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Great Kids Camps

Great Kids Camps

When you’re trying to land on summer camps for your kids, the decision can feel as big as helping them pick where they want to go to college. Here are some of the best summer sleepaway experiences in the U.S., along with a few international adventures. As a bonus, many of these allow trial runs, so you can pull the plug if your little one is too homesick to stick around.

Camp Takajo

Camp Takajo

60 Takajo Rd., Naples | 207.693.6675

Camp Takajo is another traditional Maine camp with some serious staying power. Founded in 1947, the current owner started coming to Takajo when he was just nine-years-old. When you enter camp, you’ll pass through the “Takajo Arch,” a wood log structure where the “Arch Ideals” are posted on horizontal wood boards: integrity, sportsmanship, courage, faith, and so on. They have all the athletic games you’d expect along with fun “pioneering” options (backpacking, white water rafting, camping trips) and specialty “hobby” options (radio and electronics, journalism, digital photography, nature study). It’s a full-summer camp for boys age 7 to 15, and they also host a father-son weekend at the close of the season.

KenMont

KenMont

65 Kenmont Rd., Kent | 860.927.3042

Not as far north as many of the historic East Coast camps, KenMont, which was established in 1924, is a top-notch all-around camp in Kent, Connecticut. It’s the brother camp of KenWood Camp for Girls (also a great option) but it has its own facilities and staff. It’s definitely more of an all-boys camp than coed—the staff estimates that the boys spend about 90% of their time at camp with other boys. There are two four-week sessions, for boys ages 8 to 15.

Camp Winnebago

Camp Winnebago

19 Echo Lake Rd., Fayette | 800.932.1646

At Winnebago, all first-year campers under the age of 12 are assigned big brothers (usually 14 or 15-year-olds) a month and a half before camp. Some talk before camp, but regardless, upon arrival, these big brothers are the ones to show them the ropes, and make the transition all the smoother. The boys live in screened cabins and have 400 acres of forest land to enjoy off the shore of Maine's Echo Lake. Although there are non-athletic activities (writing for the camp newspaper, photography, acting) happening here, the athletic facilities are arguably the most impressive part of campus. The field house alone is 12,000 square feet and home to hockey, basketball, volleyball, and short court tennis courts, plus a rock climbing wall. Another highlight of camp: The overnight hiking and camping trips to some of the region's most picturesque places. It's for boys 8 to 15, for either the full summer or half.

Camp Dudley

Camp Dudley

126 Dudley Rd., Westport | 518.962.4720

Located on a gorgeous, verdant site along Lake Champlain in New York, Camp Dudley is actually the country's longest continually running summer camp (it was started as a YMCA camp in 1885). Alumni are astonishingly loyal, as evidenced by men well into their retirement years who can recall their camper numbers (which everyone is assigned at their first check-in). The general vibe and programming are predictably classic—every day starts with a blast of the cannon and a reveille, and it's hard not to love their long-time motto, "the other fellow first." Dudley's sports-focused programming making this an exceptionally good choice for the sports-obsessed, as boys will spend most of the summer in motion, playing soccer, baseball, lacrosse, flag football, sailing, fishing, ultimate frisbee, and more. Beyond that, every camper, no matter their age, participates in a camping trip to one of Dudley's lean-to camping sites, learning outdoor skills and enjoying the area's gorgeous Adirondack trails. Camp Kiniya, across the lake on the Vermont side, is the program's girls-only arm.