It's never too early to think about summer. There are family vacations to organize, and then there's the issue of what to do with the rest of the time. Summer camp is an excellent option for many families, and day camps can be affordable and fun.
Camps across Long Island are beginning to hold open houses, so it might be time to figure out where to send your little ones once school lets out. Looking for a general camp? How about one just for preschoolers? Or how about a camp for older children? Here we check out the best camps Nassau County has to offer.
From special events, programs that focus on art, sports, or science, to field trips, these camps are sure to create fun experiences and great memories. Each camp below has its American Camp Association accreditation; for a comprehensive list, check out our Long Island Camp Guide and our directory of camp listings. A guide to Suffolk County camps can be found here.
Beth Sholom Day Camp — Roslyn Heights
Children ages 3 to 14 can enjoy traditional camp activities such as swimming, arts and crafts, and athletics in anywhere from four- to eight-week sessions. Weekly special events such as a carnival and Olympics are a highlight. Lunch, snacks and bus service are included.
Buckley Country Day Camp — Roslyn
Buckley works with parents to customize an ideal summer experience for children. Parents choose a session length of between two and eight weeks, and the weeks do not have to be consecutive. Buckley even offers a Parent & Child camp for 18-30-month-olds. Parents can tailor camp programs to better suit the needs and interests of children as they age, including science, Lego building, dance, performing arts, and more. Buckley offers a counselor-in-training (CIT) program for older campers, and has extensive indoor and outdoor facilities, so a rainy day is not likely to ruin the fun.
Camp Achieve — Oceanside
Located at the Friedberg JCC, Camp Achieve is for children ages 5 to 13 who are on the autism spectrum or who have learning or speech disabilities. The camp staff focuses on fostering independence, socialization and building skills. Kids also get to participate in camp activities like swimming, art and yoga.
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Three heated pools highlight the 15-acre campus at Camp Jacobson in Old Westbury.
Camp Jacobson — Old Westbury
Three heated pools, tennis courts, playing fields, and a rope-climbing adventure course await campers at this 15-acre campus run by the Sid Jacobson JCC. This camp prides itself on a low staff-to-child ratio and its inclusion of community service projects and trips. Campers must enroll for a minimum of two weeks with any number of additional weeks (up to eight) possible. Financial assistance is possible. This camp also offers a Teen Leadership program.
Singing and dancing are among the activities to choose from at Camps 'R' Us across Nassau County.
Camps 'R' Us — Multiple locations, including Baldwin, Bellmore, East Rockaway, Farmingdale, Hicksville, Syosset, and Valley Stream
Camps 'R' Us operates at some of the top independent schools on Long Island and bills itself as the ideal choice for working parents. All camps include state-of-the-art facilities and playing fields. Camps offer a mix of activities and a travel program for older teens. Parents can enroll children in three- or five-day sessions from one to eight weeks.
Coleman Country Day Camp — Merrick
The motto here is the "Power of Fun." This camp offers traditional activities such as swimming, canoeing, horseback riding, and more in a Western theme. Other activities include archery, basketball, cooking, computer, jewelry, nature, and more. There is even a weeklong circus camp. This camp has programs for children nursery aged through 10th grade. Coleman is a "tease-free zone," emphasizing the importance of eliminating bullying and creating an inclusive environment.
Friends Academy Summer Camps — Locust Valley
This camp offers children 3-15 more than 30 programs on a 65-acre campus along with access to offsite facilities. Friends Academy offers flexible options, including mini-day camps for younger children and travel options for older kids. Lunch and transportation are included.
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Get close to the animals at Greentrees Country Day School and Camp.
Greentrees Country Day School and Camp — Syosset
For almost 30 years this camp has provided younger children with a safe and fun summer experience. Children 2-6 enjoy swimming, music and dance, theater, arts and crafts, cookouts, cooking, noncompetitive sports, yoga, and gymnastics. Camp staff have been trained in the safety and well-being of campers.
Hofstra University — Hempstead
Choose from a number of programs at this specialty camp, including academics, sports, arts, and more; offerings rotate every two weeks. Half of the day is spent on that specialty, while the rest of the day features recreational sports, swimming, and lunch. Among the more than 50 electives, children can focus on cheerleading, music, theater, dance, and more. The Hofstra Camp website is full of information on program choices.
