Summer isn’t too far away and these summer camps Portland families love are filling up quickly
Spring bulbs may still be sleeping, but it’s time to start planning your summer, Portland families. In fact, many summer camps (and Portland overnight camps) are already open for enrollment. Portland has an array of summer camp options for your intrepid explorer, your prolific artists, your energetic athlete, or your thoughtful scientist. Many camps have options where kids can choose from all these activities—in one spot. Ready to plan the summer of your kid’s dreams? Here’s what you need to get started.
1. Trackers Portland
One of the most popular Portland camps, Trackers is for the outdoorsy Portland kid, and is one of the only camps that serves pretty much all ages. They run day camps all over town, with drop off locations to buses which take kids to locations for adventures or drop offs at the location itself (basecamp).
There are many options when it comes to theme and activity with Trackers, so long as your kid is okay being outside all day. This is also one of the only camps that has options going up to September, should you need it. One of the major perks of these camps is that your child will get to bring a large stick to camp and will probably be allowed to use a knife and/or bow and arrow.
Dates: Jun. 19-Sep. 1, 2023
Times: varies per camp, before and aftercare options
Ages: Gr. K-12
Several camp location throughout the city.
2. Audubon Society
Audubon Society in beautiful Forest Park is a great nature exploration camp for kids and is one of the only camps that meets all the way until September. They’ve named their nature camp this year after the iconic Portland favorite bird, the SWIFT, which stands for Science, Wildlife, Imagination, Friendship, and Taking a Stand.
Something fairly unique about this camp, that runs the usual school-day length (from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.) and does offer aftercare, is that they have a sliding scale fee that you can choose for yourself without having to apply or show proof of income. So, you can pick what works best for your family and, if you’re able, pay above the asking price to help support families in need.
Dates: Jun. 26-Sep. 1, 2023
Times: Mon.-Fri., 8:30 a.m-3 p.m. (until 2 p.m. on Fri.). Aftercare is available until 5:30 p.m.
Cost: Sliding scale fee, $42-$420/week
Ages: Gr. 1-8
5151 N.W. Cornell Rd.
3. Oregon Children’s Theatre
Oregon Children’s Theatre delights young audiences with their colorful, musical, engaging performances throughout the year, but their camps let young people take the stage in a variety of programming opportunities all across town.
With a wide age range and full or half-day camps running all summer in four different locations, your dramatic camper and your commute really has no limits when it comes to options for dramatic play and imagination. Unfortunately no aftercare options with OCT, but good flexibility when it comes to matching up half and full days. full and half day options:
Dates: Jun. 12-Aug. 25, 2023
Times: 9 a.m.-noon; 12:30-3:30 p.m.
Camp locations at the Hanna Building, Multnomah Arts Center Cottages, Curious Comedy Theater & Portland 5.
4. MetroArt 360 Art Camp
Your artistic camper can spend a week immersed in visual art, music, theatre, and dance in either the gorgeous World Forestry Center, surrounded by trees, or in the impressive downtown Newmark Theatre. Campers learn how to collaborate with other artists, work together to put on a show, and express their creative sparks.
Note that the camp accepts children as young as six but they need to be able to read and write at a first grade level. The camp says they help build reading and writing skills with younger campers and allow older campers to try their hand at being “counselors in training.” The final day of camp culminates in a performance for families to show off the campers’ hard work.
Camp locations at Newmark Theatre or World Forestry Center.
5. Grace Art Camp
Every year, Grace Art Camp chooses a different cultural focus so students can learn about regions of the world they might not otherwise focus on in school or camp. This year, Grace has chosen to celebrate the arts of India. Through multiple mediums including visual and performing arts, fused glass, ceramics, fiber arts, and storytelling, campers come together in an inclusive and vibrant community of artists to tell one cohesive story in many types of art forms.
Because this camp is in high demand and only focuses on one story all summer, campers are limited to one camp a summer. That said, it is a special experience. The songs filling the tent and community building make for a uniquely Portland experience. There is a family celebration at the end of the week where campers can show their families what they’ve been working on.
Good to Know: scholarships available
Date: Jun. 19-Aug. 16, 2023
Times: 8:45 a.m.-3 p.m.
Ages: Gr. PreK-6th
1535 N.E. 17th Ave.
6. OMSI Summer Camps
Let your child’s love of science and industry come alive at OMSI. These camps span a wide range of ages and interests and go all summer long out of the museum’s east waterfront location. With themes like animation, forensics, and “junior veterinarian,” your camper has plenty of choices, even if they are not a self-described mini-scientist.
