The traditional view of a summer camp as a woody place with hiking, canoeing, and campfires is evolving, with greater acceptance of newer summer camps that offer a wide variety of specialized activities. For example, there are camps for the performing arts, music, magic, computers, language learning, mathematics, children with special needs, and weight loss. In 2006, the American Camp Association reported that 75 percent of camps added new programs. This is largely to counter a trend in decreasing enrollment in summer camps, brought about by smaller family sizes, the growth in supplemental educational programs and the popularity of electronic media, all of which have made keeping children inside and occupied much easier than in previous generations. Camps can be for all ages.
The primary purpose of many camps is educational or cultural development. A summer camp environment may allow children to take healthy risks in a safe and nurturing environment.
In most camps, the adult supervisors are called counselors, but another name may be "cabin leader". In many camps, counselors are assigned to smaller groups of campers, called "bunks", "huts", "cabins", or "units", who participate in activities as a group. Counselors often share living accommodations with their bunk or other counselors. Most counselors are in their late teens or early twenties, as high school or college students on their summer break are frequently recruited.
At some camps, all campers stay overnight, and at some camps, so called day camps, the campers go home each night. Some other camps allow both day and overnight campers. In the USA, residential camps that have overnight facilities are sometimes called "sleepaway camps". Summer camp is often the first time that children spend an extended period of time away from home.
The practice of running residential holidays for children away from their own home seems to have originated in Appenzell in the Alps in 1876, when Pastor Bion set up holiday camps in which children made tree-houses, sang songs, did drama, made kites and had adventure games.
Post-war France used Pastor Bion’s model to take children who had grown up during the war years, away from cities, and their scheme ‘colonies de vacances’ became state controlled, part of their state education system for all children.
The American camps seem to have developed from a very different cultural root.
Around the world 
Summer camps are largely non-existent in Australia, because the Australian summer break (known as the Christmas holidays) only lasts between six to eight weeks, and occurs over Christmas and the New Year, shorter than in North America. Most children participate in School-camps, Girl Guide/scout camps, or school holiday camps with some religious groups (Such as the Salvation Army and Seventh-Day Adventists) holding week-long Summer Camps. Girl Guides and Scouts offer 'jamborees' which are camps over 1 to 2 weeks. Multiple-week camps are next to unheard of.
Many of Australia's youth music organisations hold annual rehearsal camps in summer including the Australian Youth Orchestra's National Music Camp and Gondwana Choirs Gondwana National Choral School.
Other than the Seventh-Day Adventist Summer Camps, most holiday camps are referred to as "Adventure Camps", because they largely do not occur over summer.
Many groups hold holiday day-camps for Primary aged children, and often run week-long adventure camps during the Spring, Autumn and Winter breaks.
Australian Defence Force Cadets often and almost exclusively run their extended camps and courses over school holiday periods, the vast majority of which provide all food and lodging for Cadets over the course of the camp. However, these camps often last only one or two weeks and thus do not fill up the majority of the summer holiday break. This allows the Cadets (who are aged 12–18 years and therefore the majority attend school) to attend the camps whilst still completing normal schooling.
In Canada, summer camps are very popular. About 70% of Canadian camps tend to be affiliated with organizations, while the rest are private.
There are also many summer camps for ESL students.
Summer camp fairs are held throughout Canada, usually during the winter months. Parents and children can meet camp directors and collect information about summer camps. Admission to these fairs is typically free, and the camps on display vary in their cost from completely subsidized fees to quite expensive.
The Chilean Inglés Abre Puertas (English Opens Doors) program from the Ministry of Education runs each January and July English-language Summer and Winter camps, respectively. The camps take place during the students' vacations, and "are designed to give talented Chilean public high school students the chance to practice English in a more hands on way through interactive activities including role-playing exercises, field trips, group projects, and competitive games."
Most of the summer camps are sponsored by the educational bureau. However, nowadays, there are more privately held camp programs. The traditional camps are only open to the selected students within individual school district. In the recent years, programs have started that are open to kids from different background and different regions. There are also programs tailored for international students who are interested in learning Chinese language and culture.
