Discussion – 


Discussion – 


Discover the Best Lake Murray Summer Camps & Nearby Options for 2024

As a mom, I know that the world of summer camps can be hard to get into. Where to start and how to choose within the thousands of options available? 

This article aims to be a practical resource to help you understand all you need to know about choosing a summer camp, plus bringing you a list of hand-picked summer camps in my beloved area, Lake Murray in South Carolina. 

Photo of campers roasting marshmallows around a campfire: "Campers enjoying traditional campfire activities at Lake Murray summer camp
Picture by Tegan Mierle on Unsplash 

While summer camps may differ greatly in their learning focus and formats, they all share a common goal. Summer camps aim to provide children and teenagers with opportunities to connect with others, cultivate independence, and acquire new skills — all while having fun. 

Therefore, keep in mind that regardless of your choice, it is likely to result in a fantastic experience for your camper. 

Crystal Tip: Although Lake Murray is well known for its natural attractiveness, which opens possibilities for fun outdoor enjoyment, you have to know there are also amazing camps focused on arts, science and leadership. Keep reading to know my top recommendations. 

Summer Camps in the Lake Murray area: How to choose? 

Picture by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash 

The American Camp Association reports there are over 16,000 summer camps spread across the United States. While this vast array may initially seem overwhelming, it also assures us of the rich diversity within the realm of summer camps. On the bright side, this diversity ensures that there is something to cater to every interest and preference.

Here is how you could start your search for a camp that is a good fit for your camper’s interests while also matching your family to preferred formats and budgets. 

Step 1: Choose a camp format

Think of what would be a better fit for your camper between day camps and overnight camps. Here are some things to consider about each format: 

Day camps are a great option for new campers and children below 7 y/o. Campers will go only during the day and return home every night. These camps cater mostly to suburban children and are a very common option around the Lake Murray area. They are usually a budget-friendly option. 

Overnight camps are immersive experiences recommended for children aged 7 and up. Lasting 1 to 12 weeks, campers become part of a dynamic community. They often come with higher costs, starting around $450 per night, per child. 

Keep in mind The camp format you choose will influence the gains your camper gets from the experience. In day camps, kids will have fun, learn new skills and improve some they already have; while overnight camps will do all this and additionally, stimulate their independence, help them develop specialized skills and generate lifelong friendships. 

Picture by Mike Fox in Unsplash 

Step 2: Choose a learning area

At this stage, it is important to involve your child in the decision-making process

As noted by the American Camp Association, “The more ownership the child has in the decision, the more comfortable they will feel at camp” and ultimately, we want to make sure that this experience is fun and nurtures their innate skills and interests. 

Having this in mind, start looking in the category that is a better fit for your camper. Some to keep in mind are: 

Adventure and outdoor camps: This is the type of camp that comes to mind when we think about summer camps. They are great for children and teens to have fun and reconnect with nature. There’s a diverse range of activities including rafting, sailing, archery and other outdoor activities as well as other cultural and educational events. 

Specialty camps: These are camps that will focus on a particular activity or skill and are carefully designed for different ages and levels of expertise. In this category, among others, you can find:

Sports camps 

Arts camps: These include dance, theater, writing or music camps. ○ Educational camps: These include STEM, leadership and similar camps that address the cognitive and social development of campers.

Step 3: Select a Duration 

Camp programs typically organize activities into weekly sessions. These sessions serve as the unit of time for planning camp activities. 

Depending on the camp’s offerings, you may have the flexibility to book for a single week or extend your camper’s experience for multiple weeks. Your decision should consider the camp’s program, your camper’s preferences, and your budget. 

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3 key factors to consider when choosing a summer camp 

References: With your child’s interest and preferred format in mind, seek camp recommendations from other families in your community. Word of mouth can go a long way. Complement their feedback with online research. 

Budget: Prioritize quality over quantity by considering the price-quality ratio. Opting for a highly recommended camp for a shorter duration may offer more benefits than a longer stay at a poorly rated one within the same budget range. 

Additionally, explore scholarship opportunities, often offered by some camps. 

Talk to Camp Organizers: Reach out to camp organizers to address any remaining doubts or questions. I highly recommend this article (Link: 

https://www.brighthorizons.com/resources/article/tips-for-choosing-a-summer-day-camp ) by Bright Horizons to ensure you’re asking the right questions. 

