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Summer Camps Defined

Updated: Feb 18, 2022

While traditional camps dominate the summer camp landscape, over the years there’s been a substantial increase in camps that provide a special focus or experience. Though each type of program has it’s unique aspects, each offers campers the ability to have a healthy, happy and fun summer!

Summer campers relaxing on a hammock.

Though the emphasis is on education and improving academic performance, academic camps also engage kids by offering a variety of stimulating activities. Team building, field trips and exploration bring a sense of adventure and excitement and are an essential part of the academic camp experience. Subjects include everything from Biology to Zoology and everything in between.


Like traditional camp, the emphasis is on outdoor activities but with an emphasis on challenging new experiences. Activities can include camping, hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, rope courses, zip lines and livings skills. Many adventure camps involve local and international travel.


The degree to which faith-based camps actively engage in religious practices varies: everything from daily services to a prayer before meals. They universally stress the development of good values and fellowship. Activities frequently mirror those of a traditional camp with lots of outdoor and nature related activities.

Family Camp

Family camps offer a camp experience for the entire family. Sessions range from one day to a week, or more. These camps generally follow a traditional approach where outdoor family activities and interacting in a natural setting enhance the family experience. Generally, these camps take place when dedicated programs for children only are not in session.

Foreign Culture and Language

While some programs travel internationally to absorb a new culture in a foreign land, others are based right here in the United States. They rely heavily on applying what is learned with total immersion to reinforce their campers expanding knowledge of foreign languages. One such program is Concordia Language Villages where all digital devices are checked in at the door to encourage campers to be more involved in their new environment and take advantage of every opportunity to advance their language skills and experience with different cultures.

Special Interest

Special interest camps cover a wide range of programs such as acting, music, art, writing, filmmaking, horseback, martial arts, programming, computer, robotics, game design, model making. Designed for kids with a serious interest, these camps allow participants to take a deep dive into whatever interests them most. They’re also an exciting opportunity for kids to jump into something completely new!

Special Needs

There are many camps that provide a great summer for kids and adults with special needs. As with all camps, every necessary accommodation is in place to make campers comfortable and engaged in a wide range of enjoyable activities. Specially trained staff focuses on the social, emotional and recreational interests and abilities of each camper.


Developing athletic skills is what sports camps are all about. Campers experience the benefits of exercise as they develop their skills through instruction and competition. Sports camps can take place either indoors or outdoors and incorporate a variety of sports or just one. In the US, most sports camps focus on: baseball, basketball, football, golf, gymnastics, hockey, lacrosse, pickleball, rugby, skate boarding, soccer, track and field and volleyball.


Traditional day or overnight camps are generally co-ed, but can be girls or boys only. They provide a healthy variety of outdoor activities with an emphasis on nature, team building and character development. With a tradition that goes back to the 1860’s, traditional camps represent the most common programs in the United States.

Travel Camp

Travel Camp ranges from visiting local museums, historical sites and entertainment venues each day to international travel. Leaderships skills and outdoor activities are an important aspect to these camps. Many travel camps can also be described as Adventure programs that offer a special emphasis on the outdoors.

Weight Loss Camp

Weight loss camp helps young people have lots of fun while becoming healthier and losing weight. These camps help kids develop socially, emotionally and physically and reinforce a positive self-image. Campers are encouraged to continue maintaining the healthy habits learned during camp and many enjoy ongoing support from other campers and staff.

Volunteer Programs

Volunteer programs range from teaching young students in countries around the world to protecting endangered species or improving the environment. Though challenging at times, the work helps participants achieve a healthier outlook on life and a belief that they can really make a difference!

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