Summer camps in New Jersey vary wildly in price, so it’s important to choose a camp that’s right for your child AND your pocketbook. Many camps let you register by the week or even the day, so you don't have to commit to an entire summer. Other options, like three-day weeks and half-day camp, also allow you to keep costs down. The cost of certain camps can be applied against the child care tax credit for children of single parents/two working parents, and some camps offer financial assistance—especially ones that get money from donors. Here we've rounded up 15 affordable day camp options for NJ kids. To find more New Jersey summer camps, check out our Camp Guide and Full Directory of Listings.
Meadowlands Area YMCA Summer Camp – East Rutherford, Rutherford, Cliffside Park
This local YMCA offers various camps for kids of different ages, including Kiddie Kamp for ages 3–5, Camp Discovery for ages 5–13, and specialty camps like musical theater and sports. Fees are based on full- or half-day attendance and how many days you sign up for per week. Financial assistance is available to those who qualify. A 2017 brochure and prices will be available soon.
LittleSPORT allows you to register your young camper by the week or by the day.
LittleSPORT Summer Camp – Maple Shade
LittleSPORT, a creative learning and play space for kids ages 2–6, has a 10-week camp that boasts a different theme every week. Themes include Mad Science & Kitchen Creations, Dr. Seuss's World, Masquerade Party, and more. You can register by the day, so it's easy to work around vacations and other scheduling. The rate is $36/day; if you schedule 24 or more days, it drops to $31/day. The weekly fee is $160.
East Orange YMCA Summer Day Camp – East Orange
East Orange YMCA offers a variety of day camps for children ages 3–13, from Explorers Camp for the smallest kids to Adventurers Camp for pre-teens. Programs cost $164/week and include before- and after-care and field trips, plus breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon snack. Financial assistance is available to those who qualify.
Newark YMCA Summer Day Camp – Newark and Belleville
This nine-week program is for children ages 5–16 and provides high-quality summer learning initiatives like reading, math, music, arts, and sports, with featured activities such as cooking and swimming. The camp is broken up into five sessions; a two-week Preschool Camp session (5-year-olds) is $275–$305; a two-week Day Camp session (ages 6–11) is $265–$295.
Campers take part in a finale show at Camp College.
Camp College at Mercer County Community College – West Windsor
Send your kids to college for the summer! Campers ages 6–17 can choose from among more than 70 programs in the arts, sciences, sports, and more, for $140–$175 per week.
YMCA Camp Yomeca Day Camp – East Brunswick
This day camp for kids ages 3–15 offers age-appropriate activities including sports, dance, drama, cooking, arts and crafts, swimming, reading, day trips, and much more. You can register by the week, and each weekly session ranges from $275–$330. All trip and activity fees are included.
Sacajawea Day Camp offers specialty camps like Archery Adventure.
Sacajawea Day Camp – Farmingdale
This all-girl day camp, run by the Girls Scouts of America, offers activities including performing arts, zip lining, and more. Options include basic camp, specialty camps like Archery Adventure and Eco Warriors, cooking camp, equestrian programs, and photography and film. Tagalong Camp for sibling boys is also available. General camps range from $210–$245 depending on how many days a week you opt for; specialty camps generally run about $265/week (some equestrian programs are a bit more). Financial assistance is available to qualified campers.
Morris School District Community School Summer Plus – Morristown
This program, held at Frelinghuysen Middle School, runs on a three- or six-week schedule. Full-day attendance is $1,595 for six weeks and $1,015 for three weeks. Half-day attendance for six weeks is $1,015. Programs include: science, math, technology and design; reading, writing, and self-expression; arts and crafts; cooking, foods, and nutrition; music, theater, dance, and performance; and sports, games, and competition. Classes are age-specific for kids in grades 1–3 and 4–7. Rates go up slightly after April 7.
Amity Acres Day Camp – Waretown
This day camp for girls is run by the Girl Scouts of America and offers programs in swimming, boating, archery, zip lining, sports, cooking, and much more. (Boys who have sisters in the camp are also welcome.) Three-, four-, and five-day options range from $150–$180/week. Equestrian programs are a bit pricier, at $295–$310/week. Financial assistance is available for qualified campers.
Boys & Girls Club Summer Day Camp – Wayne
This summer day camp offers two programs: Early Education Summer Camp for kids ages 2.5 – 5, and Summer Camp for kids entering grades K–8. All campers will enjoy age-appropriate activities including computers, art, science, math, dramatic play, swimming, and sports. For Early Education Camp, the three-day rate is $168–$206 and the five-day rate is $203–$241 (depending on the age of the camper and what hours you choose). For Summer Camp, the three-day rate is $150 and the five-day rate is $210. All rates go up a bit after May 20.
Camp Auxilium – Newton
This Sussex County camp that focuses on spiritual and social development offers swimming, mini golf, music, and more. The program is divided up into a girls' day camp for grades 1–8, a boys' day camp for grades 1–6, and a learning center camp for children ages 3–K. Rates are $190/three-day week and $226/five-day week.
Creative Kids Summer Art Camps – Garwood
Creative Kids is running some fun, half-day summer art camps like Little Foodies and Make a Masterpiece. The camp runs from July 31 – August 30 and offers weekly and daily drop-in options. The rate is $135–$185/week and $45–$47/day.
Horseback riding at Camp Mason.
YMCA Camp Mason – Hardwick
Camp Mason is a full-service resident camp that also hosts a day camp. It caters to kids in grades K–10 and offers many activities, including swimming, climbing, farming and gardening, arts and crafts, sports, and more. One week is $260, but the rate goes down if you register for multiple weeks. Scholarship assistance is available.
*Most YMCA camps require that your child be a member, and there is a fee associated with that. However, some YMCA day camps allow non-members to attend camp for an additional fee. Check with your local YMCA for details.*
Community Colleges – Statewide
A lot of community colleges host great summer camps. In addition to MCCC's Camp College listed above, Camp Middlesex at Middlesex County College offers an impressive variety of subjects for kids ages 6–16, including cartooning, robotics, sewing, Harry Potter, juggling—virtually anything you can think of—most of which run $160–$199 per week. Check with your local community college to learn more.
Departments of Parks and Recreation – Statewide
Many towns and counties offer inexpensive summer camp programs for residents. You can go week by week or opt for the whole summer. In South Orange, for instance, the half-day Summer Playground Program, for kids age 4 – grade 8, is $770 for seven weeks. The Morris County Park Commission's many offerings include art and nature camp for ages 6–9 for $200 per week, and the Monmouth County Park System has a ton of options for about $200/week and under, with such themes as bugs, fashion, farm life, and much more. Visit your town or county park website to learn about their offerings.
Top image: Boating at Sacajawea Day Camp. All photos courtesy of the camps.
Originally published 2013; updated for 2017