2018's Top Pittsburgh Area Summer Camps for Your Children to Attend


Updated: April 2018

Summer camps were such a big part of my life growing up and those memories stick with me to this day. I’m here to inform you of all the amazing camps the Pittsburgh Area has to offer for kids of all ages to enjoy a fun-filled summer! From educational activities to a day at the pool, many of these camps cover it all. These are some of the best camps in the area so act fast before spots fill up!

Here’s a list of all the Pittsburgh summer camps and programs I review here:

Snapology
JCC Day Camps (brace yourself for this one!)
YMCA
Camp Carnegie at Carnegie Science Center
Pittsburgh Zoo Camp
Pittsburgh Center for the Arts
Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy summer camps
Pittsburgh’s Ultimate - Camp Spirit of the Game
Phipps Conservatory and Botanic Gardens
Summer Dreamers Academy

There are many things to consider when deciding which camp is best and I know certain things, no matter how good the camp sounds, may make or break your decision to enroll your child. Below are some factors I’ve included for you to ponder:

Location
Age ranges
Prices
Activities
Meals
Dates/Times 

Here we go!

Snapology summer camps
Snapology summer camps kids discover STEM while having fun!lets

Snapology Summer Camps

Location

Snapology literally serves all of Pittsburgh from the South Hills, West Hills, Washington County, Monroeville (and surrounding areas), to the North Hills, including Cranberry, Wexford, Mars, Sewickley, Hampton, West Deer, West View, and Pine. You have to be off the grid to not find a location near you.  

Age range

The many different programs accommodate ages from 4-14.

Prices

Prices vary for each program and the amount of days you sign up for. For one day options it can be $30. For a week (Monday-Thursday or Friday) the prices are $120 or $135 depending on the program and age group. For three days (Wednesday-Friday) the price is $115. Check out this page if you’re looking for a specific price for program!

Activities

The programs you can sign up for are Robotics Camp, Technology Camps and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) camps. Not to mention, there are legos EVERYWHERE. That’s every child’s dream (and mine).

Meals

No lunch is provided since campers are only there for a half day!

Dates/Times

You can sign up at any time for even just a single day! There is a morning program from 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM or an afternoon program from 1:00-4:00 PM. Not only do they provide summer camps, but also programs during holidays, spring break camps, and teachers in-service days. It’s a HUGE convenience if your child grows to love the camp and you need somewhere to ship them during these days.


OVERALL GRADE FOR SNAPOLOGY: A+

Snapology is probably one of the most enriching summer camps in Pittsburgh you’ll find because there is something for everyone and it’s very educational. I mean, how many children love Star Wars and ninjas or would love to design a video game? You can’t find this anywhere else! I’m a little salty it wasn’t around when I was a kid.

PROS:

A million locations, educational activities you can’t get anywhere else, and you get your bang for your buck!  Parents in need of a program where they can drop their child off for the entire day are in luck. All day options are available by signing the kids up for both the morning and afternoon camps. Just pack a lunch and they’re set all day.

CONS:

The all-day option isn’t readily apparent on the website. We had to call to understand that we needed to sign the kids up individually for both the morning & afternoon camps and then just pack a lunch.

JCC summer pool
JCC summer day camp

JCC Specialty Day Camps

Location

JCC offers three different locations in Squirrel Hill, Monroeville and the South Hills.

Age ranges

JCC welcomes children from 3-16 years old.

Prices

Again, prices vary and there are just too many camps to list the prices of each. What I can tell you is that it’s very affordable for everything the campers do! Check out all the camps and prices here!

Activities

JCC day camps offer a variety of camps for 1 week or more. Based on your child’s interests, they can attend camps with sports specialties, science discovery, performing arts and adventures. The specialty camps partner with numerous vendors such as *Snapology, Pittsburgh Bullets Basketball, Sunburst School of Music, etc. Check all the vendors and specialty camps out here! There is even a travel camp for campers who want to go to Pirate games, Sandcastle and even Philadelphia for a week with overnight accommodations in the Jewish Community Center. Amazing.

Meals

Lunch and snack included!

Dates/Times

Before and after-care is available for all camps, Monday-Friday. The camp also provides you with many different scheduling options for each individual camp to fit your needs. For instance, you can choose to have your child there from 7:00 AM - 6:00 PM, 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM, or a measly half day of 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM. I promise you though, your child will beg to be there all day!

OVERALL GRADE: A+

This is one of my favorite camps, up there with Snapology!

PROS:

 It’s impossible to not find a specialty camp that suits your child and helps them have an unforgettable summer. The possibilities with JCC are endless!

CONS: 

My only con would have to be that there is SO much to pick from! My head is spinning.

