Camp Riverbend has a shallow pool that's perfect for first-time swimmers.
Camp Riverbend has a shallow pool that's perfect for first-time swimmers.

Summer Camps for New Jersey Preschoolers

Before they grow up and want to go to sleepaway camp with their BFFs, preschoolers can get a taste of summer camp in a program created just for them. New Jersey is home to some wonderful day camps for the under-5 crowd, and we've rounded up more than a dozen of our favorites. In addition to low camper-counselor ratios, these programs offer developmentally appropriate fun for every interest, whether you want your little one to experience the great outdoors, bounce and tumble at a cool indoor spot, or delve into subjects like STEM, film, and fashion. 

To learn about more New Jersey summer camp options, check out our Camp Guide and Full Directory of Listings.

Note that summer camp information for the 2020 season is changing daily. Please click the links to the individual camps below to see which ones are offering programs this year.

Apple Montessori Schools

Various locations
Apple Montessori offers summer camp with swimming for ages 2 and up in Cliffside Park, Edgewater, Edison, Hoboken, Kinnelon, Mahwah, Metuchen, Morris Plains, Oakland, Towaco, Randolph, and Wayne. In addition to aquatics, kids take part in activities such as nature exploration, arts and crafts, sports, dance, drama, music, cooking, and science. The fun also includes theme weeks, field trips, and in-house events like Preschool of Rock and carnival day.

In addition to swimming and sports, young campers at Deerkill Day Camp can take part in a variety of specialty subjects. 

Deerkill Day Camp

Suffern, NY
Deerkill offers a pre-K program for ages 3–4. These young campers, called Flippers and Dolphins, have their own space in a dedicated air-conditioned building, plus a private playground. Their days include swimming and sports, as well as specialty periods in subjects like cooking, nature, boating, theater arts, ceramics, and gymnastics. Three- and five-day options are available. Transportation is available in Essex, Bergen, and Hudson counties in North Jersey.

Deer Mountain Day Camp

Pomona, NY
Deer Mountain's Nursery program, for ages 3–4, aims to give little ones a true camp experience at their own level. The kids' home base consists of an air-conditioned building, lunch area, playground, and heated pool. Daily activities include swimming, sports, and arts and crafts, plus weekly specials like tennis, photography, martial arts, boating, fishing, yoga, and more. 

Gate Hill Day Camp

Stony Point, NY
Gate Hill's Villagers program caters to kids from age 3 to those entering kindergarten. Special features include junior-sized fields and courts, plus an indoor play center, age-appropriate arts, a heated pool, and the Village Playtown. 

JCC Day Camps

Various locations
There are several JCC day camps located throughout New Jersey, many of which have programs geared toward the preschool set. Just a few include JCC Camps at Medford, JCC Camp Ruach, Katz JCC Early Childhood Camps, and The Neil Klatskin Day Camp at Kaplen JCC on the Palisades

RELATED: Top Summer Day Camps for NJ Kids

Kidville's play-based instruction includes plenty of music and movement.


Various locations
Camp Kidville offers a variety of options for kids ages 18 months to 5 years. Play-based instruction includes activities in gym, music, art, and science, and little ones have plenty of opportunities to explore on their own, too. Children ages 3–5 can also take part in one-week specialty camps, whose themes include Frozen, fairy princesses and knights, and superhero training. Locations in Closter, Denville, Hoboken, Montclair, and Summit. 

The Little Gym of Montclair

The Little Gym's Super Quest Camp for ages 3+ engages kids with interactive-learning activities based on themes that change each week. The three-hour camp sessions are a great break in the day for kids not ready to take on a full-day camp. The Little Gym has locations throughout New Jersey.

Oasis Day Camps

Oasis offers an Early Start Imagination Camp for kids ages 3–5. Their day is designed to meet the social, emotional, and physical needs of junior campers.

Palisades Country Day Camp

Palisades Country Day Camp offers a Tiny Tots program for kids 18–36 months and a Mini Campers program for ages 3–4. Kids swim in a heated pool twice a day, and are open to explore nature, arts and crafts, and more. Weekly themes and special days such as a snow day, superhero day, and pajama day aid in creativity.

Princeton Junior School

Princeton Junior School's Art and Nature Camp for ages 2–5 is an inquiry-based program designed to bring out kids' natural curiosity. Daily activities include the arts, outdoor exploration, movement, and stories, plus weekly specials such as music, science, sports, water play, and cooking.  

RELATED: Affordable Summer Camps for NJ Kids

Little ones get a gentle introduction to summer camp at Camp Riverbend.

Camp Riverbend

NOTE: Due to high demand, all Clubhouse groups are full for summer 2020. Camp Riverbend's Clubhouse program for ages 3–5 gives kids a gentle introduction to the summer camp experience. Clubhouse campers have their own special designated area and take part in daily activities that include swim lessons, boating, sports, cooking, arts and crafts, and nature exploration. They also participate in camp-wide events like carnivals and guest performances. 

Steve & Kate's Camp

At this camp, kids get to choose the activities and subjects that interest them most—from fashion and coding to sports and music. To help the youngest campers (ages 4–5) get into the swing of things, the camp offers the Launchpad program. This allows kids to try out simplified versions of each activity before jumping in. Many new features have been added to the camp for 2018, including additional snacks throughout the day, more games in the game room, and a fourth special rec activity. 


Various locations throughout NJ
YMCAs are trusted fixtures in local communities, so sending your kids off to camp at a well-known institution is reassuring for moms and dads. Many YMCA camps have programs for children as young as 2.5 or 3, including the Summit Area YMCA, the Raritan Valley YMCA, and the South Mountain YMCA

Photos courtesy of the camps.

Originally published February 2013 and updated since.

Princeton Junior School
90 Fackler Road
Lawrenceville, NJ 08648

Palisades Country Day School and Camp
212-248 Herbert Avenue
Closter, NJ 07624

Apple Montessori Schools
5 Newark Pompton Turnpike
Riverdale, NJ 07457

Deerkill Day Camp
54 Wilder Road
Suffern, NY 10901

Deer Mountain Day Camp
63 Call Hollow Road
Pomona, NY 10970

Gate Hill Day Camp
Stony Point , NY 10980

1202 Shipyard Lane
Hoboken, NJ 07030

Les Enfants Summer Camp
223 14th Street
Palisades Park , NJ 07650

The Little Gym of Montclair
1 Greenwood Avenue
Montclair, NJ 07042

Camp Riverbend
116 Hillcrest Road
Warren Township, NJ 07059

Steve & Kate's Camp
155 Lorraine Avenue Lacordaire Academy
Montclair, NJ 07043

JCC Camps at Medford
400 Tuckerton Road
Medford, NJ 08055
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