Planning for Summer Camp

boy with a cape and a superhero poseBy Jaimie Hutchison

April is the month that many summer camp listings come out. Trust me, you want to do your research early in order to secure the camps your kiddos are interested in. One year, my daughter Haiden really wanted to go to a coding or robotics camp at Impression 5. It was so popular that it sold out very quickly. We ended up enrolling her in a camp about electricity and she loved it. However, we have our eyes open for robotics this year! Most camps offer themed weeks, and options designed for different age ranges. Haiden is now 12 and she has enjoyed every summer camp that she has attended. Here are links to a few of our favorites and some others we have not yet utilized! 

Lansing Area Camps

Zookambi Summer Camp at Potter Park Zoo
This is a great camp for those who love animals! They also offer optional childcare before and after for an extra fee, so that parents or caregivers can work a traditional 8 to 5 work day if needed. 

Summer L.A.B.S. Camps at Impression 5 Science Center
These camps are well run and give kids hands-on exposure to many scientific topics. In the camp Haiden attended they learned to make circuits and lit their own self-made town.

YMCA Summer Day Camps in the Greater Lansing area
YMCA camps offer many ways to keep your kids active in the summer. Haiden loved the water sports, and took a racquet challenge camp with no idea what it would be like and enjoyed it. They also offer other themed camps, like science.

Michigan Athletic Club (MAC) Summer Camp
Michigan Athletic Club summer camps have different themes each week and you can enroll in one week or several weeks. Past themes have included Wacky Olympics and Art through the Ages. And, of course, there’s plenty of active time each day in the pool and outdoors. Swimming lessons and tennis lessons are offered for an additional fee.

MSU Community Music School Summer Camps
Musical Theater Camp is a favorite in our family and ends with a performance by the campers, which is open to the public. They learn singing, acting, and dancing. 

Harris Nature Center
The week Haiden went to this camp they studied water quality. They hiked, fished, and learned about protecting water as well as how it is tested. Each day ends with a group song circle, which seemed to be campers’ favorite part of the day. Haiden was not enthusiastic at first, but ended up enjoying it and learning a lot. 

Le Chat Gourmet Kids Cooking Classes 
This is an amazing opportunity to work alongside a chef learning practical skills and being exposed to and new cuisines. Haiden loved this half-day camp, but is still bummed her team did not win the Iron Chef challenge at the end of the week. Classes fill up quickly—August still has openings. 

MSU Summer Camps
There’s a wide variety of camp offerings through MSU. Haiden has attended the girl’s basketball camp and learned a lot of new skills. MSU offers camps on sports, science, language agriculture and animals through 4H, and more. Visit the website and click the “available in the summer” box.

Kids Camp through East Lansing Parks and Recreation 
This popular summer camp features a different weekly theme and a number of activities, including swimming, field trips, walks to MSU/East Lansing Public Library, art and crafts and outdoor games/activities. 

Michigan History Center 
The Michigan History Center offers summer camps for kids, ages 9 – 12 years old. Participants explore Michigan history while learning new skills, making new friends, and going on adventures! 

For more information on Greater Lansing area summer camp opportunities check out Lansing Family Fun’s listings on their website.

Cost, Ages, and Personnel

Day camps range in price from $180 per week to $300 per week, with sleepover camps costing more. Please note that many camps require payment ahead of time. Most camps serve a range of ages, starting around 3 years old, up to 14.  If you have older children, some camps allow students starting in 8th grade to serve as volunteer camp counselors-in- training. The majority of camp counselors in the area are high school and college students, many of whom study child development or the subject area of the camp.


I recommend making a calendar for your summer and charting out the dates of the camps your child is interested in, chart out vacations or when extended family members visit to ensure you have the time you need covered while avoiding double booking. The calendar helps to keep the drop off, pick-ups, locations, and times, and things-to-bring lists organized. Be sure to check the refund and wait list policies for camps, too, so there are no surprises should something come up.

Learn about Keeping your Kids Safe @ Summer Camp on May 8

Camps outside Lansing

If you are not in the greater Lansing area, the Kids Camps website may give you camp ideas closer to your home. Also check local YMCAs, Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts programs, schools, nature centers, museums, zoos, and parks and recreation divisions of your county or township. 

Things to Do Booklet

For an easy way to find more activities on campus, day camps, gifted and talented programs, music festivals, museums and gardens, and events, check out our Things to Do at MSU activity guide. We compile a bunch of great information on activities and programs each month of year. 

Here’s to a safe and fun summer ahead!