Summer is here, and the kids are out of school. For some kids, it’s a much-needed break, but for others, the boredom will flare up in a matter of days. If you’re looking for a healthy and fun way to entertain your brood this summer, consider sending them to one of these awesome summer camps in Arkansas! Arkansas offers a pretty impressive array of summer camp options, no matter what your children are into. From band camps to athletic getaways, outdoor recreation to Christian and art camps, the Natural State has it all!

Love camping as a family? Check out our list of the “The Best Arkansas Campsites for Family Fun in the Woods.”

Is Summer Camp Still a Thing?

While this generation of kids tends to stick closer to home, summer camp is still an awesome option for outgoing kids or for children who need a little push to branch out. Summer programs impact children in all kinds of ways from socialization to spiritual growth. Campers will:

  • Meet new friends with similar interests
  • Develop new skills
  • Learn to function more independently
  • Experience a different form of authority
  • Learn important leadership skills
  • Expand their interests

Children often return from camp feeling enlightened, refreshed, and with a new-found sense of confidence…if a bit tired. If you’ve never sent your kiddos off for a week of adventure, it can feel nerve-wracking, but for most kids, summer camp is a fantastic experience! From one who spent many summer days at camp and then graduated to a camp counselor in my early adult years, I can personally testify to the positive impact of these programs and the memories they create!

The Best Summer Camps in Arkansas

Girl Using a Magnifying Glass on Flowers at summer camp
Photo by cottonbro studio

We’ve perused the list of Arkansas summer camps and chosen a few of the best from both online reviews and personal experience. We’ve included something for every kind of kid, but if you don’t see something your child will love, or that fits your parameters, check out the full list on Arkansas Summer Camps.

1. Arkansas 4-H Summer Day Camps-West Little Rock

The Arkansas 4-H State Camping Program offers both day camps and overnight camps each summer at the C.A. Vines Center (about ten minutes west of Little Rock) for ages 5-19. Summer day camps feature a different theme each week including:

  • Outdoor Adventure
  • Young Pioneers
  • Sports Adventure
  • Critter Camp
  • Science in Action
  • Wilderness Camp

Camps include canoeing, archery, rock climbing, creative arts, swimming, and guided hikes. Obviously, Arkansas 4-H is a well-respected and time-tested organization that you can trust. Their staff is dedicated to seeing kids thrive, learn, and grow. 4-H members are eligible for all camps, but some of the camps are open to non-members as well. These camps sell out very quickly, so make sure to sign up early for next year!

If you’re uncomfortable sending your child off for a week at camp, this is the perfect option. With the 4-H day camp, not only do they come home at night, but parents and volunteers are welcome (after a screening process)! If you have a nervous kiddo, or they’re on the young end, consider attending the camp together!

2. Ferncliff-Little Rock

Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center in Little Rock is a staple for Arkansans. I’m pretty sure it was an obligatory field trip for every school in the state back in the day. Ferncliff is still fantastic, and they offer a series of summer camps ranging from overnight camping, to jam-packed day camps, and even family retreats.

The overnight camps include a full week of activities for children from 1st to 12th grade. Days are full of Christian worship and bible study, hiking, fishing, arts & crafts, and much more. Children are organized by age into “family groups” and are continually accompanied by two counselors.

Day Camps include the same activities for one week, but children return home in the evening. It’s available for children entering 1st to 8th grades. Day camps run from June 10-Aug 9, 2024.

This year’s Family Retreat Weekend is from August 30-Sept 2.

Registration for all camps is open now!

3. Camp Tahkodah-Floral

Camp Tahkodah is a 1,350-acre site in the Ozark Mountains owned and operated by Harding University. This Christian-based camp is for children aged 8 to 18. There are five separate one-week sessions from the beginning of June to the end of July.

Camp activities include guided hikes in the beautiful bluffs, bible classes, horseback riding, softball and basketball, ping pong, tennis, archery, volleyball, hayrides, fishing, talent nights, stargazing, canoeing, crafts, and swimming.

This camp is highly structured with a full daily schedule, packed with fun activities from start to finish. Online registration, dates, and fees are all available now on their website.

P.S. Harding University does a wonderful job of engaging with the community during the summer months. Not only do they offer the Christian camp above, but they also put on fantastic sports camps for teens including soccer, softball, football, and more. They also offer a two-week Honor Symposium for high school juniors that focuses on spiritual and academic growth with tutelage from university professors and university counselors.

If you’re looking for a Christian-based activity for your children this summer, Harding is an excellent resource.

4. Camp Ozark-Mt. Ida

Camp Ozark, formally known as Ozark Boys Camp, is not located in the Ozarks, weirdly enough. It’s located in Mt. Ida in the Ouachita National Forest. The wildly successful camp has been open since 1985 and has grown from just 18 cabins to over 80, now serving more than 7,000 campers each summer.

