20 Extraordinary Camps for Kids Who Love Nature

When that final bell rings for the end of the year, and graduation ceremonies are over, what next? For many children across America, there’s plenty of down time in front of screens, online chats, and maybe some sports. Those activities though normal are far from traditional. For over 100 years, sleepaway camps have been much closer to what is normal for young children, tweens, and teenagers. These experiences are what build character, forge identity and friendships, provide challenges, and allow a child to become the little explorers and adventurers they are at heart. While Pokemon Go may be accredited for “getting kids outside more.” Sleepaway camps not only get children out in the great outdoors but provide them with experiences that will last a lifetime. We selected a wide-range of boys, girls, and co-ed camps that are activity-filled, enriching, and team-building. Many of these camps offer traditional programming, day treks, canoe trips, sailing adventures, and campfire games. For an active summer that is decidedly unplugged from electronics and plugged into nature, any one of these camps are a great option.

1. Camp Lookout and Crystalaire Adventures

Do you have a little adventurer who longs to explore? When school is out and it’s time to get up from behind the desk, your adventurer will never forget their time spent in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Camp Lookout and Crystalaire Adventures are set on a hilly peninsula where you’ll arrive by pontoon boat! Kids ages 7-15 are encouraged to imagine and create their own play adventures outdoors. Whether casing out local natives site deep in the woods, or camping on the Lake Michigan there’s something for both land and sea explorers. Older kids and young adults aged 13-18 have an opportunity to backpack North Manitou, explore caverns, and will base camp in South Manitou. Camp Lookout also offers custom programming.

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  • Affordability:$$
  • Dates:June 12-Aug. 17
  • Whis is this camp for: Adventurous kids and young teens

2. YMCA Camp Ohiyesa

If you are near Western Michigan (and even if you aren’t) you are going to be one happy camper! YMCA Camp Ohiyesa offers a wide-range of activities for children ages 6 through 14. The camp is divided into two age groups: K-8 and ages 7-14. The older children kayak, canoe, sip line, shoot archery and ride horses. The younger ones may participate in some of these activities as well (age-dependent) as well as hike trails, swim in the lake and much more. The newest trends have arrived to this nearly 100 year old camp, and by that we mean theme weeks. Theme weeks include Pokemon, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and Disney. This is a great opportunity for children of all ages to give a number of outdoor activities a try.

  • Affordability:$
  • Dates:June 24-Aug. 31
  • Who is this camp for? Young children and tweens

3. Kieve Summer Camp

Welcome to the shores of Lake Damariscotta in Maine! Children and tweens of Kieve Summer Camp learn all of the virtues that build character- like grit, stepping out of your comfort zone, and an affinity with nature. Summer Camp at Kieve makes for an unforgettable adventure and gives children the opportunity to embark on half-day excursions. Each activity is there for a purpose and the kids who leave Kieve Summer Camp will leave transformed. Some of the activities include sailing, woodworking, rope skills, photography, windsurfing and soccer. This nearly 100-year-old camp is every boy’s dream-come-true. If you’re not a boy, don’t sweat it! There’s an equally phenomenal sister camp just around the lake- Wavus Camp for Girls.

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  • Affordability:$$$
  • Dates:June 19-August 4th
  • Who is this camp for? Boys ages 8-16

4. Camp Vega

Camp Vega is an all-girls summer camp located in Fayette, Maine that was founded in 1936. The camp motto is “the most exciting thing a girl can find is the Vega in herself.” The camp is named after the brightest star. The camp focuses based on the girls’ choices. During the first half of camp, girls may pick their focus. The focus could be figure skating, crew, lacrosse, and more. Things really pick up for the girls during the second half of camp where they are given the opportunity to make their own schedule! Other programming includes jazz, sailing, field hockey, gymnastics, horseback riding, ballet, and even stained glass making. The likelihood that your little lady will return to Camp Vega? 97%!

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  • Affordability:$$$$
  • Dates:June 23-August 10th
  • Who is this camp for? Girls ages 7-15

5. Camp Little Feet

Camp Little Feet is one of four camps offered through Nature Camps and is located in Monkton, Maryland. This fun camp caters to children ages infant to three. A parent or guardian is required for their programming. Session are offered every Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings from 9:150-12:30. Some of the age-appropriate activities include taking small hikes, exploring steams, natural crafting like pottery and corn doll husking and more. The babies are welcome to explore in the woods with their caregiver. This wholesome nature camp is a great way to bond with your baby and introduce your little one to the natural environment. Parents make friends too, and all campers join with the older campers for Big Circle during the early morning.

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  • Affordability:$
  • Dates:June 18-August 10th
  • Who is this camp for? Infants to 3-year-olds

6. Raquette Lake Camps

Raquette Lake Camp celebrated its centennial in 2016! This historic camp provides dual experiences for both girls and boys on Raquette in Lake Hamilton County, New York. Activities are wide-ranging and with a considerable waterfront the kids are free to canoe, power boat, sail, and kayak throughout the day. On land the activities range from hockey to archery to woodworking. Students also put on a full length play with the help of broadway and off-broadway instructors. If you’re looking to ride horses, your coach may be a former-olympian. Come ready with plenty of courage at the came encourages the children to “make friends, challenge themselves, learn new skills, and become independent.” This is certainly a summer camp for children to blossom.

