50 All-Star Family Camps
It's just like traditional summer camp, but adults are allowed. That means meals in a dining hall, campfire sing-alongs and the chance to meet a lot of neat people. Pass the bug juice!
You wake up in the morning because the birds are chirping. So you go outside, and take a deep breath of really fresh air. Over pancakes at breakfast, you learn the day's activities: ropes course, arts and crafts, windsurfing, climbing wall . . . . It doesn't matter what you do, because you know you'll have serious fun. Then you hear the bugle call: Time for the flag ceremony, followed by dinner--barbecue and bug juice! You mellow out afterward at the campfire sing-along. Look! A shooting star! Then you head to your bunk bed, sleep like a log, and do it all over again.
YMCA Camp Sky-Y, Prescott
At 6,800 feet in the Bradshaw Mountains. Canoeing on Goldwater Lake, paintball, overnight camping, arts and crafts, archery. Families participate in the World Service Carnival (with games and face painting); proceeds help children at a YMCA in Mexico. ACA accredited. LODGING: Wood cabins with shared bathhouse sleep 12 on bunks. FOOD: Three family-style meals daily; weekly cookouts, such as a cowboy breakfast with morning hayride. CONTACT: July 29-Aug. 4; $1,600; 800/660-1385, azycamps.org.
YMCA Chauncey Ranch, Mayer
A 5,000-acre high-desert ranch on the banks of the Agua Fria River. Equestrian focus: riding lessons, trail rides, and helping with grooming, saddling, and feeding. Fishing, skeet shooting. ACA accredited. LODGING: Wood cabins that have evaporative coolers and shared bathhouse sleep 12 on bunks; rooms in the Cowboy Barn with shared indoor bathroom sleep six on bunks; private ranch house sleeps 25. FOOD: Three family-style meals daily; cowboy barbecue cookout ride. CONTACT: July 29-Aug. 4; $1,395; 800/660-1385, azycamps.org.
Berkeley Tuolumne Family Camp, Groveland
On the south fork of the Tuolumne River, seven miles from Yosemite National Park. Ranger-led workshops for kids (making pine-needle baskets and leaf-print shirts), artist-in-residence program for adults (pottery, woodworking, and more). Themed Thursdays. LODGING: Canvas-and-wood cabins (some with electricity), with shared bathhouse, sleep 4 to 10 on cots; tent sites. FOOD: Three family-style meals daily; Saturday barbecue lunch, Sunday turkey dinner. CONTACT: June 23-Aug. 26; $2,037; 510/981-5140, berkeleycamps.com.
Catalina Island Camps, Catalina Island
On Catalina's western edge, 22 miles offshore from L.A. Hosted by Jean-Michel Cousteau. Nature walks, tide-pool exploration, science programs, snorkeling to a kelp bed. Evening presentations by Cousteau on his work with the Ocean Futures Society. ACA accredited. LODGING: Wood cabins with electricity and shared bathhouse sleep 12 on bunks; moorings available for rent. FOOD: Three buffets daily; nightly social hour before dinner with beer and wine for adults. CONTACT: Aug. 22-26; $2,900 (includes ferry ride from the mainland); 800/696-2267, catalinaislandcamps.com.
Cazadero Performing Arts Camp, Cazadero
Surrounded by redwoods in Sonoma County, with classes in music, circus arts, dance, theater, and more. Performances in the outdoor amphitheater. LODGING: Canvas tents with electricity and shared bathhouse sleep six on cots; dorm rooms with shared bathroom sleep three to six on cots; tent sites. FOOD: Three buffets daily with snacks throughout the day. CONTACT: Aug. 6-12, Aug. 13-19; $2,510 (10 percent discount if you bring a tent, share a tent with another family, or have six people in one tent); 510/527-7500, cazadero.org.
Emandal--A Farm on a River, Willits
On the banks of the Eel River at the base of Mount Sanhedrin. Pitch in on the farm: Gather eggs, milk cows, pick vegetables, bake cookies. LODGING: Wood cabins with electricity, cold water, and shared bathhouse sleep eight; two farmhouse rooms with private bath sleep two. FOOD: Three family-style meals daily; most veggies come from the garden. CONTACT: June 20-24, July 18-Aug. 25, Aug. 30-Sept. 3; $2,326; 707/459-5439, emandal.com.
Family Camp on the Bar 717 Ranch, Hayfork
Former working ranch on 450 acres in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. Milk cows, feed goats, collect hay. Horseback riding, overnight camping rides, ropes course, swimming hole, archery. ACA accredited. LODGING: Wood cabins open on one side (without electricity) with sink, toilet, and shared shower house sleep 10; six hotel-style rooms sleep two to six. FOOD: Three family-style meals daily. CONTACT: Aug.12-18, Aug. 19-25; $2,385; 530/628-5992, bar717.com.