If you are seeking a sleep-away summer camp for a first-time camper, you may be looking for an experience that eases them into the program rather them dropping them off for the whole summer, or even a whole week.

Following are camps that offer a positive, inclusive experience designed to make the first-time camper feel at ease at sleepover camp—so much so that they’ll probably wish that you had signed them up for the whole summer!

Prices do not include HST.

Muskoka Woods

Kiddos born in 2010 and 2011 can take camp for a test drive at Muskoka Woods for three nights and four days. Campers registered for Test Drive camp (ages 7–8) at Muskoka Woods get to take part in all of the fun activities, evening programs and Cabin Chats from Saturday through Tuesday evening. Or, if the camper is having too much fun to leave, he or she can stay on for the rest of the week. It’s all the fun of a big summer camp with just about every activity imaginable.

4585 Highway 141, Rosseau (Muskoka)
Ages 7–14
From $600 for 4-day/3-night Test Drive

Kettleby Valley

There’s more than one way for campers to dip their toes into the waters of overnight camp at Kettleby Valley: day campers younger than Grade 3 can take part in a one-night overnight—a great way for the small fry to see the camp without being away for very long. For kids older than Grade 3, there’s the option to do a shortened session, from Sunday to Friday afternoon, to get a taste for all the fun of camp life. And there is a whole lot of fun to be had, with canoe tripping, swimming, ropes courses, and so much more.

609 Kettleby Rd., Kettleby (King Township)
Ages 5–14
$585 for 1-week day camp plus overnight option, week-long overnight $810

YMCA Cambridge Kitchen Waterloo Camp Belwood

Camp Belwood absolutely understands what it is like to be away from home for the first time. Not only is it a small camp with shorter sessions, there is also a portion of the website dedicated to camp-prep strategies like dealing with homesickness, building positive excitement, and making camp a great experience. Camp Belwood’s counsellors are specially trained to encourage campers to learn camp routines and do new things for themselves. From fishing to BMX biking, there’s something for everyone at Camp Belwood.

R.R. #3, Fergus (Wellington County)
Ages 5–14
$650/week

Camp White Pine

Camp White Pine programs are designed especially for younger campers. The Pre-Wee Program (ages 6–9) helps make your child’s first experience at camp “warm, welcoming, and full of fun”. It can be one day or a full weekend. Kiwi Camp (ages 7–9) is a full two-week or six-week session appropriate for first-time campers.Caring counsellors are trained to work well with the younger age group and each camper has a CIT “big buddy” who is with them for their entire stay at camp. A well-rounded, jam-packed camp experience awaits!

1335 Camp White Pine Court, Haliburton
Ages 6–9
From $90 for Pre-Wee day, $325 for Pre-Wee weekend

Camp Mansfield

Blissfully close to Toronto, this camp gets high marks for great activities and fantastic staff. Mansfield Camp is both a day camp and an overnight camp. Kids who have completed JK, SK, or Grade 1 are in the Pioneer Program and can explore a range of great activities, including swimming, arts and crafts, drama, wood shop, ecology, camping skills, sports, and even STEM! Campers are invited to sleep over on the Thursday night of their day camp week to get a feel for overnight camp life. Camp fire activities and camp wide games round out the bill.

937365 Airport Road, Mulmur (Dufferin County)
Ages 4–6
$270 for a week of day camp with one sleepover night

Camp Arowhon

This full-service sleep-away camp has programs for all ages, including leadership programs for teens, so it’s a great place to start your child at a “home away from home” for the long haul. The weekend-long Mini Camp program (ages 6–9) is the perfect stepping stone to camp, where the most nurturing staff help young campers build up to a longer stay. The next step is Junior Camp, a two- to four-week session that allows kids to decide whether to stay on at the two-week mark. Cabins have indoor plumbing and toilets and cookouts, zip lining, sailing, and horseback riding are just some of the fun activities the kids can enjoy. You can also attend a Family Camp

Box 10002, Huntsville (Muskoka)
Ages 6–16
From $175 for weekend Mini Camp

Great Moose Adventures

This Muskoka camp has a couple of options to introduce kids to camp. First, there is a day camp with a two-night campout option (ages 6–12) to get kids used to the residential camp. Or, if the kiddos think they’re up to it, there are thee- to four-night themed sleepover camps (ages 8–12). Super Scientists camp, for example, has kids doing hands-on science experiments and going on night hikes to call for owls, along with lots of traditional camp activities.

1368 Housey’s Rapids Rd., Gravenhurst (Muskoka)
Ages 6–12
$363 for 5-day camp with 2 overnights; $385 for 4-day/3-night camp; $480 for 5-day/4-night camp

YMCA Camp Pine Crest

Camp Pine Crest provides a great first camp experience with three days and two nights of traditional camp. Campers can explore camp activities as they safely find out what it means to be independent. Lodge cabins with indoor washrooms help with the first sleep-away experience. Campers also get to experience out tripping and cooking out on the property for some extra fun.

1090 Gullwing Lake Rd., Torrance (Muskoka)
Ages 5–7
$315 for 3-day/2-night camp

Camp Wenoah

Camp Wenoah has a full range of programs through leadership camp for teens, with two options ideal for brand-new campers. The three-day, two-night WEEnonah program for kids ages 5–7 will have them begging to go back next year. Kids ages 8–12 can try out the five-day/four-night introductory program, sure to pass in a whirlwind of fun and new friendships. The more than 30 recreational and instructional programs at Camp Wenoah range from sailing and white-water kayaking to digital photography and acoustic guitar.

1324 Bird Lake Rd., Bracebridge< Ages 5–17 $305 for 3-day/2-night camp, $835 for 5-day/4-night camp

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