Overnight Camps for Teens & Preteens
Berkeley Parents Network >
Summer Camps & School Breaks >
Overnight Camps for Teens & Preteens
My 16-year-old son would love to go to a sleep away camp that focuses on whitewater rafting.
Can't seem to find one online. Anyone know of such an animal?
Kid who wants to get wet
Please look into ARTA (http://www.arta.org/). They are a nonprofit rafting company
that has week-long junior training trips in CA and UT for teens. My son did the UT
trip 4 years ago when he was 15. He absolutely loved it. He went rafting with the
company the following year in Idaho and then took the real guide training course
with them last year when he was 18. He may be guiding this summer. As a parent, I
couldn't be more comfortable with the company.Tell them I recommended them.
YMCA Camp Jones Gulch has a teen adventure/travel camp that may be just what you're
looking for! I just found out about this camp yesterday and signed my 14 year old
adventure seeking boy up for 2 weeks. Camp is based near Big Sur and transportation
to and from the Bay Area is $40 if you need it.
Here's the White Water rafting camp description:
''White Water Rafting Adventure (Session 3; $695.00 July 6-11) Entering grades
7-12 . In a high adrenaline adventure, thrill seeking teens rally inflatable rafts
down the Middle Fork of the American River. Experience impressive rapids down miles
of crystal clear water. Between rafting we will explore areas around James
Marshall Park, go mountain biking, and enjoy access to a beautiful swimming pool
and natural river swimming hole. Swimming proficiency is recommended but not
Each week has a different theme. They all look great and I see good reviews online.
Best of all it's pretty cheap for sleepaway camp and everything is included.
Seeking recommendations for my 13 yr old nephew for a summer camp that is outdoors,
camping, perhaps (easy) back-packing in northern california. I want a camp that will
introduce him to the wonders of nature, while having a good time. (He doesn't go out in
nature much now.)
Any suggestions welcome, pls tell your experience if possible.
Also, he's a brown-skin boy so would be nice if there is some diversity....
Check out the wonderful Camp Augusta near grass valley. They are great.
I go for family camp
I highly recommend a small residential camp in the Sierras called Camp Jack Hazard
(www.campjackhazard.org). Its program includes easy backpacking, but really it is a simple,
old-school summer camp with arts-and-crafts, nature hikes, campfires, a swimming pool, and a
ropes course. They get kids familiar and comfortable with the outdoors because the location
is so spectacular (north of Yosemite, near the Sonora Pass). A week spent doing fun camp
stuff at this location gives kids the chance to just love being outside in the beauty of it
all, gets them over squeamishness about dirt, bugs, etc., and teaches them some basic
outdoor skills (Leave No Trace philosophy, for example).
Every kid also goes backpacking with their cabin group on a relatively easy 2-night
overnight backpacking trip. Because of the location and the camp's long history of operation
in the region (they celebrate 90 years this year), they are able to send every backpacking
group on a hike that is relatively easy but feels like real backpacking and ends up in a
location that it an excellent reward for the effort (alpine meadows, creeks, peaks, etc).
Even the young kids (as young as 6 yrs) go on mini-backpacking trips (usually only hiking
within the camp facility but to a place where they can sleep under the stars).
Camp Jack Hazard primarily serves the Central Valley (operates out of Modesto) and so
represents the diversity you see there, including much greater socioeconomic diversity than
you generally see in the Bay Area. Side benefit for Bay Area families: it is dirt cheap
compared to locally operating camps ($495 for a week of sleep-away camp).
Full disclosure: I once worked there (eons ago) and now help with operations serving on the
board of directors. My 12 year old (daughter) has been several summers and loves it. I'm
sending my six year old to the mini camp (3 nights) this year, and I would definitely
hesitate sending a kid that young to a sleep away camp anywhere else, but this place is
Our 12-year-old boy will be attending a session at
Camp Chrysalis this summer. They have
different options, like Big Sur, Mendocino and the Sierra, for different lengths of time.
Caveat: I have no direct experience with this camp, but my son is attending with a friend
whose family has experience with it and raves about it. Other friends recommend it also and
it has good reviews on BPN. As for brown-skinned campers, sorry, I don't know, but you
could certainly email the director and ask.
