Great Lakes Camps for Kids

Great Lakes
National Museum of the Great Lakes Photo courtesy of National Museum of the Great Lakes

When the days grow long and the sibling squabbles reach fever pitch, summer camp offers a welcome respite for parents and children, along with the opportunity to create life-changing memories and lifelong friendships. They present the opportunity to get kids off the couch, put down the electronics and head off for camp to participate in boating, swimming, theater, science, watersports, the environment and more.

If you’re looking for summer activities to engage your children or the entire family, check out the following sampler of camps and programs around the Great Lakes.



Barker, NY

Camp Kenan boasts more than 50 acres of beautiful land filled with adventures for campers to explore. From taking aim on the archery range, scaling the climbing tower, swimming, mastering the rope courses, hiking wooded trails or singing by the fire, summers here provide an unforgettable experience. With overnight, day and first experience options, the program helps kids experience camp life, develop essential skills and make new friends. A two-week Leader-In- Training program for teens 14-15 develops leadership, communication, team building, problem solving and conflict resolution skills.  



Cleveland, OH

Head down to the center’s Camp Curiosity Summer Day Camp and see its new 2024 themes that focus on nature, the arts, space, sports, LEGOs, tech and more. Camp sessions by grade level include Ride the Brainwave to explore thoughts, moves and decisions; Science of Sound to march to the beat of your own drum while learning how sound works and music affects the brain; GREAT Lakes to dive into preserving ecosystems and learn how to help save the Great Lakes; and Science of Art to discover how creative science can be when mixed with art.  

Courtesy of Great Lakes Theater Camp


Cleveland, OH

This group offers a summer drama camp with musical theater elements that immerse students in interactive and educational theater-based activities. It’s a unique opportunity for students to work with and learn from the theater’s professional teaching artists in a facility equipped with a full auditorium and state of the art classroom. The program is designed for students 6-17 with of all levels of experience and ability with no audition required. Divided by age, Theater Camp features classes in acting, Shakespeare, movement, improvisation, stage combat, mask making and musical theater.  


Put-In-Bay, OH

The center strives to be an educational resource for communities with new free programs often added to the schedules. Resources are available to help families with fun activities for kids (and adults!) to do at home. New interactive digital displays for the taxidermy collection provide in-depth info about the species on display. The camp’s mission is to encourage children’s natural curiosity of the outdoors by engaging them in fun and educational activities.  


Toledo, OH, off Lake Erie

Located on the Maumee River, the museum offers educational programs for children of all ages. The Great Lakes are not only an important natural resource, but they have dramatically impacted North America’s social, economic and political history. The NMGL tells stories through photography, over 300 artifacts, and 40 hands-on interactive exhibits including the 617-foot iron ore freighter Col. James M. Schoonmaker museum ship and the historic museum tug Ohio. The tales span hundreds of years, from the fur traders in the 1600s to the Underground Railroad in the 1800s, the rum runners in the 1900s, to the present.  



Bay City, MI, off Lake Huron

BaySail provides Science Under Sail, a hands-on, environmental science program on the Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay. In the summer, BaySail offers Windward Bound youth sail training programs with voyages to Great Lakes ports. Windward Bound is a liveaboard experience for teens 14 to 17. During voyages aboard the 85’ schooner Appledore IV and the 65’ schooner Appledore V, the focus is on seamanship and freshwater science, which means learning the art of traditional sailing and studying the lakes’ ecology. As the ships sail between ports, participants stand watch while learning every aspect of running the ship from navigation to meal prep. Each voyage takes the crew on a unique experience partly determined by the destination and time aboard.  

Courtesy of National Museum of the Great Lakes


Grand Rapids, MI

A history and science center with three floors of exhibits plus a 1928 carrousel, theater and planetarium, the museum on the Grand River has lots to offer. From mid-June to mid-August, kids pre-K through high school can explore the wonders of science, history, culture and more at Camp Curious through a variety of camp offerings. Different options are presented for each age group, divided by school grades. Past camps have included Slimy Science, Fossil Hunters, Dream It, Build It with LEGO® Bricks and Young Wizards Academy.


Cheboygan, MI

When campers are ready for an overnight trek, this up-north waterfront destination between Lake Superior and Lake Michigan is waiting. Campers ages seven to 16 go water skiing, tubing, sailing and paddleboarding on spring-fed Long Lake. Horseback riding and other athletics are also featured. Since 1959, campers on the shores of Long Lake have explored more than 150 acres of virgin forest, open meadows, and rolling hills and trails.  


Traverse City, MI

NMC’s College for Kids provides enrichment courses for ages four to 17 including ACT test preparation, art, cooking, martial arts and youth flute choir. The popular summer program features more than 150 week-long courses where kids can build on core school subject skills or explore a brand-new hobby. At NMC’s main campus or at an offside partner facility, instructors develop their curriculum making each class unique for students. Young learners are introduced to adventures in art, science, technology, engineering, art, theater, dance and more.  



Duluth, MN

Summer day camps use the aquarium as home base while learning about the natural world: caring for animals, celebrating Lake Superior, SCUBA diving, and more. Campers learn about the geology, ecology and significance of this immense lake. Older campers explore the water’s depths and heights and feed creatures from lake sturgeon to bald eagles. They learn about special features that help animals survive in land or water habitats. Campers prepare meals, clean exhibits, test water quality and more. Teaching, Restoring and Observing our Watershed with Teens (TROWT), a service-oriented program, teaches youth about exploring local conservation issues that impact our daily lives.  


Sault Ste. Marie, MI

LSSU Kids Camp is a day camp for children ages five through 12 years old. Located off Georgian Bay between Lake Superior and Lake Huron, LSSU is the perfect setting for swimming, sports, crafts, outdoor adventures, climbing wall, ice skating, kayaking and canoeing, team-building initiatives and more.

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