Updated: March 16th, 2023
When people think of the ideal summer camp experience, fun activities such as hiking, swimming, and scavenger hunts probably come to mind. While this is a large part of what makes summer camps great, it goes far beyond that. Campers can learn skills that build their character, foster a sense of self-confidence, and create memories that last a lifetime. And what better place to do this than the idyllic state of Hawaii.
Hawaii offers more than its tropical climate, white beaches, and towering volcanoes across islands like O’ahu and Maui. Surrounded by beautiful scenery, these are some of the best summer camps in Hawaii.
1. Hawaii Preserving Paradise
This 2-week summer program is perfect for those interested in helping to protect the beautiful island while engaging in exciting activities. There aren’t many more naturally fascinating places than Hawaii, and the Preserving Paradise program ensures kids make the most of it. From surfing on its turquoise waves to swimming beside manta rays and sea turtles off the Kona Coast, campers can grow closer to nature while contributing to its preservation.
Participants spend a week on the Big Island performing community service and touring its lush rainforests, snowy mountain peaks, and rocky deserts. They swim in the waters of Kealakekua Bay, with the chance to spot its diverse aquatic wildlife. Working alongside a local non-profit, they learn the volcanic history and future of the island while restoring its lands, tackling invasive flora, and harvesting local food.
Embarking on a Polynesian cultural tour, night-snorkeling with manta rays, joining volunteers in the community to hone their surfing skills, and navigating outrigger canoes are some of the things that can be expected.
2. Science Camps of America
Science Camps of America offers summer programs on the Big Island of Hawaii for young people interested in all things science with a love of the great outdoors.
The overnight summer camps are aimed at teenagers ages 13 - 17, split into Land & Sea and Air & Space. Land & Sea allows campers to learn interactively about the islands' marine science, geology, oceanography, and biology. There are opportunities to delve into caverns, trek through a volcano, and swim off the coast of a black sand beach.
Air & Space camp focuses more on our planet's climate, with engaging activities that revolve around our skies and beyond. It’s a fascinating option for anyone interested in learning about space, astronomy, and the atmosphere that hovers over us. Both options allow kids to explore the outdoors and participate in fun adventures.
The typical day has participants wake up at 7 am, shortly after sunrise, and take on the day’s activities before returning to bed at 10 pm. Local day camps are also offered to children in grades 6-8, with similar camp activities. STEM workshops for grades 4 to 12 take place during the school year.
3. World Scholars Academy
The World Scholars Academy offers prestigious academic programs in Honolulu, HI, and virtual summer programs for students looking to bolster their knowledge in Business, Medicine, Law, Computer Science, Mathematics, and much more.
Delivered by reputable instructors from leading universities like the University of Cambridge and Stanford, these courses offer high-level learning from some of the best scholars in the world. Participants learn on a one-on-one basis with the teachers as well as in a group setting with students from across the globe.
The classes are conducted live, so they’re interactive and engaging, split into separate sessions that typically span two weeks. Kids can receive a pre-college education in their field of interest to learn what it’s like.
4. YMCA Camp Erdman
YMCA Camp Erdman helps kids build upon vital skills that can serve them in their education and future career. Campers are encouraged to build their character, collaborate with others, make new friends, and learn from counselors who guide them throughout the program. This occurs alongside fun camp activities, such as archery, ropes courses, and camping.
The camp options here are split into various age groups with day camps for K-5th grades, overnight camps for grades 1-10, and teen camps for grades 10-11th. At the weeklong residential camps, children can choose specialty camp add-ons, like surfing, horse-riding, and high ropes courses.
Their teen summer programs are Leaders-in-Training and Camp Assistant. Leaders-in-Training aims to build confident role models over the course of two weeks, with two sessions from June 12th to July 29th. Camp Assistant is designed to foster future camp leaders over three weeks, broken up into two sessions spanning from June 5th to July 29th. There is also a mini-camp option for younger first-time campers and a family camp.
5. Hawaii United Premier Soccer Camp
Hawaii United Premier Soccer Camp offers sports camps to hone the soccer skills of kids of all abilities, ages 4 to 14. Every participant receives personally-tailored advice, coaching, and instruction, all built around their skillset and performance throughout the experience.
There are half-day, full-day, or 2-day camps for your child to build upon the vital fundamentals of soccer and learn from reputable coaches. Participants can expect to test their skills, tactical awareness, technical abilities, and competitive play throughout the day, which begins at 9 am and ends at 4 pm.
The sports camps offer a well-rounded approach to soccer, giving children a solid basis of understanding of everything that goes into the game — on and off the pitch. Effort goes into improving each area of a player, including physical, tactical, technical, and psychosocial aspects.
6. Hawaii Nature Center - Nature Adventure Camps
These Honolulu summer camps by the Hawaii Nature Center span a week and allow kids to connect with the outdoors in an interactive way. Environmental experts guide participants through an action-packed week built around the natural world and outdoor activities.
Hiking, fishing, and crafts, with different themes and a counselor-to-camper ratio of 1:10, means each participant receives the necessary attention for a fascinating experience. The day camps are led by qualified instructors that teach kids through hands-on activities and take them on fun field trips. These summer camps are offered at two locations in O’ahu and Maui.
The O’ahu Island Camp is designed for ages 6-11, taking place from Monday to Friday, with each day starting at 8 am and finishing at 3 pm. The Maui Island Camp, also aimed at 6-11 year-olds, follows a similar schedule. Parents can choose between 4 or 5-day sessions, which offer a good mixture of education and exciting activities in the beautiful landscape of Hawaii.
7. Ohana Arts Summer Festival and School
Delivered through intensive five and six-week programs, the Ohana Arts summer camps look to build the creative abilities of students ages 6-18. These camps are a great opportunity for kids to reinforce their music, dance, and drama skills in a unique and thrilling environment.
The Musical Theatre Intensive Program invites students in grades 1-6 to develop their performance techniques, divided into groups centered around age and experience. The Junior Musical Theatre Academy allows children in grades 7-9 to participate in acting, dance, music classes, and rehearsals topped off with a fully staged musical theatre production. They can also expect private voice lessons, elective courses, and the opportunity to meet with and learn from industry professionals.
The Pre-College Musical Theatre Academy is mainly for high school students looking to pursue performing arts beyond their academic careers. There are also 6-week, half-day workshops alongside 5-week, morning-only options.