Euroclub summer camp in island Solta in Croatia is the largest international summer Camp on the Adriatic, and the only camp dedicated entirely to youth and children. This private owned facility is situated on the island of Šolta in the heart of Dalmatia for 20 years. The club specializes in children and youth tourism and education, with members and staff from over 35 countries from all over the world.
In Cyprus summer camps are widely used for children. They usually are situated in the Troodos Mountains area and more specific around Platres. The church, government and organised groups provide funds for many children so that they can join a summer camps for free.
Many Finnish non-governmental organizations arrange summer camps for children in a wide variety of age brackets. Major organizers of summer camps are the scouts, sport teams and the orthodox and evangelic-Lutheran churches. The concept of summer camps arose with the rapid post-WWII urbanization and industrialization Finland experienced. The reason behind this was that Finnish pedagogues of that period, influenced by the values of the largely agrarian pre-WWII society, were convinced that an urban lifestyle was harmful for the development of children. The idea behind summer camps was to ensure that children had experiences of the countryside, experiences that would aid in development into a decent citizen.
One Finnish tradition also arose soon after WWII, was confirmation camps. Confirmations camps, religious camps for 13–16 years old youths organized by the local churches, aimed to combine the traditional concept of confirmation school and the newer concept of summer camps in order to battle secularization of the society. The concept was successful enough to such an extent that today, 90% of all youths participate in confirmation camps. The camps require their participants to learn certain religious texts, such as the catechism, and the Lord's prayer.
There are a number of non-religious alternatives for confirmation camps, such as the Prometheus Camp, which aim to generate a positive intellectual and social atmosphere for the participants of the camp without religious tuition.
In France they are called colonie de vacances or more recently centre de vacances. According to the French administration, more than 25% of French children attend this kind of "collective holiday" each year.
In Greece summer camps are widely known for offering organised vacations for children. They offer sports activities, entertainment activities and educational activities. Children 5 – 15 years old can join summer camps and have the opportunity to interact with peers. The Greek government provide funds for many children so that they can join a summer camp, free.
Summer camps in India are primarily located in the Himalayas in Northern India in the state of Uttarakhand in places like Uroli near Ranikhet, near the Tons river in Purola, near the Ganges in Rishikesh, in Uttarkashi where many peaks like Darba top are located, and in the Shimla region in Himachal Pradesh. In South India summer camps are popular in Coorg in the state of Karnataka and in Yercaud in the state of Tamil Nadu. Activities in summer camps in India include rock climbing, back packing, mountain biking, white water rafting, trekking, ropes, and wilderness craft. Many pre-schools in India such as AppleKids  conduct extensive Summer Camps for Kids of age 2 to 12 years. Adventure activities for kids are also popular at the summer camps for age groups of 7 to 18 years. Many of these summer camps are also held in and around metros like Mumbai and Pune.
Summer camps in Ireland were traditionally in the form of Irish colleges called Gaeltachts. They are residential Irish language summer courses that give students the opportunity to be totally immersed in the Irish language, usually for periods of three weeks over the summer months. During these courses students attend classes and participate in a variety of different activities games, music, art and sport. These courses not only provide students with the ability to improve their language skills but also have proved to be a vehicle for introducing traditional cultural activities (céilís, Irish traditional music, etc.) to a new generation.
Whilst Irish colleges are still popular, a greater variety of summer camps are now on offer catering for a range of interests. Sports camps covering gaelic games as well as rugby and soccer have proven very popular. Arts & crafts, cookery, acting, dance and outdoor pursuits are some of the other niche camps available. There is also a growing popularity for tech or computer camps. They cover areas such as web design, video production, desktop publishing etc., reflecting a more modern and diverse Ireland.
The majority of summer camps in Israel are day camps. There are some overnight camps where campers stay for two weeks. The affiliation of the overnight summer camps is Jewish so they celebrate Shabbat and other Jewish holidays. The summer camps are international and are meant for Jewish kids and teens from Israel and countries around the world.
In Italy Summer Camps take place during the students' vacations (usually between June and August). The MB International Summer Camp is the first camp in Italy where kids and young adults are able to study the English or the Italian languages in an international context, having fun and learning deeply about other cultures. Because of the mix of nationalities, both in class and during the afternoon activities, students find it easier to learn a new language. MB International Summer Camp is located in Lignano Sabbiadoro, a beautiful city at the sea 70 km north of Venice.
