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The Best Camps in America Summer 2018 Guide on Choosing the Best Summer Camp

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Locations: SuperCamp holds programs nationwide:
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University of California at San Marcos in San Diego area | 800-228-5327
Ages: 11-21. Coed Campers. Overnight Camp.

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2018 Guide to Choosing
The Best Summer Camp

The Best Camps .com
Version 5.1

Our 2018 Guide to Choosing the Best Summer Camp is a great resource for parents and campers, and includes useful advice and inside tips on asking the important summer camp questions, such as: camp scholarships and financial aid, camp locations, camp weather, camp history, camp facilities, camp staff experience, special camp programs, camp certifications and awards, camper testimonials, camp parent testimonials, camp budgets, and much more.

We are currently updating and adding to our 2018 Summer Camp Guide information daily, so please check back often.

Summer Camp... Ten Good Reasons: Be sure to check out our new article Top Ten Reasons to Go To Summer Camp in 2018.

Many Summer Camps for Teens offer some very advanced, immersive or even 'intensive' programs. It is always a good idea to talk to each camp you are interested in SPECIFICALLY about the 'intensity' of the programming, so you know exactly what to expect.

International Summer Camp Parents & Campers: New for 2015 there is a special section in our Summer Camp Guide with info and advice for International Campers and Parents (from outside the US and Canada) who would like to attend a US or Canadian summer camp. Please read-on for more info below.

What do you want from your Summer Camp experience? This is the question you have to ask BEFORE you set out to choose the best summer camp for you (your son or daughter). Do you want this to be a learning adventure, a character building experience, something physically challenging, skill building, or that's just plain summer fun? Maybe you're looking for a camp that satisfies more than one of these? Ask -- you might be surprised at the answers.

START WITH THE CAMP WEBSITE: Almost every camp has its own website, or at least a dedicated web page on a larger site (like a city's website). You should be able to find a lot of useful camp program information there, including all the camp's location and contact info. As you read you will think of some quesitons -- write them down, or send yourself a text/email so you won't lose them.

Nowadays, a camp could also have an official Facebook page, or several 'unofficial' ones put up by previous campers. These would be good sources for testimonials and comments.

CALL THE CAMP: Create a list of questions you really need answered, that were not answered by the camp website. Then call the camp -- yes even in the era of 'live chatting' and email forms, you should really try to talk to someone 'personally.' Some camp's have year-round staff, but many don't. Leave a message for a call back or call the camp again until you can speak to someone in person. Skype is a great idea, too -- if the camp can do that. What's your impression? Is this going to be a friendly, professional experience? First impressions matter. Ask if there is a previous camp parent/camper you could talk to (or email) as a reference.

CAMP LOCATION: It's easy nowadays to check out a camp's location using GoogleMaps or other mapping programs. This will give you an actual view of the camp and it's surrounding area. How close is that lake? What's that strange building? Is that an airport right next to the camp?

CAMP WEATHER: Go to weather.com and enter the camp's location. Enter the target summer dates and check out the average temps, how many days of rain, storm history, etc. Is this the kind of weather you were hoping for? How about pollen or mold allergies?

VEGETATION/POLLEN/MOLD ALLERGIES: If you (your camper) has them, you should find out about the surrounding vegetation AND the natural occurance of mold.

CAMP HISTORY: History is important, but it's not everything. Remember, the best camps ALL had their very first season. You should be able to get this info from the camp website, but if not -- just ask.

CAMP FACILITIES: All camps are not the same (no, duh?) -- some are intentionally rustic and wilderness oriented, some are very high-tech and modern with resort-level creature comforts. Sometimes it's a good idea to expand a camper's 'acceptable' comfort level -- but you have to make sure your camper will also ENJOY the experience.

If you are considering a special interest camp, it is a good idea to check on any specialized facilities and equipment they use for instruction.

CAMP SCHOLARSHIPS, FINANCIAL AID & 'CAMPERSHIPS': Many camps now offer full or partial 'camperships' or some form of financial aid to deserving campers and their families. Sometimes these programs are not listed prominently on the camp's website or printed materials, so it is always a good idea to ask. Furthermore, there are several 'independent' philanthropic groups that offer financial aid for summer campers, including campers with special needs. Try a simple Google search for "Summer Camp Scholarships".

