Camps Are Great for Kids (of All Ages)
The last thing you want this summer is to get a phone call from a trembling child, pleading with you to come pick him or her up at summer camp on account of unfriendly tentmates, inedible food or drill-sergeant counselors. It's natural for kids to get a little bit homesick — that's part of growing up — but you want to make sure your kids get sent to a camp that's right for them.
You already have some idea which five questions to ask camp directors, but maybe you need a little more inspiration. The following summer camps are pioneers in combining environmental education with a fun, safe, worthwhile experience — one that is sure to last a lifetime.
For example, Bainbridge Island, Washington's IslandWood offers a wide range of sleepaway and day programs throughout the year for everyone from young children to grad students and adults. The beautiful, 255-acre outdoor learning center brings top-notch opportunities for enrichment in science and the arts together with a strong commitment to the environment and fun. Visit islandwood.org.
IslandWood Camp Welcome Center
The facilities at IslandWood are nearly as breathtaking as the surrounding land and seascapes. The camp prides itself on being a model of evolving sustainable practices in addition to serving as an outdoor classroom.
Explore a Tree House
Kids love tree houses! Even big kids will appreciate IslandWood's charm and integration with nature.
IslandWood's tree house overlooks a bog, one of six different natural elements in the camp watershed.
IslandWood Campers Learn Composting
This class of fifth graders is boning up on their sustainability smarts (watch out, Jeff Foxworthy) at IslandWood. They'll be well prepared to answer any questions about compost, plants, the water cycle, ecosystems and much more, thanks to such hands-on learning.
Hog Island Audubon Center
The National Audubon Society has a long history of providing life-changing experiences in nature. The group's first summer camp, Hog Island, opened in 1936 in a storybook Maine setting off the coast of Bremen. It made big impressions on the likes of Rachel Carson and Roger Tory Peterson.
Today Hog Island Audubon Center is home to a great variety of sleepaway summer camps for youth, teens, adults and families. Learn about Maine's unique coastal wildlife, take a birding adventure, or just get away from it all. Maine Audubon even offers financial aid.
Learning About Nature
Other opportunities for summer fun and learning abound from Audubon. If you can't get away to a summer camp, also don't forget that Audubon has many nature centers around the country (including in urban areas like Los Angeles and Brooklyn), many of which offer exciting programming. These kids are learning about galls through the "For the Birds!" program.
New York Youth Learn Aquatic Science
New York State has been a leader in environmental education for more than 60 years and offers immersion summer camps to youth and teens in several impressive settings around the state. Run by New York's Department of Environmental Conservation, camps teach conservation through fun activities, games and hands-on experience.
Campers Enjoy Water Sports
A time-honored tradition of summer camp is water sports, from swimming to kayaking, canoeing, sailing and much more.
Bonding Is Part of the Camp Experience
Camp is a great place for young people to forge friendships and gain confidence and independence.
Campers Learn Organic Gardening
Also in Maine is Tanglewood 4-H Camp and Learning Center, a nonprofit partnered with the University of Maine. The goal is "to leave no child or adult inside," and a range of opportunities include learning about sea life, forest ecosystems, sustainable living and much more.
Through Tanglewood's organic gardening programs, campers learn about the many benefits, and challenges, of going organic. Fresh food, as local as can be, is used in camp meals. That sounds a lot better than PB&J and bug juice!
Learn how to plant your own organic garden.
Tanglewood Campers Learn All About Recycling
The relaxed atmosphere of summer camp is a great place to push recycling to the next level and show kids how it is done.