There are over 16,000 camps in the USA (at last count!) so the range is huge! This section gives you an insight into the programs and philosophies of various camps.
All camps strive for a dedicated staff of energetic counsellors and are run with a routine similar to the one. You do have an opportunity to tell us which type of camp you would prefer to go to, but it helps if you can be flexible in your selections.
The camps where we place counsellors have high standards and are approved by the American Camping Association or similar accrediting bodies. Depending on their skills and experience, Summer Camp USA counsellors are placed at all of the types of camps described here.
a- Private, traditional & residential camps - These camps are independently owned and cater mainly for the children of middle/high income families. Private camps usually devote lots of time to sports, waterfront activities, fine arts and outdoor programs.
Campers return year after year for a period of four to eight weeks. Some camps are very competitive, others run more relaxed recreational programs. Some are quite rustic in appearance while others have well-appointed cabins and excellent sports facilities. Every camp is different in philosophy as well as appearance.
b- Agency camps - Agency camps are run by bodies such as the YMCA, YMHA, YWCA or Salvation Army and offer many of the activities that private camps offer. Campers come from all parts of the community. Agency camps strive to give each child a unique experience. Running for one to four weeks in length, these camps are usually co-ed. Some are rustic, others have custom-built, modern facilities.
c- Camps for disadvantaged children - Operated by various social or philanthropic agencies, these camps aim to give disadvantaged children the chance to experience a week or two in the country at very little, or no cost to the parents. The emphasis is on recreational games and appreciation of the environment; facilities can be very limited and on the worn and rustic side. Playing and living together are the most important aspects of the camp experience. The work is usually demanding, but for those with the relevant experience and dedication, the summer can be tremendously satisfying.
d- Day camps - Day camps offer a large range of activities and are located at local private sites, church halls, parks, YMCAs or perhaps as part of a residential camp. They usually run from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday. Counsellors work during the day in much the same capacity as at a residential camp. They live either on camp, or perhaps with local families.
Evenings and weekends are usually free, but may occasionally be taken up with overnight trips or other camp activities. Where a day camp runs as part of a residential camp, counsellors generally live on the overnight camp and help with evening and weekend activities.
e- Specialist camps - Some camps run very specialised programs concentrating on a particular sport or activity such as riding, computers, performing arts, soccer, lacrosse and so on. Some are resident, others are day camps.
f- Special needs camps - Special needs camps include those for the physically or mentally disabled (adults as well as children), diabetics, those suffering from cancer, AIDS, the learning disabled, hyperactive and those with behavioural problems. These camps are run privately or by non-profit agencies and need experienced staff who are calm, patient and caring and who can give specialised care and attention to the campers.
Previous, relevant experience is likely to determine the type of camp selected for you. The level of instruction will vary depending on the child. For some, basic skills and sports can be taught and enjoyed, while for others it may be limited to helping the children feed themselves. Loving care and supervision are the priorities here.
g- Religious camps - There are many religiously affiliated camps operated by all denominations. These camps are perfect for people who believe strongly in their faith and who are able to lead devotions and guide campers spiritually, in addition to teaching the usual camp activities.
Girl scout camps - Girl scout camps are popular and offer a worthwhile experience for the right people. The program is generally centred around campcraft, pioneering and outdoor skills. Some girl scout camps have platform tent living; others have more modern, custom-built facilities. They sometimes specialise in activities such as riding or wilderness tripping.