I am replying to the recommendation for Camp Chrysalis. My kid attended a few
years back. We found it to be a camp where a lot the staff has known each other
for years and some are relatives of each other, and where many of the campers know
each other or know the staff previous to the camp, and it is not a large camp. My
kid went to camp without any previous relationships to the staff or other campers,
and would recommend going with a buddy or buddies.
Didn't see the original post but I just spent a weekend researching sleepaway camps
for my 13 year old boy. We decided on YMCA Camp Ravencliff on the Eel River. They
have a ''teen week'' for 13-16 year olds. Looks like your basic traditional
sleepaway camp, rustic cabins, swimming on the river, canoes, camp games, hikes,
etc. but tailored for the teen crowd. We also signed up for a week at YMCA Camp
Jones Gulch teen adventure/travel camp. Different theme each week from White Water
Rafting to Backpacking to Surfing to Horses. They also offer a traditional
residential camp without the travel. My son can't wait.
Hidden Villa Ranch in Los Altos was a close second. They have a great program for
8th-10th graders (but my son didn't want to backpack). I was a camper there many
years ago and absolutely loved it.
Here's the blurb
''As Farm & Wilderness campers, teens build close relationships within a small
group, living at the primitive Hollow Oak campsite at Hidden Villa for nine days
and going on a three-day mid-session backpack trip to Black Mountain. While on the
trail, campers work toward team-building and achieving group goals.
Campers and counselors care for the farm animals (cows, goats, pigs, sheep,
chickens). Each day they choose from a variety of activitiesâ€”hiking, swimming,
archery, arts and crafts, sports, or gardening. Evenings are spent storytelling,
sharing music, taking a night hike or a moonlight swim.''
*The YMCA camps are about $600 a week, everything included! They have scholarships
too if needed and really cheap or free transportation to and from Berkeley. Hidden
Villa also on the more affordable side of sleepaway camps.
Loving the Y
My son would like to attend summer camp in 2014, and I'm trying to find a place
that offers vegetarian meals. Does anyone have any good suggestions within three
hours of the Bay Area? He will be 10 years old next summer.
My daughter, who is two years older, has attended three different Girl Scout
Camps and they do a great job with special diets. Before each meal, they
announce that vegan and vegetarian meals are available at the dining window and
she was satisfied with the food. In particular, she liked Skylark Ranch the
best, followed by Deer Lake, if anyone is looking for recommendations. I'm
hoping to find a similar overnight camp for boys: fun, reasonably priced,
traditional camp with vegetarian meals on offer. Any suggestions?
You might try Full Belly Farm - they do one week summer sleepaway camps. It's about 2
hours from the East Bay and a really amazing place. (They are a CSA). While I'm not
sure if the meals at camp would be solely vegetarian, I'm sure there would be a lot
of vegetarian options. We recently signed our kids up for a half day kids-camp
thing, part of the annual Full Belly Hoes Down, and they had a blast. They're
vegetarian, and the lunch that day was veggie. I don't see anything listed on the
site yet for camp in 2014 (fullbellyfarm.com) but I'm sure they'll put info up
eventually, or you can email them via the site.
-- likely parent of a future Full Belly sleepaway camper
Does anyone know of an outdoor or backpacking camp that lasts for a
week at the beginning or the end of the summer? My daughter wants to
go to Stage Door Conservancy which will take from July 5 to August
14, so we're trying to fit a week or two of outdoor camp in to
balance that out.
Well, it only touches on your date, but the program is so
Excellent it's worth it, check out Camp Unalayee at
Unalayee's been taking teens backpacking for 62 years, has a
rare setting in the uncrowded, pristine Trinity Alps Wilderness,
and offers the only Wilderness Immersion (not just toe wetting)
program for teens around.
My 16 year old son would like to spend a few weeks canoeing or
kayaking this summer and we are looking for recommendations of
My daughter had a fantastic life-changing 4 weeks kayaking around southern Alaska with
NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) last summer. They learn so much more than just
kayaking. See www.nols.edu.
