5 Different Types of US Summer Camps

13 April 2024

Working Holiday

Let’s talk about the different types of US summer camps. America offers a staggering variety of summer camps. With over 12,000 camps spread across the country, each unique in its own way, you’re sure to find a camp that suits your interests and needs.

Invest time in research. This is the key to not just a good summer experience but one that is tailored to your interests and needs, ensuring a perfect match between you and the camp.

As you embark on the exciting journey of working at a summer camp in the USA, the next step is to apply for the job! On the application, you’ll have the thrilling opportunity to choose the type of camp that aligns with your passions and goals, setting the stage for a summer adventure like no other. 

Types of Summer Camps in America

Day camps, overnight camps, specialist camps, or general outdoor camps—these are the details that make up the individual experience.

US Summer Camps will fall into one or a combination of the following categories:

  • Traditional
  • Specialist: sports, art, tech, & wilderness
  • Special Needs
  • Faith-based
  • Campers from underprivileged backgrounds

Let’s explore each of these!

Group of friends at sunset


Summer camp classic.

Traditional camps are the epitome of Camp America-type experiences and are what you have pictured in your head already. Think wooden huts, marshmallows over a campfire, a large lake and the woods, and you’re there. 

There is a reason these camps are deemed traditional and are the iconic picture of summer camp. They are great! Expect outdoor fun, a wide range of activities, and many happy campers.

You may come across gender-specific traditional camps. The gender of the workers will match the gender of the campers. “Traditional” is a common crossover theme with the other types of camp.

Specialist: Sports, Art, Tech & Wilderness

Focused and skill-based.

Specialist camps have a dedicated focus and theme. Yes, there will be specialist outdoor camps, but you can also find specialist creative or STEM education camps (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). 

The campers that attend here are looking to practice and hone skills to take away with them in the future. Therefore, these camps typically seek specialist leaders and workers to join the team.

This type of camp is a fantastic opportunity for anyone wanting experience in teaching a specific field. The experience will look great on your CV.

Special Needs

Opening opportunities for all.

As you can imagine, working in a special needs camp is one of the most rewarding types of camp. Everything about this type of camp allows accessibility and inclusion. Each factor is carefully chosen and designed, from accommodation and amenities to activities and staff.

There will often be a full range of activities on offer. You will receive appropriate training when joining a Special Needs Camp to ensure the safety of the campers and you.

Campers may need support with physical and/or mental or emotional needs. You don’t strictly need experience working in this setting. You will need to be open and able to provide support and compassion. 


Dedicated to good values.

Jewish and Christian camps are hugely popular. The status of religion is more of a nod to history rather than what the camp is about. These camps are incredibly similar to traditional camps and offer many of the same activities. 

There will be times of religious practice, mostly noticed with grace before meals. The campers will generally be well-mannered and polite, with a rich sense of community. 

Working on a faith-based camp will be a fantastic experience and give you an insight into American life.

Underprivileged Backgrounds

Inviting all to join in.

Some camps in America are renowned for their efforts in providing opportunities to those who wouldn’t usually have them. Often organised by non-profit organisations, the work you will do here will be greatly appreciated. 

You can expect a similar set-up to traditional camps, offering similar activities and outdoor thrills. And, of course, you will probably see a marshmallow roasting over the fire as well.

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