YMCA Day Camps

Locations

The YMCA’s summer program is located in Greater Pittsburgh with various locations that you can view here. (Hint: they’re everywhere).

Age Range

The YMCA offers programs for preschoolers all the way to high schoolers at the age of 18. Obviously covering nearly all age ranges deserves an impeccable grade!

Prices

Prices differ from camp location to program to age-range so I am not going to list every single one of them. Chances are, they’re all pretty similar anyway. BUT, here is a brochure for the Baierl location including prices for everything! Many of the websites have discount codes, too so pay attention to those!

Activities

Everyday is a new day at the YMCA! The children get to go on field trips, visit local pools for a day of swimming, attend organized activities or participate in lessons catered to each child’s need. The camps have a different theme each week and some of them include, “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Shark Attack,” “Beach Party,” “Raise the Jolly Roger,” etc.  Basically, your child will never be bored! This is a great camp if you want your child to see Pittsburgh by going to the PPG Zoo & Aquarium, local parks, skyzones, Carnegie Science Center and even the Aviary!

Meals

A healthy lunch and snack is provided every day for each camper. Each snack includes ½ cup of fruit or vegetables and a ½ cup of grains (crackers, whole wheat bread, etc). Each meal is served family style and water is always served.

Dates/Times

The camp begins June 5th, 2017 and ends September 1st, 2017. Basic camp hours are 9:00 AM - 3:30 PM. They provide before (7:00-9:00 AM) and after hours (3:30-6:00 PM)  as well upon request and with additional fees. The YMCA also offers overnight camps that you can check out on their site if interested.


OVERALL GRADE: A

The YMCA does it all. This is an excellent choice if you want your child to be more active.

PROS: 

You can drop your child off for the entire day and enjoy your summer! Or work, which is probably what you’re doing.

CONS: 

Pricey but again, the campers go on multiple field trips! This camp also focuses more on experiences and physical activity (which is GREAT) but there aren’t many educational aspects.

Girl with magnifying glass

Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh

Location

The Carnegie Museums have different summer camps at their many locations. They all have a lot to offer and I’ll go through each of them! The museums include the Art Museum, Natural History Museum, Andy Warhol and the Science Center. Both the Art Museum and Natural History Museum are located in Oakland (same building) while Andy Warhol and the Science Center are located in the North Shore.

Age ranges

Ages 4-18 are welcome for the Art Museum, Natural History Museum and Science Center. There are also additional programs for children younger than 4. The Andy Warhol Museum summer camp is only for 10-17 year olds.

Prices

Prices vary from length of camps and camps with field trips or extra materials will have additional costs. Here are a few to give you an idea:

Prices below reflect that of the Art Museum, Natural History Museum & Carnegie Science Center
$140 for half day (ages 4 and 5) and per session (1 week) - Members pay $125
$250 for all day (ages 6+) and per session (1 week) - Members pay $225
$325 for camps including field trips or building materials (1 week) - Members pay $300

For further information on the prices for the age of your child, visit Carnegie’s site.

Andy Warhol Museum -
Prices vary for Andy Warhol’s camp anywhere from $225-$420

Here is a complete list of the prices for each camp.

Activities

The Art Museum and Natural History Museum have different themes weekly. These include “Backyard Biology,” “Comics and Cartoons,” “Dino Dig,” “Fun with Clay,” etc. There are outdoor activities, games, gallery and library visits as well. For Andy Warhol, the activities are hands on experience with design, digital printing, oil painting, cartoon drawings, etc. Children enrolled in the Science Camp investigate science careers, experiment with roller coasters, explore the city and navigate the three rivers. Camp Carnegie plans fun filled adventures and numerous field trips (for older children) and grant the campers access to hands on exhibits that they can’t get anywhere else!

Meals

Lunch is not provided for all other camps except Andy Warhol. There is a lunch sign up form, however their cafe has a limited number of campers they can prepare for so sign up soon!

Dates/Times

For younger campers aged 4-5 years old, their camp is a half day program from either 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM or 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM. Similar to other camps, Carnegie offers what they call “pre and post camp care” for families who need to drop their child off for longer than three hours.

Families can drop campers off between 7:30-8:30 AM for an additional fee of $25 per week or pick them up between 3:30-5:30 PM for an additional fee of $50 per week. However, post-camp care is not available for children in half day camps. Campers from 6 years old and up follow an all day schedule from 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM.

The camp is going on now through August 18th.


OVERALL GRADE: A

PROS: 

The exhibits and materials your child will learn about and use is an amazing opportunity if they’ve expressed an interest in science.

