Cincinnati Family Magazine

Your # 1 Hometown Family Resource

February 3, 2023

Local Day Camps

Here’s the scoop on what local day camps have in store for the 2015 summer camp season!

Day camps are a great way to introduce first-time campers to summer fun. We chatted with a few area programs to find out just what they have in store this year!

A Little Bit of Everything

Kids First Sports Center (7900 E. Kemper Road; 513-489-7575) has 108,000 square feet of everything kids love, according to Megan Smith, Camp Department Leader. That includes gymnastics, basketball, dance, cheerleading, karate, yoga, fencing, gardening and archery. Campers will also enjoy miniature golf, a climbing wall, a giant slip-n-slide and a special play area just for them.

So what’s new this year? Says Smith, “We will be featuring half-day and full-day specialty camps along with our full-day summer camp program. These camps will focus on specialties such as video animation and movie production, and mobile application development for our older campers; while our younger campers will get to do unique LEGO kits to learn STEM concepts.” Lunch and field trips are part of the plan, including a new lunch program that features food from several local restaurants. Kids First also offers a Leaders-In-Training program for ages 13 – 15, where teens can explore service projects, supervised time with campers, and get a chance to earn experience in interviewing and job-related skills.

Great Times at Great Parks

Great Parks of Hamilton County (513-521-7275) will offer 20 different day camps this year, including nature, adventure, farm, horse, and fishing camps. Camps are open to ages 4 – 17, but the Growing Up a Farm Kid Camp is for 2-year-olds and an adult. Registration begins on Feb. 9 and Early Bird Pricing, which can save you up to $20 per camp, will end March 31.

What’s popular? Awesome Animals for ages 4 – 5, according to Naturalist Clerk Angie Brafford. “Campers will explore and discover our native wildlife. Bugs, birds, snakes and frogs are a few of the many animals they will meet on this woodland adventure.” New nature camps include Nature’s Myths and Mysteries, where ages 8 – 11 will learn the truth behind nature’s myths while hiking and meeting live animals; and Wild Explorers, for ages 6 – 9, allows campers to explore forests, creeks, and meadows.

For the more daring, Great Parks offers Adventure Camps, including the Great Outdoors Camp, which fills up quickly according to Brafford. “Campers will enjoy the different outdoor experiences of Winton Woods and a visit to Miami Whitewater Forest, as well as experiencing low ropes course, horseback riding, golfing, hiking, canoeing or kayaking, rock-wall climbing, and wetland exploration.” A Survival Camp for ages 12 – 17 is also on the schedule, and water lovers ages 11 – 15 will love the three-day Kayak Camp, which includes a trip down the Little Miami River.

Horse camps are open to ages 7 – 17 and are offered in weeklong sessions where kids cover safety, grooming, tacking, and riding. New on Parky’s Farm is a Barnyard Blast Camp for ages 9 – 13, where kids brush and saddle ponies, help with feeding and cleaning, and go creeking and hiking; while ages 4 – 6 explore the popular Pony Camp that includes assisted pony rides, games and crafts.

Music lovers can enjoy a variety of camps at Northern Kentucky School of Music of Immanuel UMC.

The Sound of Music

Music lovers ages 6 – 14 are invited for a variety of camps at Northern Kentucky School of Music of Immanuel UMC (2551 Dixie Hwy., Lakeside Park; 859-341-8555). “These camps are productive and educational,” says Director Toni Sheffer, “but they also keep kids playing and having fun while being with friends.” Theatreworks is a musical theatre camp in which kids can choose to pursue Musical Theatre or Fun With Acting. Kids work in small, age-appropriate groups, as well as larger groups, and finish off their week with a show. Got Strings? is a camp for beginning musicians with a year’s worth of experience on their instruments, while The “S” Factor is for more advanced students. The Masterpiece Camp is for advanced students who will work together on actual masterpiece compositions. The school also offers Chamber Music programs that run throughout the summer. For 2015, Sheffer says that Got Strings? has been reconstructed for busy working parents and will offer both a morning and an evening session.

