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Amped for Camp

Photo Credit: Camp Kieve

Find rollercoasters, horses, and s’more fun at summer camp this year. 

By Sarah Emily Gilbert 

In Allan Sherman’s famous song, “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh! (A Letter from Camp Granada),” he parodies a boy’s classic reaction to summer camp: initial anxiousness and homesickness followed by excitement and enthusiasm. To Sherman’s credit, summer camp can lead to some poison ivy, but it’s more likely to bring self-discovery, lifelong friendships, and even a first kiss. While away from their “Muddah and Fadduh” at summer camp, kids often undergo a transformative experience. They develop new personalities, challenge themselves mentally and physically, and beat the summer doldrums with a band of likeminded individuals. Luckily, Camp Granada doesn’t exist, but roller coaster camp, ice hockey camp, and film camp certainly do. Here, Princeton Magazine outlines a myriad of places that promise an unforgettable summer—without the alligators, bears, or malaria.

Camp Kieve

42 Kieve Road, Nobleboro, Maine


Three years after graduating from Princeton University, Donald Kennedy (Class of ’23) opened up a summer camp for boys called Camp Kieve. Located along Lake Damariscotta in Maine, Kieve has that quintessential summer camp feeling, complete with log cabins, wilderness adventures, and a strong brotherhood.  For ninety years, Kieve has seen thousands of boy ages 8-16 go through the camp and return to become counselors. The loyalty to the program is highlighted in the camp’s name. Kieve is a Celtic verb meaning, “to strive in emulation of,” and campers are encouraged to model their attitudes and behaviors after their counselors and other Kieve alumni. Down the road from Kieve is Wavus, an all girls summer camp established in 2006 that shares Kieve’s mission to promote social maturity and self-discovery in young people.


Northwood School & Lake Placid Olympic Center, New York


On February 22, 1980, the U.S. Ice Hockey team achieved a “Miracle on Ice” when they defeated the Soviet Union for the Gold Medal at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid. Come 2016, ice hockey players of all ages and abilities hone their skills at this historic venue during their stay at the CAN/AM Hockey Camp. The internationally recognized program offers close to 30 unique camps and tournaments ranging from Girls Elite Goaltending and a Tyke Clinic to Family Camp, where parents and children play hockey together for a week. In addition to Lake Placid, where campers board at the charming Northwood School, CAN/AM holds camps in Niagara, Ontario and Las Vegas, Nevada.

Cape Cod Sea Camps

3057 Main Street, Brewster, Massachusetts


Not many kids come home from summer camp proficient in archery and riflery, waterskiing and swimming, ceramics and cooking, or any other combination of these skills. Established in 1922, Cape Cod Sea Camp (CCSC) exposes its coed campers ages eight to 17 to a seemingly endless array of activities, but its specialty is sailing. CCSC has three boat fleets, two sailing venues, and several Sail Masters to teach campers to be proficient sailors. To further develop their seamanship, campers can compete in regattas against neighboring country clubs. Whether or not they’re on a boat, all campers experience a seaside retreat at CCSC, where they have the option of staying overnight along the Cape Cod Bay or attending the CCSC day camp.

© Alexandre Ayer

New York Film Academy Kids Filmmaking Camp

17 Battery Place, New York, New York


Future Spielbergs ages 10 to 13 travel to the esteemed New York Film Academy for a two-week-long summer filmmaking camp in Battery Park. In addition to working with industry-standard film equipment, kids take classes in directing, writing, editing, cinematography, and production. Just like the pros, students can invite their families to a screening of their films at the end of camp. Those interested in continuing their film education often move on to the New York Film Academy’s Advanced Filmmaking Camp for kids, and eventually, the Teen Filmmaking Camp. In the latter program, students undergo up to six weeks of intensive courses and hands-on training related to filmmaking and production.

Thrill Coaster Tours

Based out of East Brunswick, New Jersey


The only prerequisite for this camp is a strong stomach and a penchant for adventure. In 2004, Ira Gordon launched Thrill Coaster Tours, a weeklong camp that takes amusement park enthusiasts to new heights – 200-foot heights to be exact. That’s the length of Valravn’s drop, a record-breaking roller coaster at Cedar Point Amusement Park in Ohio, the destination for this year’s “Get to the Point” tour.  Later in the summer, campers head to the West Coast for the California Coasters Tour. Along with stops to Universal Studios, Disneyland, and Great America, they’ll go to Six Flag Magic Mountain, which holds the world record for the most roller coasters in a single amusement park. Thrill Coaster Tours attracts kids from around the world, but NJ campers can be picked up at several locations while the tour is en route to its next destination.

Kierson Farm Riding Camps

107 West Woodschurch Road, Flemington, New Jersey


Horsing around is fully supported at Kierson Farm, home to the largest horseback-riding program in New Jersey.  Although owners Mike and Jessie Richardson have trained dozens of title-winning riders and horses, their summer camps welcome novice riders, champion riders, or those who simply love horses. Inexperienced campers learn everything from Horsemanship 101 to how to bathe a horse during the Happy Trails Discovery day camp, while seasoned equestrians can stay overnight at the Kierson Bunk House during Step Up Camp. No matter their level, campers work closely with the farm’s 30 stunning American Saddle bred horses in a picturesque setting complete with 42 stalls, indoor and outdoor riding arenas, and heated tack rooms.

Camp Harlam

575 Smith Road, Kunkletown, Pennsylvania


Camp Harlam is the type of place where cabin mates jump on friends’ bunks to wake them up in the morning, where the pre-cut bagels at Shabat are highly anticipated, and where Superhero Night is epic. One of only 15 Union for Reform Judaism overnight camps in the country, Harlam provides young people with three and a half weeks of summer fun rooted in Jewish culture and tradition. Founded in 1958, Camp Harlam encourages its campers to stay in touch with their families the old-fashioned way: letter writing. Campers are eager to communicate with home, but they certainly don’t mind swapping their parents for 550 fellow campers. When faced with 300-acres of land, a natural lake for swimming, and activities in modern facilities like a woodshop and dance studio, any homesickness quickly dissipates.

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