Before you know it, the end of the school year will be in sight and you'll start wondering: “What the heck am I going to do with these small people I call 'my children' for the summer?" We’ve got you covered with the best of New Jersey–area summer camps. These camps take fun seriously—so much so that they plan all year long for eight weeks of summer. Many of these camps have had entire generations of families pass through. Though some are quite large, they offer great counselor-to-camper ratios, with additional support from adults supervising younger staff.
Find more New Jersey summer camps in our Camp Guide and Full Directory of Listings.
The following camps are for kids ages 3–15 unless otherwise noted.
Apple Montessori – Hoboken, Kinnelon, Mahwah, Wayne, Towaco
Parents and campers alike have loved summer at family-owned Apple Montessori for more than 45 years. Apple offers summer camp with daily swimming for children ages 2-12.
Camp Riverbend – Warren Township
Swimming is the biggest skill stressed at this family-run camp, with swim instruction each morning and a free swim in the afternoon. Other activities include arts and crafts, sports, outdoor adventures, and performing arts. The camp is located on 30 acres of varying environmental areas such as wetlands, woods, and open fields. Options include a half-day program for ages 3 and 4, and a teen day trip program for students in grades 7–9.
Harbor Hills Day Camp – Mendham
Harbor Hills offers a terrific traditional summer camp experience for kids of all ages. The youngest campers will learn new skills through sports, arts, play and swim with equipment and facilities designed with their age and size in mind. Teen campers build bonds through overnight trips and adventures exploring the area around them. For all campers in between, the Main Camp fosters friendships through aquatics, creative arts, performing arts, sports and outdoor play. Before- and after-care is available at no additional cost. Ages 3–17.
Jeff Lake Day Camp – Stanhope
Water fun is tops at this camp, where the 50-acre lake includes water trampolines, a water climbing wall and slide, stand-up paddle boards, sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, canoeing, and paddle and row boats. Back on the 350-acres of dry land, campers will find tennis courts, rope and climbing courses, sports fields, art and pottery studios, and five heated pools. Ages 3–15.
Meadowbrook Country Day Camp – Long Valley
In addition to the usual day camp amenities and a 9,000-square-foot heated pool complex, this 50-acre camp nestled in the hills of Long Valley boasts two private lakes for boating and fishing, rope challenge courses, a tented gymnastics pavilion and archery range. Days are divided into 10 periods, and kids rotate through a wide variety of athletic, aquatic, and nature experiences. Daily activities are geared toward each of the eight weekly themes, including the camp-wide dance show and color war competition. Pre-K–9th grade.
New Horizons Day Camp – Florham Park
Brooklake School is transformed into an amazing day camp every summer. New Horizons’ campers enjoy full use of the school’s facilities, including an air-conditioned gymnasium and classrooms, computer lab, art studio with a klin and pottery wheels, playgrounds and sports fields. Plus, much of the camp’s staff are themselves educators. Buses transport kids less than five minutes each day to the municipal pool for lessons and recreational swim. The CHOICE program allows kids entering 3rd grade and up to customize their schedule; activities change bi-weekly so kids can have a wide range of experiences throughout the summer. Kindergarten–9th grade.
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Along with traditional camp activities like swimming, Oasis campers can get academic enrichment to be ready for the start of the school year.
Oasis Day Camp – Madison
Held on the scenic campus of Drew University, it’s no surprise that education and fun go hand-in-hand at this popular day camp. Preschool campers participate in the Ready for September program to help them prepare for the social elements and routines to come in Kindergarten. If you’re worried that your elementary or middle-schooler is going to “forget” everything they’ve learned in school, Oasis offers academic enrichment tutoring for campers entering the 1st through 6th grade ($125 extra per week). All of this is in addition to a healthy dose of sports, swimming, creative arts and performing arts activities to give every camper a well-balanced summer. Pre-K–9th grade.