Campers enjoy rock climbing, aerial ropes courses, waterslides, watersports on the lake, and 150 more activities. Camp Ozark, though owned and staffed by believers, is one of the only week-long camps in the state that isn’t faith-based, so if you’re looking for a camp that’s not a “church camp,” this is an awesome option.

Staff is highly trained and chosen with the utmost care. The camp is staffed with ten nurses and has two on-site medical clinics. It’s been accredited by the ACA (American Camp Association) for 15 years running and has won numerous awards. If this is your child’s first camp experience, and they don’t mind big crowds, Camp Ozark is a well-respected, organized, and top-tier Arkansas summer camp.

5. Aegis Summer Camp-Statewide

The Academic Enrichment for Gifted/Talented in Summer (AEGIS) program offers Arkansas students the ability to learn and grow with a series of themed camps. Children do not need to be in a gifted/talented program in their schools to participate. They just need to be interested in the content. Also, grants are available to help underprivileged families participate in this awesome educational opportunity!

The program runs in conjunction with the Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education. The themed camps are organized by age group to ensure that children are comfortably surrounded by their peers. This year’s themes include:

  • Anime and origami
  • Environmental science and biotechnology
  • C.A.V.E.S. (Creative Adventures and Valuable Experiences through Spelunking)
  • AI Robotics & Ethics
  • Operation A.I.M.S.: Adolescents Investigating Medical Science
  • Expressions (art, music)
  • Summerstage (theatre)
  • International Affairs and United Nations
  • Pop, Rock, and Jazz
  • Wilderness Aegis Summer
  • Architecture
  • Recycled Recreation

Each camp is hosted by a different facility around the state and ranges from 3-day to weeklong summer camps. These camps are geared towards jr. high and high school students. Check out the full location information and grant rules on their website.

6. Brookhill Ranch Summer Camp

Brookhill Summer Camp, located in Hot Springs Village, is one of the most popular in the state, and it’s easy to see why. Dance, pickleball, beach volleyball, wakeboarding, riflery, go-carts, and much more will keep your kids busy from morning to night. There are no electronics allowed, including phones, so this is a chance for your kiddos to unplug from the stressful online world and enjoy new activities with friends.

The camp serves kids from grade levels 2-12 and offers several segments through June and July. They also offer a two-week session at the end of summer for older campers. Military and multi-child discounts are available, as well as scholarships. Registration for camp opens January 1st of each year. Submit application online!

7. Sports Camps-Statewide

From the soccer Summer Residential Program at the Boys Junior Academy through Harding to the high school football camp put on by the Arkansas Razorbacks to Ballet Arkansas Summer Dance Camps, the Natural State has dozens of fantastic sports-based programs for kids of all ages.

Most larger high schools, every major university, PGA, Nike, and many others offer camps all over the state! If your kiddos are into sports, you could literally sign them up for a camp every day of summer!

8. Camp Wyldewood

Camp Wyldewood is another long-running Christian camp located in Searcy. Established in 1948 as a summer camp and retreat center, they offer day camps for ages 5-8 and weeklong sessions for older children. They even offer weeklong retreats throughout the year for ages 8 to 18.

Children enjoy days filled with kayaking, fishing, arts & crafts, watersports on the lake, rappelling, and hatchet throwing. Plus, they get to have daily encounters with God while worshiping and learning with like-minded friends. This year’s theme is focused on the fruits of the spirit from Galatians.

9. North Arkansas University

North Arkansas University offers a series of summer camps revolving around art and science. The artistic staff hosts a Sewing Camp where campers participate in fun sewing projects, learning to cut fabric, work from a pattern, and create their own masterpieces.

The Clothing Design Camp focuses on illustration techniques and costume design.

The Art Camp features clay working, drawing, folk art, printmaking, sculpture, tie dye, and much more!

The Environmental Science Camp entreats children grades 9+ to field techniques in geology, plant identification, leave no trace, fire ecology, geocaching, and microbiology.

If you’ve got an artistic child who would benefit from a small class with dedicated teachers, NorthArk offers an excellent summer option!

10. Arkansas Tech University Band Camps

Located in Russellville, ATU excels at summer camps. They offer band camps for middle school, jr. high, and high school students. On top of their excellent music camps, they host a series of sports camps and a spirit squad program!

Campers and parents can choose between on-campus or off-campus options. Campers who stay on campus will be settled into student dorms. All camps are four days.

Time to Pick Your Arkansas Summer Program!

A Young Girl and Boy Writing and Drawing on Papers at the Table at art camp
Photo by RDNE Stock project

There you have it…the top ten summer camps in Arkansas! Remember, these ten are just a dip into the exciting world of Arkansas programs. There are so many options out there from fun day camps to full family retreats! We hope we have piqued your interest because summer camp is a rewarding experience that fosters growth and creates lasting memories. Do your research to find a camp in your vicinity that fits your budget and your comfort level, then complete that application!

For more meaningful activities this summer, check out our blog on “10 Family Volunteer Vacations in Arkansas and Beyond.”

Until next time…get out there and explore the Natural State!

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