INTERNATIONAL CAMPERS: Many US and Canadian summer camps now accept International Campers, and many also have International Camp Counselors and Staff. Parents should contact each camp they are interested in to see first if they can accept campers from outside the US or Canada, and secondly if they offer any special programming, travel planning, or other acommodations for international campers. Be sure to ask if the camp has experience hosting foreign language speaking campers, and if you can contact the parents of some of their previous international campers for references and advice. If the camp you choose does offer options for international campers, your next step should be to contact your home country's tourist or foreign travel bureau to find out EXACTLY what will be required legally.

SPECIAL NEEDS CAMPERS: Many summer camps now offer programs for special needs campers. Parents need to talk with each camp IN DEPTH to make sure they offer exactly the right program, staff and facilities for their special needs camper.

CAMP SAFETY: It is always a good idea to ask about a camp's safety programs and serious camper injury record. Are counselors certified (or trained) in CPR and basic first aid? What happens if a camper is injured or becomes seriously ill? Is there a Camp Nurse or a local 'on-call' doctor available?

CAMP STAFF AND THEIR EXPERIENCE:You should always check on the CAMPING experience level of those who will be directly in charge of your camp age group or special interest program. In the case of special interest camps, it is a good idea to ask if the teaching staff have experience with camping AS WELL AS whatever their special interest areas might be.

Summer Camp Experience is different from teaching experience -- just because someone might teach computers and technology, that does not mean they would be a good fit as a computer or technology camp counselor. You should also ask about background checks, and if staff are trained in basic personal safety and first aid. Ask if there is a Camp Nurse and what their experience/credentials are.

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CAMP FOOD: The quality and taste of camp food is very important, so be sure to ask about it. Is it nutritious? Is it fresh? Is it Kosher? Are there 'hot' meals and how often? Can the camp handle any special nutritional needs, food allergies, etc?

SPECIAL CAMP PROGRAMS: These special events and programs make the best camps unique and memorable. Some camps are 'famous' with previous campers for their special canoe-trip overnights, inter-camp sporting contests, staff variety shows, live 'campNews' broadcasts, parent days, all-camp musicals, backwards days, midnight ice cream dances, star-gazing parties, or cabin swaps -- just to name a few. Find out if the camp(s) you are considering have any special programs like the above.

CAMP CERTIFICATIONS & AWARDS: Is the camp 'accredited' with the ACA? Has the camp received any special recognition or won any awards? Are any counselors Red Cross certified in CPR?

A TYPICAL CAMP DAY: Find out what a typical day is like at camp. Get a sense for how much structured activity vs. 'FREE TIME' there is over the course of the entire day (and evening, if it's a resident camp). How much interaction between groups is there? When are meals? What happens on the weekends? Are there religious services?

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PREVIOUS CAMPER & CAMP PARENT TESTIMONIALS: The camp website (and Facebook page) might have a page where previous campers and parents have given their camp 'reviews' and testimonials. These are typically ALL positive -- so don't be afraid to ask if you can speak to (or email) a previous parent or camper as a reference.

WHAT TO BRING TO SUMMER CAMP: It is always best to find out EXACTLY what campers are expectied to bring, and NOT bring to camp. Most camps have downloadable lists on their camp websites of "what to bring to summer camp."

For instance, many summer camps now allow eReaders & tablets, such as Kindles since they have amazing battery life and are less bulky than books. If your camp allows digital cameras, we would suggest one that also shoots video and is waterproof -- yes, they exist and they are not that expensive.

We have put a cool collection of summer camp items you might not have thought of on our new The Best Camps Official Camp Store page if you want to check it out.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Planning a great summer camp experience, is like planning a great vacation -- the more effort you can put into the planning, the better it will be. Summer Camp can be one of the most personally rewarding and fondly remembered experiences in anyone's life. Choosing the "Best Camp" for you (or your camper) is all about asking the right questions of the camp, and listening closely to the answers.

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2018 SPECIAL INTEREST CAMP DIRECTORIES: Below is a brief description of all our 2018 Special Interest Camp Directory websites. If you would like more detailed information on these specialized camps, you can click on any of the direct links below.