I am looking a weeklong, or longer, outdoor summer adventure
experience in CA for my 16 (17 year old in the summer) boy. I want him
to have an experience away from Oakland this summer, and experience a
different, healthy reality. He's gone white water rafting before and
Can anyone recommend a reputable program that is not over-the-top
If your son is not already a member of a local Boy Scout troop, I
would highly recommend it for anyone with a love of the outdoors and a
concern for the environment.
My son joined Boy Scouts as soon as he turned 11 (was not involved in
Cub Scouts) and it has been a wonderful experience all these years for
him. These are some of the activities he has been involved in:
monthly outdoor outings for hiking, camping, & bicycle trips -- to Bay
Area state parks and national recreation areas (Point Reyes, for
summer backpacking trips;
a week long trek to Florida for canoeing: http://www.bsaseabase.org/
a two week trek to New Mexico:
http://www.scouting.org/highadventure/philmont.aspx for hiking & camping;
summer camp at the Council boy scout camp in the Sierra;
and even a ''scout exchange'' trip to Japan for 3 weeks, where he
climbed to the top of Mt Fuji & stayed for a week with a host scout
His scout troop is also involved in many community service projects
throughout the year.
You can contact your local Boy Scouts of America council at:
General information can be found at http://www.scouting.org/
Last summer I also wanted my son to be outdoors for a week, so we
sent him to a one-week whitewater rafting class. He didn't know
anyone who was going and wasn't thrilled about it when I dropped him
off. But he had a great time, and when I picked him up at the end of
the week, he got goodbye hugs and cell number exhanges from a bunch
of kids. He was 15. The camp was: www.rarafting.com. It is not big,
and the owner is there the whole time and answered my questions
thoroughly in advance. I'd recommend it.
My daughter has had wonderful experiences with
Camp Chrysalis, an outdoor nature and
environmental education camp run by Lee Tempkin, a Berkeley teacher. He runs four camp
trips a year, geared to different ages and levels of ability. Supportive yet challenging, we love
the program for how it has engaged our daughter. Lee also keeps it very affordable, which is
City mother of outdoorsy girl
The best outdoor camp in the world is
Camp Unalayee, a non-profit
camp situated in the Trinity Alps. It is non-affilated and run with
wonderful care. The kids come back with a strong sense of self. It
is two weeks long and there is no cell phone coverage. It's very
good for the soul to be out in nature with minimum possetions. The
ratio is small and the food is wonderful. Of course, they may just
be hungry. The next session is mid-July to early August. First
session was cancelled -- so few people send their kids to outdoor
Here is the website:
PS If it's too expensive don't write it off -- there may be a way.
Hi - we're looking for a summer camp for our son, who'd
like to do the following: archery, target practice (I
know, this will send shudders throughout many households),
rock climbing, swimming, river rafting. Our son is a good
athlete and pretty outdoorsy, but not at all macho and not
highly competitive. He is not into arts and crafts. He's
been to a couple of camps (Ravencliff, Tawonga, Newman)
and has enjoyed himself, but no camp experience has seemed
worth repeating to him. He does not need a lot of
exposure to nature, does not need a ''Touch the Earth''
or ''Sarah's Science'' kind of place - He's thirteen, a very
smart cookie, makes friends easily, and is happy to go
away from home for a few weeks if it's the right kind of
camp. Perhaps Boy Scouts? We have no experience with a
scouts camp, although he was a scout many years ago.
We're open to places around state, not just in the Bay
Thanks for your ideas
My sons have both enjoyed
Mountain Camp in the Sierras,
www.mountaincamp.com. They might not have every activity
that your son is looking for, but they have archery, all
kinds of water activities and sports (they're on a lake) and
mountain biking. My kids also like the fact that you get to
choose your activities, so if you're not an arts and crafts
person, you don't have to do that. It's basically a good,
old-fashioned, outdoor-oriented co-ed summer camp.
Another program that might appeal to your son is
Treks. They offer outdoor adventures for teens, with an
emphasis on community and outdoor skills. The kids
backpack, river raft, climb mountains and do all kinds of
cool stuff for 2-3 weeks. It's expensive, but it's
exceptionally well-run, and the kids have a real sense of
accomplishment at the end.
If he's looking for local day camp activities and is really
into archery, I recommend the
Shake, Rattle & Roll camp (I
have no idea why it has that name) offered by Oakland Parks
& Rec. It's for ages 12-15. The kids make their own bows
and arrows, and learn a lot about outdoor survival skills.
