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Family Camps: Affordable Summer Getaways

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Photo courtesy of Medomak Family Camp.

Photo courtesy of Medomak Family Camp.

Like summer camps for kids, a "Family Camp" provides tons of fun activities in the Great Outdoors. Simple (or not-so-simple) lodgings and meals included, too.

What To Expect

Doing a week at a summer family camp can make great memories: outdoors fun during the day-time, campfires at night... and price can be as low as under $1000 for a week, for a family of four-- with meals!

Family camps -- also called "intergenerational camps", to distinguish them from the classic kids' summer camps -- typically have beautiful settings, simple lodgings, meals included (probably in a dining hall), and many outdoors and other activities. Sometimes the location for a "family camp" is a traditional kids' summer camp that offers a special family week in July or August.

Lodging might be as rustic as a tent-cabins with no electricity, or wood cabins with bunks or double beds, and shared bath-houses. Some family camps, however, have lodges or even inn-style accommodation.

Activities push the bounds of the imagination: stilt-walking, gourd-painting, night-time flashlight tag... At least one place, in Nevada, has a weekly shuttle to casinos. Some family summer camps have a special focus, such as the performing arts.

Music Camps deserve a special mention: a quick search for "family music camps" will quickly produce a number of interesting suggestions.

Year-Round Fun

A number of family camps are open not only during the summer but throughout the year, and have special seasonal and holiday packages. For example, as noted above, Vermont's Hulbert Outdoor Center, has a New Year's Family Camp. YMCA of the Rockies has Fall Fest and packages at Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the Holiday Season. Deer Valley Family Camp likewise has seasonal weekends, such as cider-making in the fall, and winter outdoors activities.

Meanwhile in New Hampshire, the Appalachian Mountain Club has "family adventure camps" with numerous activities for different age groups including "Wee Wanderers" (-- 2-night, 3-day programs for families with kids ages 2 to 5), Family Volunteer Weekends, Multi-Sport Family Adventures, and Family Lodge-to-Hut Adventures. Its Highland Center Lodge ocation has a kids club and games room and loaner gear for outdoor adventuring.

More Samples in the Northeast US:

  • Maine: Medomak Family Camp - cabins with electricity and bathroom; grownups get cheese tasting, art gallery trips, massages, and yoga
  • Vermont: Hulbert Outdoor Center Family Camp- check out the special New Year's Family Camp, with snowshoeing, stories by the fire, ice-cutting on the lake, and more
  • Vermont: Camp Common Ground, in Starksboro
  • New Hampshire: Rockywold-Deephaven - hosting families since 1897
  • New Hampshire: Purity Spring Resort has a family summer camp week in August
  • New York: YMCA Camp Chingachgook - on Lake George
  • New York: Frost Valley YMCA: 6000 acres, lake activities, winter activities, Maple Sugaring weekends; platform tents, cabins, lodges, country inn. Note: Family Weekends are offered in Spring, Fall, and Winter - i.e. not during summer camp weeks.
In Pennsylvania, Deer Valley Family Camp has 742 acres with woods, hills, and lake for watersports in summer, ice-fishing and skating in winter-time.

YMCA Family Camps:

To Find a Family Camp for your summer vacation, check websites such as KidsCamps.com, which has listings for each state, or have a look at 50 All-Star Family Camps, a helpful article at BudgetTravel.com.

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