Palisades Country Day Camp – Closter
This camp devoted to young children features three heated pools with twisty slides, two drenching splash parks, a triple-decker playground, and daily activities. Tiny Tots start at 18 months (no potty training necessary) in their own gated community, comprised of an air-conditioned cottage, wading pool, ride-on toys, sand play, and picnic benches. All campers get to enjoy special events including petting zoos, magic shows, inflatable pool toys, boat rides, themed weeks, special performances, and much more. Ages 18 months–9 years.
Spring Lake Day Camp offers a wide variety of outdoor programs to fit all ages.
Spring Lake Day Camp – Ringwood
Founded in 1989, this camp spreads across a 30-acre campus that include a five-pool heated complex, five-acre lake with zip line, two hockey rinks, baseball and soccer fields, gymnastics pavilion, indoor dance studio, a ropes course, climbing tower, and more. The seven-period day includes two swims, plus a mix of sports, arts and adventure. Campers entering 3rd grade and up can "option" into an elective period of their choice each week. Full-day for children entering pre-K–10th grade; half-day for ages 3–4.
Steve and Kate's Camp – Montclair
Operating camps from coast to coast, the NJ outpost of this summer camp chain is held on the campus of Lacordaire Academy. Designed to allow kids to follow their passions, this free-spirited experience offers kids a break from the structure and routine of the school year. They even offer a flexible schedule. Instead of weekly fees, they offer refundable day passes so you only buy as much camp as you need. Day passes include lunch, snacks, and extended hours from 7:30am – 6pm. Ages 4–2 years.
Tamarack Day Camp – Randolph
Tamarack is another camp that offers a choice period in which campers are allowed to determine the elective they'll take part in. Each week, kids are allowed to either select a new activity, such as soccer, mountain biking, jewelry making, and digital photography, or stick with one they've chosen in the past week(s). The beautiful, 37-acre facility offers plenty of field space, a brand-new heated Olympic size pool, Pro-turf sports complex, air-conditioned creative arts studio, skate park, ropes course and two zip lines. The camp philosophy emphasizes nurturing children's real life skills like independence, confidence, social interaction and emotional intelligence. Ages 3–15.
Willow Lake Day Camp – Lake Hopatcong
Here's the camp for the sports enthusiast. On three separate fields (divided by age groups), kids learn and hone their skills in soccer, football, softball (including batting cages), and lacrosse. Then it's on to basketball, tennis, volleyball, hockey (with a real rink), miniature golf, archery, martial arts, gymnastics, zip lining over the lake, and a brand-new adventure course. There are also aquatics and art offerings, for those who aren't worn out from all the other fun. Pre-K –8th grade.
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Swimming and water slides make the Black Bear Lake Camp loads of fun.
Black Bear Lake Day Camp – Millstone Township
Kids will never be bored at Black Bear Lake. Campers create their own schedules from 70 sports, science and arts electives so each week of camp feels fun and fresh. Swim instruction is held daily, plus a free swim period to cool off each afternoon. In addition to a freshly-prepared lunch and end-of-day ice cream or popsicle treat, the Snack Shack is open all day, stocked with fresh fruit, yogurt and bagels. New for 2019 is a state-of-the-art playground and summer tubing. Pre-K–10th grade.
Frogbridge Day Camp – Millstone Township
Who needs Disney World? Not these campers! On the whopping 86-acre camp grounds, you'll find Adventureland with rock climbing and zip lines, the Towne Square where kids can hang out in a retro ice cream parlor, or explore the lakefront and fields with fishing, outdoor laser tag, and go karts. There are also three natural lakes and three swimming pools to keep the kids cool. As a nice perk, the staff provides clean, fresh towels poolside and launders campers’ bathing suits every day for them—no mildewed trunks here! Pre-K–10th grade.
