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Best Summer Camps In San Diego 2024

san diego summer camps

San Diego is known both for its sunny beaches and gorgeous outdoor landscape, as well as a very dynamic arts and culture scene. With their summer camps, you’ll find a similar vibe. Kids can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities that encourage them to use their creativity and imagination.

We created this summer camp guide to help you choose the right one for your child. There are many camp types in the city, offering unique themes or special programs to cater to specific interests. Whether you’re looking for weeklong sessions or one that last the entire summer season, you can find one for any particular interest.

This list includes options for campers interested in sports, theater, music, outdoor adventure, coding, and much more.

Best San Diego Summer Camps

1. Catalina Sea Camp

Catalina Sea Camp

Catalina Sea Camp is an overnight camp that offers both education and exciting activities for campers ages 8-17. There is a weeklong program for those 8-13 and a three-week session for older campers ages 12-17. It’s located on Catalina Island, so at the start of camp, a boat picks up the kids in Long Beach, around an hour and a half from San Diego, before transporting them to their destination.

Kids can expect fun camp activities like kayaking, underwater videography and photography, scuba diving, arts and crafts, paddle boarding, wall climbing, and more. They can also enjoy fun socials and events like talent shows, beach and theme parties, and campfires. Children will learn about marine biology through hands on-experiments while making new friends and having memorable adventures.

During camp, kids will develop independence, build social skills as they interact with their peers, learn the value of teamwork, and get away from technology. The camp staff and counselors are trained to create a welcoming and safe camp environment for all attendees.

2. Encore Creative Arts Camp

Encore Creative Arts

If you have a creative child and looking to enroll them in an awesome arts camp, then Encore Creative Arts Camp is a great place to send them to for the summer. They offer full-day summer camps that last one week, two-week, and the entire season.

They feature 9 weeks of fun with performing, visual, and media arts with some science and magic. Various themes and activities include miniature crafts, musical theatre, filmmaking, anime, magic, photography and much more.

The programs are open to children ages 7 to 15 with additional options for younger 4 to 6 year olds. Apart from class time, outdoor activities are also part of the day to day to keep things fun.

The camps run between 9 am to 3 pm, with early drop off at 8:30 am and aftercare options available for busy parents. Encore Creative Arts Camp is a great place for children to express their creativity and pick up new skills or try new things. 

3. Northcoast Rep Theater Camps

The Theatre School offers memorable summer fun at their theater camp for kids. They have San Diego camps for different age groups, including 4 to 8, 9 to 12, and 13 to 18. Each session culminates with a production that parents can watch.

The camps for the youngest children take half a day to a whole week. They teach rhythm, basic music skills, and sound. Through creative play, they are introduced to theater techniques like improvisation and storytelling. Counselors work with them on a one-on-one basis, making it one of the best theatre programs in San Diego.

For 8 to 12 year olds, the theater camps are full-day and run for two weeks. Kids are taught acting skills, and prepare for their role in the culminating production at the end of the camp. The theater camp for teens is more immersive, and the plays are more challenging too. 

4. Aikido Of San Diego

Aikido Of San Diego is hosting a short mini camp from June 15 to June 16 this 2023 season. Campers will be able to join in on the fun with activities like Aikido technique, yoga, camp games, agility training, and much more.

Children 6-12 are welcome to come from 9 am to 3 pm with early drop-off and late pick up available. It’s a good place for campers to learn about kindness, mindfulness, respect, and other important values.

Apart from camp, they offer after-school classes and memberships where kids ages 6+ can receive instruction in Aikido. The school is run by Dave Goldberg, who has more than 20+ years of experience teaching children.

They also have adult classes in case you want to join your child in learning about a new skill.

5. La Jolla Summer Surf Camp

The La Jolla Summer Surf Camp is a fantastic option for young surfers to learn new skills and life lessons while cooling off at beautiful San Diego beaches. Not only will your little surfer learn swimming and surfing safety, technique, and soft skills, but they also have a chance to advance to higher skill levels. 

The SEA Instructors for this specialty camp are trained and certified in water safety, CPR, and advanced first aid. The summer camp maintains a reasonable ratio of 1 to 5 between instructors and campers for safety reasons and to ensure the success of its participants. Games, challenges, arts & crafts, and cool videos documenting the week are highlights of the program. 