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  • Affordability:$$$$
  • Dates:June 18-August 10th
  • Who is this camp for? Brother Camp 6-15 years of age. Sisters Camp 6-15 years of age

7. Tripp Lake Camp

Located in stunning Poland, Maine on the picturesque Tripp Lake is Tripp Lake Camp. Eva Rosenheim established Tripp Lake Camp in 1911 and many of the traditions have carried on over 100 years later. Considered to be one of the greatest all girls camps in America, Tripp Lake provides a wide-variety of fun summer activities that are enriching and challenging. Like most great summer camps, Tripp Lake makes sure that the girls have land and water sports activities from which to choose including tennis, archery, dance, beach volleyball, kayaking, swimming, canoeing, and sailing- just to list a few. To top it all off, this well-rounded camp offers an equestrian and theater program.

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  • Affordability:$$$$
  • Dates:June 22-August 10th
  • Who is this camp for? Girls ages 7-16
  • 8. Camp Chief Ouray

    This YMCA Camp located in Granby Colorado is named after Native American leader Chief Ouray. This camp welcomed its first campers in 1908! Granby Colorado provides the mountainous backdrop and the foreground setting is filled with rivers and pastures. The programming ranges from mini camps to international trips. Campers of all genders are welcome to participate in horseback riding, leadership training, archery, canoeing, hiking, and much more. Participants may say for one week or two to four weeks. The leadership training program is slightly more competitive and only available for campers ages 15-18. As well as the traditional summer camp, Chief Ouray offers an adult and family camp as well as women’s fitness training.

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    • Affordability:$$
    • Dates:June 10-August 14th
    • Who is this camp for? Boys and Girls ages 7-17

    9. Mountain Meadow Ranch

    School’s out, textbooks are closed, and the sun is out- every child deserves a magical summer. Look no further than Mountain Meadow Ranch situated near Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California. Mountain Meadow ranch is co-ed, and an unforgettable program for youth. This ACA-certified camp is perfect for the adventurer at heart and programming includes both land and water sports and activities. One of the aims of the camp is to “enhance self confidence… and environmental awareness of each individual. In today’s world, who couldn’t benefit from enhanced environmental awareness. For a magical summer, try Mountain Meadow Ranch.

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    • Affordability:$$$
    • Dates:June 16-August 10th
    • Who is this camp for? Boys and Girls ages 7-16

    10. Camp Wigwam For Boys

    Arnold Lehman and Abraham Mandelstam (a New York-based theater producer) set up Camp Wigwam for Boys in 1910. Located in the foothills of the White Mountains along Bear Lake, Camp Wigwam offers a traditional camp experience with a particular focus on golf, tennis, the Arts, and rustic camping. The approach is “less competitive” than other camps where the focus is much more on the growth of the individual camper. Campers can choose their own adventures here and for many boys this is the ideal way to spend a Summer break.

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    • Affordability:$$$
    • Dates:June 23-August 11th
    • Who is this camp for? Boys 7-15

    11. Camp Wicosuta

    Camp Wicosuta is a well-rounded all girls traditional sleepaway camp. At camp Wicosuta, participants focus on the “Three C’s” Confidence, Competence, and Community. There is a dress code and girls are asked to swim in a one-piece bathing suit to help curb negative body image issues. This truly is a camp for all types of girls and includes activities like swimming, water skiing, kayaking, gymnastics, horseback riding, dance, theater, and culinary arts. We love their specialty programming that includes white water rafting, overnight camping, survival skills classes, and more. If those don’t build the three C’s we’re not sure what does. This is a 4-week camp.

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    • Affordability:$$
    • Dates:June 23-August 15th
    • Who is this camp for? Girls 6-15

    12. ActionQuest

    For the Columbus in all of us, why not nurture that very drive with Camp ActionQuest? While Based in Sarasota, Florida, kids who attend ActionQuest are actually world explorers. Some of the programing includes sailing the British Virgin Islands as well as the Leeward Island, taking a rainforest tour of Ecuador, and putting in some community service hours in the Galapagos. Campers will engage in marine biology, head out for a trip scuba diving, go snorkeling, paddle boarding and windsurfing. When school is out, that’s when the need for adventure sinks in, and these lucky campers will have plenty of opportunity to explore and gather memories that last for their whole lives.

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    • Affordability:$$$$
    • Dates:June 15-August 14th
    • Who is this camp for? Teens

    13. Teton Valley Ranch Camp

    In 1939 Teton Valley Ranch Camp (TVRC) opened to boys in Dubois, Wyoming. Nearly 10 years later the camp opened up to girls as well, and now all genders can gather to learn the art of pioneering and get in touch with their inner cowboy or cowgirl. This is really a great opportunity for any child who needs some adventure after 10 months of sitting behind a desk- that’s every child. As you might have guessed, this ranch camp is a place where the kids can ride horses, go fly fishing, practice rifling, throw a lasso, and just be kids. These lucky campers get log cabins as their lodging.

