Mud Pits, Music, Horses, and Hoops

Give your kids a summer to remember with these local day camp options

Campers keeping cool at Shelby Farms Park

Midtowner Jennifer Campbell has been sending her boys to Episcopal Day Camp, better known as “Mud Camp,” for the last four years. “They come home dirty and exhausted, but completely satisfied and eager to go back.”

Ten-year-old Ari says he likes Mud Camp because everything is a blast. “We play fun games and the counselors are young and always have smiles on their faces. The water slide is the best thing and the mud pit is awesome, too!” Ari is also a fan of the food at Mud Camp, namely the taco salad.

If mud isn’t your thing, maybe rock-and-roll is. John Bass, director of the Mike Curb Institute for Music at Rhodes College, sent his daughter, Ella, to Rock-n-Romp Camp last year for the first time. “Not only is rock camp just plain cool, but it also teaches kids valuable lessons by having them work together to accomplish things through music. Ella had a blast.”

For nature lovers, or those interested in stoking an appreciation of the outdoors, Junior Ranger Camp at Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park is probably the best-kept summer secret. At $20 for four days of instruction, it’s hard to beat. Samantha Cox, a park interpretive specialist and the camp’s director, says this state-certified program offers fun, informative lessons on everything from wildlife and plants to history and astronomy. The camp also has a strong emphasis on healthy living. “The program is partly funded by a grant through the Department of Health promoting the prevention of diabetes in children and is incorporated throughout our Tennessee state parks,” say Cox.

That’s not all. We’ve found camps for computer gamers, hula hoopers, and aspiring horseback riders. Here’s to making your child’s summer one to remember.



Shelby Farms delivers summer programming that introduces kids to the park, watershed, urban forest, and each other. In addition to the popular Adventure and Nature Camps, SFPC is now offering a weeklong equestrian camp. Campers will learn how to lead, mount, and dismount a horse, trail etiquette and safety, and will take trail rides and participate in equine art. Instructors with 40+ years experience lead the camp. A registered nurse will be on-site at all times.

Ages: Beginner riders 8-13.
Dates: May 27-31, June 3-7, 10-14, and 17-21. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
Cost: $350.
Register: Contact Natalie Wilson ( or



Summer Fest at Grace St.-Luke’s offers a variety of action-packed camp opportunities. Their full- and half-day camps are open to all. Minecraft Camp allows campers to create their own Minecraft world using a private server in a supervised, classroom setting. Campers enjoy arts and crafts along with a daily discussion of online gaming safety. Other Summer Fest offerings include CSI camp, Red Cross babysitting camp, LEGO, and Harry Potter camps. Bring lunch, snacks provided.

Ages: Rising third- to eighth-graders; Summer Fest, ages 4-13 (rising JK-grade 8).
Dates: June 3-August 2: Summer Fest (except July 4th week). June 17-21: Minecraft. 8 a.m. to noon. Summer Fest Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; free morning care at 7:30 a.m.; after-care until 5:30 p.m.  
Cost: $220/full day, $110/half-day.
Register: Online starting March 18 • or Emily Merrell, • 278-2770 for more information.



This new camp is for tweens and teens to get grooving and hooping at the Memphis Botanic Garden. Campers go beyond waist-hooping by learning the weave, pizza toss, and other flowing moves. The hula hoop will be integrated into nature, science, gardening, and nutrition. Make beautiful take-home projects. Campers show off their moves at the end of the week in a grand finale.

Ages: 11-15.
Dates: June 3-7. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Cost: $185/non-members. $160/members.
Register: Online at or call 636-4119.



Now in its third year, Rock-n-Romp camp provides a full day of music experience with an emphasis on instruments played in rock bands. Campers receive hands-on instruction and exploratory instrument play in the morning; afternoons are spent practicing with their band. On Friday, camper bands perform for family and friends. The camp is staffed by local musicians who are prepared to work with all ages and abilities. Instruments and materials are provided by the camp, which is held at Rozelle Elementary in Midtown. Bring a lunch, snacks provided.

Ages: Rising first-graders through rising sixth-graders; seventh & eighth graders can apply to volunteer.
Dates: June 4-7. Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.- 5:30 p.m. Final showcase on Sunday, June 9, from 4-6 p.m.
Cost: $200.
Register: Email or visit for more information.



Junior Ranger Camps help children develop and explore their love for nature and the outdoors, which can lead to healthy lifestyle and a lifetime of fun. Held in Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park, camp includes hiking, plant study, live birds and reptiles, safety tips, canoeing, swimming, and more. Bring a lunch; water is provided.

Ages: 6-13. Ages 14+ may apply to be a counselor.
Dates: June 10-13; June 24-27. Monday-Wednesday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursday, 9 a.m.- 1 p.m.
Cost: $20/child (includes T-shirt & badge)
Register: Starts April 1. Call 876-5215 for information.



Episcopal Day Camp, better known as “Mud Camp,” is an extremely popular day camp, with activities more like those of an overnight camp. These include arts and crafts, the mud hole, a waterslide through the woods, lake swimming, boating, and more. St. Columba (30 minutes from Memphis) features acres of woodlands, meadows, and a lake. Campers can sign-up for one to four sessions. Lunch and snacks are provided.

Ages: Rising first-graders through rising sixth-graders. Seventh & eighth graders can apply to be counselors-in-training.
Dates: July 1-5; July 8-12; July 15-19; July 22-26. Monday-Friday, 8:45 a.m.-2:45 p.m. (extended day available at extra cost).
Cost: $175/week, $150/siblings; $50/week, counselors-in-training.
Register: or email for more information.

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