Family summer camps

Everything old is new again.

Courtesy of Takodah YMCA Family Camp

Once upon a time, families looked forward to shared, camping-style vacations. Increasing work/time demands changed all that and family trips went the way of family dinners. Working moms and dads soon were waving the kids off to camp alone.

But now a new generation is craving the family-camp experience again. Why?

“So I can spend time with my kids and grandkids,” says grandma.

“Because we need to get the kids away from technology and into nature,” says mom.

“It’s a great way to celebrate mom and dad’s anniversary together,” say their kids.

And everyone agrees, “Because it’s time for us to reconnect as a family.”

There are new camps (one opened last year) responding to this demand and established places (one 70 years young) welcoming the resurgence. Choose from archery to zip-lining, ecology to spirituality, arts and crafts to seamanship. Accommodations vary from platform tents to cabins to lodges to motel-like rooms.

And who can resist s’mores and ghost stories around the campfire, especially when there are fireworks?

Camp Alleghany

“We did not know what to expect when we crossed the Greenbrier River on the barge and arrived at Camp Alleghany. What we found was a community of warm, friendly people, breathtaking scenery, outdoor adventures and time to really be with family,” writes one guest at Camp Alleghany.

Camp Alleghany’s Family Camp is an affordable family vacation to the mountains of West Virginia. Situated in beautiful Greenbrier County, it’s a place where families enjoy outdoor living at its finest and take a break from fast-paced society on the peaceful banks of the Greenbrier River.

“Guests enjoy quality time with their families or friends participating in our many activities or just kicking back and enjoying each other’s company,” says Camp Director Elizabeth Shreckhise. “All activities are offered daily (weather permitting), including swimming, canoeing, rifle, archery, arts & crafts, hiking, low ropes course and creek exploration. Evenings may include campfires, roasting marshmallows, live music, fireworks and more.”

Unique features of Alleghany are living in platform tents and crossing the river on a man-powered barge (cable ferry) to access the property.

“We’re also just minutes by car from hip and bustling downtown Lewisburg and the stately Greenbrier Resort. Guests are free to choose to spend a morning shopping or sight-seeing in town, or walking/biking on the Greenbrier River Trail.” // Lewisburg, West Virginia

PRICING per week

Ages 13 and up: $80 per night
Children age 2-12: $40 per night
Children ages 2 and under: Free

Camp Friendship

“At Camp Friendship, everything goes back to a simpler time and families get to focus on what’s really important, each other,” says Ashleigh Ninnis, summer assistant director at Camp Friendship

Family-owned and run since 1966, Camp Friendship in Palmyra invites family members of all ages to enjoy a casual, fun-focused atmosphere where everyone is able to experience the magic of summer camp.

“Surrounded by over 600 acres of scenic fields, rivers and forests, Camp Friendship offers the perfect atmosphere for families to come together under the stars,” says Ninnis. “At Family Camp, our families focus on forming genuine friendships and long-lasting memories around the glow of the campfire.”

Families choose from a host of daily activities, the most popular being horseback riding, high ropes, river canoe trips, yoga, tennis lessons, lake swimming, pottery, archery and riflery. Evening activities, also a major highlight for families, include game night, slip ‘n slide, talent shows, movie night, special campfires and fireworks. // Palmyra, Virginia

PRICING per week

Person: $385
Children ages 4 and under: Free
Half-week and weekend options available

Courtesy of Chincoteague Bay Field Station

Chincoteague Bay Field Station Family Camp

“Since 1968, Chincoteague Bay Field Station has educated and inspired thousands of children, youth and adults about the marine and coastal ecosystems along the Mid-Atlantic region through place-based, hands-on experiences,” says Mike Hillman, the camp’s adult and family education coordinator. The station is ideally located on Virginia’s Eastern Shore between the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay.

“Barrier islands create a series of natural classrooms full of fun and learning for the adventurous family,” adds Hillman. “During their stay with us, families sleep in our modern residence halls, eat at our on-campus dining hall and learn in the labs of our LEED-certified education center.”

Signature offerings for families are the Memorial Day Family Camp, Labor Day Family Camp and Family Adventure Camp. During these weekend or weeklong programs, families spend time on the coast discovering and learning about the world of marine science.

