Summer Camp for All (That Means Parents, Too!)

Ever wish you could spend a week with your kids and learn how to surf or speak a foreign language? After a stay at any of these 20 specialty camps for families (which start at $880), you'll come away with bragging rights, along with one of those classic lanyard key chains.


Cazadero Performing Arts Camp
Amid 250-foot-tall redwoods in a forest in Sonoma County's Russian River Valley, Cazadero Performing Arts Camp—Caz, for short—has families dancing, playing music, and making art all day long. There's child care for kids 2 to 5 years old; everyone else signs up for classes led by regional artists. On the lineup: conga drums (taught by Grammy-nominated percussionists), concert sound production (learn the intricacies of microphones and mixers), and circus arts (master juggling and walking on stilts). Running through the grounds is a creek that campers use as a stage for large-scale environmental art projects, with Andy Goldsworthy as their inspiration. Lodging: Platform tents that sleep six or dorm rooms that sleep three, both with cots; shared bathrooms. Food: Three buffet-style meals daily. Info: 510/527-7500;; $2,720; Aug. 10–16, 17–23; no minimum age.

French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts
A skate park and a 10,000-square-foot fitness center are new additions to this lakeside western Catskills spread that also includes a circus pavilion, a field house, and five theaters. Each day is divided into six periods, and parents and kids can pick and choose from performing-arts workshops (learn ring and rope tricks from a magician, take a guitar lesson, fly on the high trapeze, ride a unicycle) as well as traditional camp activities (swimming, water-skiing, hitting the trails on a horse or mountain bike). In the evening, campers play Brain Wars, complete with lights and buzzers, or head over to a nearby movie theater or bowling alley. Lodging: For parents: cabins with electricity and full or queen beds; private bathrooms (rooms with double beds are also available). For children ages 6 and up: bunkhouses that sleep up to 16 with resident counselors; shared bathrooms. Food: Three cafeteria-style meals daily. Info: 800/634-1703,, $2,480, Aug. 30–Sept. 5, ACA accredited, kids ages 6 and up.
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Idyllwild Arts Family Camp
On the 205-acre campus of a boarding school in southern California's San Jacinto Mountains, children take art classes and create a mini musical to perform at session's end. Teens and parents sign up for workshops—visiting artists recently taught hot clay, Navajo weaving, and Santa Clara pottery. Everyone is free to cut class and hang out at the outdoor pool when the lifeguard is on duty. Lodging: Dorms sleep four on bunks; private bathrooms—as well as daily maid service. Food: Three cafeteria-style meals daily. Info: 951/659-2171,, $3,195, July 4–10, classes for kids ages 3 and up.


Camp Seafarer
At this riverfront YMCA girls' camp, the focus is on seamanship; U.S. Coast Guard-certified instructors teach campers to water-ski, operate motorboats, and sail boats ranging from a Sunfish to a Flying Scot. Counselors lend families gear for fishing, steer them to a three-story tree house (open for overnights), and point out dolphins in the Neuse River. Evening programs include a parents-only sunset cruise with shrimp cocktail on a Corinthian yacht and child care on shore. Lodging: Families get half of a duplex cabin that sleeps up to 18 on each side; private bathrooms. Food: Three family-style meals daily. Info: 252/249-1212,, $2,385, Aug. 16–22, ACA accredited, no minimum age.
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Cliff McCrath's Northwest Soccer Camp
World Cup champion Michelle Akers, a former camper, sometimes makes cameo appearances at McCrath's, which is in a former army base on Whidbey Island, off the coast of Seattle. Kids are grouped by age, size, and skill level and then assigned to U.S. Soccer Federation-licensed college coaches across 18 soccer fields (4 large, 14 small) where they practice their shots and scissors moves. Parents get their own tutorials and scrimmages, but if their muscles are sore, they're free to grab a ferry to Port Townsend for the afternoon. Lodging: Families are separated: Kids are in dorms converted from barracks; parents are in private units—with shared baths, a common area, and a kitchenette—in the old jailhouse. Food: Three cafeteria-style meals daily. Info: 425/644-0470,, $1,630, Aug. 9–14, kids ages 7–18.
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