What’s Going on with Summer Camps this Year – Kalamazoo and Southwest Michigan 2020

Status of Summer camps for kids summer 2020

What Will Summer Hold for Kalamazoo Families and Kalamazoo Summer Camps?

Well THAT was unexpected.

In a matter of weeks, everyone’s summer plans were thrown on their heads and many of us are still spinning from the effects of the statewide shutdown that has extended way longer than anyone anticipated.

Even when schools across Michigan were closed through the end of the school year, I thought, “It’ll be better by June though, right? We’ll still have summer camps, right???”

Eh, maybe.

We may have summer camps, but summer camps will be different from anything in the past.

Many camps, like us parents, are reeling from the continuous extensions to the state’s “stay at home order.” If you think it’s hard to pivot and find new plans for childcare, virtual school, and mental health care, imagine being a summer camp.

The logistics involved in running a single summer camp for one week are expansive, and if you multiply that by several weeks of camps, with hundreds of families and staff involved, supplies, etc, it is nearly impossible to regroup after a state shutdown.

But some summer camps are doing it.

So Will there be Kalamazoo Summer Camps in 2020?

We still don’t know. Neither do our camps. We’ve polled our favorite local summer camp organizations to gain some insight and the answer is simply that they are all up in the air.

Some have canceled. Others have gone virtual. And yet others are still trying to decide. What’s safe? What’s allowed? What’s smart?

Summer camps are a critical part of the working family’s summer. My husband and I both work. For the past several months we’ve been scraping together workdays with virtual school and child care. Frankly, it’s been hellish.

To face another 3 months in the same holding pattern, with summer camps closed, is a very terrifying thought. And parents that rely on summer camp as child care are in a quandary as well.

But despite how much I love summer camps (okay, and my kids do, too), these camps are doing what they need to keep our kids safe from coronavirus.

Here’s How Southwest Michigan Families are Feeling about Summer Camps 2020

Camps opening up for summer 2020 is only half of the equation. Parents need to be willing to send kids to camp, too.

We conducted a survey of close to 400 Michigan families to see how they were feeling about summer camp this year. Here’s what we learned:

Before the pandemic arrived (as of February 2020) most parents – 93% of respondents – were planning to send their kids to some type of summer camp this year.

It’s not surprising that as of May 19, 2020, parents are feeling very differently toward summer camp, and not all people feel the same way.

  • 21% of respondents told us that their plans had changed for the summer – originally they were planning to do summer camp but will be skipping all summer camp options in 2020.
  • 27% of parents are waiting – they will decide to sign their children up at a later date, if at all.
  • 36% of survey takers report that their children were already signed up for summer camp and they are waiting to hear updates from the camps.

Parents are also divided on sending their kids to camp, even if recommended CDC precautions were put into place.

Our question: If camps open this summer and agree to follow all of the recommendations of the CDC and state and local governments, how likely are you to consider sending your child to camp this summer?

33% very likely, 24% somewhat likely, 21% not very likely, 22% I won’t be sending my child to camp this summer

The people planning to attend camp were vocal, writing things like:

We are not afraid of our kids catching this virus…no more so than anything else. We want camp to happen. No to masks, but maybe yes to more sanitizing.


Please do not cancel summer camps. There is no way to 100% protect anyone from everything. The children have already lost so much by closing schools and being locked in their homes for over two months. This is not healthy for anyone, mentally or physically.


  If parents are expected to return to work and summer camps are part of our child care plan, what choice do we have?!

And many sentiments expressed were like these in favor of keeping kids home:

I feel that the CDC requirements take away the fun aspect of summer camp. My daughter was looking forward to field trips, playgrounds, and social interaction. These are the things she will likely miss in summer camp.


Honestly, I don’t think we will get to any place that the CDC and local governments agree is “safe”, so I’m just resigned to that. It’s better safe than sorry and hopefully it’s just one summer lost.


I feel incredible uncertainty around this virus and will be waiting it out. We are enrolled in one camp that was postponed until August and we may or may not attend depending on how this all plays out. We will not likely be signing up for the other camps for the same reason.

Given the rise of distance learning over the past few months, we were curious to hear what families were thinking about virtual camps. We asked:

If your child’s camp was changed to an online format, how likely would you be to have your child attend that camp?

67% of parents reported that it is very unlikely their kids would do an online summer camp, compared to the 16% who said it was somewhat likely.

It appears that parents and kids are tired of screens, as one commenter said, “My kids don’t like watching live streams, and I don’t really want to manage it. I would be interested in activity boxes/kits. We probably wouldn’t do the virtual part unless there was a really huge draw to it.”

Another parent explains, “Virtual camps sound fun in theory. However, after weeks of virtual school, I’m done with convincing my kids to sit in front of a computer to interact with other people.” And, ” They are ready to be done with virtual learning and enjoy the summer. Virtual learning is necessary for school but does not translate to the outdoor and social benefits of a camp. It would be too much to ask of our children. They need a relaxed and free summer. We are going 1980s outside all day on the bikes and devices will be put away..”