“Family campers will throw a trawl net to collect sea creatures, explore marine habitats, walk knee deep in marsh mud and enjoy the sun on a barrier island beach. Wild ponies, egrets and horseshoe crabs all await,” says Hillman. // Wallops Island, Virginia

PRICING per week

Person: $399 for a weeklong stay
Person: $75-$275 for holiday weekend stay
Prices are all-inclusive and include: all activities, housing, transportation, meals, seafood feast, family portrait and camp T-shirt

Takodah YMCA Family Camp

“Camp Takodah is what camp was meant to be,” says Director Ryan Reed, and he must be right because the camp fills quickly, often a year in advance.

“Driving down the camp lane, you’ll sense that you’ve entered a special place, a place that’s defined by its spirit of welcome. Our campus will ignite your nostalgia and take you back to a simpler time,” adds Reed.

Located in the woods of Southwest New Hampshire, Takodah hugs the shores of spring-fed Cass Pond in the shadows of Mount Monadnock. “On more than 500 acres of scenic forests and fields, the camp features charming cabins, modern bathrooms, an impressive dining hall and exciting program areas,” says Reed.

“Campers get to choose their own pace and activities. Some families keep themselves busy running from activity to activity, while other families spend their time reading or swapping stories in rocking chairs overlooking Cass Pond.”

Family camp favorites include trips to Mount Monadnock, swims around Cass Pond, daily basketball pick-up games, the annual mini-triathlon and the campers versus staff softball game. “Of course, campers have chances to enjoy all of their camp favorites, such as canoeing, archery, rock climbing, crafts and much more,” Reed says. // Richmond, New Hampshire

PRICING per week

Adults 19 and up: $550
Children 11-18 years: $450
Children 5-10 years: $250
Children 4 and under: Free

Deer Valley YMCA Camp

Nestled in the beautiful mountains of Western Pennsylvania, Deer Valley’s 740 wooded acres and 125-acre lake provide a breathtaking landscape. Located just a mile down the road from Mount Davis, the highest point in Pennsylvania, Deer Valley has provided camping experiences for families and groups since 1957.

“Our recreational facilities include a staffed waterfront for swimming, sailing, boating and fishing; horse stables with numerous riding trails; miles of scenic trails for jogging, hiking and biking; basketball, tennis, volleyball and softball courts; and a zip line, high ropes course and climbing wall,” says Program Director Chelsea Welsh.

“Our primary program is our 11-week summer family camp, accommodating 50-60 families each week. Of course, there is still fun to be had beyond the summer months. Our spring, fall and winter weekends offer plenty of dynamic program opportunities that are sure to delight,” says Welsh. “Deer Valley serves up a family vacation or individual getaways second to none, offering a community with shared values and building lifelong friendships and relationships. Across multiple generations, our summer camp program is designed to ensure every family member has an unforgettable experience.”

In addition to family camping, Deer Valley has an environmental education program, offering classes that meet state curriculum standards in multiple disciplines.

“Students will develop problem-solving skills, interpersonal skills and self-confidence as they experience the magic and wonder of Deer Valley in an education setting,” adds Welsh. // Fort Hill, Pennsylvania

PRICING per week

Adults: $679-$781
Children ages 14-18: $573-$659
Children ages 12-13: $465-$535
Children ages 7-11: $390-$449
Children ages 3-6: $335-$385
Children ages 2 and under: Free
Pricing includes three meals a day, program activities and the cost of housing, which is based on the age of the camper as well as the type of housing accommodations

YMCA Camp Seagull and Camp Seafarer

While all traditional camp activities are enjoyed at Seagull/Seafarer (tennis, archery, riflery, soccer, basketball, arts and crafts, hiking, swimming), boating is the signature of this coastal North Carolina camp. Seagull/Seafarer has a fleet of powerboats, but as a U.S. Sailing Training Center, this is the place to go for expert sailing training.

Not into sailing? No worries, there’s kayaking, canoeing, powerboats and fishing. And golf.

Family camp offers “all-inclusive meals, family-oriented evening programs and gorgeous sunsets. Enjoy this unique family vacation on the coast of North Carolina,” says Marketing Communications Manager Brandon Blackman. “Families stay together in cabins and can participate in activities throughout the day.”

Mother-daughter weekends and father-son weekends are also popular. Dads/sons sail and hit the links. Moms and daughters get crafty and play tennis.