Summer camps in Korea are English Immersion camps where the emphasis is on learning through structured lessons, and especially tailored activities to ensure students use the language as much as possible. Korea is quite unique with its over emphasis on acquiring English speaking skills, and teachers for these 2 to 4 week camps come from all over the English speaking world. Some of the teachers are on vacation from their regular work in Korea. Others come from their home countries or other countries where they might be working, and are on special visas just for the camps.
Some employ as many Korean staff as there are native English teachers to ensure the cultural and communication gaps are narrowed. A good camp should provide equipment and well researched texts for the different levels of students. To maximize the learning time spent there should be no more than 11 students per class. At some of the camps students sleep at dormitory accommodations, which are monitored all through the night by Korean staff. Other camps are day camps where the majority of students are bused to and from the camp.
Teachers spend most of their time with their students. They eat together, play sports together, and supervise them when there are special group activities.
Similar camps are also offered in the winter vacation. They are certainly no less popular than the summer camps
Summer camps in Malaysia are not so popular as in other countries. Children & teenagers have fun together by themselves. But now, summer camps are slowly getting attention. The biggest summer camps available are usually for children below 7 years old.
In the USSR, the first summer camps were created shortly after its establishment and were called Young Pioneer camps during the Soviet Union's existence. Their number grew throughout the history of the Soviet Union and they numbered more than forty thousand in 1973, with 9,300,000 children attending them during their vacation every year. After the breakup of the USSR, the number of Young Pioneer camps greatly declined. However, many of the major camps still exist. There are 2,726 Residential camps (with 2,000,000 children), and more 40,000 Day camps (3,500,0000 children) in Russia (2006). Most of them was united by All-Russian Camp Association "Deti Plus" (Children Plus) in 1994. There is also a forum leaders Summer children's health camps - planerochka
The church of Sweden provides confirmation camps, usually combined with outdoor life.
United Kingdom 
Summer camps are not a main part of childhood in the United Kingdom, in the way they are in North America. The term "summer camp" itself is not considered to be British English; the industry body is called the British Activity Holiday Association. Camps in the UK are also generally less specialised than those within the United States and most offer a fairly broad Multi-Activity programme of adventure activities alongside some fun social elements. This is partly because summer camps in the UK grew as an off-shoot of the activity holiday industry and were therefore influenced by their adventure-only outdoor programme. The UK has for the past few decades had a number of organisations that have established themselves more along the traditional American Camp model with a very wide range of holiday options as well as themed camps and major event days. Some religious groups, such as the Christadelphians, also run well publicised and attended camps throughout the country.
The Council of Colony Holidays for Schoolchildren ran summer camps called "Colonies" from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s. Colonies were not based on outdoor pursuits or the "action-adventure" model, but were multi-activity holidays designed to appeal to a very wide range of children. This organisation was based on the French model, and was unique in the UK in that the young volunteers who worked directly with the children (known as "Monitors") were prepared for their work in training courses designed and run by the organisation. After Colony Holidays folded in the 1980s, Chris Green, one of their former staff, set up ATE Superweeks to provide similar holidays. He also campaigns for summer camps to become more widely supported.
Any summer or holiday camps in the UK that look after children under 8 must be registered with Ofsted, who will inspect the provider and make sure the camp is safe and that the children are being looked after properly. Camps with older children can also be registered with Ofsted and this is a sign of quality control.
United States 
The American Camp Association (ACA) reports that 10 million children attend camp annually, and there are approximately 12,000 camps nationwide.
Camps include religious, for-profit, nonprofit, and government camps. In the United States, youth organizations, like the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H, the JCC, the YMCA, Camp Fire, and several religiously affiliated groups are known for having many camps and integrating them with their own local organizations.
Educational camps 
In the United States there are numerous models of camp with an educational focus that cater to students with differing ages and academic interest.
