As one of the wildest places in the United States, Alaska serves as a fantastic location for children. While Alaska has many famous parks like the Denali National Park and Glacier Bay National Park, another one of the best ways for children to experience the outdoors is by visiting one of the many top summer camps in Alaska.
Several of these camps are convenient to Anchorage, so there are plenty of fun things to do. There are many day and overnight camps for kids on this list. These are a fantastic addition to a trip or as the central focus.
Whether as part of a vacation or the entire reason for going, a summer camp experience in Alaska will be a source of lifelong memories.
Best Alaska Summer Camps
The Alaska Center’s Trailside Discovery Camp has been helping kids have fun, go on adventures, and learn for over 40 years. The summer program runs between the end of May and the beginning of August making up the bulk of the most beautiful time to be in the greater Anchorage region.
In addition to the day camp opportunities, there are pre-planned outdoor adventure quests where older campers can enjoy a supervised and multi-day backpacking adventure. This is a fantastic way for the older kids to get a taste of what overnight camping is like in Alaska while being carefully watched over by trained staff.
Trailside Discovery Camp offers programs in Anchorage, Palmer, and Eagle River, putting it close to some of Alaska’s best cities. There are camps for age groups between 4-14, with day and overnight camps depending on how old your child is. Year-round and spring break options are also available.
2. Camp Li-Wa
Camp Li-Wa is a faith-based camp for youth around the Fairbanks area who want to experience a summer camp with a Christian focus.
They have summer camps open to children ages 6-14. Discovery Days are perfect for 6-9 year olds who want to learn what summer camp is about but aren’t ready for the traditional overnight experience yet. Base Camp and Adventure Camp are for those 9-14 who have prior camp experience and want to go on wilderness adventures.
All camp sessions feature opportunities to learn new skills and enjoy outdoor recreation through archery, canoeing, climbing, and riflery. Between solo and group activities, campers get the opportunity to enhance their spiritual lives through chapel and cabin devotions.
Camp Li-Wa also has an extensive horsemanship program to teach children the fundamentals of horseback riding all the way through professional-level certifications.
Training Better Artists offers a wide variety of performing arts camps for young artists 8-18 in the heart of Anchorage. The main focus of their summer camps is to help establish and hone skills as actors, vocalists, and dancers.
The play is the thing at Training Better Artists, and students of all skill levels are encouraged to come out and improve and learn. Actors Academy is a great starter program for those who are just beginning, offering a month’s worth of full weekday sessions.
For the campers who already have some stage time under their belt, the Advanced Actors Academy can push them to achieve new levels of skill and increase confidence and stage presence.
Students interested in the behind-the-scenes technical work of performing arts can attend one of their specific programs. They can then apply what they learn to real-world applications for performances, all under the guidance of a professional stage manager.
Children focused on their future and who want to forge their own entrepreneurial path can enjoy the Junior Alaska Biz Kids summer day camp. Based in Anchorage, this unique business camp introduces kids to the basic concepts of being an entrepreneur, leader, and savvy business person.
The curriculum is based on their grade. K-2 students can reinforce topics they learn about in school such as social studies, needs, and wants. Students between 3rd and 5th grade learn more in-depth about money management, goods and services, and the concept of global markets.
Finally, middle school students in 6th to 8th grade build a mockup business and take part in a product pitch competition. There are also activities that help children integrate their physical fitness into the overall picture of their path to achievement. Learn more about other business & entrepreneurship summer camps.
The Alaska Botanical Garden hosts summer day camps for children 5-15 every year at its facility on the east side of Anchorage. Kids get to experience the world of native flora and fauna through this program on over 110 acres of arboreal forest.
Camp sessions are divided into weekly themes and include learning about worms, soils, insects, and the particulars of starting and maintaining a garden. Kids also learn about the culinary and medicinal uses of some of the native plants of Alaska, as well as go on hikes to find some of these plants in the wild.
For the creative types, there are camps that revolve around the use of watercolor, sculptures, and poetry to bring the themes of the garden to life. It’s a chance for campers to explore their environment, express themselves, and stay active during the summer. They also have a Tiny Chefs cooking summer camp that incorporates fun games into the mix.
If your kids are interested in the STEM field, they can enjoy the Summer Engineering Academies of the University of Alaska Anchorage. Through this series of hands-on STEM summer camps, students in grades 3 through 12 are encouraged to foster their interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Academies are scheduled on a weekly basis with a schedule similar to that of a typical day at school. There are over 27 different classes over the course of the summer with material on robotics, coding, 3D design, printing, and chemistry.
They’re structured similarly to a college curriculum and as such require students to submit an application for their participation in the program. It’s best to get on the list early for the best chance at getting into one of these sought-after spots. Applications open up in February each year with tuition assistance available for families who qualify.
Alaska Theatre of Youth has been serving up its theater summer camps since 1984. It’s looking towards the future with a partnership with the Performing Arts Center and Voth Theater.
Young artists who want to express themselves through the performing arts will find that the Alaska Theatre of Youth camps are a fantastic opportunity to establish and improve upon their stage skills.
There are one-week concentrated sessions referred to as Triple Threat Camps where you can spend full weekdays practicing acting, dancing, and singing. For students who want to be part of a performance from casting to curtains, there are two one-month options, including the Summer Musical Camp and Acting Theatre Camp.
At the end of each, there are real-life performances put on for friends and family, showcasing the knowledge and skills gained. Most of the classes run from 9 am to 4 pm each weekday.
The Sitka Sound Science Center has one of the more unique sets of offerings among the many summer camps in Alaska. This is because the camps are all themed, with a range of durations from two to five days of daytime sessions.
The themes are the most attractive feature and include exploration of the beaches for creatures and minerals, the process of salmon leather production, the discovery of the watery environments of Sitka through paddleboarding and snorkeling, and much more.
Camps are open to elementary and high school students, with adult and family options. It’s a great place to experience the wild wonders of Sitka through the lenses of imagination and science. Each day at the science center consists of fun camp games, snacks, and educational activities.
Party Ponies & Friends gives kids the chance to enjoy a week of day camp on a working farm complete with a barn full of livestock companions. This is a family-owned farm in Palmer that goes back nearly 80 years and is more than thrilled to bring the farm experience to children ages 4-12.
Participants can attend a camp for one-, two, or three-day sessions as well as the full week. Nearly every day here is a unique experience, thanks to a large list of activities.
Children learn about archaeology through the identification of bones and minerals and have the chance to milk goats and sheep. They get to hang out with baby animals and even have the opportunity to bottle-feed some.
All campers experience a blend of activities that involve day-to-day interactions with the animals on the farm.
10. Alaska Rock Gym
Alaska Rock Gym hosts a 3-day summer climbing adventure for ages 4-16 at their facility. Between the summer months, classes are held every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, with blocks of time available in the morning or afternoon every day.
These are fantastic options for energetic campers who are looking to do something fun. They receive expert instruction with a low student-to-teacher ratio, giving them just enough attention to thrive. Then they are off to the races, climbing, running, and jumping their way to new heights and improved confidence in themselves.
Sessions are available in multi-day blocks, and campers can attend multiple sessions if they choose. It’s a great way to keep kids engaged throughout the school break. You can also send the youngsters here on a school holiday during the spring.
Martin has been in the summer camp industry for 7 years now. He has worked in different roles for camps, including as a marketing director for summer camps in the United States. Martin enjoys all kinds of outdoor activities but likes hiking and kayaking the most. He’s also a huge fan of traveling.