Are you a Wisconsinite looking for the best camp for your kids this summer? Or perhaps someone from eastern Minnesota or northern Illinois looking to take advantage of Wisconsin's offerings? Wherever you're from, Wisconsin holds some great camp options for your kids. And Wisconsin is especially strong when it comes to kids' summer camps. I know this because I both grew up in this state and raised a kid here! Let's take a look at the best summer camps in Wisconsin.
The Best Co-ed Summer Camps in Wisconsin
Co-ed camps are the most common type of summer camp in Wisconsin. This default option is especially convenient when you want to send siblings to camp together. It's also a great option if your kid wants to go to camp with a group of their friends, regardless of gender.
Camp Anokijig is a camp for kids 7 to 16. It's nestled on the outskirts of Plymouth, WI, along the shore of Little Elkhart Lake. This camp takes a very straightforward approach to your kid's day. Days are organized into scheduled periods of learning and play.
First, there’s a “Skills Period” where kids can choose skills that interest them and practice those skills with guidance and instruction. Skills include arts/crafts, canoeing, archery, nature knowledge, etc.
Then, there’s an “All-camp Activities” period designed to foster fun and community building. Activities in this second period include competitive games such as waterfront Olympics and collaborative activities such as beach parties and cookouts.
From there, campers break off into “Sectional Activities.” Team activities focus on things that can be done in small groups, such as canoeing. These activities are organized by cabin; each cabin at Camp Anokijig has a group of kids in it that work together.
Finally, the day concludes with “Directed Free-time” where the campers do whatever they like, signing up for horseback riding, sailing, boating, and more! They can even sign up for multiple activities in the same period.
Camp Anokijig is an especially nice choice because its daily routine focuses on community building and child-directed learning and exploration.
In Mellen, Camp Eagle Ridge offers many of the usual popular camp activities: sailing, gymnastics, swimming, and so on. But what makes this camp really stand out is its leadership workshops. They offer courses on decision-making, conflict resolution, communication skills, overcoming difficulty, and much more.
Eagle Ridge makes the list of the best camps in Wisconsin because of everything the camp does to promote leadership and community strength. At Camp Eagle Ridge, your child will learn life skills that help them and allow them to help others.
Moving on to the remote but beautiful Minong, we have Swift Nature Camp. Swift welcomes kids as young as 6 and as old as 17.
In terms of educational structure and approach, Swift offers the summer camp equivalent to small classes. They try to give each kid a lot of individual attention and encourage camp attendees to make their own decisions in terms of what they want to do and how they'd like to explore.
Because Swift Camp counselors take such a gentle, attentive approach to the kids in their charge, Swift is especially good for kids who are new to the summer camp experience. If your kid hasn't been away to camp before and is a little apprehensive about it, Swift Nature Camp just might be a perfect first experience for them.
Not all summer camps have to be in the middle of the woods! iD Tech's educational summer camp is hosted on the UW-Madison campus right in the heart of the city of Madison. True to its name, this summer camp program helps kids and teens explore the world of technology and learn tech skills. The camp's areas of focus are coding, game development, robotics, and technological design.
If your kid is already interested in tech, or if you're hoping they can cultivate abilities in these valuable skills, this is an excellent place to send your kids. The weeklong courses have a lot of value, and the instructors are real tech professionals from the top of their field, experts who work for companies such as Disney and Volvo.
The Best Camps in Wisconsin for Boys
If you’re looking for a camp targeted specifically toward your son, there are a lot of great options as well. Here are some of the best camps in Wisconsin today for boys.
Camp Menominee is an all-boys summer camp in Eagle River, WI. This is a very active camp offering many options for competitive sports (basketball, baseball, golf, soccer, wrestling, etc.). They also offer a fantastic range of water activities such as sailing, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, swimming, and more.
Menominee offers much more than sport, however. Your son will enjoy activities related to the arts and exploring nature. All in all, their goal is to give boys a well-rounded experience that encourages them to learn and grow.
