Top 4 Summer Camps in Both New York and New Jersey

It’s been a tough 24+ months for everyone, but our kids have been cooped up indoors for way too long. Now that things are opening up again, here are some great summer camps in New York and New Jersey.

What Makes a Great Summer Camp?

There are hundreds -- if not thousands -- of summer camps in the U.S., so choosing the perfect one for your kids can be daunting. Here’s a checklist of things to keep in mind.

Your Child’s Preferences

Your child’s interests and personality should always be the No. 1 priority. There is no point in sending an artistic child to a sports-themed camp unless they are also really good at sports.

Likewise, sending an athlete to an art camp could be a waste of money. An introverted child may be too overwhelmed by a “sleep away” camp that doesn’t have any safe, familiar spots, whereas an extrovert will come home with a ton of new friends.

Chronological age is also a consideration, but emotional age is probably a better thing to keep in mind. Here are some things to consider as you think about which camp is best:

  • Sleep away or day camp
  • How long? There are three- or four-day camps and camps that last a week, a month or all summer.
  • Traditional or specialized: What activities is your child interested in, or do they want a bit of everything?
  • Co-ed or same-sex?
  • Do you need cultural, culinary or religious accommodations for your kids? 

Your Budget

Overnight and specialized camps can be very pricey. If you can only afford a local day camp, do some research ahead of time.

Staff Qualifications and Ratio

How many staff will there be and how many children? What are the staff qualifications and level of training? Is there a medical person on staff? Is there any staff trained to deal with neurodivergent or medically fragile kids? What languages can staff speak?

The Location

It’s good for urban kids to experience natural settings, but you will need to factor in transportation. How are the kids getting to and from camp, whose responsibility is it and is there an additional cost for transportation?

The Amenities

What is included in the cost of the camp? Are meals included? Will your kids need pocket money or money deposited into an account for them? Are there extra activities that will require an additional fee? Do you need to provide bedding, camping supplies or food? If your kids have dietary restrictions, how will that be accommodated?

Your Child’s Special Needs

Does your child have any behavioural, developmental, physical or neurodevelopmental challenges that will need to be accommodated? Does your child take daily medication or have medical conditions or allergies that will need to be monitored? What are the safety protocols and first aid training of staff?

Top Summer Camps in New York and New Jersey

Here are the top four summer camps in both New York and New Jersey.

Top 4 Summer Camps in New York

Here are the top four summer camps in New York, in alphabetical order.

Long Lake Camp For The Arts
83 Long Lake Camp Way
Long Lake, NY 12847
(914) 693-7111

Located in Adirondack Park in upstate New York, the Long Lake Camp for the Arts offers theatre, performing arts, fine arts, film, and circus programs.


  • Co-ed (ages 8 to 16)
  • Overnight
  • Staff ratio to students 1:2 or better
  • Fees are $6,450 for three weeks, $12,300 for six weeks
  • June to August, three or six weeks duration


Raquette Lake Boys Camp/Raquette Lake Girls Camp
392 Antlers Road
Raquette Lake, NY 13436
(315) 354-4382

Founded in 1916, Raquette Lake boys-only and girls-only camps offer various traditional camp experiences in the Adirondacks in upstate New York.


  • Boys only/girls only (ages 6 to 15). Separate facilities that operate simultaneously. Joint socials and special events occur, and siblings can lunch together weekly.
  • Overnight
  • Staff ratio to students 1:2
  • Fees are $14,350 + canteen & transportation (all prospective new families are interviewed to ensure a good fit)
  • June to August, seven weeks duration


Timber Lake Camp
354 Timber Lake Rd
Shandaken, NY 12480
(516) 656-4200

Founded in 1962, Timber Lake Camp is located 2.5 hours from NYC in the Catskill Mountains.


  • Co-ed (ages 7 to 16)
  • Overnight
  • Staff ratio to students 3.5:1
  • Fees are minimum of $14,450
  • June to August, seven weeks duration


Top 4 Summer Camps in New Jersey

Here are the top four summer camps in New Jersey, in alphabetical order.

Black Bear Lake
457 Stagecoach Road
Millstone Township, NJ 08510
(609) 259-1777

Located in the Raritan Valley region of New Jersey, Black Bear Lake offers a day camp experience for kids as young as 3


  • Co-ed (ages 3 to 15)
  • Day camp
  • Staff ratio to students 1:4
  • Includes choice of hub transportation or parent drive. Parents drive to and from camp for a 9 a.m. drop off, and 4 p.m. pick up.
  • June 28 to August 20 (for 2021)



8 weeks

7 weeks

6 weeks

5 weeks

4 weeks

Entering 1st – 8th Grade and STEP






Jr. Cubs (3 Years Old by 6/28/21); Cubs (Entering Pre-K & Kindergarten)








Camp Dark Waters
26 New Freedom Rd.
Medford, NJ 08055
(609) 654-8846

Camp Dark Waters is located in South Jersey and was founded in 1928. It was established by Samuel Matlack, a member of the Quaker faith. The camp is not-for-profit.

The camp website says the camp follows the Quaker principles of “peace, education, simplicity, stewardship, equality and integrity.” Members of the Quaker faith community receive a discount. However, the camp is open to all faith communities.


  • Co-ed (ages 7 to 14)
  • Overnight
  • Fees: Quaker one week = $825; Non-Quaker one week = $875; Quaker 2 weeks = $1,465; non-Quaker two weeks = $1,515
  • June to August, one- or two-week sessions


Camp Haluwasa Christian Summer Camp
377 Ehrke Rd.
Hammonton, NJ 08037
(877) 234-2267

Since 1955, this Christian-focused camp has offered both day and overnight camp options, located in South Jersey.


  • Co-ed (ages 6 to 16)
  • Day camp and overnight
  • Overnight fees are $535 per session and each session is one week
  • Day camp is $295 per week (field trip fees for campers ages 10 to 14 is extra, canteen fees extra); multiweek discounts available
  • June to August


YMCA Camp Mason
23 Birch Ridge Road
Hardwick, NJ 07825
(908) 362-8217

Located 1.5 hours from NYC, Camp Mason has been going since 1900.

  • Co-ed (ages 8-16)
  • Overnight
  • Staff ratio to students 1:4
  • Fees are minimum $1,960 per session. One-week starter camp for newbies only $1,100.
  • July, August, two to four-week duration

Summer camps give kids a chance to build resilience, confidence, social skills and independence. The good news is that there are lots of options available to fit any budget.

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