And now, without further adieu… 

Summer camps in the Lake Murray area: Top Picks 2024 

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Top Picks for Outdoor Summer Camps near Lake Murray Area 2024 

Summer & Extreme Safari

This ICRC summer camp includes special activities, indoor and outdoor play, arts and crafts, games and two snacks per day. Summer Safari is for children entering grades K–5 and Extreme Safari is for children entering grades 6–9. 

  • Organized by: IRMO Chapin Recreation Commission 
  • Format: Day camp (7:30 am – 6:00 pm)
  • Locations: Either Seven Oaks Park or Crooked Creek Park in SC. 
  • Duration: The whole program goes from Jun. 3 to Aug. 7, 2024. Participants can register for separate weeks or the entire summer. 
  • Price: $142 per child, per week. 
  • Visit here for more information: https://www.icrc.net/programs-and-activities/summer-camps

2024 David Van Cleef Youth Sailing Summer Programs

This sailing camp in Lake Murray was voted as the #1 summer camp in the Midlands by the Lexington Chronicle in 2022. I love that it is made for all experience levels and you don’t need to own your own boat or be a club member to participate. 

  • Organized by: Columbia Sailing Club 
  • Format: Day camp (9:30 am – 4:30 pm) 
  • Location: Columbia Sailing Club. Lake Murray, SC. 
  • Duration: They offer one-week (M-F) sessions in the range from Jun. 3 to Jul. 26, 2024. 
  • Price: Starts from $234/week for the beginner program and up to $459/week in programs for the more experienced. 
  • Visit here for more info: https://columbiasailingclub.org/junior-sailing/summer-sailing-program

Camp Barstow for Boy and Girl Scouts

Camp Barstow is a premier waterfront camp where Scouts can enjoy the sunny midlands of South Carolina. Activities include canoeing, swimming, waterskiing, climbing and more! Children can sign up with their troop or as individuals. 

  • Organized by: Boy Scouts of America. Indian Waters Council. 
  • Format: Overnight camp 
  • Location: 117 Camp Barstow Dr. Batesburg, SC. 
  • Duration: You can sign your camper for separate weeks in the range from Jun. 9 to Jul. 6, 2024. 
  • Price: $445 per child, per week 
  • Visit here for more info: https://indianwaters.org/camps/barstow/

Picture by IIONA VIRGIN on Unsplash 

Top Picks for Art Summer Camps near Lake Murray Area 2024

Stepping Out Dance Studio 2024 Summer Programs

Our three-time winner of the title ‘Lexington’s Best Dance Studio’ has multiple summer dance camps for kids ages 2 to 12. Styles of dance include ballet, jazz, tumbling, hip-hop, and creative movement. 

  • Organized by: Stepping Out Dance Studio 
  • Format: Partial day camp (times vary depending on the chosen program). Location: 231 Cedar Crest Drive, Lexington, SC. 
  • Duration: Varies, depending on the program but usually each program lasts 4 days and you can sign your camper for several programs. 
  • Price: Starts at $80 per child, per program. 
  • More information in this link 
  • Visit here for more info: https://www.steppingoutsc.com/summer/ 

Columbia Children’s Theatre summer camp 

This camp will get your child learning and having fun with the theater. Whether they’re interested in acting, set design, or playwriting, they have an age-appropriate program designed for them. Campers will present a showcase of their work on the final day of class. 

  • Organized by: Columbia Children’s Theatre 
  • Format: Day camp 
  • Location: Ebenezer Lutheran Church. 1301 Richland St. Columbia, SC. Duration: Depends on the camper’s age and the program selected but they have both, one-week and various weekly programs. 
  • Price: Starts at $100 but most one-week sessions are $200. Scholarships available. More information in this link 
  • Visit here for more info: https://www.columbiachildrenstheatre.com/summercamps

The Columbia Museum of Art summer camps 

This summer, the CMA is offering a variety of camps to capture the interest of young artists. They are structured in themed one-week programs and are for both children (ages 3 to 12) and teens. You can sign your camper for as many weeks as you want to. 