Best Academic Camps .com

Choosing the best Academic Summer Camp is all about how intense you want the summer academic program to be, how far away from home you want to travel, who the summer academic camp instructors are, and (of course) how much are the total camp costs. In the past, most academic summer camps were sponsored by local high schools and state universities. But, now there are also MANY private academic summer camps, including MANY traditional overnight and sleepaway summer camps with great educational programs.

Best Adventure Camps .com

Name your outdoor passion and there's a great adventure camp just for you. There are outstanding summer adventure camps for: mountain climbing, canoing and kayaking, wilderness camping, long-trail hiking, mountain biking, water sports, and many more.

Best Aquatics Camps .com

Summer camp and water sports go great together! There are Summer Water Sports Camps for teens and kids that offer Swimming, Diving, Water Skiing, Surfing, Wakeboarding, Skin Diving, Scuba Diving, Synchronized Swimming, Synchronized Diving, Water Polo, Jet Skiing, and many more. Many aquatics summer camps also offer: Canoeing, Kayaking, Sailing, Rowing, Rafting and other water craft sports.

Best Art Camps .com

Some of the best art summer camps in the world are right here in the USA. Some camps offer a wide range of art experiences from painting and sculpture to the emerging digital arts. Other summer art camps have a more intense focus on the individual fine arts: photography, brush and canvas, or digital media camps.

Best Band Camps .com

Marching Band Camps, Drum Line Camps, Orchestra Camps, Solo Instrument Camps, Rock Band Camps, String Camps -- there's a band camp for every musical instrument and interest. Some band camps are rustic and in the middle of nowhere -- some are in major cities.

Best Baseball Summer Camps .com

Whether you are looking for a top Boy's Baseball Camp or Girl's Softball Summer Camp, you'll want to know just how much baseball or softball training and practice the camp offers, and exactly how 'intense' the training is. Many Summer Baseball and Softball Camps are part of summer university sports programs, and have access to all the latest training facilities and equipment. There's a great Summer Baseball Program out there for every interested young ball player.

Best Basketball Summer Camps .com

Want to train with a professional basketball coach this summer and be on a summer basketball team? Would you rather enjoy a peaceful game of one-on-one on a rustic basketball court carved into a hillside by a waterfall? The diversity of Summer Basketball Camps for teens and kids is amazing.

Best Boys Camps .com

There are some terrific camps just for boys here in America, including: Adventure Camps, Resident Camps, Theater Camps, Art Camps, Travel Camps, Weight Loss Camps, Computer Camps, Gymnastics Camps, Basketball Camps, Wrestling Camps, Music Camps, Golf Camps, and many more.

Best Cheer Camps .com

If Cheer, Pom or Dance Squad is your thing -- there are some great summer cheer camps just for you. Some cheer camps are part of major universities with great cheer, pom and dance squad programs. Other cheer camps are taught in wilderness settings where you can truly relax after an intense day of exericse and training.

Best Canada Camps .com

Canada's summer camps for kids and teens offer very rich camping traditions, and many Canadian Summer Camps enjoy a very long history of being some of the best summer camps in the world. Canada offers some wonderful Adventure Camps, Travel Camps, Dance Camps, Theater Camps, Sports Camps, Art Camps, Science Camps, Math Camps, Tech Camps, Weight Loss Camps, Computer Camps, Gymnastics Camps, Basketball Camps, Music Camps, Band Camps, Golf Camps, Fitness Camps, Sports Camps, Performing Arts Camps, Overnight Camps, and many more.

Choosing the best summer camp in Canada is all about getting answers to a few key questions: What are the core camp programs and activities and are these a good fit to the camper? Where is the camp located? What is the TOTAL COST of camp? -- just to name a few.

Best Christian Camps .com

Our Christian Camp Directory will include information on the Best Christian Overnight and Day Camps in America, including: Adventure Camps, Theater Camps, Travel Camps, Weight Loss Camps, Computer Camps, Sports Camps, Music Camps, Fine Arts Camps, and many more.

Best Coed Camps .com

There are hundreds of fantastic Coed Summer Camps in America, both coed day camps and overnight camps, including: Resident Camps, Theater Camps, Art Camps, Travel Camps, Weight Loss Camps, Computer Camps, Gymnastics Camps, Basketball Camps, Music Camps, Golf Camps, Adventure Camps, Fine Arts Camps, and many more.