It’s the human interaction that kids and parents are missing the most, “Camps are mostly beneficial for the social interaction and relationships built with peers and mentors.”

In summary, “Ugh. Enough computers. We’re kind of virtualed out.”

There we have it. Just like everything else going on in the world right now, we’re uncertain about what the future holds.

Our survey of the summer camps in the area reflect this, too.

Below, you’ll see a list of camps that have canceled, some that have gone virtual, and others that are planning to open for business.

We all know this is a fluid situation – camps and parents may yet change their plans this summer.

We do hope that whatever happens, you all stay well.

Open Camps
Virtual Camps
Canceled Camps


Camps Near Kalamazoo Running this Summer

Many camps are remaining hopeful and plan to continue running as scheduled this summer.

Some programs may look a little different, as camps strive to comply with CDC regulations and social distancing protocols, but they all have the same goals in mind: to provide your child with a FUN and SAFE summer camp experience. Many camps that are choosing to open this summer have different refund policies than in the past and we list them here where we’re able.

Please note that camps will be constantly re-evaluating and making decisions throughout the summer and plans may change. We will do our best to keep this list updated, but make sure to check your camp’s website for the most updated information.

Cedar Lodge Summer Camp

Details: The first two weeks of camp have been canceled; new start date is July 5th and will run for 6 weeks after that.  Following camp, Cedar Lodge is adding a Horse camp that will be an intensive 2 weeks just working on riding or vaulting and is only open to kids that can at least walk, trot, canter comfortably in a group of riders. Riders will have the option to participate in the LMHJA show that is running on August 29/30 on horses they will ride during those two weeks. The Day Camp option has been dropped for all programs at this time.

Refund Policy: Families are not required to pay at registration. They will be invoiced directly and payment is requested 2 weeks in advance of dates of arrival.

AppleTree & Gilden Woods Early Care and Preschool Summer Explorer Program

Details: AppleTree & Gilden Woods is proceeding with summer camp programs, with modifications. Please call your local school for a review of the many COVID-19 related health and safety actions.

Art Bayou – Color Adventures

Details: As of this publication, Art Bayou Studio plans to move forward with the August 3-7, 2020 Camp session.

Refund Policy: If a camper is uncomfortable attending the summer camp inside the studio, take-home kits will be available with provided instructions. If they opt for the take-home version there will be some modifications with the supplies provided.

The Dome Sports Center / Next Level Performance Summer Clinics

Details: Clinics are moving forward as originally scheduled with all necessary precautions in place.

Refund Policy: A refund will be available if clinics are not able to run safely.

Bair Lake Bible Camp 

Details: June camps have been canceled. Please monitor the website for decisions in regard to all other youth summer camp programs.

Refund Policy: If Bair Lake Bible Camp cancels the summer camp your child is registered for, you will receive a 100% refund, or have the option to donate or rollover your registration to Summer 2021. If you change your mind about sending your child to camp, Bair Lake Bible Camp will refund all but a $30 cancellation fee.

Kazoo School Summer Session:

Details: The in-person June and July camp offerings have been canceled due to the current Covid-19 situation. Kazoo School will determine any August camp sessions by July 6, 2020. They will be offering Camp in the Box options with some virtual components.

Refund Policy: Several options – include a refund of registration fees already paid, donate all, or a portion of your registration fees already paid to Kazoo School. Or, transfer the summer 2020 registration fees paid, to a credit on your account for the 2021 Summer Camp to secure your spot for next year.

Kalamazoo Nature Center:

Primary Camp: Grades 1-5  |  Weekly Sessions held Monday-Thursday, 8:30 am – Noon July 6 – August 27
Adventure Camp: Grades 6-8  |  Weekly Sessions held Fridays, 7-10 pm July 10 – August 28

Kalamazoo Country Day School:

Details: All camps are moving forward as scheduled for Summer 2020.

City Of Kalamazoo Department of Parks and Recreation:

Details: Summer Camps will be moving forward as scheduled, with modifications. Final plans should be set in place in the near future based on State and Federal guidelines.


Kalamazoo Camps Moving Online this Summer

Unprecedented times can lead to innovation.

In this case, some camps are choosing to take advantage of modern technology to provide new and unique online camp experiences for their campers.

» Crescendo Academy of Music Summer Programs

What’s New: The Our Epic Broadway! Musical Theater Camp is postponed until August. All other programming has moved online. Students/parents should contact the office for details.

» Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan

What’s New: GSHOM will be offering Camp Reimagined over the course of five weeks. As a virtual camper, girls will receive a weekly subscription box that includes everything they need for that week of virtual camp, two daily Zoom calls, a camp counselor, and the opportunity to make new friends – just like they would at overnight camp or day camp.  Traditional overnight summer camp programs or Kalamazoo Day Camp will not be hosted in 2020.