Mom of Boys
My rec for Bar 717 www.bar717.com is in the archives, so I
won't say much other than check it. Has archery, swimming,
and serious hiking, but not the other activities you mentioned.
happy Bar 717 parent
You might want to check out the co-ed overnight camp
called Mountain Camp
in the Sierras. www.mountaincamp.com.
Both my sons have gone there and will go again this year.
One goes for 2 weeks; the younger for one. Last year they
just started letting kids combine sessions to make 3 and 4
week stays, but few did it during my kids sessions. They
don't have river rafting, but have sailing, water skiing,
canoeing and other water sports. They have a ton of
activities too numerous to list both outdoors and indoors.
We have known kids that have attended this camp over the
last 15 years from all over the bay area. It is always
recommended. Feel free to contact me if you have
questions. If you decide to go there please use my name as
a reference. Thanks.
I have two sons ages 14 and 15. My 14 year old loves
Mountain Meadow Ranch
in Susanville, CA. He will go back
next year. The other loves
Catalina Sea Camp where he got
Scuba certified . We too have gone through many camps but
these two were exceptional. Feel free to contact me.
Try Schaeffer's High Sierra Camp just north of Lake Tahoe
with all the activities you mentioned. Great counselors
and one, two and three week options.
I'm looking for a great sleep away camp (preferably in
California) for 2 middleschool boys entering 8th grade in
the fall. Both are very popular at school, seem to just
like to hang out and socialize, not really into sports,
(more into the creative arts) and aren't too thrilled
about the idea of going to a sleep away camp. However, we
think it would be really good for them and that they would
have a great time!
(Editor Note: click on the camps below to read the full reviews)
My children go to a great summer camp called Habonim Dror
Camp Gilboa ...
I highly recommend Camp Tulequoia in the Sierra's.
Both the Youth and the older Teen camp's are excellent. ...
You may want to look into Mountain Camp
in the Sierras SW
of Lake Tahoe. www.mountaincamp.com Our 13 year old went
last year for two weeks and loved it....
I highly recommend Bar 717 Ranch www.Bar717.com. It's
a sleepover camp in the Trinity Alps of Northern
I have a son who has just turned 14 yrs old, and is in 8th
grade. He is totally addicted to computer games and other
screen forms of entertainment (TV, gameboy, etc.) and is
not doing very well in school,(says it is very boring). I
would like to find a summer program or camp where he could
learn good values,discipline and get support and help with
anger management, caring about his school work, and learn
to appreciate and get involved in outdoor activities and/
or sports. We live in Berkeley and I am only interested in
residential programs that are in Northern California, or
non-residential programs in the East Bay.
I recommend Camp Winnarainbow for your son.
Despite its slightly goofy name,
this is an amazing, life changing camp,
at which teen campers, especially,
get a large amount of self-determination
about their activities
(of course there are no electronic devices around),
and the main goal, though not overtly stated,
is to help kids become good, caring people,
in the context of having fun.
(See Camp Winnarainbow for
the rest of this review).
I would like to find a summer experience for my high
school sophomore daughter that would help develop her in a
number of ways. Top 2 are self reliance and larger
perspective outside of the high school ''fitting in''
microcosm. She's a good student and makes friends easily
but I think she needs to develop her self confidence and
get a stronger sense of who she is. Some experiences with
boys are giving me cause for concern. Her interests
include animals, esp.horses/ veterinary work (she has
volunteered for a vet), and adults or children with
disabilities and musical theater. I am open to many
possibilities. I have looked at girl scout destinations -
national or international trips or camp counseling. I
question whether having an away from home experience might
foster this as opposed to having another summer of
volunteering at the vet and a school for adults with
disabilities. I already know these resources.
Perhaps I ask a tall order, but as a community many of you
have probably grappled with the same concerns and have had
some experiences to share.
My daughter (15 at the time) spent 2 weeks last summer at the Eagle
Arts Academy on Vancouver Island. (www.eaglearts.ca) She met young people
from all around the world, and enjoyed structured arts experiences,
beautiful scenery, and real international travel. In my experience, going away
to a safe, well-structured environment is a great - and necessary - growth
experience for a teenaged young lady.
