For many parents and kids, the start of summer vacation means an end to “regular routines," early bedtimes and wake-up times, and the monotony of packing lunches and backpacks, checking folders and keeping the trains running on time.

With visions of long, lazy days at the beach or pool, supplemented with trips for ice cream, to the movies, and Big Kahuna’s or a cruise aboard the Buccaneer pirate ship, summer vacation is something eagerly anticipated by parents and kids alike.

For other parents, the end of school means a scramble for child care, piecing together day camps, vacation Bible schools, babysitters and the generosity of friends and family to keep kids safe and entertained.

In our house, we’re lucky enough to balance a flexible work schedule with some summer camps, and downtime, but in practice, nothing ever really works out as planned.

I have warm memories of attending overnight Girl Scout camp when I was a kid, but we decided our 8 year old wasn’t quite ready for a week away from home. Whether it was more about him being ready or me being ready is still up for debate.

So with at least one option ruled out, calendar and pencil in hand, I started to explore the summer camp options available in Destin.

I soon discovered that there are a ton of options, designed for different interests and budgets. Based on my research as well as some “crowd sourcing” about what other families were doing this summer, I’ve developed a running list of some of the more popular options for kids this summer.

As usual, sports camps top the list in my house.

Alex will attend a baseball camp hosted by Northwest Florida State College next week. Additionally, both The Golf Garden and Kelly Plantation are offering golf clinics periodically throughout the summer. Older kids (ages 8-12) with a sense of adventure may enjoy PADI Seal Team Camp at Emerald Coast Scuba.

Young David Beckhams and Abby Wambachs might get a “kick” out of the Challenge British Soccer Camp July 8-12 at Morgan Sports Center. Offering both morning and evenings sessions, the camp is open to both novice and experienced players.

For kids less athletically inclined, there are a number of drama themed camps. Most notably the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation’s “Kamp Kellywamba," held at Destin Middle School. Designed for rising first through eighth graders, Kamp Kellywamba provides an overview of some of the basics or “fun”demetals of performing and fine arts, including drama, dance, and juggling.

During the week of July 22, The Emerald Coast Theatre Company presents “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp.” Campers will spend the week preparing for the production and presentation of the play. Not only will the campers get acting lessons, but they will also be responsible for stage design and prop production. The camp culminates with a ticketed performance on July 27.

Both the Holy Kidz Camp at Destiny Worship Center and Destin United Methodist Church and Holy Mackerel Camp at Immanuel Anglican Church provide kids with an “old-fashioned” camp experience. If your camper isn’t looking for a specialized experience, you can’t go wrong with these two camps, full of outdoor activities, arts and crafts, and water day on Friday.

Of course, what would a southern summer be without vacation Bible school. Just about every church in town offers one, and some of the most popular include Destin United Methodist Church (July 22-26), Village Baptist (June 17-21) and Destiny Worship Center (June 10-14). For parents who want a vacation Bible school, but need more than the 1/2 day traditionally offered by churches, Destiny’s program runs during the evening.

I’m still finalizing our summer camp plans. Every year I find myself a little less stressed about the options and the juggling it takes to finalize childcare.

I know the options are overwhelming, so I’m trying to approach it one week at a time. I know I missed some great camps, so if you’ve got one you want to share, please do so in the comments.

For those parents sending their little ones to camp this summer, I’m sure I’ll see you in the car line.


Follow Susan Moody on Twitter @susanjmoody and visit her blog, The Emerald Coast Insider, at


Click here for a full list of summer camps.