College credit courses 
Some camps offer students the opportunity to explore a pre-college experience. Typically, students entering grades 10 through 12 stay in the college dormitories and attend summer classes run by college faculty. At the successful completion of a summer program, course credits are awarded, which in turn are accepted by most tertiary institutions. Typically, colleges in the United States and Canada offer these programs, as it serves as an introduction to students to entice them to attend the college as full-time students based upon a memorable summer experience. One example is Camp CAEN, a computer camp offered by the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. It is focused on educating high school aged students on subjects related to computer science and computer engineering, as well as exposing them to elements of college life.
Non-college credit courses 
Some camps, such as CTY and Duke TIP, are focused primarily on education or on educational-related activities, such as debate, history, or journalism. These camps are often run by colleges or universities, and are usually for children in junior or senior high school. Educational summer camps are different than summer schools as the summer camps often are not offered for school credit, and often have a significant focus on non-academic activities. Students for these programs are often invited or recruited. Many of these camps, such as Canada/USA Mathcamp and SSP, focus on a specific subject, such as mathematics or astronomy. These camps tend to have selective application processes involving problem solving or an essay about the applicant's interest in the subject.
Academic adventure camps 
These provide high school students with the opportunity to study an academic topics on a summer adventure travel program, typically in the wilderness or a foreign country. Many include community service as a component of the course. Others also offer college credit with the successful completion of the program.
SAT Preparation courses 
Various camp programs offer preparation for the SAT Reasoning Test as part of a mixture of academic learning with summer fun. Often the SAT preparation is offered as a full morning immersion while the afternoons and evenings are geared towards homework and recreational activities. These camp programs often outsource their SAT component from test preparation companies like The Princeton Review or Kaplan who provide the teachers and resources.
Enrichment courses 
These programs offer a wide range of classes that may have little or no scholastic overlap, but are taught with the purpose of broadening the student's conception and interest in many otherwise unknown areas of study. Students typically explore subjects like photography, community service, drama, magic, scuba diving, video production, comic book design, crime scene forensics, cooking, yoga, and similar areas.
Science & Nature 
Summer camps provide an amazing opportunity for children to learn hands on. Camps provide opportunities that are unlike school, often opening the natural world to children that may never be outside. They can use the natural surroundings and get children back to nature. More and more child psychologists says that kids need to be spending time unstructured and outside.
Science & Nature Camps in Canada 
Some well known summer camps focusing on science and nature in Canada include Deep River Science Academy, Shad Valley, numerous university sponsored and hosted day camps including the University of Toronto's Science Outreach, Space Camp Canada and the now defunct Algonquin Space Campus hosted at the Algonquin Radio Observatory.
Tech camps 
Tech camps focus on technology education. These summer camps develop 21st century skills in areas such as game design, 3D game creation, web design, graphic design, robot building, and programming languages. These summer camps are typically held on college campuses. Many universities now offer technology-focused camps in the summer as a way of reaching future students, generating revenue and providing community service outreach. Examples include the University of Michigan School of Art & Design and the DePaul University College of Computing and Digital Media.
Language and Foreign Culture camps 
To meet a growing demand for language education, language camps have developed around the United States. Many of these summer programs are hosted by high schools. Colleges and universities have also created camps using their facilities to host younger students. Foreign countries have established summer schools in the United States to offer education regarding their culture and language. The growing popularity of summer language camps may be related to a growing interest in languages not typically offered in United States high school curricula. Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, and Korean are examples of languages in-demand that do not often appear in a curriculum.
Art and performing art camps 
Other camps have become summer training grounds for a variety of arts. Many offer elective classes in a range of creative and performing arts activities including visual art, music, theatre, speech, debate, dance, circus arts, rock and roll, magic and other specialties. Some of these programs have a narrow focus in one particular area, while others offer a wide range of programs. Due to the popularity of these activities, many traditional camps have added some elements of the visual and performing arts into their programs as well.
Some camps offer very high level instruction and performance opportunities; this is such that campers with previous experience and skill may be able to perform a solo in front of a symphony orchestra or create an artistic piece on their own. Most art and performing art summer camps also cater to beginners, offering children the opportunity to try a new art or learn a new skill.
Performing art camps often run 3 or 4 week sessions that culminate in some sort of performance that parents and families attend.
Travel camps 
Many camps also bring children of all ages around the world. Some camps are often called "Adventure Camps", often having a very specific theme. Many of these programs emphasize skill development and personal growth through the adventures offered.