“Family camp is more than a vacation. It’s the best part of the summer,” says Blackman. // Arapahoe, North Carolina

PRICING per week

Adults: $543
Children ages 6-16: $363
Children ages 5 and under: $252 ($100 application fee deducted from the program fee)

Weekends

Adults: $139
Children: $99

Courtesy of Pine Cove Family Camp – Chimney Point

Pine Cove Family Camp – Chimney Point

“Pine Cove has been doing summer camp ministry that is Christ-centered, others-focused and seriously fun for over 50 years, and now has four family camps, including one in South Carolina called Chimney Point,” says Marketing Coordinator Chelsea Connor.

Chimney Point is located on beautiful Lake Hartwell and this camp is brand new, having opened summer 2017. All the cabins and facilities are new.

“Family camp is a weeklong, all-inclusive camp for the whole family, with intentional activities for all ages. Families stay in an air-conditioned cabin, have free time to enjoy the resort-style pool, go down the zip line, or participate in other activities around camp together. There is also a speaker brought in for parents. And while the parents are in the speaker sessions, the kids get their own special day camp program with Pine Cove’s fun-obsessed college summer counselors,” adds Connor. // Lake Hartwell, South Carolina

PRICING per week

Family: $4,000 on average, based on family size
Price includes cabins, all meals and all activities

YMCA Camp Greenville

Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains on the state line of South Carolina and North Carolina, Camp Greenville has views of mountains, lakes and forests. “Our weather is typically 10 degrees cooler than in town,” says Summer Camp Director Jenna Johnson.

Greenville covers 1,400 acres, offering a lot to explore and many adventures to try: hiking to waterfalls, zip lining, canoeing, lake waterfront and a covered outdoor chapel. Activities do have age requirements, but there is “something for the whole family,” says Johnson.

“We do all the work for you so you can relax, have fun and enjoy each other. From toddlers to grandparents, bring the whole family to play together. Introduce your kids to the summer camp environment and get to be a camper yourself.”

Family camps are weekends only. // Cleveland, South Carolina

PRICING

Cabin: $800
Single person: $125-$150

YMCA Camp Hanes

YMCA Camp Hanes is located in the valley of Sauratown Mountain in King, North Carolina. “Our camp has private lakes along with a pool to cool off in the summer months and hiking trails through our woods up the side of the mountain,” says Amelia Johnson, associate resident camp director. “We have 18 cabins that sleep 16-18 people with bathrooms and showers attached. Our cabins also have heating and cooling. During family camp weekend, each family stays in their own cabin unless they request to share with another family.”

Families arrive Friday night around 7 p.m. for check-in “and have time to get settled in before we provide a campfire of skits, songs and s’mores,” adds Johnson. “After that point, throughout the weekend we have an open gym that kids can hang out and play basketball in, as well as board games and chalk in our dining hall. On Saturday, we will have an array of activity options open throughout the day.”

Camp Hanes offers many water activities, climbing and zip lines, an eight-thrower skeet range along with other shooting sports and arts and crafts. “In the evening we provide a large group game time for families to intermingle and to give kids a chance to run around at the end of the day.” // King, North Carolina

PRICING

Per person: $35
Per family: $110
Children ages 5 and under: Free

Pollace’s Family Vacation Resort

A small, all-inclusive family resort in Catskill, New York, Pollace’s has been drawing repeat customers for 70 years. “If there was a hiatus in the family vacation, they missed it,” says one happy camper. “I first went to Pollace’s as a kid, and now I take my own grown kids and their kids.”

Not a “camp” per se, Pollace’s is a modest, retro version of a Dirty Dancing family retreat. Some call it dated; most delight in its harkening back to simpler times. Food is abundant and rooted in Italy (think baked ziti on Tuesday). The staff is happy and able to meet special dietary needs. Accommodations include simple motel rooms, family units and main lodge rooms.

“We have a 66-foot in-ground pool, jacuzzi, paddle boat, miniature golf and a 3-acre pond for boating and fishing,” says Manager Charlie Serro.

Mom and dad might enjoy Pollace’s driving proximity to Saratoga Springs and Tanglewood. Everyone agrees this is a great place to let kids be kids. Family reunions are popular here, “the more, the better.” // Catskills, New York

PRICING per week

Adults: $769-$929
Children ages 16-18: $399
Children ages 10-15: $289
Children ages 3-9: $219
Children under 3: $65

(June 2018)

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