10 Cool Summer Camps for Teens They'll Actually Want to Attend

Your kids will love spending the summer at any of these fun day camps and overnight camps geared for teens.

camp chief ouray
Photo: Camp Chief Ouray

When it comes to the activities teens can enjoy during the summer, there are an infinite number of possibilities. Some may opt to get a summer job, while others do volunteer work or internships.

For others, summer camp—either a day camp or overnight, sleepaway camp—offers teens an opportunity to get out of their usual routine, learn, grow, make friends, and have eye-opening new experiences. There's no wrong or right way for your teen to experience summer, but if you're looking to get them signed up for a summer camp program, we're here to help.

Here are 10 cool summer camps that might be the perfect fit for your kiddo, even if they're too cool for camp.

1. Camp Chief Ouray

This over 100-year-old camp, located on a 5,100-acre YMCA of the Rockies about an hour and a half from Denver, Colorado, first hosted campers in the summer of 1908. It's billed as an "adventurous playground and traditional overnight camp for kids age 7-17—with mountains, valleys, streams, and meadows." Their programs are meant to build campers' confidence, independence, and resilience, while they live in cabins of up to 10 campers and two staff members.

Your teen could also enroll in the Camp Chief Ouray Adventure Camp, aimed at kids 13-16 with sessions that run in June and July. Each camp is one week long and spends a couple of days at camp, plus 3-4 days in the wilderness of Colorado. Campers learn to work as a group and live in harmony with the environment. Camps usually have no more than 8-10 teens and are overseen by certified camp counselors who are background checked and have extra trainings in Wilderness First Aid certification and childhood abuse prevention.

2. Mountain Adventure Tours (M.A.T.)

This outdoor adventure camp, located in Ketchum, Idaho, teaches kids important values and life skills through the use of entertaining activities in the Idaho wilderness. M.A.T. runs several camps per summer and each camp has an individual theme, along with accompanying age groups.

There are three-night sleepaway camps for ages 10-13 and a longer five-night sleepaway camp for 13-15-year-olds, plus themed camps like river rafting, survival skills, and rods and bows.

3. Camp True Colors

Camp True Colors, an overnight camp held on a 93-acre campus in Willow River, Minnesota, is dedicated to providing a safe place and team-building camp experience to 7 to 20-year-olds who identify as LGBTQ+.

The organization connects campers to a wider LGBTQ+ community, so they can continue the conversation and share their camp experience with others back home. In addition to three different camps (camps for LGBTQ+ youth, those experiencing housing instability, and those affected by HIV/AIDS), there is also a leadership camp for youth ages 16-17 who are interested in working as a camp counselor or just furthering their leadership skills.

4. Camp Olympia

Located on Lake Livingston in Trinity, Texas on over 100 acres of private land, Camp Olympia has its own swimming pool, challenge course, archery field, and more. Kids ages 6-16 can attend one, two, or three-week camps. Campers can participate in over 45 activities over the course of their stay, whether that be water skiing, horseback riding, golfing, or a "Spartan/Athenian" team competition.

5. iD Tech Camp and Alexa Cafe

iD Tech Camp is the original tech camp for kids aged 7-17 who want to spend a week choosing from over 30 innovative programs that blend instruction on projects like coding an app to designing a video game with fun camp activities. The program offers both day and overnight options at 150 locations nationwide, as well as online summer camp options.

6. ID Tech

ID Tech runs summer camps at over 75 college campus locations across the country. The camp makes the claim to be the top tech camp for 23 years running and offers teens the chance to take part in activities like hands-on STEM learning and fun to getting a preview taste of the college life that may soon be coming their way. Plus, the camp actually equips campers with real-life tech skills they can add to their resume.

7. SOCAPA (School of Creative and Performing Arts)

SOCAPA runs several different summer arts camps: for aspiring actors, dancers, photographers, screenwriters, and musicians. For instance, teens looking to pursue screenwriting can attend one, two, and three-week intensives in screenwriting with the option to develop "two short screenplays (four to eight pages each), one longer screenplay (10-12 pages), or the first act of a feature-length screenplay," according to the camp website. The course is designed to serve as a precursor to filmmaking workshops in which students will produce and direct the screenplays that they write in this course during a SOCAPA filmmaking session later in the summer or the following year. Teens aged 14-18 can attend camps in Vermont, Los Angeles, or NYC.

8. Idyllwild Arts

Located in Idyllwild, California, the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program provides high-caliber arts instruction and memorable arts immersion workshops to a diverse student population of all ages and abilities. Teens can receive intensive practical instruction in all the visual arts and performing arts—painting, photography, ceramics, jewelry, creative writing, printmaking, musical theater, piano, and more. Choose from one, two, and four-week sessions.

9. School of Rock

School of Rock's Music Camp programs vary widely; some options include Songwriting & Recording Camp, 90's Camp, and David Bowie Camp. Sessions are held at School of Rock locations across the country.

10. Sur La Table 5-Day Teen Series

Teens aged 12-17 who are aspiring culinary masters may enjoy five-day programs held at Sur La Table locations around the country. Teens can choose from classes focusing on general cooking skills to more specialized options, like exploring global flavors or baking. The menus are teen-friendly and inspire confidence in cooking skills, plus most end with a sweet finish to look forward to.

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