By Katy M. Clark
April 26, 2023
Singing songs by the campfire. Sleeping in bunk beds and sharing communal bathrooms. Eating in dining halls. These are quintessential experiences at summer camps for teens.
But perhaps the teenagers in your household feel they are too old for traditional summer camp. Or the idea of summer camp seems boring. Maybe what they need is a unique summer camp idea to pique their interest again.
If that’s the case, let us introduce you to nine out-of-the-box summer camps for teenagers. These spectacular summer camps are ideal for any teen itching for unique and exciting experiences, or ready to dream big and imagine “What if?”
From swimming with sharks to fighting fires to digging up dinosaur bones, these camps provide epic experiences that will rock your teen’s summer.
Summer Camp Ideas
1. Lights, camera, action: An action-packed summer camp for creative teens.
Does your teen want to leap off buildings and engage in sword fights? For thrill seekers who aspire to perform stunt falls and engage in choreographed hand-to-hand combat, there’s Pali Adventures Stunt Summer Camp.
This fun summer camp teaches kids and teens through age 16 about the hard work that goes on behind the scenes in performing stunts. Campers work with props and learn performance techniques needed by anyone on theater or film sets. Don’t worry, parents, there’s a strong emphasis on safety and doing stunts in a creative, yet safe way. At the end of the week campers show off their new skills in a stunt spectacular.
2. Oceans away: An adventurous summer camp for teens who love sharks.
There’s a unique summer camp in Fiji (yes, Fiji!) that’s all about sharks. Teens ages 15 and up can immerse themselves in marine biology and conservation as they come face to face with sharks while scuba diving. During this 24-day adventure summer camp, teens study alongside researchers and biologists, gain a deeper understanding of sharks, and learn how to protect these misunderstood creatures and their ecosystems.
The Fiji Shark Camp is part of Broadreach Summer Programs, which also offers epic summer adventures for high schoolers in scuba diving, sailing, and veterinary medicine.
3. For the thrill of it: A thrilling summer camp for teens who love amusement parks.
If the thought of riding over 100 roller coasters fills your teen with glee, ThrillCoaster Tours may be the perfect adventurous summer camp for your teen. Campers ages 12 to 17 tour different amusement parks to experience dozens of coasters. Campers are matched with counselors with the same level of thrill-seeking.
There’s also time to visit water parks, go to sporting events, and take a white water rafting trip. When they aren’t chasing a thrill, campers skip the dorms to catch their zzz’s in nearby hotels.
4. Step right up: An entertaining summer camp for teens who dream of becoming circus performers.
Teens can run away and join the circus at Long Lake Camp Summer Sleepaway Circus Camp. Campers train with world-class circus instructors on everything from french silks to clowning to rolla-bolla (aka balancing a board on a cylindrical tube). There’s even instruction in the flying trapeze for those looking to soar above the camp’s Adirondack setting.
Each camper up to age 16 receives a custom hand-fitted costume and performs in a 3-ring circus in front of their peers. Beginners are welcome, and advanced campers can choose to participate in a more intensive experience.
5. Girl power: A heroic summer camp where teen girls train to become firefighters.
Feel the heat at Camp Fully Involved where young women ages 14 to 20 explore a career in the fire service in an intense, hands-on setting. Campers, or cadets as they are officially called, gain strength and knowledge through activities including rappelling, Engine and Truck company operations, and vehicle and dumpster fires. There is also a classroom learning component.
The camp encourages girls from all over the world to apply and no affiliation with the fire service is required. It’s hosted by the New Hampshire State Fire Academy in Concord and boasts volunteer Instructors with the rank of Firefighter, Fire Marshal, Firefighter/Paramedic all the way to Chief of Department.
6. Go for laughs: A fun summer camp for teen comedians.
Kids ‘N Comedy Camp offers tweens and teens ages 10-18 the chance to avoid kayaks and the great outdoors (ha!) and tackle stand-up comedy instead. Held in New York City, the camp emphasizes writing jokes and making each other laugh. Campers will be encouraged to find their voice, express themselves, and develop self-confidence in the process.
At the end of the two-week session, teens go for laughs at the graduation show held at the Gotham Comedy Club.
7. Dig deep: A summer camp for teens who dig dinosaurs and natural history.
Got a budding paleontologist? Or a teen who just digs dinosaurs? Then check out Cottonwood Gulch’s outdoor summer camp Paleontology Trek for teens ages 14-18. Campers travel to some of New Mexico’s most active excavation sites where they’ll help excavators unearth dinosaur bones. Teens develop skills in fossil prospecting, excavation work, and processing artifacts for museum displays.
They’ll also spend time at the Albuquerque Natural History Museum and at Basecamp, where they can participate in activities like mountain biking, cooking, and metalsmithing.
8. Life’s a beach: A summer camp for teens who want to help save sea turtles.
Teens can dive into all things marine biology and conservation at Sea Turtle Camp in Topsail Beach, North Carolina. Both the Marine Biology Immersion camp (11 days) and Marine Biology Adventure camp (6 days) allow rising 9th graders to recent high school graduates the chance to care for turtles by cleaning cages and preparing food at a rehabilitation and rescue center.
Campers explore and learn about different coastal habitats and search for turtle nests during nest walks. The 11-day term also includes a scuba diving class and outreach activity to educate the public about the challenges facing sea turtles.
9. Reach for the stars: A STEM summer camp for teens.
In the dark skies of southern Arizona, teens can make cosmic discoveries at Astronomy Camp. Housed at the University of Arizona, Astronomy Camp offers beginner (ages 12-15) and advanced (ages 14-19) campers a night and day immersive experience in science, technology, engineering, and math.
Campers can spend their days exploring geology and ecology through hiking or listening to world-renowned scientists speak on current topics. Nights allow campers to become astronomers investigating the universe while utilizing some of the most advanced technology available for stargazing and scientific discovery.
No prior experience in astronomy is required, only a fun attitude towards learning and a thirst for answers.
Apply now to these fun summer camps.
Ready to sign your teen up for an unforgettable summer experience? Many of these camps are accepting applications and some may have waitlists. If cost is an issue, it’s worth noting that sometimes camps offer scholarships or financial aid, so you might want to contact the camp your teen is interested in and ask if those options are available. Cheers to your teen learning and honing skills and making lifelong memories this summer. Happy Camping!