Lakeview Day Camp – East Brunswick
The picturesque lakefront property boasts an impressive array of activities and facilities: Four brand-new heated pools, tennis courts, all major team sports fields, mountain biking track, gymnastics pavilion, arts complex, woodshop, challenge course, treetop playground and more. Kids entering 2nd grade and up can tailor their own program. Teen campers take overnight trips, as well as day trip destinations to Camelback Adventure Park or a Broadway show. Special days with carnival rides, games and entertainers, means kids will never want to leave. Pre-K–9th grade.
Oak Crest Day Camp – Somerset
This camp’s goal is for every child to succeed and becomes an expert in something during his or her stay—and it offers plenty of opportunity, from learning how to swim to riding a bike. Situated on a 35-acre campus in Somerset, the camp boasts six pools, a mini-golf course, video production, 40’ climbing tower, ropes course, go-karts, rocketry, archery, mountain biking, and nature/orienteering. The summer culminated in a dance and drama production known as Showcrest. Pre-K–9th grade.
Rambling Pines Day Camp – Hopewell
Set on over 225 acres of fields and woods in the Sourland Mountains, this family-owned camp offers outdoor fun, just about every sport under the sun, multiple pools and more. Boating, fishing, mountain biking and a ropes course are also available. Lunch, snacks, and door-to-door transportation are conveniently included with tuition, perfect for busy parents. Pre-K–10th grade.
Sacajawea Day Camp – Farmingdale
Sacajawea Day Camp provides girls ages 3-15 with a summer of adventure centered around Girl Scouts’ appreciation for nature and exposure to the great outdoors. You don't have to already be a Girl Scout to take part. The camp offers separate units for sibling brothers ages 3-12.
Allaire Country Day Camp – Wall Township
This camp’s unique location at the 11-acre GoodSports USA Complex lets campers stay cool inside the 50,000 square-foot state-of-the-art sports facility, or heat things up outside at the Olympic-sized swimming pool, splash pad, soccer fields, and kickball stadium. Video game development, DJ classes, jewelry making, and cooking classes are also available for an additional fee. Day trips to the aquarium, minor league baseball games, theme parks and the bowling alley round out the fun. Pre-K–9th grade.
Well-loved Camp Tuscaloosa provides a fun and safe summer camp.
Amity Acres Day Camp – Barnegat
Amity Acres Day Camp provides girls ages 3-15 with a summer of adventure centered around Girl Scouts’ appreciation for nature and exposure to the great outdoors. You don’t need to already be a Girl Scout to take part.
Camp Tuscaloosa – Hammonton
Serving South Jersey for more than 60 years, generations of day campers since 1954 have enjoyed days filled of archery, T-ball, dance, paddle tennis, cooking, mini golf and much more. Camp Tuscaloosa’s three-tiered training program in two CPO-operated heated pools almost guarantees that your little guppie will be swimming by the end of their 9-week adventure. Pre-K–14.
Rolling Hills Country Day Camp – Freehold
Campers are known to create lasting friendships at this traditional day camp while splashing around in one of the three heated pools, zipping around the 20-acre facility in go karts, and dining family stye al fresco under an open air pavilion. Teens bond during overnight and day trips. Prices include door-to-door transportation, hot lunch, towel service, as well as before-and-after-care. Pre-K–10th grade.
Tall Pines Day Camp – Williamstown
Archery, swimming, pedal karts, fishing and ziplining are just a few of the options for campers at Tall Pines’ beautiful 66-acre campus in the Delaware Valley. Lunch and snacks are included with tuition, with more than a dozen daily menu options sure to please even the pickiest eater. Horseback riding is offered for an additional fee. First-grade campers and up are invited to join the theater club, which puts on an end-of-summer performance for families and friends. This year's show? The Little Mermaid! Pre-K—8th grade.
These camps are ACA accredited, meaning they went through a thorough (up to 300 standards) review of operation, from staff qualifications and training to emergency management. The ACA web site can also help you find a camp and offers testimonies from actual campers about why kids should attend camp ("Because Of Camp" has its own Facebook page, too!).
All photos courtesy of the camps.
Originally published January 2012.