CONS: 

It may be beneficial to include a lunch or small snack for those that are there all day.  

Pittsburgh zoo summer camp

Pittsburgh Zoo Camp

Location

All of the camp programs take place at the Pittsburgh Zoo.

Age ranges

There are numerous program options available for each age group depending on whether parents want to attend camp with their children. The age ranges are:

Infant to Age 3 - must be accompanied by an adult for all programs

Ages 4 - 13

Prices

Prices vary depending on your child’s age, which program(s) you chose, and how many children you register. If you are a member, you will receive a discounted rate. You can find the breakdown of all the prices and programs on their website.

Activities

The 2018 Animal Adventures Summer Zoo Camp has a dozen programs planned for your child. The themes are designed to be fun, engaging, and age-appropriate according to each group. Some of them include “Cub Club” for infants, “Dino Days” for 4-9 year olds, and “Wild by Design” for 12-13 year olds.

Meals

Most programs are half day, so lunch is not included.

Dates/Times

Most camps start in June or July, with drop-off beginning at 9am. Extended care before or after  is an option. See the complete list of all program dates and times online.

OVERALL GRADE: A

PROS: 

There are so many options for you and your child to pick from, including programs you can do as a family. Kids have the opportunity to get hands on experience and learn about all types of wildlife, even dinosaurs.

CONS: 

You may want to check if lunch is included in your program and pack a snack just in case.

Summer art camp

Pittsburgh Center for the Arts

Location

There are over 100 camps to choose from each year, each at their own different location. Stay tuned for a complete list of information about PCA’s offerings this summer!

Age ranges

Children and teens ages 4-18

Prices

Prices depend on age, program chosen, and whether or not you registered for a full day, half-day, or extended hours. You can browse through camps here, the updated list for 2018 coming soon!

Activities

A wide variety of options are offered, often in interdisciplinary settings. Campers work alongside talented artists to learn new skills, develop their interests, collaborate with peers and create their own work. Each camp is offered to a specific age range and is tailored to the developmental needs of that group. High school programs are intensive project-based programs designed specifically for high school students. Highly trained and experienced teachers provide students with a college-like atmosphere to explore a variety of mediums. High school programs utilize both PCA’s fine arts studios and media labs, and Pittsburgh Filmmakers’ professional filmmaking and photography facilities.

Meals

Full day programs receive a supervised lunch, but you have to bring your own from home. So do some half-day programs.

Dates/Times

A full camp schedule for 2018 will be posted on PCA’s website.

OVERALL GRADE: B+

PROS: 

Highly trained artists will guide your children, and they are able to use professional studios, labs, and facilities to create their own work. PCA also provides financial aid.

CONS: 

Parking can get complicated. Make sure to check the website for places you can park at the location of your camp. Most require some form of parking pass.

Kids outside

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

Location

These camps are located at the beautiful Frick Park!

Age ranges

There are four, week-long summer camps catered to specific age ranges:

Kinder Nature Camp - Children 3 years old through children who completed kindergarten
Kids Nature Camp - Children who completed 1st, 2nd, or 3rd grade. Each grade level has a different theme and program.
Outdoor Expeditions - Children who completed 4th or 5th grade
Survival Camp - Children who completed 6th or 7th grade.

Prices

Each family that has donated $50 or more received a 10% discount.

Kinder Nature Camp - $75 per week ($67.50 for donors)
Kids Nature Camp - $115 per week ($103.50 for donors)
Outdoor Expeditions - $175 per week ($157.50 for donors)
Survival Camp - $150 per week ($135 for donors)

Activities

For Kinder Nature - These children spend a lot of time singing songs, reading stories, exploring the woods and playing in the dirt by planting seeds and learning about the various bugs they come across.
Kids Nature Camp - Children enrolled in this camp explore outdoors all day by going on hikes, play games, completing art projects, etc.
Outdoor Expeditions - Activities for this camp include stream hikes, field trips, games, night exploration and many bonfires.
Survival Camp - For the oldest group, these campers learn survival skills such as shelter building, finding water and food, starting a fire, first aid, tying knots, etc.

Meals

Not Provided

Dates/Times

Kinder Nature Camp - This camp begins June 1st and runs until July 10th. Campers can sign up for 9:00-11:30 AM or 12:30-3:00 PM.

Kids Nature Camp - This is an all day camp from 9:00-3:00, however the weeks are broken up into age groups. The first week of camp is for the children finishing 1st grade and runs from July 27th - July 31st. The second week is dedicated to children finishing 2nd grade and runs from August 3rd - August 7th. The final week is for the children finishing 3rd grade and runs from August 10th - 14th.