If you're looking for a camp experience that will teach your son sportsmanship and fair play and encourage his pursuit of skill and knowledge, Menominee may be one of the best camps in Wisconsin for him.
Tucked away in Woodruff near the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Red Arrow Camp is one of Wisconsin's hidden gems. In terms of activities, it has the competitive sports you'd expect from a boy's camp. But it also offers learning and activities worthy of a well-funded high school's extracurricular program. Offerings include drama, choir, and scuba diving.
What makes Red Arrow Camp really unique though, is the deep, immersive wilderness experience it offers. Red Arrow facilitates this experience in two ways. First, it has a NO TECH rule – boys in attendance may NOT play with cell phones, laptops, or gaming devices while they're at camp. Second, the camping period is seven weeks. This relatively long period is key to Red Arrow's Disconnect, Discover, Develop approach, which is discussed in detail on its official YouTube channel.
This camp for boys ages 7 to 16 has a strong focus on personal growth, leadership, and community building, with a strong emphasis on community!
Towering Pines encourages family engagement and input and has an entire “Families” section on their website. They also keep in touch with alumni who've attended the camp in the past. They even have regular reunion events for past camp attendees.
While the sheer level of community building at Towering Pines is fairly unique, this camp does have something in common with one of the other boys' camps on the list: like Camp Menominee, Towering Pines is located in Eagle River. Eagle River is quite the hub for excellent kid's camps and the site of a number of the best camps in Wisconsin.
The Best Camps in Wisconsin for Girls
Next, let's look at some of the best camps in Wisconsin that are specifically for girls. Below, we'll explore three great camps to send your daughter to.
This is our third camp from Eagle River, and in this case, the inclusion of another camp from this town is no coincidence. Camp Woodland for Girls is run by the same people who run the Eagle River boys' camp Towering Pines, which is also on this list of the best camps in Wisconsin.
There are also some key differences from Towering Pines, of course. Beyond the obvious difference that Woodland is for girls and not boys, this camp offers one athletic activity not available at Towering Pines: gymnastics. This Olympic sport is especially popular with many girls.
Sawyer County is an absolute mainstay for campers of all ages in Wisconsin. So, it's only fitting that a camp from this county makes our list. Let's take a closer look at WeHaKee Camp for Girls, located in the Town of Winter in Sawyer County.
This camp enrolls girls ages 7 to 17 and has an absolutely fantastic range of activities. Girls can choose experiences that are athletic such as soccer, football, or biking. They may also choose activities that are more academic – journalism, band, drama, and culinary arts, to name a few.
Since WeHaKee's diverse activity options make the camp truly special, I recommend checking them out for yourself. As you can see, this camp offers plenty of ways for your daughter to push her body and her mind to new levels of excellence.
Camp Agawak is the second camp on our list that is nestled against the breathtakingly beautiful Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.
Among the best camps in Wisconsin, Agawak is especially noteworthy for the diverse camping experiences it offers. There is a short-stay “Rookie Camp” for younger girls who may not be ready for a full four weeks away from home. For beginner campers, this is a nice alternative to Agawak's standard four-week camp. And if your daughter is particularly adventurous, you can sign her up for a wilderness trip camping experience.
Agawak offers one additional experience that's not just for girls. Whole families can sign up for their family camp.
Final Thoughts on the Best Camps in Wisconsin
As someone who grew up in Wisconsin and still lives and thrives here, I can tell you that the camps on this list are just the tip of the iceberg. Yes, Wisconsin is especially well known for its kids' summer camps. However, we also have countless general camping areas that you can bring the whole family to.
If you're looking for general campgrounds, many of the best camps in Wisconsin are found in the State Park System. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources offers a complete list of those camps here. And on a personal note, I think Wisconsin's best-kept camping secret is the many campgrounds found in the Chetek/New Auburn area.
You may discover your own well-kept secrets and favorite spots as you explore places to set up camp in this state. Happy camping!
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Photo by Brooklyn Morgan on Unsplash.