Help your kids abandon their screens and fall in love with Northern Michigan summers just like you did. These classic sleep-away summer camps will immerse them in a world of fireflies, cheesy songs, campfires, soggy swimsuits and starry skies. Plus: Three camps the whole family can enjoy.

This is a exclusive. Want more? View our print subscription and digital subscription options.

Camp Au Sable
Set on spring-fed Lake Shallenbarger on 800 acres in Grayling, this program offers up an affordable and classic outdoors-inspired activity list and also includes a go-kart track that’s a hit with campers. Camp Au Sable is a Seventh Day Adventist–managed camp and offers four sessions each summer for kids ages 8–17.

Camp Hayo-Went-Ha
With a girl’s camp located on Lake Arbutus and the boys stationed on 600 acres adjacent to Torch Lake, these YMCA-operated camps have more than a century of experience to draw on to make for superb camping experiences. Camps are rustic and technology-free, meaning your kids can appreciate life without TikTok. Featuring high ropes, swimming, equestrian sports and wilderness lessons, Hayo-Went-Ha pulls out all the stops for a fun and educational summer camp experience.

Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp
Located on 1,600 acres in the Manistee National Forest and on Little Blue Lake, the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp has offered art instruction for students of music and the fine arts for nearly 50 years. It’s open to students from the 5th grade through high school, with programs ideal for kids who are relatively new to their instruments.

Camp Daggett
For nearly 100 years Camp Daggett has been a retreat for campers ages 7–14 looking to enjoy the landscapes of Northern Michigan. The setting on 1,400 feet of Walloon Lake frontage near Petoskey means fun is focused on the water, with all the sailing, canoeing and swimming a kid can handle. Bonus fun: Older kids can venture from the cabins and canoe to overnight campout spots on the property. The coed camp focuses on outdoor adventure and character-building over the course of eight one-week sessions each summer.

Camp Daggett Summer Camp

Photo by Camp Daggett

Camp Lookout
Just six miles south of Frankfort, Camp Lookout is located on a wooded, hilly peninsula bounded by Lower Herring Lake and Lake Michigan. The adventure begins right away when the only way to get to camp is by boat. Activities include sailing, kayaking, canoeing, horseback riding, mountain biking and art projects. Campers may also create a large outdoor sculpture, organize a theme meal, work on a creative writing project and more. Evenings are filled with games such as Capture the Flag, Windego Island, talent night, fantasy night and plenty of campfires.

Camp Walden
Discover the Walden Way near Cheboygan. At Camp Walden, your kids will take part in the camp talent show, windsurfing and other watersports, hike through 150 acres of woods near the spring-fed Long Lake and chow down on Walden’s famous cinnamon toast. Your kids can participate in arts and crafts, horseback riding, join the camp band and more.

Camp Quality
Camp Quality is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a medically supervised camp experience for children with cancer at no cost to the family. Located in Boyne City, the camp offers year-round programs such as archery, arts and crafts, rock climbing, obstacle courses and plenty more. While at camp, children foster new friendships, have a chance to try new activities and get to feel like a kid again.

Crystalaire Adventures
This camp experience immerses kids in outdoor adventures, including backpacking on Isle Royale, an Ontario River Wilds trip, backpacking the Manitou Islands and even spring programs such as spring break sailing camps in Costa Rica. Crystalaire Adventures offers the chance for teens to step away from it all, test themselves, grow their leadership abilities and bond with like-minded adventurers.

Interlochen Arts Camp
Whether your child is a focused prodigy or simply wants to learn more about art—and discover themselves—Interlochen Arts Camp provides art-focused summer stay programs for kids in grades 3–12. While renowned for its classical music and theater studies, Interlochen also offers world-class programs for aspiring photographers and visual artists.

Two people playing musical instruments

Photo by Taylor Brown

Lake Ann Camp
Six different programs offer activities for campers entering 4th grade through 12th grade (graduating seniors welcome!). Activities include arts and crafts, a 175-foot waterslide, swimming before breakfast, chapel, night hikes (for older campers) a three-day rafting trip and more.

Camp Leelanau & Camp Kohahna
The camp rests on Pyramid Point and is surrounded by Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and 2,500 feet of beach frontage on Lake Michigan. Campers hike daily along nearby trails. Camp Leelanau for Boys and Camp Kohahna for Girls offer programs for young people enrolled in the Sunday Schools of Christian Science branch churches.

Timber Wolf Lake
A water zipline, 18-hole disc golf, beach volleyball, Timber Carts and an awesome indoor rock-climbing facility are some of the stand-out adventures at this Young Life (an evangelical Christian group for teens) camp in Lake City. Facilities here are a knockout, including a coffee shop and game room, and a fun camp store.

3 Northern Michigan Family Camps

A sobering stat: The average American family spends just 37 minutes of quality time together per day during the week. The fix for that: family camp, a chance to unplug, unwind and spend time together without distractions, peers or interruptions. Here are three Up North.

Timber Wolf Lake
This resort-style camp boasts beautiful accommodations and facilities available for camps and retreats year-round, but for a few weekends each summer, it’s all families, all the time. Play on the zipline, splash into the lake from a rope swing, hit the kart track or indoor climbing wall or play a round of disc golf—together. Lodging is dorm-style; children 3 and under attend for free, and family scholarships are available. Parent bonus: You’ll love the onsite coffee shop.

Camp Au Sable
For three weeks each summer, this camp pivots to a families-only format with a fabulous array of something-for-everyone classes and activities such as sewing, vegan cooking, glass art, RC cars and trucks, woodworking and the ever-popular horseback riding and high-ropes programs. Pricing is remarkably affordable per person and includes activities; children under 6 years of age are free, and lodging options are a la carte, including a bring-your-own tent option for free.

Camp Michigania
This camp is only available to University of Michigan alumni and their families, but for those of you who are wolverines, count your blessings: This all-inclusive one-week camp experience is set on magical Walloon Lake. Families can cozy up in one- or two-bedroom cabins and enjoy all the classic activities from archery to sailing. There’s special teen programming each night, too.

Photo(s) by Camp Hayo-Went-Ha