Long Island University Post Summer Day Camp — Brookville
Parents can choose from three different options depending on a child's age. The Early Start Imagination Camp is perfect for children ages 3-5 who are starting camp for the first time. The LIU Oasis Day Camp is geared for campers entering first through sixth grades. Its campus is divided into upper and lower camps, and counselors tailor the programs to fit an age group's needs. The Teen Travel camp is for campers in seventh, eighth, and ninth grades and features day trips and special overnights. LIU Oasis offers free bus service from the Port Washington and New Hyde Park areas to accommodate families affected by the closure of Oasis on the Sound.
Merrick Woods — Merrick
This camp, founded in 1956, features a wooded, landscaped campus, including three heated pools, playing fields, and 14 crafts workshops. Activities include swimming, athletics, woodworking, ceramics, puppetry, leatherwork, cooking, drama, and art. There is also a travel program and a counselor program for tweens and teens. Parents can enroll for four or eight weeks.
Mid Island Y JCC Summer Camp — Plainview
Parents with younger children can choose between the camp's JCC location or the Henry Kaufman Campgrounds in Wheatley Heights, in Suffolk County The JCC offers a pool, outdoor play areas, indoor, air-conditioned facilities, and plenty of fun. The HKC, better for older children, is on 50-plus acres with four large swimming pools, a huge indoor gymnasium, athletic fields, a challenge course, and more. The JCC offers programs for preschoolers through those in sleepaway camp, with different week and day options. Its Adler Camp is designed for children with special needs.
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Miss Sue's specializes in outdoor activities for children ages 3-5.
Miss Sue's Summer Fun — Plainview
This day camp for children 3-5 is run by the same team that runs its nursery school during the school year. From a pirate ship to pool parties and the zip line, Miss Sue's attractions delight even the littlest campers. Parents choose from three different session lengths (four, six, or eight weeks) and either a full day (9:45am-4pm) or a mini day (9:45am-2pm). Parents pick the number of days per week their child attends. MIss Sue's offers door-to-door busing, lunch, and even has a noncompetitive "Color War" activity at the end of summer. Kids also enjoy theme days such as crazy hair, PJs, and more.
North Shore Day Camp — Glen Cove
Set on a 14-acre Gold Coast estate overlooking Long Island Sound, North Shore teaches children 2½-15 the skills of making and keeping friends while building self-esteem and confidence. Camp days run from 9am to 4pm, but it offers a nursery mini-day that ends at 1:30pm. North Shore offers flexible enrollment options of three through eight weeks.
Pierce Country Day Camp — Roslyn
Operating for 100 years, this family-owned camp offers all the bells and whistles. Campers as young as 3 have the option of attending a full day or mini-day. Programs are also available for ages 5 and older, including a special sports academy. Pierce prides itself on a low camper-to-staff ratio, its seven temperature-controlled pools, interactive splash park, zip lines, events, field trips, and more. Families also have the option of enrolling campers in Pierce's sleepaway camp, Pierce Camp Birchmont.
Red Robin Country Day Camp — Westbury
Since 1957, this camp has welcomed children with activities that include swimming, sports, and arts and crafts. The camp is one of only a few that allow campers to sign up for any 16 days or any 24 days rather than the customary weekly options. It also offers a half-day program.
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Thrill to water fun at Rolling River Day Camp in East Rockaway.
Rolling River Day Camp — East Rockaway
For more than 25 years, Rolling River has provided children with a warm, comfortable, family-oriented camp. It is divided into four age divisions, starting as young as 2 and going through its CIT program at age 15. Parents can choose from four-, six-, or eight-week sessions, and Rolling River also offers a three-day option. The camp offers swimming, sports, arts, academic-based enrichment programs, and more.
Shibley Day Camp — Roslyn Heights
Shibley offers three programs—a junior camp for kids ages 3 to 6; a senior camp for those ages 7-13; and a CIT program for ages 14-16. Junior campers have an area designated just for them, which includes a small adventure park. Senior campers have two elective options, one is a for an activity such as go-karts or air bungee, the other for a class such as theater, cooking or lacrosse.
Twin Oaks Day Camp — Freeport
Family-owned and operated since 1975, Twin Oaks focuses on children 20 months through 13 years old. It combines swimming, arts and crafts, sports, woodworking, theater, and music. Each week has its own theme, and campers can enroll for four, six, or eight weeks. Pricing is based on age and session length.
YMCA of Long Island — Glen Cove
The YMCA offers traditional and specialty camps, aiming to build confidence through skills-building, bonding rituals, and interactive activities. Membership in the Y is required for all camps, and transportation is available from most of the north shore of Nassau County.
This post is updated annually.
All photos courtesy of the camps