Best Computer Camps .com

Choosing the right computer, technology, science, or web design summer camp comes down to zooming in on the answers to specific questions: what technologies will be included in the camp curriculum and how 'deep' will the instruction go? There are some new computer science 'immersion' summer camp programs where campers build complete robots, rockets, iPhone aps and websites.

Best Dance Camps .com

Choosing the Best Dance Camp is all about your level of interest, dance experience, how far you want to travel from home, and the amount of dance training and performance you expect. Modern, ballet, jazz, tap, dance for musical theatre -- there's a terrific summer dance camp for you.

Best Equestrian Camps .com

Horseback riding and summer camp have a very long and rich tradition in both the US and Canada. And the diversity of equestrian summer camps for kids and teens is amazing: there are Western Trail Riding and Cowboy Camps, English Riding Camps, even camps to learn Horse Jumping and Dressage. There are many equestrian camps where campers are assigned their own horse for the entire summer, and learn to provide all its care, grooming, and feeding.

Best Girls Camps .com

Our Girls Camps Directory will include information on some of the Best Girls' Camps in America, including: Overnight Camps, Day Camps, Theater Camps, Art Camps, Travel Camps, Weight Loss Camps, Computer Camps, Gymnastics Camps, Basketball Camps, Music Camps, Golf Camps, Adventure Camps, Fine Arts Camps, Cheer Camps, and many more.

Best Golf Summer Camps .com

Picking the best summer golf camp is not just about location and how much golf campers get to play every day. It's also about how much individualized and group golf instruction the camp offers. Summer Golf camps run the gamut from modest city golf courses to incredible PGA golf resorts.

Best Gymnastics Camps .com

Choosing the Best Gymnastics Camp is all about your level of interest, gymnastics experience, how far you want to travel from home, and the amount of daily gymnastics training and competition you expect. Many of these gymnastics summer camps have helped train some of our best Olympic hopefuls. In addition to gymnastics, you'll find camps in tumbling, trampoline, and even some top-notch summer ballet programs for those gymnasts who cross-train in dance.

Best Horse Camps .com

Horseback Riding and Summer Camp have gone together for almost a century. Some horse camps pair campers with their own horse for the entire summer, with the camper responsible for all care, grooming, and feeding, forming an intense bond. Other summer camps offer horse riding as a daily option, but without an intense focus. You should talk to each camp to make sure you understand how much focus is placed on horseback riding, horsemanship, etc. so that you know exactly what to expect.

Best Jewish Summer Camps .com

There are dozens of great JCC and other Jewish summer camps in America, both day camps and overnight camps, including specialty camps, such as: Adventure Camps, Theater Camps, Fine Arts Camps, Travel Camps, Weight Loss Camps, Computer and Technology Camps, Sports Camps, Music Camps, Golf Camps, and many more.

Best Leadership Camps .com

Nowadays, there are summer CIT (Counselors in Training) and leadership programs for teens offered not only by summer camps, but also by church youth groups, colleges, environmental and community service groups, and even political organizations. But, by far summer camping still offers the most leadership training programs and opportunities.

Many summer camps think of their CITs literally as potential future counselors, and invest in them many additional responsibilities and privileges. In other camps, the CITs are assigned to specific counselors more as assistants and observers and are regarded more as campers.

Some summer leadership and CIT & LIT (Leaders in Training) programs are 'free' and some require tuition. Families and future CITs should ask each camp (or summer organization) MANY questions so that they know exactly what to expect.

Best Math Camps .com

Choosing the Best Math Camp comes down to zooming in on the answers to specific questions, such as: What categories of math (Geometry, Trig, Calculus, etc.) will be included in the camp curriculum, how 'deep' will the instruction go, and what other 'recreational' opportunities are offered -- just to name a few. There are some new 'immersion' math summer camp programs where campers create science projects using new math skills to solve critical problems, such as: prediciting the flight path of a model rocket, calculating the gear ratio in a robotic arm, etc.

Best Music Camps .com

Some of the best summer music camps in the world are located right here in the USA, many are housed on major University campuses. Some music camps focus on solo vocals, choir, or performance choir, and others are more about music theory, composition and performance.