» Air Zoo Summer Camp

What’s New: New Virtual Air Zoo Camps will begin June 22nd and run through August 28th.  Camps will be made available, as always, for PreK-12th grade students to enjoy. Camps which will be held online for approximately 3 hours per day for 5 days. The Air Zoo will develop material packets for parents to pick up prior to their children’s camp (all measures will be taken to ensure your family’s safety) and camps will cost only $50/week, with our Mission Possible Camps running $65/week to help cover the cost of the additional materials needed. Online registration is OPEN.

» WMU Summer Camp Programs

What’s New: During the summer, Western Michigan University offers a wide variety of camps geared toward students of all ages. Camps range from academic to sports. Review the website for information regarding individual camp changes due to Covid 19 as a number have moved to a virtual format.

» Wellspring Youth Creativity Camps

What’s New: Wellspring has canceled the in-person youth camp sessions and has plans to continue the Virtual Dance Academy through June. They will access capacity to determine if they are able to continue to present in July.

» Sherman Lake YMCA Camp

What’s New: Sherman Lake YMCA Camp will be continually updating their Sherman Lake Camp At Home page with virtual events for families.

» Public Media Network Youth Media Camps

What’s New: Due to COVID-19 safety guidelines, Public Media Network has made the difficult decision to cancel our in-person camps for the rest of the summer.

We have converted our ‘Be a YouTuber’ camp to a virtual format and registration is now open. The camp will run August 10 – 14, 2020 with morning meetings starting at 10:00 AM on zoom. Register here:https://www.publicmedianet.org/youth-media-camps

We will also be running the ‘Getting Started with Animation’ virtual camp. The dates are August 24-28 starting at 10:00 AM via zoom. Register here:https://www.publicmedianet.org/youth-media-camps

» Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

What’s New: Experience the fun of Art Camp conveniently in your home. Art Camp Kits will include supplies and step-by-step directions to making your own projects at home.

» WMU Dollars & Sense Finance Camp

What’s New: Finance Camp will be held virtually for Summer 2020.


Cancellations for Kalamazoo Summer Camps

Some camps have had to make the very difficult decision to cancel their programs for this summer.

Please note that some camps have canceled sessions during the first part of the summer, but may still run with sessions later in the summer. Others have replaced in-person camps with virtual options. Check back here for updates- we will do our best to keep you informed.

» Sherman Lake YMCA : Sherman Lake YMCA  has canceled their summer camp programs. Registered camper families should have also received an email with more details.

» 4-H Camp Kidwell: 4-H Camp Kidwell has canceled all of their Adventure Awaits summer camp programs. All youth-oriented programs are canceled through September 1, 2020.

» Van Buren Youth CampVBYC will not run the traditional summer camp program. The staff is considering ways to stay connected with families, either in small groups (on-site) or virtually throughout the summer.

» Grace AdventuresGrace Adventures has canceled all of our Summer Camp programs for 2020. All Camper Families are being notified by email and phone call of the cancellation as well as what they can do with any camp fees that have been paid.

» Camp Wakeshema: Camp Wakeshema has decided to cancel all weeks of Camp for the summer of 2020. Families can elect to receive a full refund or can carry over the registration to 2021. This will secure the camper’s spot for next year (for the same camp for which the camper was registered).

» Kalamazoo Creative Art Camp:  All Kzoo Creative Art Camp sessions are canceled for the 2020 season due to COVID-19.

» Gilmore Piano Camp:  The Gilmore Piano Camp this summer has been canceled. Staff is considering offering an opportunity to get interested students together online – proposing a collaborative music making experience with Band Lab.

» Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan: GSHOM will not be hosting overnight summer programs, but will be offering Camp Reimagined.

» Portage Public Schools Community Enrichment – Summer Camp: PPS has made the decision to suspend all community programs, including camps for the summer of 2020.  They plan to offer a limited number of virtual experiences for PPS students only through the Portage Education Foundation Summer Technology Enrichment Program(STEP). Registration for those programs opens on Monday, June 1st.

» Cedar Lodge Summer Camp: The first two weeks of camp have been canceled; new start date is July 5th. All Day Camp options have also been canceled at this time.

» Indian Lake Nazarene Camp: Summer Camp and Family Camp are canceled for 2020.

» Kalamazoo Institute of Arts: Traditional Camps are canceled for 2020. As a fun alternative, they have developed Art Camp in a Box so campers can experience Art Camp at home.

» Kalamazoo Nature Center: The traditional KNC Camp sessions have been canceled. Families may elect a full refund of their KNC Camp fee or can opt to convert their refund to a tax-deductible donation.

» Crawlspace Theatre Productions: Kids Improv Summer Camp has been canceled for 2020.


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