Cincy Parks

Nurture your love of nature at camp with Cincinnati Parks.

Stay in the City

Cincinnati Parks’ Summer Nature Day Camps will connect kids to the great outdoors. According to Erin Morris, Assistant Manager of Explore Nature, “Daily hikes, games, crafts and other hands-on activities help to ensure that children get outside and enjoy nature, meet new friends, and have a lifetime of happy memories.” Popular camps include the Nature Camps in the Parks at Ault, Burnet Woods, French Park and Stanbery for ages 5 – 12 with their preschool siblings attending Discovery Morning Camps at the same parks during the same week. California Woods and Trailside Nature Center have nature themed camps and a few specialized camps such as Nature Art and Theater and Astronomy. LaBoiteaux Woods mostly offers specialty camps such as Harry Potter Camp I and II, Science Mythbusters, Magic Camp, and ‘Where the Wild Things Are.’ Online registration begins Feb. 1, but hurry! Most camps sell out quickly, according to Morris.

Drake Planetarium

Take in the stars of our galaxy at Drake Planetarium.

Bring on the Science!

Parents with young scientists should check out Drake Planetarium and Science Center’s (2020 Sherman Ave., 513-396-5578) offerings for grades K – 2 and 3 – 6. In addition to the ever-popular Lego camps, Drake has plenty more in store. Says Pam Bowers, “This summer, Drake Planetarium’s Space Camp will feature our new telescope project, where students access telescopes around the world. Students will learn astronomy based on working with instructors in our planetarium, building a variety of astronomy models which they can use while observing the night sky.” Kids can also explore other week-long camps, including Young Builders, Junior Engineers, Ooey-Gooey Chemistry, Lil’ Pirates, We Do Robotics and more.

For those who are curious about the engineering and architecture of days past, Drake also offers Ancient Cities and Architecture, as well as Medieval World, during which kids re-live the Renaissance, complete with catapults, armor, siege machines, castles, crossbows, and a “a bevy of medieval machines and challenges,” according to Bowers.

In Northern Kentucky, kids can enjoy the brand-new Engineering For Kids (859-630-3268 or, which plans to offer themed, weeklong camps with two sessions per day, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. Kids can sign up for one or both, and explore things like programming, robotics, even food and how it gets from the farm to the table. “We offer all hands-on activities,” says owner Jennifer Roberts. “Kids will use their own creativity to build, create and design.”

Camp Ernst

Noah and Micah became great friends at YMCA Camp Ernst.

Making Camp Count

The YMCA of Greater Cincinnati has always fostered the qualities of achievement, relationships and belonging, but the Day Camp programs are working to intentionally encourage those traits even more, according to Clermont Family YMCA’s Executive Director Sheila Hinton.

“We know that with the right building blocks for healthy development, children gain the skills they need to be active, thriving and contributing members of society. Achievement, relationships, and belonging are essential dimensions of well-being that the Y can easily cultivate through day camp,” she says. Hinton explains that summer daily schedules will now include camper goal setting, which gives kids the chance to identify and pursue their own goals in a supportive (and fun!) environment. “This allows campers to progress at their own pace, encourages them to keep trying, and celebrates their small and large accomplishments.” Mastery activity time will give campers a chance to select an activity to practice and build a sense of accomplishment, while family events will connect parents to their children’s camp experiences.


Get Ready!

Whether you’re looking to explore nature, sports, science, the arts, or all of it, Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky have plenty in store for your kids this summer — head to the Cincinnati Family and NKY Family Summer Camp Adventure Fair on Saturday, Feb. 14 at the Cincinnati Sports Club (3950 Red Bank Road) and meet with representatives from away camps, local day camps and summer programs and start making your plans now!

Photo top of page: Campers enjoy spending time out in nature during camp with Great Parks of Hamilton County.

About the Author