Best Overnight Camps .com

Our Summer Resident and Overnight Camp Directory will include information on some of the Best Overnight Camps in America, including: Adventure Camps, Theater Camps, Fine Arts Camps, Travel Camps, Weight Loss Camps, Computer and Technology Camps, Gymnastics Camps, Basketball Camps, Music Camps, Golf Camps, Cheer and Pom Squad Camps, Band Camps, and many more.

Best Performing Arts Camps .com

Our Best Performing Arts Camps Directory contains information on some of the Best Day and Overnight Performing Arts Camps and Performing Arts Workshops in America, including: Performing Arts Camps for Kids, Teen Sleepaway Performing Arts Camps, Summer Performing Arts Workshops and Intensives, Band Camps, Voice Camps, Choir Camps, Orchestra Camps, Music Camps, Rock Camps, Guitar Camps, Ballet Camps, Dance Intensives, Cheerleading and Pom Squad Camps, Dance Workshops, Film Making Camps, Comedy Camps, Triple Threat Summer Theater Camps, Summer Acting Intensives, Musical Theater Summer Camps, Broadway Theater Camps, Touring Theater Camps, Shakespeare Camps, Drama Camps, Glee Camps, and many more.

Best Resident Camps .com

Our Summer Resident and Overnight Camp Directory will include information on some of the Best Overnight Camps in America, including: Adventure Camps, Theater Camps, Fine Arts Camps, Travel Camps, Weight Loss Camps, Computer and Technology Camps, Gymnastics Camps, Basketball Camps, Music Camps, Golf Camps, Cheer and Pom Squad Camps, Band Camps, and many more.

Best Sailing Camps .com

Whether you're interested in sailing a Tall Ship on the High Seas, a SailCat on Mission Bay, or a Sunbird on a Texas lake -- there's a summer sailing camp for teens and kids of all experience levels. Choosing the Best Summer Sailing Camp for you (your son or daughter) is all about your level of intensity and interest, previous sailing experience, the type of sailboats the camp offers, how far you want to travel from home, and how much training and actual sailing experience you expect. Many sailing summer camps also offer: Canoeing, Kayaking, Sailing, Rowing, Rafting and other water craft sports.

Best Science Summer Camps .com

Many summer technology and science camps are housed on the campuses of major universities and have access to incredible science faculty and high-tech facilities. Choosing the Best Science Camp comes down to zooming in on the answers to some specific questions, such as: What science(s) will be included in the camp curriculum, how 'deep' will the instruction go, and will there be any 'hands on' experiments?

There are some great 'immersion' summer science camp programs where campers build complete robots, explore the geology of the Grand Canyon, launch their own rockets, create iPhone aps and websites, and much more.

Best Sleepaway Camps .com

Our Summer Best Sleepaway Camps Directory will include information on some of the Best Sleepaway, Overnight, and Residential Camps in the US and Canada, including: Best Sleepaway Camps for Boys, Best Sleepaway Camps for Girls, Best Coed Sleepaway Camps, Best Sleepaway Adventure Camps, Best Sleepaway Wilderness Camps, Best Sleepaway Art Camps, Best Sleepaway Band Camps, Best Sleepaway Computer Camps, Best Sleepaway Dance Camps, Best Sleepaway Theater Camps, Best Sleepaway Science Camps, Best Sleepaway Swim Camps, and many more.

Best Soccer Summer Camps .com

There are some great day and overnight summer soccer camps for teens and kids, boys and girls, all across the US and Canada. Some soccer camps are directed by international soccer stars, and there are terrific travel soccer camps that actually train and compete in South America and across Europe. Choosing the Best Summer Soccer Camp for you (your son or daughter) is all about your level of intensity, training, and interest, previous soccer experience, how far you want to travel from home, the cost (of course), and how much actual soccer training you expect.

Best Special Needs Camps .com

There are some wonderful summer camps and summer programs out there for kids and teens with physical, learning and developmental special needs, where they can have fun every day in an active and caring summer camp environment. Many private summer camps have been designed around the special needs and disabilities of their campers. For instance, there are special needs summer camps specifically for children with amputations, or diabetes, or for campers who have some form of cancer. Some of these camps have doctors and/or nurses on staff.

