Photo courtesy of Discovery School in Allison Park.

14 summer camps for Pittsburgh kids who love the outdoors

Photo above courtesy of Discovery School Day Camp. 

Does your child love being outside in the summer sunshine? From kayaking and swimming to hiking and learning about nature, there are plenty of outdoor camp options in the Pittsburgh area. Here you’ll find more than a dozen of our favorites. And don’t miss our guide to the questions and information that can help you and your child have a smooth camping summer this year.

The Discovery School Day Camp

This nature-based camp is located at The Discovery School in Allison Park, offering a full-day camp for kids who are entering grades 1 through 6. Sessions during June and July will include a mix of outdoor fun on the school’s seven-acre nature campus (including daily kayaking on the pond and field games), as well as indoor activities (including fun in the art studio and maker space). Campers will also find daily specials such as a seven-acre treasure hunt, water day, s’mores and stories in the woods, and a counselor vs. camper water balloon fight. Lunch and snacks are included and before-care is available at no cost. Learn more and register here.

Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

Kids ages 4-14 are the focus of Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy’s summer camps based out of the Frick Environmental Center. Camps are geared to specific ages, so kids get the most from the experience. In Kinder Camp, for example, 4- and 5-year-olds dig for worms, plant seeds and sing songs. Fifth and sixth graders in Outdoor Expedition Camp take part in hands-on projects and skill-building activities while exploring the beautiful spaces in Frick Park. This year, registration opens at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 21. Scholarships (called “camperships”) are available — details here.

Winchester Thurston

Winchester Thurston is offering more than 100 new summer camp programs for everyone – from 3-year-olds to high school seniors from June 10 through Aug. 16. Sessions will be held at three locations: Winchester Thurston’s Shadyside campus, The Kingsley Center in East Liberty and Allegheny River Front Park in Aspinwall. Campers will find sports and physical fitness, creative arts and academics. Learn more and register here.

Photo courtesy of Sarah Heinz House.

Sarah Heinz House

There is a popular day camp (preschool through tenth graders) at Sarah Heinz House, but it’s the sleep-away Heinz House Resident Camp (grades 1-12) on the Slippery Rock Creek in Ellwood City that will really put kids in touch with nature. Resident Camp  is designed to entertain and educate kids about the importance of teamwork, effective communication and also valuable wilderness skills. Day camp at Sarah Heinz House begins June 17. The 11-day overnight camps begin June 16 for boys and July 14 for girls. Pre-care and post-care will be available for day campers. Limited financial assistance is available. Register here.

Pittsburgh Zoo

You might say Summer Zoo Camps are pretty wild. Each five-day week is packed with animal encounters, guided tours and themed classroom lessons designed to be fun and engaging for specific age groups. Themes this year include Amazing Animals, Wild Destinations and Photos for Conservation. Registration begins Feb. 7.

Photo courtesy of Venture Outdoors.

 Venture Outdoors

Registration is open for Venture Outdoors’ summer camps for kids going into grades 1-12. All camps will be hosted this year at North Park between June 17 and Aug. 16. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy active recreation like kayaking, fishing, biking and geocaching. Science experiments, crafts and leadership development will help kids gain self-confidence and a greater appreciation for nature. Choose from camps like Outdoor Adventure, Cycling Through Summer and Hooked on Fishing. Check out the lineup and register here. Limited scholarships are available.

Horses Unlimited Stables

Kids who are giddy with pony love will be positively smitten with the two Pony Camps at Horses Unlimited Stables. Campers ages 5-10 will receive an introduction to Western and English riding in the four-day sessions happening Aug. 5-8 and Aug. 12-15. Kids will learn horse care methods, including a hands-on pony bath to safely clean off the mud. Expect horse-themed crafts and games, too. Registration is now open.

Photo courtesy of Blue Ribbon Farm.

Blue Ribbon Farms

Kids get a total fresh air farm experience at Blue Ribbon Farms’ Little Farmers Day Camp. Hands-on experiences include bottle-feeding a newborn calf, caring for goats and piglets and riding a pony. Kids learn about growing food in the expansive garden and collect fresh eggs, then help prepare dishes from food harvested on the farm. Crafts, nature walks and games are part of the fun. The three-day camps are geared to kids ages 4-13. Register right here.

U.S. Golf Camps at Kiski School

The folks at US Golf Camps offer the Ultimate Junior Golf Camp Experience for boys and girls 9-18 years old, kicking off on June 16. The overnight camp at the Kiski School in Saltsburg includes a private golf course and practice range exclusively for campers. Three programs are designed for different skill levels: a fundamental program for relative beginners, an advanced program for high school golfers and an elite program for players who want to play competitive college golf. Get details here.

Photo courtesy of Steel City Rowing.

Steel City Rowing Club

The Steel City Rowing Club offers camps for kids ages 8-18. At River Camp, kids ages 8-12 explore the Allegheny River in kayaks and canoes in Verona, while enjoying swimming and paddle boarding or just relaxing on the docks. An excursion to Sycamore Island to explore the environment on and around the island is part of the adventure. Rise & Row Camp is offered (in July only) for youth ages 12-15, while Youth Summer Rowing is offered for ages 11-18. Registration is open for the five-day camps running from June 10 through Aug. 2.

Camp Deer Creek

Day camp season will run June 10 through Aug. 9 this year at Camp Deer Creek in Cheswick, keeping kids busy with everything from swimming and horseback riding to nature trails and a “drama hut.” This camp offers 18 different bus routes, picking up campers each morning in Squirrel Hill, Greenfield, Edgewood, the North Side, Swissvale, Point Breeze, Oakland, Shadyside, Highland Park, Fox Chapel, O’Hara, North Hills, South Hills, Monroeville, Oakmont, Wexford and Cranberry. Learn more and register here.

Photo courtesy of Tree Pittsburgh.

Tree Pittsburgh’s STEAM Outside Camp

For two weeks this summer, the STEAM Outside Camp will engage 4th, 5th, or 6th graders in the urban forest, fields, and rivers through a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) lens. The camp takes full advantage of Tree Pittsburgh’s five‑acre riverfront campus with interactive activities focused on the benefits of trees, nature in an urban environment, exploration of riparian forests and river habitats, and the life of a tree from seed to sapling at the Heritage Nursery. Camp will be happening June 24-28 and July 8-12 at Tree Pittsburgh’s campus in Upper Lawrenceville. Register here.

Fern Hollow Nature Center

Fern Hollow Nature Center, located on 33 acres in Sewickley Heights Borough will offer over 20 summer camps for children ages 3-14. Week-long camps will run from June 10 through Aug. 16, with half-day and full-day sessions emphasizing outdoor exploration and discovery. Kids will learn about everything from archery to sustainability. Some camps will take place at the Ohio Township Nature Center, located near Fern Hollow on Nicholson Road. Members’-only registration begins today. Click here to learn about getting a Fern Hollow membership.

Stem Adventure Day Camp at Guyasuta

This summer, Camp Guyasuta will offer eight weeks of co-ed day camp beginning on June 3. Early drop-off and late pick-up are available to make scheduling easier for working parents. Activities include archery, ropes courses, creek hiking, swimming and much more, including “human foosball.” This popular camp takes 180 campers per week (and last we checked, the early weeks of summer are already full), but a waitlist is available. Learn more and register here.

Looking for something different? Check out our big guide to nearly 70 summer camp options in the Pittsburgh area.