If we don’t experience any wildfires in the vicinity, summers in Salem usually boast some pretty amazing weather. For kids out of school, summer camps are often a great way to explore new things, make new friends, and learn new skills. In and around Salem, there are kids’ summer camp options abound for a variety of ages and interests, and they are full of adventure and activities.

Salem summer Camps for Kids
At the Humane Society Camps, kids can interact with dogs, cats, and rabbits and learn about animal care and welfare. Photo credit: Jocelyn Augustino

Salem Humane Society

4246 Turner Road. SE, Salem

The camps put on by the Humane Society are always popular with kids. The focus in the camp is on animal care and welfare. Based on the animals currently at the shelter, campers interact with dogs, cats, and potentially rabbits. The society aims to have students interact with animals daily, but sometimes that’s not possible, so kids need to be prepared. When they are not learning about animal welfare or interacting with animals, students will be playing games, making crafts, and listening to guest speakers enlighten them about animals and animal-related jobs.

Open to kids entering grades 3-8 in the fall, campers are grouped as 3-4th graders, 5-6th graders, and 7-8th graders. There are two weeks each for the three age groups. For older kiddos, there are chances for junior camp counselor roles. The camps run weekly from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Humane Society campus on Turner Road.

Children’s Educational Theater

North Salem High School
765 14th Street NE, Salem

The Children’s Educational Theater summer program has been a staple of Salem’s summer offerings since 1975. CET is a theater program that allows children to explore all aspects of theater, from acting and stage combat to lighting and makeup. Students can choose the three classes that interest them the most and take those daily for the duration of the summer.

All campers are involved in performances in some way. Kids are in different productions based on age, starting with the 4th and 5th graders and getting progressively more advanced as the students get older. In previous summers, high school students put on complete full-length musicals while the youngest children prepared shorter plays based on fairy tales. Campers can choose between the performance and technical tracks as they get into middle school.

The students perform their plays all over Salem in the last weeks of July. Productions occur at the library and around and inside North Salem High School. Open to kids in 4-12th grades, CET runs for the last week of June and all of July. Families have to commit to the entire time and are asked to volunteer their time to help with costumes, props, tickets, and other duties that keep the camp and productions running. If your child is interested in theater at all, this camp is a can’t-miss event.

Salem summer Camps for Kids
Kids can learn to play tennis through the Parks and Recreation Department at sites throughout Salem. Photo courtesy: Isles Yacht Club

YMCA Camps

Main Office
685 Court Street NE, Salem

The YMCA has a lot of great camp options throughout Marion County. Day camps feature sports and crafts and take place in various locations. Families can choose from sites in Independence, Woodburn, Silverton, and Sublimity, as well as four locations in Salem at elementary schools and churches.

The main site for YMCA camps, however, is Camp Greider. A classic-style summer camp in the hills of West Salem, the camp is held at a 4-H property, which includes a lodge, lake, archery range, pool, and hiking trails. Kids get to experience all of the areas of the camp, learning about the natural environment and basic camp skills. Campers can enjoy archery, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, studying nature and learning new games, arts, and crafts.

Students are bussed from central Salem daily to the site. The camps at Camp Greider are open to kids in grades 1-8 and run from the last week of June through the last week of August. Greider is an excellent option for kids interested in outdoor camp and possibly not ready for an overnight camp.

Salem summer Camps for Kids
Englewood Park is one of the sites for the Salem Parks and Recreation Summer Day Camps, open to kids aged 5-12 throughout the summer. Photo credit: Mollie Nouwen

Salem Parks and Recreation

Various locations, Salem

Probably the most extensive summer program is put on by the Salem Parks and Recreation Department. Throughout the summer, there are Summer Parks Program Day Camps, which take place at three different parks – Englewood, Sumpter, and Sunnyslope. Kids create crafts, play games, and just generally have fun at the park with other kids their age. The camps typically run from 12-4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and are open to ages 5-12.

The Parks and Rec department is also responsible for the summer sports camps and classes around Salem. Kids can choose everything from tennis classes to a multi-sport camp or join a pickleball league or fun run. Keep in mind that the information on all of the department’s offerings will be available at the end of April, so dates and fees are not yet available.

Whatever your child’s interest or age, one of these camps will likely be a hit. Most are reasonably priced and still have room into late spring. But don’t wait—if you see something you’re sure would be an excellent fit for your kid, sign up now.

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