Best 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.

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:

Bay Shore Camp Fair and Family Ministries 

  • Address: 450 N. Miller St., Sebewaing
  • Phone: 989-883-2501

Offers different kinds of camps for kids rooted in the Christian faith. Sports camp options include baseball, basketball, softball, volleyball and soccer.

Franklin Athletic Club

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

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 camps, too.

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:

Deborah’s Stage Door 

  • Address: 1655 W. Hamlin Road, Rochester Hills
  • Phone: 248-852-8133

Choose from programs like the Zombies Musical Camp and Annie Musical Camp or TikTok Camp and Hip Hop Video Camp.

MSU GATE

  • Address: 219 S. Harrison Rd,, Room 8, East Lansing
  • Phone: 517-432-2129

Kids in grades 3-4 explore dancing, singing and acting. STEM and art camps, too.

Roeper Summer Programs

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

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:

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

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

Cranbrook Special and Summer Programs

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

Build working robots out of Lego and Vex IQ at their Robotics camp. Other specialty options such as art, STEM and theater, too.

iCode

  • Address: 2914 W. Maple,Troy
  • Phone: 248-385-3240

These camps focus on coding, robotics, drones and design for kids ages 7-18.

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.

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.

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:

Cranbrook Art Museum Create Camps
  • Address: 39221 Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Hills
  • Phone: 248-645-3314

This camp allows kids to explore artwork in the museum and then make their own fantastic creations.

Interlochen Arts Camp

  • Address: 4000 US Highway M-137, Interlochen
  • Phone: 231-276-7200

Younger kids can begin exploring ceramics through this camp.

Pewabic

  • Address: 10125 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit
  • Phone: 313-626-2000

Try wheel throwing, hand-building and more.

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.

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.

TreeRunner Adventure Camp 

  • Address: 6600 W. Maple Road, West Bloomfield
  • Phone: 248-419-1550

Enjoy a day camp that takes place in this spot’s rope courses.

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.

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:

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.

Looking for more camp information? Join our Virtual Camp Fair Week, March 21-27, 2021, to meet with some of the coolest camp options in Michigan. 


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