Top 10 Summer Camps

BY Claire Willet

The camps on this list provide opportunities for your children to develop their passions, whether they’re travel or sports, computers or the outdoors. But if you’re interested in signing your child up, don’t delay—slots in these camps don’t stay open long.

The Experiment in International Living offers a monthlong adventure in the country known as the Land of the Blue Sky. Orientation takes place amid Ulaanbaatar's humming outdoor food and crafts markets and solemn monasteries, and participants will see Mongolia’s famed wrestlers, archers and jockeys during Naadam, the country’s Olympics. Then it's off to the steppes, where students join in the life of the Mongolian frontier, bunking with Mongol families in gers (round tents).

Contact: Chris Frantz, 800.345.2929,,
SITE Mongolia AGES Completed grades 9 to 12 DURATION One month COST $6,600 (includes airfare)

From September through May, Wharton is populated by future masters of the universe, but in July one of the country’s top business schools turns its Philadelphia and San Francisco campuses and faculty over to a handful of elite high school kids. “Leadership in the Business World” makes good on its title—courses focus on leadership and management, and the group business plan competition, judged by a panel of venture capitalists, has fostered viable ideas like low-cost prefabricated housing and Medsafe prescription safety cards. Although the requirements for getting in are steep—top-notch SATs, a personal essay and two letters of recommendation—those accepted are treated to guest lectures by various luminaries (past speakers have included the CEOs of and Tower Investments and top execs at Google and Deloitte) and site visits to Wall Street firms and Google.

Contact: Dr. Anne Greenhalgh, 215.746.8765,,
SITE San Francisco, Philadelphia AGES Completed grade 11 DURATION One month COST $5,500 ($75 application fee)


In 1903 three ex-Olympians—all U-Penn alums—founded a summer camp on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee, whichisabout 30 miles north of Concord, N.H. Its motto: “Make good boys better,” something it aspired to do through a program of athletics, theater and outdoor adventure. More than 100 years later, about the only thing that’s changed at Camp Tecumseh is the uniforms (now made by Under Armour). Counselors and instructors are either college athletes or high-level coaches, and one-on-one training is available.

Contact: Jim Talbot, 610.275.6634,,
SITE Lake Winnipesaukee, N.H. AGES 8 to 16 DURATION About one to two months COST $4,600 (3.5 weeks) to $6,700 (7 weeks)


This intensive Princeton Review course, run by New York-based Musiker Discovery, makes a strong case for transatlantic SAT prep. Campers spend three weeks living in Cambridge University’s Murray Edwards College and one week inthe RoyalLondon Hotel. Along with two hours of daily SAT instruction, campers take one of more than 20 university-level courses taught by Cambridge faculty. Musiker’s program brings campers to must-sees—Westminster Abbey, the British Museum—and leaves plenty of time for punting on the Thames.

Contact: Bob Musiker, 516.621.3939,, SITE Cambridge and London, England AGES Completed grades 9 to 12 DURATION Four weeks COST $7,599


As Stagedoor Manor alums Robert Downey Jr., Natalie Portman and Glee’s Lea Michele can attest, a summer at the acclaimed acting camp can eliminate years of waiting tables and off-off- Broadway shows. The main programs (acting, dance, voice and television) are offered at basic, intermediate and advanced levels; more experienced thespians can enroll in the concentrated Master Classes. The three-week programs start with auditions for either musicals or dramas which campers rehearse and perform on the camp’s eight indoor and outdoor stages. Adding to Stagedoor’s glitz factor: costumes from Broadway productions such as Oklahoma! and West Side Story and workshops with top agents, composers and casting directors.

Contact: Barbara Martin, 888.782.4388,,

SITE Loch Sheldrake, N.Y. AGES 10 to 18 DURATION Three to six weeks COST $5,145 to $9,345


Eighteen hours a week of jumping, dressage and polo lessons are enough to make any horse-lover swoon. Add a location that’s only 90 miles from Manhattan but bucolic enough to offer a varied terrain with brooks, post and rail fences, and miles of trails through the Shawangunk Mountains, and it’s little wonder that the International Riding Camp is so popular among East Coast equestrians. For 32 years, founder and director Arno Mares has supervised a program that now includes small-group lessons, opportunities to compete in area horse shows, a beach-riding excursion in Southampton and, for more experienced riders, a weeklong equestrian and cultural tour of Moscow and St. Petersburg. While the stateside lodgings—a log cabin dormitory—are rustic, the farm-to-table organic menu exemplifies the best of country living.

Contact: Arno Mares, 845.647.3240,,
SITE Greenfield Park, N.Y. AGES 7 to 17 DURATION One to 10 weeks COST $1,890 to $14,000

Wimbledon is usually the pinnacle of a tennis pro’s career, but campers who join Tennis Europe’s Common Market team get to play on its famed grass courts before they’ve gone pro. Capped at 15 advanced players, Common Market focuses on match play, with tournaments against European juniors in Amsterdam and Switzerland. Off-court, campers spend several days each week sightseeing at places such as Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum and the Anne Frank House, as well as the shores of Lake Geneva. The final two days are spent exploring the grand boulevards and windy medieval alleys of Paris, with trips to the Louvre, the Champs Elysées and Stade Roland Garros, home of the French Open.

Contact: Dr. Martin Vinokur, 203.322.9803,,

SITE London, Amsterdam, Munich, etc. AGES 14 to 18 DURATION 25 days COST $6,999


360 Student Travel’s Belize and Costa Rica trip is camp for water sports lovers. The program starts with a sojourn in the laid-back surfer colony of Dominical, Costa Rica, an ideal spot to catch waves and practice hanging 10 with area maestros. Then it’s on to the clear blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, where campers get their fill of tacking and jibing during five days on a chartered catamaran. Finally, campers go underwater, earning scuba certification (PADI) in Laughing Bird Caye National Park, a World Heritage site filled with tropical fish, bottlenose dolphins and the namesake laughing gulls.

Contact: Mark Segal, 914.835.0699,,

SITE Belize, Costa Rica AGES Completed grades 8 to 10 DURATION Three weeks COST $5,899

09. TASIS Summer Programs

English may be the most-spoken global language, but in the world of international culture, French is still lingua franca. At The American School in Switzerland's Châteaud'Oex campus, campers spend weekday mornings in intensive small-group French lessons that emphasize speaking like a native. Afternoons are filled with more American activities: whitewater rafting, tandem paragliding and mountain biking through the Gstaad Valley and Swiss Alps. Weekends are devoted to all things Swiss, with trips to the Etivaz Caves and Château Chillon; older campers also have a chance to practice their newfound bons mots during an optional week in Paris. Warning: Only serious Francophiles need apply—both the middle and high school camps are limited to 25 children, and faculty letters of recommendation are required.

Contact: Marie-Josée Breton, 202.965.5800,,
SITE Château-d'Oex, Switzerland AGES 11 to 17 DURATION Four to five weeks COST $6,668 to $7,772

10. Digital Media Academy

Conducted at some of the nation’s most prestigious universities—Harvard, Stanford and the University of Chicago, to name a few—this tech-oriented “academy” replaces the three Rs with “3D Game Development for the iPhone” and “Flash Scripting for Web Design.” Teens already fluent in PHP and Final Cut can enroll in one of DMA's adult “Pro-Series” courses. As expected from an Apple-certified organization, all instructors are industry veterans, and the camper-to-instructor ratio is 6:1.

Contact: Lara Laham, 866.656.3342,, SITE University campuses such as Harvard and Stanford AGES 6 to 18 DURATION Four to five weeks COST $595 to $2,795, depending in part on age

This article originally appeared in the October/November 2010 issue of Worth. 

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