Just for Kids

20 Summer Camps We Love

Fun activities that keep kids healthy, happy, sharp and social while school is out.

By Kim Doleatto

Summer camp options abound in Sarasota-Manatee.

Summer camp options abound in Sarasota-Manatee.

It's that time of year again—when families wonder what the little ones will do while school is out for summer. So we put together this handy list to keep kids moving, learning, and making friends and memories this summer. Spots are filling up fast, but there are dozens of camps to choose from throughout both Sarasota and Manatee counties. Here are the ones on our radar.

Sarasota County Summer Camps

From cheer camps to boating, and runway design to pickleball camps, there are a variety of themed camps to choose from countywide, including day camps, adventure camps and week-long specialty camps. Attention teens who are 16 and older: the county is also looking for camp counselors and provides training. Ages 6-18

Sarasota Fishing Camp

Beyond the thrill of the catch, kids learn how to tie basic knots, care for gear, boat safely, release fish properly, cast-net, select bait, and identify and respect our local marine life and shores. Ages 8-16

The Manatee Performing Arts Center

Kids build confidence and communication skills through singing, acting, dancing and technical design, and parents enjoy a live performance at the end. Choose from three different sessions: The Lion King, Frozen and Seussical. Ages 6 to 17


Kids explore Turtle Beach, Lido Beach and the mangroves as they live the #saltlife hashtag with stand-up paddleboarding, surfing and ocean swimming. They'll also learn about ocean safety and marine biology, fostering an appreciation for wildlife and the environment. Ages 7-14


Kids of all music levels come together and make their rockstar dreams come true. Your child will learn guitar, drum and piano basics as the band prepares for its big rock concert. They'll learn the songs they love and give a performance to friends and family at the end of the week. Ages 8-17

Florida Studio Theatre

Creativity and expression flourish on stage through acting, dancing, singing, playwriting and improvisation. Children step out of their shells and learn empathy when they step into someone else's shoes to play a role. Parents can offer up a standing ovation when their child performs live in a play at the end of camp. Ages 5-17

Astro Skate

With daily and weekly options, kids stay busy with more than just skating. This camp includes crafts, kickball, dodgeball, a talent show, dress-up days and "bring your own bike or scooter" day. Off-site field trips to the park, bowling lanes, the movies, laser tag and more make for a fun-packed day, week or more. Ages 5-11

Chef Mike Cooking Camps

From kitchen safety to sautéing, kids learn cooking basics that they'll use for a lifetime as they get cracking with menu favorites like sushi, pizza, empanadas, pies, omelets and more. At the end, families are invited to a buffet to taste-test their little chef's skills. Ages 7-14

Circus Sarasota Summer Camp

Coordination, focus and confidence get a boost as kids do acrobatics, teeter on the low wire, swing on the trapeze and learn to juggle. Plus, they're taking part in Sarasota's circus arts legacy. On the last Friday of every session, friends and family are invited to a live showcase. Ages 6-15

The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature Summer Science Camps

From ocean predators to space, natural disasters to extinct animal species, campers get to unravel answers to the million-and-one questions they always seem to fit into a single day. Ages 7-14

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

From busting marine monster myths to first-hand encounters with marine wildlife, campers will be immersed in all things under the sea. They'll even learn about STEM applications through Mote's underwater robots and some of the discoveries they've made, along with chemistry experiments that are messy and maybe even smelly. Ages 5-13

Lina Rincon Art Gallery and Studio

From into the woods to beneath the sea, and from dragons and fairies in fantasy land to trips across the continents of Earth, kids gain art inspiration from nature and beyond in this intimate art gallery setting. Ages 6-10

Dream Oaks Summer Camp

Dream Oaks camps celebrate the abilities and develop the comprehensive skills of children with special needs and chronic illnesses. Camp themes include "Pirate Fever," "Lost in Space," "Camp Hollywood" and more, and offer overnight options. Ages 7-17

Cat Depot's Critter Camp

Leave the cute cat videos on the screen and get up close and personal with Cat Depot kitties. Campers do cat-themed science activities, crafts, service projects and animal-themed yoga. Once a week, a guest speaker from another local animal organization visits. And, of course, campers meet some of Cat Depot's adoptable cats for an hour every week. Ages 8-14

Nailed It DIY Studio

Get unplugged and messy. These hands-on projects will have campers using woods, fabrics and metals to create their very own projects, building confidence, craftiness and maybe a gift for the home along the way. Ages 7-14

Sarasota Scullers

With water everywhere, it only makes sense to have fun with it. Whether they're beginners or advanced, campers will learn water safety basics, rowing techniques and how to work the water as a team while staying fit and applying leadership skills. Ages 11-18

Zoo Camp at Sarasota Jungle Gardens

Reptiles, winged friends, conservation, zoo-keeping and botanical gardens are among the themes campers will explore at Zoo Camp. It's a walk on the wild side that's both fun and educational. Ages 6-11

ATA Triumph Martial Arts

No experience is necessary to join this camp, where campers move through taekwondo training and follow up with themed activities and games throughout the day for fun, fitness and friend-making. Ages 6-11

Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex 

Take a break from the summer heat and hit the rink to learn gliding, turning, stopping and all-around skating basics. (Advanced classes are also available.) Crafts and a movie break up the day and at the end of each day, skaters will have free time to play with friends. Ages 5-12

Sarasota Art Museum

Artful campers explore new themes, activities, and projects inspired by the art  and artists on view at the museum. Plus, teaching artists work with campers to install their very own art show. From using textiles to creating collages, little artists blossom in their craft. Ages 5-12 

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