There are also more specialized groups like a girls gaming camp and LEGO spike robotics. If you have a kid with a special science or tech interest, you’re likely to find something that suits them. They also offer overnight summer camp for older kids,
Dates: Jun. 19-Sep. 1, 2023
Times: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Ages: Gr. PreK-12
1945 S.E. Water Ave.
7. Coding with Kids
If you have a future coder living in your house (or just a kid who plays Minecraft from time to time) and they want to learn more about what makes these computer games tick, they can do a coding camp with Coding with Kids. These camps offer in-person and online options, but for in-person camps, there are several themes, either by game or activity.
You can do half-day options or string two themes together into a full day. Kids can learn the basics of programming or continue to build on skills they already have. This is one of the only “big kid” camps around, too, with classes going up to age 18.
Times: 9-12 and/or 1-4
Camp locations at Warner Pacific College and Experiment PDX.
8. Oregon Episcopal School
If you know you’re going to need coverage from 8-6 or anywhere in between, the camps at Oregon Episcopal School have you covered. This all-inclusive camp has a myriad of activities for kids pre-K-12 all over the luscious campus, from sports, to language, to arts. In the afternoons, the activities are more of a “choose your own adventure” style but still with plenty of options for enrichment and play.
Another perk of the OES camps is that lunch is included in your tuition price, so you don’t have to worry about packing lunches and losing lunch boxes and camp. The camp has a sliding scale price that does require proof of income, but the instructions are straightforward.
Cost: Sliding scale, up to $525/week
6300 S.W. Nicol Rd.
9. International School of Portland
Campers choose between Spanish, Japanese, or Mandarin and spend two weeks being immersed in the language. If your camper has never experienced learning a new language or wants to brush up on skills learned during the school year, they can practice at this camp.
The camp isn’t all “school” though. With fun activities, games, and crafts, this camp has been voted one of Portland’s top camps for years, with families loving the central location, high-quality staff, and fabulous programming. It’s also one of the only camps for “lowK” aka 3-4 year olds, so you can start your bilingual child early.
Dates: Jun. 26-Aug. 4, 2023
Times: 7:45 a.m.-3:45 p.m.; aftercare available until 5:30; half day option
Cost: $545-$665/two weeks
Ages: Age 3 through 5th grade
2305 S. Water Ave.
10. Kids Community Learning Center
Kids Community Learning Center (KCLC) provides themed weeks and field trips for elementary-aged students out of their NW Portland location. They emphasize hands-on learning and integrative activities in art, science, nature, building, group games, and more.
KCLC has a big emphasis on values of respect, safety, responsibility, and community, and try to model this in their PDX community. The hours are “working parent” friendly and they have a good reputation for being an inclusive and enriching camp.
Dates: Jun. 20-Aug. 4, 2023
Times: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Ages: Gr. K-6
2033 N.W. Glisan St.
11. Zenger Farms Camp
At Zenger Farms everyone has a chance to get their hands dirty. Kids have hands on experience practicing how to plant seeds, harvest fruits and veggies, and then prepare meals from their bounty! They learn to cook and prepare delicious snacks, explore the bugs, birds, and bees that live on the farm, and make healing herbal remedies! Head to their website to find your child’s age group and then select your desired camp theme! Camp Zenger offers a sliding scale that is open to anyone.
Dates: Jun. 19-Aug. 25, 2023
Times: 8:45 a.m.-3 p.m.
Cost: Sliding scale, $75-$750
Ages: Gr. 1-6
11741 S.E. Foster Rd.
12. Catlin Gabel
At Catlin Gabel’s summer programming your child will be a part of their structured learning activities and outdoor play. Camps are divided into groups with options for kids ages 4-10, 11-13, and 14-18. All of the camps are age appropriate and range from the Summer Beehive program where kids learn through imaginative play and stories to on-site digital photography classes. The camp schedules vary by program so be sure to browse the website for more information. Extended care is available for an additional charge.
Dates: Jun. 26-Aug. 11, 2023
Times: vary based on camp week
8825 S.W. Barnes Rd.
13. The Career Summit
If you have older kids at home, this camp is something you should check out. This four-day overnight workshop called The Career Summit to helps high school students figure out their professional path and build job readiness skills. This includes finding your professional purpose, getting hired, building a fulfilling career, and pursuing education-advancement opportunities.
Dates: June 29 to July 2, 2023
Cost: The event is free but contributions are appreciated.
University of Oregon