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How to Find Fun Camps and Summer Activities for Kids

kids outdoors in a camp setting

Summer is nearly upon us, and this article explores some common and creative summer camp ideas for kids.

Ah, summer break! A time eagerly awaited by children and parents alike. Well, for the most part. This time of year presents an opportunity to invest in your children’s growth and enjoyment through a variety of activities. In this blog, we’ll explore how to find the perfect summer activities for your kiddos. (If you’re just now reading this, it might be too late to have your pick of camps.)

Understanding the Landscape of Summer Activities

Before diving into planning, it’s helpful to understand the options available. The name of the game is to start early! In many busy metropolitan areas, especially like Seattle, sign-up starts at the beginning of the year. Spaces can fill up quickly, so you’ll want to know exactly when registration opens. It’s helpful to have a few options in mind. 

Just like the days of our youth, summer camps come in various forms, from traditional sleepaway camps to specialized programs focusing on sports, arts, academics, and more. Each type offers unique experiences tailored to different interests and developmental needs. By exploring these options, you can find the perfect fit for your child’s passions and goals.

Sleepaway Camps: Pros and Cons

Sleepaway camps offer children the opportunity to gain independence, make new friends, and explore the great outdoors. However, it’s essential to consider the pros and cons before sending your child off for an extended stay. 


  • Independence: Sleepaway camps provide your children with an opportunity to develop independence by being away for an extended period. This fosters self-reliance and confidence.
  • Socialization: Camps offer a diverse and inclusive environment where your children can make new friends from different backgrounds. Your kids can learn valuable social skills such as teamwork, communication, and empathy.
  • Outdoor Exploration: Many sleepaway camps are located in natural settings, allowing children to connect with nature and participate in outdoor activities like hiking, swimming, and camping. This promotes physical health and appreciation for the environment.
  • Personal Growth: Away from familiar surroundings, children are challenged to step out of their comfort zones, try new things, and overcome obstacles. This encourages personal growth, resilience, and adaptability.
  • Unplugging from Technology: Camps often have limited or no access to electronic devices, encouraging children to disconnect from screens and engage in real-life experiences. This promotes creativity, imagination, and mental well-being.
  • Memorable Experiences: Sleepaway camps create lasting memories through fun activities, campfires, sing-alongs, and other traditions. These experiences build a sense of belonging and nostalgia that children cherish for years to come.


  • Homesickness: Separation from family and familiar surroundings can trigger feelings of homesickness, especially for first-time campers. This emotional challenge may affect your child’s overall enjoyment of the camp experience.
  • Safety Concerns: You may worry about your child’s safety and well-being while they are away at camp. From accidents to illness, there is always a level of risk associated with outdoor activities and communal living.
  • Cost: Sleepaway camps can be expensive, especially for high-quality programs with specialized activities and amenities.
  • Limited Communication: Camp policies may restrict or regulate communication between campers and their families, such as limited phone calls or no internet access. This can be challenging for both children and parents who are used to constant communication.
  • Mismatched Expectations: Sometimes, the camp experience may not meet your child’s expectations or preferences. This could be due to the camp’s activities, facilities, or social dynamics, leading to disappointment or dissatisfaction.
  • Risk of Bullying or Conflict: Camp environments, like any social setting, may present challenges such as bullying, cliques, or conflicts among campers. Camp staff must be vigilant in creating a safe and inclusive environment for all participants.

As a parent, you should carefully weigh these factors and decide if sleepaway camp is the right choice for your child and family.

Navigating Different Types of Summer Camps for Kids

From STEM camps to wilderness adventures, the options for summer programs are vast. Understanding your child’s interests and strengths can help narrow down the choices. If your child is passionate about science, consider a robotics or coding camp. For our clients in the Seattle area, there are many fun university-sponsored or adjacent camps to help your kiddo build skills such as engineering. For budding artists, art or theater camps may be the perfect fit. By aligning the camp experience with your child’s interests, you can ensure they have a summer filled with fun and learning.

Cool Summer Camps for Kids in Seattle, Washington

One great perk of living in a place like Seattle, Washington, is the plethora of organizations that run various summer camps. Even if it’s too late for this summer, we recommend bookmarking these links for next year. 

Martin is a fan of a few for his daughter, including:

  • Summer Sailing School 
  • Moss Bay 
  • Climbing camps (These are available at most larger climbing gyms. Martin has done these several times for his daughter, and it’s “one of the favorites.”)

Other camps include:

Consider Sprinkling in Some Budget-Friendly Alternatives

While many summer camps have hefty price tags, there are plenty of budget-friendly alternatives available. Many of our local community centers, libraries, and parks often offer affordable summer programs and activities. Additionally, you can create your own summer adventures through DIY projects, backyard camping, and day trips to nearby attractions.

Planning Ahead for Future Summers

As your child grows and their interests evolve, so too will their summer activity preferences. Take time to reflect on the experiences of past summers and consider how they align with your child’s goals and aspirations. Start planning for future summers early — very early — and stay open to exploring new opportunities. By staying proactive, you can ensure that each summer is filled with exciting adventures and meaningful growth opportunities.

Summer is a time for children to explore, learn, and create memories that will last a lifetime. As financial advisors and planners, we understand the importance of balancing fun and financial responsibility when planning summer activities for your children (including fun vacations!). 

As financial advisors and parents, we know camp costs can add up quickly. We would love to help you include saving for them in your long-term planning, so schedule a meeting today. 


Northern Lights Advisors provides financial planning and wealth management services as a fiduciary, fee-only, Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) firm based in Seattle, Washington. The information in this article is not intended as tax, accounting, or legal advice. Read the full disclaimer here.