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.
Farm & Wilderness Family Camp
At this Quaker-inspired camp, which borders Woodward Reservoir in the Green Mountains, days are spent rotating between three main locations: the lodge, for meals, silent meetings on the lawn, and time on the porch swing; the barn, to milk cows and feed chickens; and the organic garden, where everything from tomatoes to kale is harvested. There is also canoeing, woodworking, and rock climbing. Lodging: Three-sided lean-tos with bunks that sleep 8 to 12 (often two families to a cabin); shower houses and composting toilets. (Some four-sided cabins are also available.) Food: Three meals daily incorporating garden produce and home-baked breads. Info: 802/422-3761, farmandwilderness.org, $880–$1,260 depending on income, Aug. 23–29, ACA accredited, no minimum age.
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Plantation Farm Camp
Everyone steps in to do twice-daily chores on the 500-acre Sonoma County farm: milking the cows, feeding the goats, picking peas in the garden. In between, families can make pickled green beans or cook blackberry jam on a pit fire. There's also time to ride horses bareback and canoe on the spring-fed lake. Lodging: Platform tents sleep two on foam mattresses; shared toilets and outdoor showers. Food: Three meals daily. Info: 707/847-3494; plantationcamp.com; $3,900; June 18–21, Aug. 16–23; ACA accredited; no minimum age.
MAINE AND NEW HAMPSHIRE
Appalachian Mountain Club Family Adventure Camps
The AMC runs guided hiking and naturalist programs out of five lodges scattered through New Hampshire and Maine. Families build campfires, track moose, hike to waterfalls, and investigate the beds of streams and rivers. At certain locations, there is also fly-fishing, river rafting, or overnighting in huts along the Appalachian Trail. Lodging: In New Hampshire, private bunkrooms can sleep four to six; shared bathrooms. In Maine, private cabins can sleep up to nine; private or shared bathrooms. Food: Breakfast buffet, brown-bag lunch, and family-style dinner daily; the latter includes fresh-baked bread and homemade soup. One of the dessert highlights: birds' nests (fried Chinese noodles dipped in chocolate with M&M's clustered in the middle). Info: 603/466-2727, outdoors.org/adventure_camps, rates vary by camp location but start at $1,610 (get 7 percent off that with a $75 annual membership), 17 six-day sessions June 28–Aug. 21, kids ages 5 and up.
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Wolf Ridge Family Vacation
Overlooking Lake Superior on the campus of Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center—with 18 miles of trails on 2,000 acres—the program teaches families about nature and the Ojibwa people who once populated these parts. During sessions led by naturalists, kids 3 to 6 might look for deer beds in the grass, and 7- to 14-year-olds might wade in streams in calf-high boots in search of water bugs, while their parents take a wildflower walk. Lodging: Dorms sleep up to eight on bunks; private bathrooms. Food: Three cafeteria-style meals daily. Info: 218/353-7414, wolf-ridge.org, $990, July 19–24, kids ages 4 and under are free.
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYO.
Yellowstone for Families at Mammoth Hot Springs
This four-day program at the national park's 162-degree Mammoth Terraces hot springs turns family members into budding park naturalists—and kids get the National Park Service Junior Ranger patch to prove it. Under the guidance of instructors from the Yellowstone Association Institute, kids and adults can hike to a beaver pond, go on wildlife-spotting expeditions to less-trafficked areas of the park, and learn to tell whether animals are herbivores or carnivores from the shape of their tracks. Lodging: Rooms in the 1930s Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel sleep two to four, and duplex cabins with porches sleeping up to four are a short walk from the Mammoth Terraces hot springs (look for elk grazing on the lawn). Food: Full breakfast and a brown-bag lunch daily. Campers are on their own for dinner; they can eat bison burgers at the hotel or drive to nearby Gardiner, Mont., for pizza pies. Info: 866/439-7375, yellowstoneassociation.org/institute, $2,056, June 12–Aug. 21, kids 8–12.
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