Let’s be honest, it's SO easy to give in and let your kids fill their summer with televisions, tablets, and video games. These tend to be really great babysitters. But this pattern can be detrimental to kids’ physical and mental health. With so much time indoors, we’re allowing technology to raise our children! One way to get them up and away from a sedentary summer is by sending them to summer camp. Let nature raise them instead! Hands-on experiences and physical exercise can help keep them healthy and in the process, encourage character-building and appreciation for the natural world.
Many summer camps out there offer general outdoor adventures, but we’ve put together a list of a few, more specialized, camps that might specifically appeal to your outdoor-loving kids!
Riding and caring for horses has long been touted as a great teaching tool. Patience, responsibility, and communication are just a few life skills that spending time with these magnificent creatures can instill. But don’t forget about the obvious physical benefits of riding and don’t be surprised if your kids are sore when they get home! So whether you’re an English or Western fan, there are plenty of amazing horseback riding camps across the country to choose from. There are also several incredible camps with facilities and programs designed specifically for kids with special needs!
Check out this great option: Cedar Ridge Equines Summer Camps
How are your kids’ snare-setting and knot-tying skills? Not great, or have no idea what we’re even talking about? Then they might benefit from a wilderness survival camp! Most kids have built a fort in the backyard and made s’mores by the campfire, but learning how to erect a shelter to shield them from a rainstorm or start that fire without a lighter or matches can be much more valuable skills. A summer camp designed to teach these survival skills can also help our kids reconnect to nature and our past.
Check out this great option: Earth Native Wilderness School
Wildlife & Conservation
Calling all future wildlife biologists and ecologists! If your child already has a passion for wildlife and their habitat, or you’d like them to learn more, there’s a summer camp for that too! These camps get kids outside and engaged in sensory play with hands-on experiences. They might learn trail conservation while on a nature walk or sustainable farming while tending an organic garden. Ultimately, campers will leave with a greater knowledge of, and respect for, wildlife and the environment!
Check out this great option: White Oak Conservation Summer Camp
Rock Climbing & Rappelling
For kids who seemingly have no fear, a rock-climbing or rappelling camp might be exactly what they need! Don’t worry, they’ll learn all the safety procedures before heading out to the cliffs. Some camps even offer practice time with an indoor climbing wall to master the basic skills. This outdoor challenge not only builds self-confidence but is excellent for promoting teamwork as well. On belay!
Check out this great option: Rock About Kids Climbing Camp
Outdoor water sports like canoeing, kayaking, white-water rafting, and stand-up paddleboarding offer a great way to get kids outside, exploring and co-existing with nature. There are plenty of options for kids of all skill levels. Individual activities like kayaking can promote independence and confidence, while group activities like white-water rafting can teach valuable teamwork skills. So whether they are paddling down a quiet river or navigating class III rapids, they’re sure to make memories of a lifetime!
Check out this great option: Northwaters Water Camps
When looking for a camp, some important things include day camp v. overnight camp and local or abroad camp. Some children can still experience separation anxiety, so starting with a day camp is a great way to ease them into it. And if you do choose a day camp, you’ll be dropping off and picking up each day, so it’ll need to be local. But an overnight camp could be in another county or even another state!
Now that you’re ready to get your kids signed up, here are a few places to look:
- Websites dedicated to finding outdoor camps, such as adventurecamp.com
- National, state, and local park websites
- Local newspaper and school bulletin boards