Summer Boating Camps for Kids 2023

Best coastal programs for young seafarers to learn the ropes


After a long school year, kids are ready to venture into the great outdoors. Imagine spending the night on an historic ship, winning a race on a sailboat, or learning about sea creatures and then holding one in your hand. These exciting experiences and more are available at summer boating camps for youths. But popular enrichment programs fill up fast, so it’s time to start looking at which ones are right for your children.

Marinalife has compiled a guide to help you find a place where junior sailors can stretch their sea legs and get active in the great outdoors while honing skills outside the classroom. At the following camps, located from the East Coast to the Great Lakes, kids explore nature, study seamanship, discover marine sciences and see the environment in a different light through hands-on, interactive programs.


Kids on a sailboat with white sails, enjoying the summer breeze and adventure at Sail Maine summer camp.
SailMaine | credit SailMaine


Portland, ME

On the coast of Casco Bay, students can join a fleet of four types of sailboats at this summer camp. Crew ages 5-17 can learn to cruise on Optimists, Cape Cod Frosties, Turbo 420s and J/22s. Classes range from Little Luffers and Fearless Frosties for the young ones, as well as race teams and adventure sailing for ages 10 and older.  

Orleans Yacht Club Junior Sailing Program

Orleans, MA

Since 1947, the Orleans Yacht Club has provided youth with sailing education through community programs. Courses include time spent in the clubhouse with educational talks and demonstrations, as well as on the water with three classes of sailboats: Optis, Catalina/Precisions and 420s.

Joseph Conrad Overnight Sailing Camp

Mystic, CT

The little ones will love the unique experience of learning about life at sea at this overnight sailing camp program presented by the Mystic Seaport Museum. Located on the Mystic River, campers sleepover aboard historic vessel Joseph Conrad for daily sailing lessons on a traditional fleet of Dyer Dhow dinghies.  

New England Science & Sailing Foundation

Stonington, CT

This oceanic program makes learning fun with a STEM-based curriculum of marine science, sailing, powerboating and watersports for kids of all ages. The foundation not only teaches how to navigate the waterways, but also provides hands-on education about local ecology through guided snorkeling and biodiversity sampling.

Sail Newport

Newport, RI

Home to New England’s largest public sailing site, the Dr. Robin Wallace Youth Sailing Center is the headquarters for Sail Newport’s youth summer camp. Located along Rhode Island’s Fort Adams State Park, programs include the “Little Guppies” intro level, as well as beginner and advanced dinghy levels with Optimists, Hartley 10s, RS Quests, Scholastic rig 420s, Club 420s and J/22 keelboats.  

Maritime Adventure Camps — SUNY Maritime College

Throggs Neck, NY

Children can learn to sail, explore marine science, swim, dive and build watersport endurance all while earning their New York State Boating Safety Certificate at this fun summer camp. Third and fourth graders can join Splash Camp for waterfront activities while fifth to ninth graders get the full excursion experience of boat camp.


A group of children sitting on a dock at the Downtown Sailing Center in Baltimore for a summer camp.
Downtown Sailing Center in Baltimore | credit Downtown Sailing Center

Downtown Sailing Center

Baltimore, MD

This urban setting offers a great experience for students to sail through the historic Inner Harbor on a on a basic windward- leeward course or cruise unassisted on a J/22 to truly learn the ropes. The center also offers an intensive two-week racing program for high-level fun to safely practice the need for speed.  

Sultana Education Foundation

Chestertown, MD

This foundation provides the opportunity to spend days sailing aboard the historic schooner Sultana, a replica of the 1768 merchant vessel that once served in the British Royal Navy. Kids can sail, fish, swim, beachcomb and explore marshes along the Chester River daily or on a three-, five- or seven-day trip.

Design. Build. Sail. Summer Camp — Nauticus Foundation

Norfolk, VA

Home of the glorious battleship Wisconsin in downtown Norfolk, Nauticus is a discovery center focused on maritime education. The Design. Build. Sail. program offers STEM- based activities aboard Harbor 20 sailboats, the historic schooner Virginia, the battleship and throughout the center. Campers conduct science experiments, build makeshift vessels and sail along the Elizabeth River.  

Charleston Community Sailing

Charleston, SC

The Charleston Yacht Club partnered with Charleston Community Sailing to provide kids ages 5-18 with hands-on learning. The fleet consists of J/24s, Optimists, Open Bics, Lasers, Vanguard 420s and stand-up paddleboards. Choose from starter levels such as Guppy Classes and Beginner Racing to the higher level Adventure Fun Sail course.


Big Pine Key, FL

This camp focuses on marine science education and lets children explore the only living coral reef in the country. Traditional camp includes sailing, boating safety, windsurfing, and arts and crafts. Advanced levels feature snorkeling and diving lessons.


A group of children at summer camp with a yellow kayak in the water posing for a photo wearing life jackets.
Summer Camp | credit Kali9 from Getty Images Signature

Camp Can-Aqua

Cardiff, ON, Canada

Located along Lake Ontario on its own piece of private lake, Can-Aqua offers diverse programs such as sailing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, kneeboading, canoeing and swimming. Students can also explore Beaver Lake underwater in the snorkeling course.  

Brigs Youth Sail Training

Hamilton, ON, Canada

Kids can cruise among ports and anchorages throughout the Great Lakes like sea captains on this Tall Ship Adventures program. The training includes becoming active crewmembers while working, eating and sleeping onboard replica vintage vessels such as TS Playfair and STV Pathfinder.

Camp Walden

Cheboygan, MI

Situated on the shores of Long Lake, this overnight summer camp is packed with diverse classes and lakeside activities. In addition to horseback riding and other outdoor programs, water-lovers can enjoy sailing, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, waterskiing, wakeboarding and stand-up paddleboarding. Events include water carnivals and the annual Mackinac Swim Challenge.  

Macatawa Bay Juniors Association (MBJA) Sailing

Holland, MI

Just off Lake Michigan, Macatawa Bay Yacht Club is home to MBJA Sailing. Choose from summer camp programs including Kindersail Camp (ages 5-6), Pram Camp (ages 7-10), 420 Camp (ages 11-18), Opti Advanced (ages 7-13) and 420 Advanced Sailing Camp (ages 11-17), as well as Opti, 420 and Laser sail racing.

The Foundry Junior Sail Camp

Cleveland, OH

This junior sail camp is ideal for students in grades 6-12 of all experience levels. The program teaches everything from basic boating safety to rigging and sailing skills while enjoying the best views of Cleveland.  

Columbia Sailing School

Chicago, IL

This 10-week program is located in the heart of Chicago at Columbia Yacht Club. Courses include Pram, Youth Keelboat, Adventure Sailing, Paddle/Kayak Adventure, Beginner/Intermediate 420 and Advanced C420.


Check out additional summer boating camps located from north to south along the West Coast:

Northwest Maritime Center Summer Camps

Port Townsend, WA  

Sail Sand Point

Seattle, WA  

Sacramento State Aquatic Center

Gold River, CA  

Catalina Sea Camp

San Juan Capistrano, CA  

Catalina Island Camps

Catalina Island, CA  


San Diego, CA

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