Choosing the Right Summer Camp

Summer camps provide a healthy, secure and friendly environment for children to learn and play in organized group activities. While there are hundreds of permitted camps in New York City, you can find the best one for your child by following these steps. Many camps begin their registration period in January, so start early to ensure your child gets into the right camp.

Day Camp

  • Children are under 16 years of age
  • No overnight stay
  • Indoor or outdoor activities/trips

Traveling Day Camp

  • Children are under 16 years of age
  • No overnight stay
  • Campers are transported to a camp site each day. From there, they usually go on a trip.

Overnight Camp

  • Children are under 18 years of age
  • Overnight stay of more than 72 consecutive hours
  • In the city, these camps are usually located at a college or university campus. They include indoor or outdoor activities/trips.

Camp for Children with Developmental Disabilities

  • If 20% of campers or more have a developmental disability, then that camp is subject to additional City regulations.
  • A developmental disability is a severe, chronic disability of a person. It is attributable to mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism or neurological impairment. It also may be attributable to any other condition of a person similar to mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism or neurological impairment, if that condition results in similar impairment of general intellectual functioning or adaptive behavior and requires treatment and services similar to those required for such people. A developmental disability originates before the child is 18 years old and is likely to continue indefinitely.
  • No overnight stay
  • Once you know what type of summer camp would be best for your child, you can use Child Care Connect to find a great camp in the city.
  • Enroll early. Many camps begin their registration period as early as January.
  • Check for camps located near your home or work.
  • Ask your neighbors, friends and relatives for recommendations.
  • Visit camp sites to check that they are healthy, safe environments offering a variety of activities. When you tour a camp, keep an eye out for safety hazards, such as peeling paint and broken equipment.
  • If you are looking for a camp outside the city, see the American Camp Association of New York and New Jersey for more information.

The best way to learn about a camp is to speak with the camp’s operator or director. Some good questions to ask include:

  • Has the camp applied for a City permit?
  • How do I enroll and what are the costs?
  • Do you offer reimbursements?
  • What hours does the camp operate, and do you offer care services outside of those hours?
  • Does the camp provide transportation? If so, how?
  • Will the camp provide lunch? If not, how will it store the lunches I give to my child?
  • Does the camp provide swimming or other aquatic activities? If so, what are your safety procedures?
  • How does the camp screen employees?
  • How does the camp handle medical or other emergencies?
  • Will my child be supervised at all times? How many campers are there per counselor?
  • How does the camp discipline campers?

Before you register for a camp, check information on services offered by the City, including:

Make a Complaint or Report Child Abuse

If you discover a safety or sanitary issue at a camp, call 311 to make a complaint.

To report child abuse at a camp, call the Child Abuse Hotline at (800) 342-3720. For abuse taking place outside New York State, call (518) 474-8740.

More Information