activities for kids ages 3-13 using LEGO bricks.

Cranbrook Schools Robotics Camp

  • Address: 39221 Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Hills
  • Phone: 248-645-3000

Camp programs for ages 6-17 explore STEM curriculum using the latest robotics software to let kids design, build and program robots.

The Robot Garage

  • Address: Locations in Birmingham, Grosse Pointe Park and Rochester Hills
  • Phone: 248-723-9100 (Birmingham), 313-924-3310 (Grosse Pointe Park), 248-213-9960 (Rochester Hills)

Building and robotics camps with cool themes like Harry Potter, 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 4-17. Spots fill quickly; sign up soon!

Charles L. Bowers School Farm

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

Variety of camps for all ages with a focus on nature and farm animals.

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.

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: 313-626-2000

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

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 Carr Center Summer Arts Academy

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

The Summer Arts Academy includes programs for dance, visual art and jazz music.

The Community House Theatre Camp

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

Band camp, cabaret camp, musical theater and more.

Detroit Opera House

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

Summer Intensive with Eisenhower Dance is open to ages 14-plus.

Macomb Center for the Performing Arts

  • Address: 44575 Garfield Road, Clinton Township
  • Phone: 586-286-2141

Summer workshops in show choir, flute, clarinet and children’s chorus.

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 swimming.

Camp Fire’s Camp Wathana

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

Swimming, boating, archery. Also offers Camp 4 Military Kids.

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.

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:

DAPCEP

  • Address: 2111 Woodward Ave., Suite 506, 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

Two-week overnight or day camp offered for children in grades 7, 8 and 9.

TechShop Detroit

  • Address: 800 Republic Drive, Allen Park
  • Phone: 313-583-3831

Coding, programming, Design and Build with Laser Cutters and much more.

University of Detroit Mercy Pre-College Summer Programs

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

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: 313-664-7458

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.

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

Kids in grades 4-10 can participate in five-day Cake Decorating camp or those in grades 1-8 can sign up for Cupcake Wars camp. There’s also Chopped, Cookie Creation, Bubbie’s Kitchen, Sweet Shop and Restaurant Camp.

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: 734-531-0304 (Ann Arbor), 586-226-1452 (Clinton Township), 248-319-0025 (Novi), 248-283-1057 (Troy)

Camp topics for kids and teens include kitchen fundamentals, science in the kitchen and more.

This article was originally published in 2014 and was updated for 2017 by Amanda Rahn.

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