Kids love going away to camp - the outdoor freedom, the lake, the canoes, the cabins, the bugs, campfire songs, tie dye, and their parents making them lunch.
Wait . . . what?
Since when do your parents get to make your lunch at Summer Camp?
Have you always wanted your kids to get the Summer camp experience but they are not quite ready for sleep away camp . . . or maybe YOU are not ready for them to go to sleep away camp?
Then Family Summer Camp might be perfect for you.
I didn't realize there was an affordable option for families to go to summer camp together until we visited friends at a YMCA run camp and all of us fell in love with the 100 year old cabins, the Craft Shoppe, the dance hall, the kayaks, the running trails, tuck shop and energetic camp counselors.
Summer Camp for one child including lodging and meals can run anywhere from $500-$1500 a week per child depending on the camp and camp experiences offered. Having three kids, these prices always seemed out of reach for us. We were thrilled to learn of other options that include weeks where the whole family can bunk in the cottages or pitch tents, can eat in the dining hall or bring their own food and can participate in all the same camp activities that the kids can (. . . or not! ) for the same price.
Some days I will admit my husband and I just hang out at the beach while the kids are kayaking, sailing, at drama or dance, on a nature hike or playing tennis, capturing the flag, shooting baskets, or trying to float the lifeguard. We always have a great time and always meet up with them for lunch!
Summer camp has been our family tradition now for over six years and for a reasonable cost for the week our family of five gets to stay in a cozy cottage, has access to tons of counselor led activities (for kids as young as 3), camp wide activities, a beach, all the water sport toys we could want and more memories than we can hang on to. Our cottage has a kitchen and we enjoy cooking our own food, although the option is available to eat in the dining hall and choose lodging that is more up to date with rooms that include a bathroom!
Many options are available at Family Summer Camp – do some exploring and find one that is right for your outdoor family.
Every single song you remember and tons of new ones are sung at either the Camp Wide welcome night while kids roast marshmallows or while the kids are playing games with counselors at the beach. Camp traditions live on!
Most family camps offer a boat dock and wind sports – I learned to wind surf (its not so easy!) with my oldest daughter last year and all us girls attempted paddleboard yoga – that’s us falling off . . again. My kids are expert canoeists and can kiss the kayak, something I might try this summer.
The Craft Shoppe is the place to be. There are organized crafts where specific projects are made out of recycled plastic bottles or bracelets out of gimp and special days devoted to candle making or sun catchers and open craft times where the kids can just go hang out with the counselors and make stuff.
Bring your rubber boots and bug spray cause the swamp tromp is the best way to find hidden treasures and frogs.
Depending on the camp you choose not only can your kids sign up for daily tennis lessons, but you can enter into the singles or couples round robin and perfect that swing with kids your own age! Archery in the field, yoga under the whispering pines and basketball in the gym – there is something for everyone.
Many camps have end of the week family fun night or talent shows that is usually super informal and crazy funny. Watch your kids – and in some cases the whole family – get creative and put on a show. We did a number with hula hoops one year. Parents got up on stage demonstrated how we can’t do it and our kids then took over center stage and did it with three hoops on their waist and one above their head. Show offs!
Something as simple as looking for the family of baby ducks and shoeing the chipmunk out fo the cottage so you can eat dinner are just as memorable as the sunset paddles and lunch you enjoy while on a floating picnic table.
The artist and the foodie will all be happy when they find camp wide activities just or them. Traditions are what make camp so special and there is no way any member of the family is not waking up early to get those pancakes on the beach or sticky buns at the tuck shop before they run out.
The outfit is flip flops and bathing suits, the mode of transportation is walking or bicycle, there is no running hot water, the bathrooms are three cabins away and the furniture is right out of the 1960s. We couldn’t love it more.
The traditions that are established at summer family camp will be memories you cherish forever. Camp is about doing something new, something adventurous and at Family Camp, you all get to do it together.
There are still spots open for family summer camps near you. OurKids provides a great list to get you started and ask around. Check your local YMCA for family overnight camps they offer and make Family Camp something the whole family looks forward to every Summer.
Just sending the kids to camp and dealing with allergies? There's a camp for that!