Summer Camp Options for #Playoutdoors Kids

Summer Camp TentsSummer Camps For Kids

Sending your child to summer camp seems to be a right of passage that most parents go through at some point.  Day camps and overnight camps are your first two choices to consider but there are a plethora of decisions that you have to wade through to get to the right camp for you (or your child).

Day Camps vs Overnight Camps

Day Camps are usually half or full day experiences for kids aged 5 to 14.  While this can be a wonderful option for the younger child, it is important to consider supervision (number of counselors, age, and experience).  Overnight camps have the same consideration (supervision) but add the difficult consideration of whether or not you (and your child) are ready for an overnight camping experience.

Camping, of course is a variable term.  Summer “camp” does not mean “Camping” by default (though my Girl Scout Camp experience also involved camping).  Summer camp may or may not even include an outdoor component.  Some can be educational, some can merely be unstructured play, others  can be outdoor adventures, crafts, and/or skill building.

Specialty Camps

Climbing Camps

Climbing camps are often available both through indoor climbing gyms (for those looking for a day camp option) or through outdoor wilderness programs (usually an overnight experience).  NOLS and Outward Bound offer the most famous of these hiking and climbing excursions, while the Boy Scouts may include climbing and/or hiking as one of their options depending on the camp.

Summer Ski Resort Camps

East Coast ski resorts and others that have a “summer” season with Zip lines and more often have a summer camp option.  These camps often have outdoor skills, games, and/or opportunities. Just search your local ski resort and “summer camp” to see what options might be available near you. For example, Ski Roundtop (in Harrisburg PA) has a number of programs both day and overnight for ages 8-16.

Ski and Snowboard Summer Camps

West coast and high altitude areas also offer summer ski camp options where youth can build their skills in snow sports (who knew you could ski in June?!).  Some options include Whistler BlackcombMt. Hood and Tahoe.  Check out this great write up by Evo about some of the ski/snowboard summer camp options available.

Outdoor Skill Camps

Don’t want to rock climb? Other outdoor skill camps include kayaking, dog sledding, rafting, mountaineering, sailing and more.  You are only limited by the distance you are willing to travel and the money you are willing to spend.  Search for your particular interest and “summer camp” and find the camps available to you.  The more obscure and environmental dependent the sport or skill, the more regionally dependent you’ll find the results.

Athletic Camps

Of course, if outdoor activities and sports aren’t your thing and you want a skill camp to develop sports skills, those options abound.  Every sport offers a camp, both day and sleepover. College campuses are usually a hotbed for camps such as those.  Not only are they a great resource for skill building, but they are a wonderful option for those high school students seeking to be recruited for a particular sport or skill.   Some examples include Lehigh UniversityUSSC Nike Sports Camps, and more.

Educational Camps

Most private schools offer summer school and/or summer camp options.   Phillips Andover, and Colorado Academy are only two of the private schools that have their own website (and or section) dedicated to the summer camp opportunities. 

While selecting a summer camp can be a daunting experience, your options are easily narrowed by location, price, age range, and interest.  For our 6 year old this summer, we’ll likely pick a small nature camp that focuses on outdoor nature experiences rather than a larger adventure camp, in the consideration of his age and interests.

What camps are you considering for your child? How old are they? Why did you pick that camp?

New River Gorge with Kids

New River Gorge Climbing Trip We finally made our way back to the New River Gorge in West Virginia for a weekend of climbing.  It has been years (pre kids) since we had been to this area as it seemed to be a bit less kid friendly than other areas that we had been to.  Our ClimbingWeather.com app was showing predictions of snow on Friday night - and it wasn't far off.  The drive took us eons, especially in the Appalachians with the travel trailer.  We … [Read More...]

Hiking in a Creek

Have you ever started out on a day hike with children only to have it turn into something completely different that what you planned?  Ha. Of course you have. Many of our adventures start out as one thing ("I want to climb X route" or "sleep at X campground". . . "I want to relax in a tube on the water", or "I want to sleep in the sand") and end up as something completely different ("The route had a group staked out on it for the day" or "I couldn't … [Read More...]

Climbing Gym Etiquette With Kids

Tips for taking kids to the climbing gym. There are few things more troublesome than going to a new place and not knowing the spoken and unspoken rules.  Add to the uncertainty the presence of children, and it can be quite intimidating to enter into unknown territory.   For those new to indoor climbing and/or new to indoor climbing with kids, here are a few tips for bringing your kids to the gym. Those that know me will laugh at the irony. . . My … [Read More...]

Stand Up Paddleboarding

The best rock climbing areas tend to be located in or near wilderness, national parks, mountains, and forests.  There are exceptions, of course!  Still, when we took a family trip to the jersey shore this summer, there was no rock to be found.  As usual, my husband and I sought out something both "active" and "family friendly" to try with the kids. Surfing, Kite Surfing, Kayaking Ryan has wanted to try surfing for years, but that's a solo endeavor, as … [Read More...]

The Mount Rushmore Dilemma

Visiting Mount Rushmore with Kids Our summer trip to Wyoming and South Dakota was amazing.  We combined climbing with family time, history, geography, science and more.  When we planned the trip, climbing was the main focus, but hitting some of the National Parks and National Monuments were also a must.  Mount Rushmore is one of those locations that combines both.  There are amazing climbing opportunities in the shadow of the National Monument.  There are … [Read More...]

About Laura Boniello Miller

Laura Miller is a internet marketing professional and a mother of two. Her interests include sport climbing, bouldering, reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. She believes that playing outdoors is integral to health and well being, and that if your kids aren't dirty, they haven't had enough fun.