Summer camp is more than just a fun and enriching experience for young children. It also marks an important step in their development as they get to test out their independence and, in the case of commuter camps, travel outside the city to enjoy outdoor activities in nature.
As exciting as that first-time camp experience is, it can also be scary (perhaps more so for parents than kids) since it's outside everyone's comfort zone. Even if you find a program that offers a safe and stimulating environment for younger kids, parents may worry than their preschoolers aren't yet ready for full days or weeks of camp.
Every summer, readers email us asking if we know about summer programs that offer short days or sessions where tots can try out day camp and see how they like it. We asked our friends at the American Camp Association of New York and New Jersey to recommend some camps that fit the bill. If you need more information, the ACA of NY and NJ also offers free camp consultations with their experts.
You can find out about other awesome summer programs in our Camp Guide.
Elmwood Day Camp – Westchester
900 Dobbs Ferry Road in White Plains
Elmwood Day Camp lets tots enjoy athletics, creative arts, performing arts and swimming in small doses. Children ages 3 and 4 start their day at 9am, and finish up in the early afternoon. Door-to-door transportation is provided from the Upper East Side and the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and Riverdale in the Bronx.
Pierce Country Day Camp – Nassau County
Mineola Avenue in Roslyn, Long Island
This Long Island camp offers four- to eight-week sessions for children ages 3 and 4 that run 9am-2pm daily. Pierce is well known for its wide range of athletics, arts, aquatics and adventure activities in a magnificent facility. Door-to door transportation is offered from most areas of Manhattan as well as Cobble Hill and Park Slope in Brooklyn, and parts of Queens.
The Day Camp @ the JCC of Manhattan – Upper West Side
334 Amsterdam Avenue at 76th Street
The JCC's popular preschool camp lets children ages 3 and 4 attend four- or eight-weeks sessions with abbreviated days that end at 1pm for the 3s and 2pm for the 4s. The camp is located in an 11-story state-of-the-art building on the Upper West Side that boasts two pools, a gymnasium, art studios, a rooftop playground and other amenities.
Camp K’Ton Ton – Upper East Side
92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Avenue at 92nd Street
K’Ton Ton camp is for ages 3 to 5 and is held at the 92nd Street Y nursery school. All campers start their day at 9am and parents can decide when to pick up on the hour between noon and 3pm. This fun camp offers swimming, outdoor play, creative arts, sports and more.
Breezemont Day Camp – Westchester
62 Cox Avenue in Armonk
This well-rounded camp offers a mini-day for children ages 3 and 4 that ends at 2:10pm. Activities include swimming, sports and creative arts, Round-trip transportation from the Bronx and Manhattan is provided.
Buckley Day Camp – Nassau County
2 IU Willets Road in Roslyn, Long Island
Buckley lets parents can decide how many hours and days a week suit their child. Choose from three mini-days for preschoolers ending at 1:30pm, or full weeks for kindergartners finishing at 4pm. Children can attend for as few as two weeks. Swimming, a ropes course, arts, athletics and outdoor adventures are all on tap. Buses pick up from Eastern Manhattan and parts of Queens.
For more into about great summer programs, including a list of camps with availability, check out our Camp Guide.
Thanks to our friends at the American Camp Association of New York and New Jersey for writing this post.
Photo of Pierce Country Day Camp courtesy of the American Camp Association of New York and New Jersey.