Outdoor Expeditions - This camp goes from 9:00-3:00 as well as an evening programming session from 8:00-10:00 PM. The weeks are July 6th - 10th and July 13th - 17th.

Survival Camp - Again, sessions run from 9:00-3:00 and Fridays are 9:00 AM - 10:00 PM. Week 1 dates are June 15th - June 19th for children finishing 6th grade. Week 2 dates are June 22nd - June 26th for children finishing 7th grade.


OVERALL GRADE: B+

PROS: 

Aside from the Kinder Nature Camp, the children are there nearly all day, which we all know by now that I’m a fan.  I feel the prices are also reasonable!

CONS: 

I’m personally not a huge fan of splitting the campers into grades. I think part of the summer camp experience is to meet and make new friends and learn to play with children a year or two older or younger than you. For instance, it wouldn’t hurt to combine 1st and 2nd graders, or even 3rd graders! However, I do understand that many of the activities are catered to that age group.

Kids playing

Pittsburgh’s Ultimate - Camp Spirit of the Game

Location

The primary camp is located North Park, Pie Traynor, however other locations include Schenley Oval and Moore Park. Pittsburgh’s Ultimate also provided bus transportation to ensure children get to and from camp safely every day! The bus is available from Mt. Lebanon and Schenley Park to North Park each morning and afternoon.

Age ranges

The camp is open to children aged 7-15.

Prices

Prices range from $250-$300 a week.

Activities

At this camp, the children will work on team building exercises, develop sportsmanship and conflict resolution skills. The kids play frisbee and spend many hot summer days at the pool.

Meals

Children are provided with a daily snack.

Dates/Times

Monday-Friday from 9:00 AM - 3:30 PM beginning June 19th and running until August 4th. Campers will also have the option to attend a half day instead of full.


OVERALL GRADE: B

PROS:

The bus is a major, major pro. Not many camps provide this for their families and it’s a great way to ensure parent’s have time to make it to work or start their day without worrying about drop off and pick up every day.

CONS:

I personally don’t find this camp as enriching as others, specifically Snapology or Carnegie Science Center because there aren’t many educational factors to it. Reasonable, yes, but it’s hardly comparable to other camps like it such as YMCA, in my opinion.

Kids running outside

Phipps Conservatory and Botanic Gardens

Location

Phipps Conservatory

Age ranges

Little Sprouts - Ages 2-4
Seedlings Scientists - Ages 4-6
Budding Botanists - Ages 6-13

Prices

Little Sprouts - $70 members/$80 nonmembers
Seedlings Scientists - $80 members/$100 nonmembers or $100 members/$120 nonmembers
(depending on program) 
Budding Botanists - $155 members/$175 nonmembers

Activities

Every child will engage in art, learning more about nature through gardening and bug identification and cooking for older campers.

Meals

All camps include a daily healthy snack.

Dates/Times

Little Sprouts - Monday-Thursday from 9:00-10:15 AM, 11:00 AM-12:15 PM, or 10:30-11:45 AM
Seedlings Scientists - Monday-Friday from 1:30-4:00 PM or 9:30 AM-12:00 PM
Budding Botanists - Monday-Thursday from 1:30-4:00 PM or 9:30 AM-12:00 PM


OVERALL GRADE: B 

Pros: 

Phipps is beautiful and will be an amazing experience for any child who loves nature!

Cons: 

Although the “Little Sprouts” are young children, I feel that only having them there for a little over an hour is a waste of time. Assuming that families sign up their children for summer camps so they can work or get things done, an hour leaves just enough time to probably get home and turn around to head right back. 

Kids by the river

Summer Dreamers Academy

Only children who have attended Pittsburgh Public School are eligible to apply for Summer Dreamers Summer Camp.

Location

The children are welcome to attend the camp closest to their home. Their options include Pittsburgh King, Pittsburgh Carmalt and Pittsburgh University Prep.

Age ranges

Students that have completed Kindergarten through 7th grade at a Pittsburgh Public School are eligible to attend. The camp also accepts applications for students who are enrolled for the upcoming fall.

Prices

Completely and utterly FREE!

Activities

Students enrolled in the camp will have a summer filled with swimming, dancing, science activities, golfing, community service and so much more.

Meals

Lunch is included 

Dates/Times

Camp is in session from June 26th to August 2nd from 8:30 AM - 4:00 PM.


OVERALL GRADE: A-

Hurry up and get your child enrolled for the summer if they are a Pittsburgh Public student! Endless activities, trips, games, and snacks all for free? I wouldn’t miss out on this if I were you!

Pros: 

Did I mention this is totally free?

Cons: 

Only students enrolled in the public schools are eligible to attend. Bummer.