Sports camps 
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Summer camps can be found that offer intensive instruction in almost any sport imaginable, or that offer quality instruction and competition in a wide range of sports. Camps are split into groups of day camps and overnight camps.
In the United States overnight sports camps fall into two groups. The more traditional of these offer boys and girls the chance to learn and play many sports. Sessions are typically 3 to 8 weeks long, and some camps have multiple sessions. While many strong athletes attend these camps, a traditional sports camp program also serves the needs of less proficient athletes by having all campers compete on teams picked by ability, so all kids get a chance to contribute to their team's success in their daily competitions. Some of these camps have been operating for more than 100 years. These camps generally focus, through the medium of team sports, on the development of the whole child; not just how they are as an athlete, but also how they are as a person, a bunkmate, a teammate, and a friend. Many of these camps include a variety of non-sports programs as well for a more diverse experience.
Many sports camps are of the second type, which focuses almost exclusively on one particular sport. These camps generally focus on helping each camper acquire skills in a sport that help them gain confidence and improve their chances of making the team when they return to school. Indeed, some campers are helped to be nationally competitive by way of this kind of intensive summer training. These camps generally run week-long sessions, and some campers may attend more than one session even though the curriculum repeats each week. Some single-sport camps offer longer sessions. Many of the instructors at these camps are coaches of local teams, and thus many athletes get valuable extra time with the coach they play for during the school year (or the coach they hope to play for during the upcoming school year). Such camps are also a good way to learn about potential college scholarships in their sport.
Both multi-sport and single-sport camps tend to be run by experienced teachers and coaches (who typically have summers off from their school responsibilities). Cabin staff, instructors, and counselors are typically college athletes. The best sports camps succeed at challenging aspiring athletes both mentally and physically, while also promoting their social and leadership skills. This is possible in part because many of the counselors attended as campers, and thus there is a vibrant "camp culture" that welcomes new campers into an extended camp family and establishes the high standards that incoming campers are encouraged to achieve.
The best sports camps do much more than just improve a camper's soccer, tennis, lacrosse, or wrestling skills; they help each child become a more skillful athlete, a more gracious competitor, a more committed team player, and a more confident person.
Weight loss camps 
Weight loss or "fat" camps are for overweight children and teens to learn about losing weight and keep it off while having a summer camp experience.
Jewish camps 
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Jewish summer camps provide an environment for campers to live and experience religion in addition to traditional camp activities, and are quite popular throughout the Jewish communities of the United States and Canada. Some camps are part of specific Jewish movements such as Orthodox, Reform, Reconstructionist, or Conservative. Some are focused on Zionism and the role of Israel in Jewish life, while others focus on providing positive Jewish identity-building experiences through Jewish culture. Their wide scope cover all interests from specialty camps to general, all-inclusive activity camps and special needs programs/camps.
Many Jewish Summer camps provide experiences for American Jews to spend a summer with each other as well as Israeli staff. The main role of Jewish camps in the United States is to allow young Jewish children to find and identify with a community.
In Canada, there are many overnight Jewish camps as well as Jewish day camps.
See also 
- Présentation des séjours de vacances et accueils de loisirs
- Planerochka.org - forum leaders Russian Summer children's health camps
- BAHA - The Activity Centre
- "Campaign for Summer Camps". Campaign for Summer Camps.
- 1861 — The Gunnery Camp is founded.
- "Mathcamp 2009 Qualifying Quiz". Canada/USA Mathcamp. Retrieved December 9, 2008.
- Michigan School of Art and Design Website
- DePaul Summer Academy Website
- The American Camp Association is an organization of camping professionals that provides accreditation standards for camps, and serves as a resource for camping research and professional development.
- The Canadian Camping Association is an association of camps across Canada. Accreditation of camps in Canada happens at the provincial level.
- The Christian Camp and Conference Association connects Christian camping professionals and associations around the world.
- The International Camping Fellowship connects camping professionals and associations around the world.
- The Association of Independent Camps, a member-driven kindred group of the ACA that is dedicated to people who own, direct, or work at independent camps.
- InSite Magazine for professionals in the Christian camp industry