I don't have a specific resource to share, but I would like
to encourage you to allow your daughter the most expansive
experience that passes your gut test. Last summer I sent my
almosts 15 year old daughter, who had just finished 9th
grade, to spend 6 weeks with relatives in Africa. Sounds
drastic, but I know the place well and the relatives, and
the flight was the scariest part. I had this strong feeling
that she was ready for a new level of challenge and
maturity, and that she wasn't getting it at home or school.
I feared that if not challenged, she would just turn that
energy into something negative -- rebelling against her
parents or indulging in the scary things that ''bored''
teenagers do. I am happy to say that she had a wonderful,
world-view broadening experience, and came home more mature
and balanced, as I had hoped. At her relatives, she was the
adored older cousin of four young ones, and treated like an
honorary adult by the parents. She also volunteered at an
orphanage, and saw real hardship and poverty that put Bay
Area life into much broader perspective. It doesn't have to
be overseas -- but some time away from home might do her a
world of good in the way you are hoping.
Best of luck,
Summer Camp may be your best bet!
Given that your daughter really likes animals, Plantation
may be just the place.
I have not been to this camp personally, but it is highly
recommended by my very own summer camp friends and is where
they send their kids. (our camp, Camp Beaverbrook, closed
in 1985, so it was not an option)
Since our camp was so amazing and produced such an
incredible experience, we are all quite particular when it
comes to recommendations such as this.
Another choice by former Beaverbrook kids is Copper Creek.
Sounds like the SASS program would be perfect for your
daughter. It is a partnership between the amazing folks at
Julia Morgan School for Girls and Mills College. Check out
their website: www.summerartscienceservice.org
It is ''a unique residential summer program for high school
girls (entering 10th and 11th grade) located on Mills
College campus. The program is designed to promote a young
womans sense of purpose and make a difference in the world.
The hands-on, project-based curriculum integrates art,
science and service learning around the theme of nature and
understanding one's place in the web of life.''
Summer 2007 Sessions
Session One: June 17-30
Session Two: July 1-14
Contact: Kristen Brookes, Director of SASS
Julia Morgan School for Girls
Does anyone know of a good summer 1-2 week program in the US for teens,
involving outdoor wildernness adventure/skills/training--eg
backpacking, hiking, ocean, kayaking, whitewater, etc.? There are so many programs;
it's hard to know which are quality and safe. We're looking for outdoor
adventure/skills, but not dangerous, good supervision, for two competent boys
ages 14&15. Thank you!
I'd recommend Lifeschool. My then 15 year old son went
last summer on a hike on the Lost Coast and had a great
time. It also included a white water raft trip. He didn't
even know anyone to begin with. They offer lots of
different levels and locations. see their website
I'm looking for a 3-to-4-week outdoor adventure for my 14
year old daughter this summer. I have explored Outward
Bound but would like some suggestions from parents who
have had good experiences with other outfits. There are
many listed on the web, but I would like a more personal
My son, now 15, has done Teen Quests through Camp Tawonga
for the last three summers. These are trips for groups of
10-12 kids, with three counsellors, to places like the
Pacific Northwest, Canada, the Southwest and Southern
California. There is a lot of hiking, some backpacking and,
depending on the trip, whitewater rafting, rockclimbing, or
kayaking. Most important, these trips foster community and
responsibility. The staff works hard to create a community
in the group, keeping cliques from forming and making
everyone accountable to everyone else. The kids set up
camp, shop, cook, clean -- everything. Our son has come back
each year happy (and filthy), with new confidence, skills
and friends. It has been a wonderful part of his growing up.
Tawonga is a Jewish Camp, but kids do not have to be Jewish
to go either to the Camp or on the Teen Quests. The trips
do have some Jewish ritual incorporated, like making kosher
meals and celebrating Shabbat. But it is pretty low key,
especially since not all the kids and/or counsellors are
Jewish. We are culturally Jewish but non-practicing, and
basically atheist. The ritual part of Tawonga was no
problem for us.
Check out www.Tawonga.org
Big Tawonga Fan
this page was last updated: Nov 2, 2014
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network