  • Organized by: Columbia Museum of Art 
  • Format: Partial day camp (8:30 am – 12 pm for morning camps and 12:45 pm – 4 pm for afternoon camps). 
  • Location: 1515 Main Street, Columbia, SC. 
  • Duration: It is structured in themed one-week sessions. You can sign your camper for as many weeks as you want to. 
  • Price: Starts at $175 per child, per week. Scholarships available. 
  • More information in this link 
  • Visit here for more info: https://www.columbiamuseum.org/learn/summer-camps
Picture by Todd Greene on Unsplash 

Top picks for Sport summer camps near Lake Murray Area 2024 

IRMO Chapin Recreation Commission: Kids summer camps 2024 

This recommendation offers multiple options in one: The ICRC has a whole catalog of multiple summer camp options, including sports camps, for a wide range of ages. Baseball, football, volleyball, yoga and other fun general fitness camps are to be expected. 

  • Organized by: IRMO Chapin Recreation Commission 
  • Format: Day and partial-day camps 
  • Location: There are 2 different locations, each with its own offerings – Crooked Creek Park / Melvin Park and Saluda Shoals Park / Seven Oaks Park. 
  • Duration: Varies, depending on the program but usually each program can go from 2 to 5 days and you can sign your camper for several programs. 
  • Price: Starts at $50 per child, per program. 
  • Visit here for more info: https://www.icrc.net/programs-and-activities/summer-camps

Riverside Golf Center Junior Summer Camp 

This is a specialized camp for junior golfers with experience. Designed by Harry Haney, this camp focuses on fundamentals and incorporates techniques that ensure your golfer will continue to elevate their game well past the conclusion of camp. 

  • Organized by: H. Haney Golf Academy 
  • Format: Partial day camps (8:50 am – 12:30 pm) 
  • Location: Riverside Golf Center. 1600 Garner Lane. Columbia, SC 
  • Duration: One-week sessions. 
  • Price: Starts at $225 per golfer, per week. 
  • More information in this link 
  • Visit here for more info: https://hhaneygolf.com/pay-now/riverside-golf-center-junior-summer-camp

Nike Basketball Camp Cardinal Newman High School 

This is a Complete Skills Camp, designed by Jason Harman and his amazing staff, for boys and girls of all abilities to develop athletically, refine fundamental basketball skills and enhance their skill set at the post, wing, or guard position. Their reviews are amazing! 

Education and Science Summer Camps near Lake Murray Area 2024 

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EdVenture Summer Camp 2024 

At EdVenture Children’s Museum, camps are open to the public and designed for campers ages 4–10. Fun, hands-on activities will keep the children busy, happy and learning all day long. Their activities are categorized in Maker/Art/Engineering, Cooking and Engineering/Science. 

  • Organized by: EdVenture Columbia 
  • Format: Day camp (9:00 am – 3:00 pm) 
  • Location: 211 Gervais St, Columbia, SC. 
  • Duration: One-week sessions, from Jun. 3 to Aug. 2, 2024. 
  • Price: $269 per child, per week. 
  • Visit here for more info: https://edventure.org/camps-summer

Adventures in Vex Robotics 

This is a camp designed by the University of South Carolina for rising 6-9 grade students. From designing innovative bots to mastering coding skills, students will be guided by instructors through the exciting world of robotics. 

South Carolina State Museum Summer Camps

The South Carolina State Museum in Columbia is offering fun and engaging summer camps for ages 6-12. Sponsored by AFLAC, these week-long camps focus on a different subject each day, including natural history, astronomy, art and S.T.E.A.M. 

  • Organized by: South Carolina State Museum 
  • Format: Day camp (8:30 am – 3:00 pm). 
  • Location: South Carolina State Museum. 301 Gervais Street, Columbia, SC. Duration: One-week sessions, from Jun. 3 to Aug. 9, 2024. 
  • Price: Starts at $225 per week. 
  • Visit here for more info: https://scmuseum.org/summercamps#_—8-year-old-camps

Is a Summer Camp Experience in the Lake Murray Area Worth the Investment?

Picture by Austin Pacheco on Unsplash 

In my personal opinion, absolutely. Summer camps offer children and teens the possibility to make the most of their summer break. These experiences are cherished by millions of young individuals annually for the opportunity to explore new hobbies, learn valuable skills, and forge lifelong friendships. 

Crystal tip: For families who have recently relocated to the Lake Murray area, summer camps serve as an excellent way for your child to integrate into the local community. 

Once you’ve made your decision, don’t delay enrollment. Spots at popular camps tend to fill up quickly, so make sure you secure your child’s place as soon as possible.

Crystal Wallace


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