Three Summer Camp Models

When choosing a camp that works best for your child it’s important to set them up for success, but also allow them to be pushed outside their comfort zone. It’s when we cross these boundaries that we become mold-able, ultimately emerging the best versions of ourselves. Camp is one of the most positive molding experiences for many children every summer. Heading back to basics, there’s three general models for camp. Each of these models offer their own unique environment, expertise, and most suitable schedule for your child. This post explores the three models (Residential, Day, and Partner), how they function, and why that model might be best for your child.


The residential camp model, commonly referred to as traditional sleepaway or overnight camp, this tends to be what people think of when they hear “summer camp”. Cabins in the middle of vast wilderness, waking up to a bugle sounding, and lining up with your bunk mates at flags before each meal. Most of these camps are filled with traditions that have lasted decades, some even over a hundred years. Campers travel across the country, and even internationally, eventually returning as counselors themselves sending their own kids as they grow. A truly beautiful, never-ending cycle of nostalgia. Residential camp models differ in length of stay, some are separated by sex, and commonly created around a specialty such as sports, arts, music, etc. Offering one week, two week, four week, and eight week sessions for campers throughout the summer, these camps prepare year-round to create a positive and encouraging atmosphere for your kids.

Benefits for campers: Time away from home, and technology, creates an environment where campers can be themselves and learn important life skills. With a lot of residential camps having international campers, and staff, campers can create friendships with others around the world giving them an understanding of different cultures.


The day camp model can offer similar activities and enthusiastic staff as the residential model. The main difference being able to head home after a day of fun and adventure.

Benefits for campers: Day camps are usually close to home and surrounded by a familiar environment and peer group.


The partner camp model is when a group or organization rents a campground, or residential camp grounds (usually directly following the summer season), with a joined goal or purpose. That may be a church that annually gets together with their youth ministry for a week, a lacrosse camp that focuses on the empowerment and self esteem of those new to the sport, or even hospitals that have kids with special needs that thrive off the fresh air and sunshine that camp can provide creating a safe environment for all to participate.

Benefits for campers: Most campers are already familiar with their peer group and overall mission or values of the camp they’re apart of. It may be kids that share similar disabilities, attend the same church, or play on the same softball team. Partner model groups tend to already have that bond making it easier to open up and enjoy camp life right away.

Summer camps are an incredible place for your child to learn and grow! Choosing the right one takes time and research. What model does your camp follow?

Your unofficial co-counselor,

J. Humble

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