Local Summer Camps in NJ (2024), FAQ, and Packing Tips

Your Summer Camp questions and options!

By Glenda Robson, Macaroni KID Summit Short Hills SOMA Publisher May 2, 2024

We’re midway through spring! The end of another school year is near and summer is on our minds.

Some of you have had your summer plans set since the autumn or winter. To that, my kid would say “Yas Queen!” The rest of you may be quietly wondering if camps are still open for registration nearby. No fear! We’re here to help, whether your family had another busy year or an unexpected change of plans that left you with some empty weeks on your summer calendar. So, if you’re asking “Which summer camps are near me?”, check out our updated 2024 Summer Camp Guide or see further below to learn about our local sponsored summer camps. We welcome and thank our latest sponsors Rocket Improv, Brainiax, and Bricks 4 Kidz!

Once you’ve finalized your summer plans, you’ll wonder what to buy or pack — see our thoughts on some frequently asked questions below.


Q: Are summer camps tax deductible?

A: Tax rules may vary per year and location. Check with your accountant to verify tax rules that apply to your situation for tax year 2024. According to the IRS, for tax year 2023, “the cost of day camp may count as an expense toward the Child and Dependent Care Credit. … Expenses for overnight camps do not qualify.” “This credit is available to people who, in order to work or to look for work, have to pay for childcare services for dependents under age 13. The credit is also available if you paid for the care of a spouse or a dependent, of any age, who is physically or mentally incapable of self-care.” These points might be worth discussing with your accountant.

Q: Do summer camps need to be licensed?

A: The rules are different per state. In NJ, this also depends on certain criteria as listed in their Youth Camps page.

Q: How should I prepare my child emotionally for camp?

A: Younger children might need practice being separated from their parents and caregivers for extended amounts of time. Try out some play dates without your presence. You and they will need to get accustomed to separation time. Discuss your feelings and acknowledge concerns about missing each other and any possible feelings of anxiety or sadness.

Q: What should get packed?

A: I like to break down packing into several stages.

Early Packing Preparation – This may be obvious, but it depends on the type of camp and activity your child will attend. Review the recommendations provided by your child’s camp early, since some camps might require specialty items that may take time to purchase. Move those items to a packing list once they've been acquired.

Packing, Week Of – It’s often advisable to label items with your child’s first name & initial or last name. Plan meals. Pack your child’s bag, except for any consumables or toiletries.

Packing, Day Of – Here’s a sample packing list:

  • Bag: backpack or gym bag or duffel; may need to be waterproof
  • Clothes, extra set, include underwear
  • Hair Tie(s)
  • Hat
  • Rash Guard
  • Shoes: running, poolside, flip-flops, water shoes, cleats, sports specific; slip on shoes are often preferred over ones with shoelaces
  • Snack(s)
  • Sports / Activity specific gear:
    • Sleep Away camps: Pajamas, Pillow, Toiletries, Overnight Items, Sleeping Bag
    • Swim: Bathing Suit, Goggles
    • Tennis: Racket
  • Sunscreen
  • Towel
  • Water Bottle

Q: What should I ask my child when they return from camp?

A: Some camp days may be exhausting, especially if the majority of your child’s time is spent in the sun. Let them have a rest after arriving home. They may want a snack, just as much as they often do after school. Ease into asking detailed questions about their activities. Aim to be supportive if your child faced any difficulties or concerns. Hopefully, they’ll have made and will share with you some happy experiences they will treasure as memories.

Thanks to our local 2024 Summer Camp Guide sponsors!