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    • Affordability:$$
    • Dates:July 17-August 15th
    • Who is this camp for? Boys and Girls 11-16

    14. Southwoods Camp

    Southwoods Camp dates back to 1914 and is located in upstate New York right on Lake Paradox surrounded by the Adirondack Mountains. If this sounds ideal, that’s because it is. In addition to Paradox Lake itself, this camp is equipped with a golf green and driving range, climbing wall, hockey rink, nature center, and more. With the largest motorized boats available at any camp the water sports and games are very popular here. Participants may participate in their Ski Nautiques programming that includes water skiing, slalom course racing, kneeboarding, wakeboarding, tubing and wake surfing. When school’s out and the sun’s out there’s no better place to head than Southwoods Camp.

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    • Affordability:$$
    • Dates:July 17-August 15th
    • Who is this camp for? Boys and Girls 11-16

    15. Lake Bryn Mawr Camp For Girls

    Founded in 1921, the Bryn Mawr Camp for Girls a well-balanced camp located in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. This seven-week camp is a place where girls become “summer sisters.” There are so many activities available we won’t list all of them but the programming includes soccer, gymnastics, tennis, climbing, archery, aqua jumping, arts and crafts, horseback riding, drama and music, and climbing. The girls are also encouraged to compete with neighboring camps in a range of sports that also includes la crosse. If you are looking for an unforgettable experience for your daughter, then Bryn Mawr is certainly a phenomenal option.

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    • Affordability:$$$$
    • Dates:June 17-August 10th
    • Who is this camp for? Girls 8-16

    16. Red Arrow Camp

    “Don’t wait to be a great man. Be a great boy.” is the motto of Red Arrow Summer Camp. This program, founded in 1920 is a seven-week traditional all boys camp that is broken into 2 week session where the boys are challenged daily by 8 activities. The participants may select from sports and activities they are already familiar or (as is encouraged) step out and try something new like archery, woodworking, riflery, or sailing. Additionally, these young gents head out on adventures with their cabin mates and have the opportunity to hike and explore the the woods of Woodruff or even head out on a canoeing excursion. The camp ethos encourages strength, growth, and character development.

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    • Affordability:$$$$
    • Dates:June 20-August 8th
    • Who is this camp for? Boys 7-16

    17. Four Winds Westward Ho

    Four Winds Westward Ho is located on Orca Island along Deer Harbor and nestled in the San Juan Islands of Washington State. This camp focuses more heavily on the individual than some of the other traditional camps though offers a number of traditional summer camp opportunities. All campers leave technology behind to find the space to connect with nature, their interests, and build relationships. Some of the activities includes canoeing, sing alongs, sailing, paddle boarding, horseback riding, gardening, soccer, photography, tennis, and weaving among others. Sixteen to eighteen year olds participate in their leadership training program.

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    • Affordability:$$
    • Dates:June 20-August 28th
    • Who is this camp for? Boys and Girls 7-18

    18. Catalina Island Camps

    Twenty-two miles off of Los Angeles is the Catalina Island, home to Catalina Island Camps. This sleepaway camp offers campers the opportunity to unplug after the long school year, connect with peers, and discover their strengths through connection with the outdoors. This accredited American Camp Association experience is one your children will never forget, and probably want to return to. This camp experience strikes a nice balance between structured activities and unstructured down time and in addition to some fun and challenging activities includes an enriching environmental appreciation program. Catalina Islands Camp works in tandem with the Jean-Michel Cousteau Ocean Futures Society and offers an environmental leadership program for the older campers. Snorkeling, gardening, kayaking, target sports, and climbing are among just a few of the fantastic camp activities.

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    • Affordability:$$$
    • Dates:June 18-August 6th
    • Who is this camp for? Boys and Girls grades 1-10th

    19. Brown Ledge Camp

    Brown Ledge Camp is an all girls uniform-free “freedom of choice” camp located in Colchester, Vermont on the banks of Lake Champlain. Their Freedom Program gives the girls a choice between 18 different activities that include tennis archery and riflery, horseback riding, watersports, studio arts and crafts, as well as theater and dance. Additionally, Brown Ledge offers Red Cross courses in lifeguard training, and basic rescue. The campers love the Aqua-ski show. For that girl who is independent, imaginative, and strong, Brown Ledge Camp is a great fit.

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    • Affordability:$$$
    • Dates:June 21-August 15th
    • Who is this camp for? Girls ages 10-18

    20. Camp Androscoggin

    Camp Androscoggin is an all-boys camp that was founded in 1907. There are two principles that shape the camper’s experience: try it all, then personalize your camping experience. This way, the boys are exposed to new things, and then able to hone their individual interests. Camaraderie is a big aspect of camp life at Camp Andro and that is certainly built through the myriad of camp experiences. Activities include golf, archery, tennis, baseball, ropes, video production, theater, climbing, photography, and more. Each day campers may take part in as many as seven activities. Camp Andro offers a 4-week session with the option to extend to a full summer session. “Each boy every day.” is the daily motto for staff.

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    • Affordability:$$$$
    • Dates:June 21-August 13th
    • Who is this camp for? Boys ages 8-15