Summer Camps

It’s almost that time of year — when you can’t wait to be free of the school year AND when you wonder what you’re going to do with the kids all summer. Camps are just one of many great options, with plenty to choose from for all age groups and interests.

Some are not exactly cheap, but we established a good tradition several years ago in which my daughter and I research camps in early spring and she makes a short list of several she’d like to attend. Then I talk to the extended family who each pick one to give her for her birthday. It certainly helps that she’s old enough to understand the long-term benefits of experiences and memories over the short-term thrill of opening a shiny, new gift. She also has a June birthday, which is perfect timing.

The last couple of years she has attended five week-long day camps each summer; four of which were gifts and one that she saved for on her own. This is a great way to learn the concept of saving for those with non-summer birthdays.

Here are some of the camps we’ve tried out over the years; my daughter gives a thumbs up to all of them!

Great Parks of Hamilton County

We usually do a couple of these each summer. When she was younger, she did crafts, fishing and farm prep at Parky’s Farm and creeking, water play and crafts at Sharon Woods (find the blue crayfish!) Now that she’s 11 there are even more awesome camps opening up to her, such as Survival Camp and Ultimate Challenge, during which she tried canoeing, kayaking, archery and rock climbing. They also have camps focused on one interest, such as horses and kayaking.


We’ve done the one at the Blue Ash Rec Center for a few years now. A great option for the active/athletic kid though don’t expect the usual sports. These guys are king at putting together an itinerary of unique and creative games including dodge ball, kick ball, pillo pollo, floor hockey, flag tag, volleyball, soccer, crazy ball and swimming.

Newport Aquarium

Each week focuses on a different theme, including Shark Week, Animal Olympians, Career Camp and Super Heroes.

Cincinnati Zoo

A variety of age-appropriate themes offered every week of the summer. Last year, my daughter learned about zoo careers and designed a 3D model for the new hippo exhibit.

British Soccer Camp

This is a must for any budding soccer stars in the family. Offered at multiple locations around the city, the highlight is the staff: young guys from England that have cool accents and even cooler games for the kids, all while learning new skills. You can even host one of these fellas for the week of your camp!

Last but not least, check your local schools for other sport camps. For example, we’ve done the Oak Hills softball camp the last couple of years, where it’s a thrill for the kids to be side-by-side with the high school team and coach, who run the camp.

Don’t you wish you could be a kid again?!

(image: The resident sloth at the Cincinnati Zoo)

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