Other camps take a more adaptive or "Inclusive" approach, providing special access, equipment, sessions or programs for campers with special needs, but otherwise operating as a traditional day or overnight summer camp. In many of these camps special needs campers participate along side of the non-special needs campers in many or even most of the camp activities.

Parents need to talk with each camp IN DEPTH to make sure they offer exactly the right program and facilities for their special needs camper.

Best Sports Summer Camps .com

There are literally hundreds of terrific summer sports camps for kids and teens of every level of experience, in every corner of the US and Canada.

For example, many of the best summer swim and aquatics camps are part of traditional sleepaway camp programs at summer camps with incredible waterfront and swim facilities -- some located in beautiful, wilderness settings on pristine mountain lakes. Of course, there are also summer sports camps attached to major universities, with nationally recognized coaches and the most modern summer sports training facilities on the planet.

Some summer sports camps are VERY INTENSE with hours of daily instruction, practice, competition, and fitness training. Other camps approach sports as an elective activity as part of an overall summer camp experience.

You should talk directly to each camp so that you know EXACTLY what to expect in terms of how intense the training program is, what other activities are offered, and the overall goals of the program.

Best Swim Camps .com

Want to train with an Olympic swim coach this summer and be on a summer swim team? Would you rather enjoy a peaceful swim in a clear mountain lake with your cabin of best friends? The diversity of Summer Swim Camps for teens and kids is amazing. Some summer swim camps are attached to major universities with nationally recognized swim teams, and have access to incredible pool facilities, the most modern swimmer training equipment, and even Olympic swim team coaches. Other swim camps are hundreds of miles from major cities, nestled deep in the woods by the own clear lakes.

Best Tech Camps .com

Our Summer Technology Camp Directory will include information on some of the Best Tech Camps, Computer Camps, and Science Camps in America, including: Computer Programming Camps, Application Design Camps, Video Game Design Camps, Robotics Camps, Engineering Camps, Animation Camps, Web Design Camps, Digital Photography and Digital Filmmaking Camps, Digital Video Camps, and many more.

Best Tennis Summer Camps .com

Want to train with a professional tennis coach this summer and be on a summer tennis team? Would you rather enjoy a peaceful match with your best friend on a grass tennis court overlooking a pristine lake? The diversity of Summer Tennis Camps for teens and kids is amazing.

Best Theater Camps .com

There are dozens of great theater, musical theater, and acting camps here in the US. Some summer theater camps are part of regional theaters, some include producing & touring a show -- others are musical theater camps and involve vocal music and dance training, too.

Best Travel Camps .com

There are teen travel camps that venture out each summer to almost every corner of the planet. Some travel camps fly out to Great Britain, Europe, the Mediterranean, or the Orient -- other summer travel camps 'bus it' right here in the US taking in DC, Broadway, or all the Disneys.

Best Volleyball Camps .com

If Indoor or Beach Volleyball is your thing -- there are some terrific summer volleyball camps just for you. Some volleyball camps are part of major universities with nationally recognized volleyball teams and programs. Other volleyball camps are taught in wilderness settings, or even right on a California, Florida, or Hawaiian beach, where you can truly relax after an intense day of exericse and volleyball training.

Best Wilderness Camps .com

There are some great summer wilderness camps for kids and teens, some that have been serving campers for almost a century.
In some wilderness camps, campers explore caves, raft rivers, observe birds and forest wildlife, learn how to hike and climb, zipline through the trees, and even venture out on week-long wilderness 'survival' adventures. Our Best Summer Wilderness Camps Directory will include information on some of the Best Wilderness Summer Camps in America, including: Best Wilderness Adventure Camps, Best Wilderness Camps for Kids, Best Wilderness Camps for Teens, Best Wilderness Survival Training Camps, and many more.

Best Weightloss Summer Camps .com

Losing weight and getting fit at summer camp is becoming more and more the specialized focus of some great weightloss and fitness summer camps here in the US. You will want to 'interview' each camp carefully to make sure their program fits your exact physical, health and dietary needs.

Best Wrestling Camps .com

There are some great wresting summer camps here in the US. Many of these summer wrestling programs are connected with major universities and some have been the home to US Olympic wrestlers.


You can go directly to any of our 2018 Special Interest Camp Directories from the list in the black bar at the bottom of this page.

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