It’s held every weekday at the beautiful La Jolla Shores and is available to children ages 5-14. However, you can reach out to them if you have someone younger or older than that. You can also book individual surf lessons for children from expert coaches throughout the year.

6. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park

The perfect summer day camp at the San Diego Zoo is for kids of all ages that like nature, animals, and art. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park Camp provides youth with a plethora of activities during summer weekdays, and parents can choose from half-day or full-day options.

Campers can enjoy drawing, camp games, learning all about wildlife and ecosystems, and arts & crafts. Crafts include small projects like watercolor painting as well as bigger projects like carving and sculpting 3D images. They even get up close and personal with the animals and learn about their natural habitat and behaviors.

They offer age-appropriate, week long summer camps led by skilled staff, with safety as the utmost importance. You can sign kids up for camps based on their current grade level, with options for elementary, middle school, and high school students. 

7. Camp Jaycee

Camp Jaycee is one of the most established traditional camps in the San Diego area. The program has been running for over 70 years and is accredited by the American Camp Association. It also works with the American Academy of Pediatrics to ensure its programs are child-centered, age-appropriate, and safe.

There are day camps and longer programs for children as young as two years old to teenagers. Since they have indoor and outdoor facilities, you can sign up your child for sports camps, theater camps, dance, scouting, coding, cooking, chemistry, and more!

They offer unique themesat  each summer camp like Funster Detectives where kids learn problem-solving, a Jedi camp for Star Wars fans, Lego and Minecraft camp, and a magic camp inspired by Harry Potter. You can check Camp Jaycee’s website for their calendar and find programs suitable for your child’s age and interest.

8. YMCA San Diego (YMCASD)

YMCA summer camps have 13 camp locations all across California and several programs throughout the year. YMCA offers week-long local day camps that follow a unique theme. Their Discovery camp has entertaining activities that build curiosity such as storytelling, crafts and wildlife shows.

YMCA San Diego also has specialized day camps and overnight camps on sports or subjects like robotics or art, as well as teen camps and leadership camps.

Campers are supervised by trained camp counselors, and there is a small counselor-to-child ratio. Each summer program is designed to support kids and help them get to enjoy a fun summer experience.

You can search the camp schedules according to your child’s age, gender, and area of interest on their website. As a side note, they also tend to host spring break events and virtual classes.

9. San Diego Model Railroad Museum

The San Diego Model Railroad Museum offers one of the more unique summer camp programs in the area. At camp, younger kids will create a mock model railroad together with the other campers. Older students can build an actual running model railroad and use their creative skills to design the layout.

Programs are offered to students from kindergarten all the way to high school students in 9th grade. There are camp sessions that start in June and end in July. These are half-day programs that run from 9 am to 12 pm.  

They offer in-person summer camps for kids in the area and virtual camps for those far out or even out of state so that parents can choose the one most suitable for their kids. With hands-on activities and the ability to carefully design and construct this project, kids can be proud of their end product. 

10. Keystone South Summer Camp

Keystone South Summer Camp is a holistic summer camp in San Diego county, which has a good mix of things to do. Keystone’s programs include sports, crafts, games, and other traditional camp activities. Children ages 7+ can enjoy a full, action-packed day of adventure with occasional field trips.

The day camp programs change often, so there’s always something new. Some days campers can enjoy fun games and sports like soccer, frisbee, disc golf, and other days they can take art classes from local artists. Younger kids can join the Junior Camp program. At junior camp, they learn songs and skits, make art crafts, engage in creative play, and get active through fun sports and games.

With just five kids per counselor, you can be sure that your child will get close supervision and individual instruction. This is all done in a safe and fun environment.

12. Outposts Summer Camp

This popular summer camp is located near the Los Penasquitos Preserve. It has programs for different age groups, with Junior Outpost for kids ages 5 to 7 and Senior Outpost for ages 7 to 9. They have two sessions every year, each lasting about two weeks.

Outposts keeps the groups small, so each child gets close supervision and has time to bond with the other campers. If your child gets shy or overwhelmed in large groups, it’s an excellent choice for a first summer camp experience.

The fun activities are tailored to different needs and personalities. Some days kids can play games or sports, or they might have a free day of swimming and make-believe play. Kids can unplug from technology and enjoy nature in every sense. You can choose between whole-day or half-day summer camp. 

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