50 All-Star Family Camps

Remember summer camp? The fun doesn't have to stop just because you've grown up. You and your kids can make s'mores and go fishing, all without spending heaps of money--for a family of four, some camps cost less than $1,000 for an entire week

Lair Of The Golden Bear, Pinecrest

Three camps in Stanislaus National Forest in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Affiliated with University of California at Berkeley. Three pools, 18-hole golf course nearby, outdoor theater by the lake, fishing, speakers weekly, hikes for all abilities. Lodging: Wooden cabins with canvas roofs and electricity sleep two to eight; shared bathhouse. Food: Three family-style meals daily in dining hall; burger shack open nightly. Dates: June 2-Oct. 1. Price: $2,100. 510/642-0221, alumni.berkeley.edu/lair.

Lark Camp, Mendocino

In Mendocino Woodlands State Park, in the middle of a redwood forest. Focus is on world music and dance: Learn Spanish bagpipes, Japanese flute, Celtic drumming, English country dancing, square dancing, and tango. Lodging: Redwood cabins without electricity sleep four, with decks and shared bathhouse; RV and tent sites. Food: Three cafeteria-style meals daily (costs extra); 24-hour coffeehouse. Dates: July 28-Aug. 5. Price: $1,820. 707/964-4826, larkcamp.com.

Montecito Sequoia Family Vacation Camp, Giant Sequoia National Forest

At 7,500 feet between Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. Equestrian center. Guided hike to waterfalls. Canoeing, sailing, waterskiing, wakeboarding, and paddleboating on Homavalo Lake. Rock-climbing wall, gymnastics, biking; casino and open-mike nights. ACA accredited. Lodging: Thirty-six lodge rooms with private bath sleep eight; 13 wooden cabins (with electricity and shared bathhouse) sleep eight on king- and queen-size beds and bunks. Food: Three buffets daily in dining hall, including prime rib and king crab; full bar; kitchen open 24 hours. Dates: June 19-Sept. 4. Price: $3,450. 800/227-9900, mslodge.com.

Shady Creek Family Camp, Nevada City

In the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range on 130 acres. High and low ropes courses. Outdoor movie night. Wine tastings. Luau night with limbo contest. Gourd painting, watercolor class, talent show, archery, and tie-dyeing. Sunset cruise, tubing, and wakeboarding on nearby Bullard's Bar Reservoir. Lodging: Wooden cabins with private deck and domed adobe cabins (each sleeps five) with electricity and shared bathhouse; lodge rooms (sleep four) and suite rooms (sleep eight) with shared bath in main lodge. Food: Three buffets daily in dining hall; snacks available in the camp store. Dates: June 18-Aug. 26. Price: $2,332. 800/826-7310, shadycreekcamp.com.

Wonder Valley Family Camp, Sanger

On a private lake in the foothills of Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. Minibike and go-kart tracks, skateboard park. Waterslides, high and low ropes courses, canoeing on the lower Kings River. Waterskiing, personal watercraft. Thursday is parents' night, with child care 5 p.m.-11:30 p.m., prime rib dinner, casino tables, and live entertainment. Full day-care center. ACA accredited. Lodging: Fifty-three motel-style rooms; most sleep seven on doubles, kings, and bunks. Food: Three buffets daily in lakeside dining hall. Dates: Aug. 6-12; Aug. 13-19. Price: $3,956. 800/821-2801, wondervalleyfamilycamp.com.


Cheley Colorado Camps, Estes Park

On 1,600 acres in the Rocky Mountains. Since 1921. Daily hikes and horseback rides through Rocky Mountain National Park and Roosevelt National Forest. Movie making, campfire nights. Technical climbing, fishing. ACA accredited. Lodging: Covered wagons with shared bathhouse sleep four. Food: Three family-style meals daily in dining hall; snacks throughout the day; trail lunch provided. Dates: Aug. 8-13. Price: $2,400. 800/226-7386, cheley.com.

Colorado Heritage Camps, Denver

Ten camps: nine in the Rockies and one in Denver. For families with multicultural and internationally adopted children. Each camp focuses on a specific culture Counselors and teachers share the same heritage as the kids. Chinese, Cambodian, Indian, Nepalese, Filipino, Korean, Latin American, Russian, African-American, and Vietnamese programs. Lodging: Lodge rooms with private bath sleep six in bunk beds; wooden cabins (with full kitchen and shared bath) sleep 10 on twins and bunks; tent and RV sites. Food: Buffet breakfast and dinner; culture-specific cafeteria-style lunch. Dates: June 22-Sept. 4. Price: $480. 303/320-4234, heritagecamps.org.

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Did you see BT on the Today show? Watch Editor Erik Torkells discuss last year's list of the best family camps with host Ann Curry. If you don't already have it, you will need MSN Video Player, a free (and easy!) plug-in, to watch the video
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    Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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