Although famously known for its fried chicken, Kentucky has an outdoors worth exploring. Home to bustling cities like Louisville and Lexington, two designated wilderness areas, and many lakes, this state is the perfect place for a summer getaway for the kids.
There are many fantastic Kentucky summer camps to choose from, which differ regarding the activities available, program dates, and of course, the price. No matter which one you choose, your child can have an incredible summer making new friends, trying out new sports, and camping and hiking.
To give you an idea of what there is, we dive into the many choices, including day and overnight camps to sports camps.
Best Kentucky Summer Camps
Camp Jabez is located along Lake Cumberland. Just a 30-minute drive from the city of Somerset, where the summer camp takes place on an impressive 57 acres.
Camp Jabez is a non-denominational Christian Camp whose mission is to allow children to build long-term and meaningful relationships. Although Jesus Christ is an important figure at this camp, they welcome children of all faiths.
Boasting endless outdoor activities, sports, and arts and crafts, this summer camp has a lot to offer. Your child can attend nightly services that teach them about God and participate in sports like swimming and soccer.
There are two camps here: a Junior Camp suitable for ages 8-12 and a Senior Camp for those 12-17 that lasts an entire week.
2. Camp Hi-Ho
Located in a remote location off Aiken Road, Camp Hi-Ho is the perfect option for kids ages 4-12 who love spending time in the outdoors. You’ll find it close enough to Louisville to drive from, with transport also available.
The highlight of Camp Hi-Ho is the sheer amount of activities campers can enjoy. There’s horseback riding, archery, zip lining, and canoeing, among other things to do during the 5 days at Camp Hi-Ho.
If these activities don’t catch your child’s eye, then don’t worry. Campers can also get involved with arts and crafts, relax in a tree fort, or spend some time in the Pet Barn, where they can play with puppies, kittens, and farm animals.
The best thing about this summer camp is that your children can choose exactly what they want to do. So they’re not doing something that doesn’t interest them and can create their own schedule.
Camp Joy Baptist is located in the town of Brownsville and offers week-long summer camps. There are kids’ weeks for (3rd-5th grades), Middle School (6th-8th grades), and High School camps (9th-12th grades).
Through singing, dancing, group activities, and outdoor adventures, your child can make memories (and friends) that last forever. There’s even an on-site swimming pool where they can cool down from the warm Kentucky weather.
Camp Joy Baptist has a ‘canteen’ three times a day. This is where campers can buy candy, snacks, drinks, and even souvenirs, with items ranging from 25 cents to $20.
The program lives up to its name, providing a happy place for campers and being one of the top summer camps in Kentucky.
Bay Y Outdoor Adventure Camp is situated in Lexington City and runs from the start of June to the middle of August, from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. each weekday. This day camp serves children ages 8-12 years old.
The mission at Bay Y Outdoor Adventure Camp is all about developing a campers character, allowing them to learn more skills, and of course, make new friends. If you want to help your child come out of their shell, they focus on building leadership skills and confidence.
Popular camp activities include archery, hiking, swimming, and various sports like soccer. There’s even an outdoor challenge course and a gaga pit! Parents can pay for one or multiple weeks in advance.
Pepperhill Farm is one of the most unique summer day camps on our list, with a focus on giving children a taste of what country life is all about.
Although it’s still close to Lexington, it’s nestled in Jessamine County far enough from the city life but not sufficient for it to be an inconvenience to drive to. Pepperhill Farm runs three different 3-week sessions per summer, where campers are grouped by age. The activities and lessons will vary depending on this.
During the summer camp, your children can participate in talent shows, horseback riding, Olympic theme weeks, and other fun events.
However, the highlight of Pepperhill Farm has to be the furry creatures that reside here. Young animal lovers will enjoy interacting and caring for all the animals that live on the farm.
YMCA Camp Ernst is a fan favorite in the Greater Cincinnati area. It’s located just a 20-minute drive from Cincinnati. This renowned summer camp has been around since 1928, and its mission is to help campers grow in all aspects of life.
The great thing about YMCA Camp Ernst is that there are activities to suit every child. Some of the many adventures on offer include ropes courses, archery, horseback riding, and swimming. Thanks to the location, children can enjoy water sports such as canoeing, kayaking, and even a 100-foot water slide!
At YMCA Camp Ernst, there are both overnight and day camps available that are open to children ages 6-15. They also have a family camp you can sign up for and adult retreats worth looking at.
If you’re after a Christian-centered camp, check out Western Kentucky Youth Camp in Marion.
With nearly a 75% retention rate, it’s clear that kids enjoy their time here as they come back year after year. Their programs tend to be more affordable than other options.
Western Kentucky Youth Camp offers Bible-focused opportunities, among a variety of other fun events. Campers can play badminton, football, basketball, and ultimate frisbee. There’s even a giant swing if your young one feels brave enough!
Visitors can head out on nature walks and get involved with arts and crafts. They believe in the 3 core values of Faith, Family, and Fun, which tells you all you need to know about their priorities.
Cathedral Domain is an Episcopal Camp & Retreat Center set in a rural location, just over an hour’s drive from the city of Lexington. Campers can stay with up to 12 other peers in their cozy cabins.
Sign up for a mixture of co-ed, non-coed, and mini-camps, with the latter being suitable for young students in grades 1-2 and the rest reaching everyone up to 12th graders.
Cathedral Domain works to teach its campers life skills, including critical thinking, leadership, and confidence. A swimming pool, large grass fields, volleyball courts, and archery range are just a few of its several camp facilities.
Apart from worship services and church sessions, they have ball games and other outdoor adventures. There’s also rock climbing and rappelling, which you won’t find at many other places. The instructors for these pursuits have specialized training, so you know your child is in safe hands!
Barefoot Republic Camp & Retreat Center is close to the town of Scottsville and strives to bring together individuals from diverse backgrounds. The Christian summer camp also vows to teach individuals about the word of God.
Both day and overnight summer camps are available for young and older children all the way from pre-K to high school students. There are multiple week-long camp sessions in the summer months.
In terms of activities, expect your child to have fun with games, sports, music, and more. At Barefoot Republic Camp & Retreat Center, the majority of the campers have financial assistance to ensure that no child misses out on fun opportunities. Family camps take place here too, so parents and friends can all enjoy the experience together.
For more options check out the following states:
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.