Scheduling the school-free months of summer can be a logistical nightmare, even for the most organized among us. Fortunately, there are a ton of online resources out there for researching the best camps, keeping track of who’s going where and managing the logistics of getting there. We’ve taken the liberty of compiling some of the best of them all in one place. Read on for the essential technology tools of summer camp planning.

Finding a Camp

From day to overnight, music to horseback riding, STEAM to sports, there are a million camps to choose from. Recommendations from families you know are ideal but don’t always line up with your kids’ interests or schedules. Here’s where you can find a lot of options and do your own online research in a few of the markets we know best:

Anywhere in the United States

  • ActivityHero: Search tons of camps and classes (and read their reviews!) in cities all over the country, filtered by zip, activity type, dates and child’s age.

California

  • Los Angeles
    • Moms LA: This Los Angeles-focused guide covers kids from preschool to high school and includes camps of every variety, including those at colleges, in LA-area museums and for kids with special needs.
    • L.A. Parent: Filter this online directory by category or location to zero in on your perfect camp.
  • Orange County
    • Orange County Moms Blog: Check out their giant linked list of local camps across the county.
    • OC Mommies: This guide to local summer camps is organized by camp type and includes some great details for every option.
  • San Diego
    • San Diego Moms Blog: Filter this guide to San Diego camps by category and find plenty of detail and contact info for each.
    • San Diego Family: As San Diego’s self-proclaimed “camp headquarters,” this online magazine offers up a yearly camp guide, plus a ton of supporting articles to help guide your decision making.
  • San Francisco Bay Area
    • Bay Area Kid Fun: Find listings by camp type and the part of the Bay you live in (or commute to).
    • Bay Area Parent: Browse a comprehensive directory sorted by county and category, or check out their Best of the Best rankings to see what camps rate highest based on reader votes.

Chicago

  • Chicago Kids: This online resource for Chicago parents lets you browse camps and classes by type and see all of their pertinent details in one place.
  • STEM Kids Chicago: If you’re in the market for camps focused on science, technology, engineering and design in the Chicago area, this is your go-to guide.
  • Kidlist: Filter by camp focus in this long list of camps for kids in the west and southwest suburbs of Chicago.

Organizing Your Summer Schedule

Once you’ve done your research and decided which camps to sign up for, keep the summer months organized using your pick of scheduling tools:

Digital Calendars

  • Cozi is an awesome (and free!) tool designed specifically to manage family schedules. It keeps events and activities for multiple family members all in one place and lets you give access to anyone (grandparents, nannies, carpool pals, etc.) who needs it. It also holds onto shopping and to-do lists.
  • Google Calendar is ubiquitous for a reason—it’s free and easy to create your camp calendar in one place using a Google account, incorporate camp addresses and details, then invite your spouse, partner or other caregivers to share the calendar so key people can see your kid’s schedule. It also syncs with nearly every other online calendar out there.

Paper Calendars

  • Cozi also has printable calendars for folks who like to see their schedules in hard copy.
  • Calendarpedia has a host of blank summer schedules you can download and modify, filling them in with important dates like last day of school, family trips and, of course, camps. (We also like this pretty template from Unoriginal Mom.)

Spreadsheet Scheduling Tools

  • Galileo Learning created a great tool to help our families keep their summer schedules organized. The spreadsheet includes inputs for multiple kids, camps and carpools and is available for free to anyone.
  • World is Wide offers a customizable camp spreadsheet for summer planning. See a video preview of the sheet when you click on the link and skip to about 1:12 minutes in to see the spreadsheet. It isn’t free, but it does include some awesome features like registration tracking and budgeting, along with a 12-minute video introduction to get you started.

Getting Your Kids There (With a Little Help from Your Friends)

Carpooling is great for the environment, fun for your kids and relaxing for you—once you get it set up, that is. Here are a few handy apps to make that process go smoothly, both throughout the summer and year round:

  • Carpool-Kids (iOS) lets you invite friends and set up as many separate one-time or repeating carpools as you need. Sync carpools with your iPhone calendar and send reminders or updates via push notification or email.
  • GoKid (iOS and Android) makes carpooling easy and safe. The app lets you share a calendar with other parents you trust, plots the best route for every trip and sends automatic reminders when it’s your turn to drive or get your kid out the door.
  • Pogo Rides (iOS and Android) matches you with other people who share your route and carpooling needs, and lets you invite friends, too. The app automatically compares schedules and creates carpools for you.

Camp planning can be a tricky business—here’s hoping all the help above offers a well-deserved vacation from summertime stress.