Where to send the kids this summer?

Western North Carolina's abundant summer camps are keeping up with the techie times. Some offer up-to-the-minute instruction in rocketry, robotics, Web design and music production, among other lucrative subjects. But an even stronger trend cresting the ranks of day and overnight programs is the summer adventure camp that emphasizes fresh-air fitness — and takes natural advantage of the area's scenic wonders. Think whitewater rafting, cliff-side rappelling and primitive camping, blanketed with an ever-increasing level of environmental stewardship.

Photo courtesy YMCA

Don't see your organization's camp listed in the 2010 guide? Please post it below. And we advise parents to move quickly, as many camps are filling fast!

Nature, Adventure, Health and Science

Asheville Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts administers an ambitious series of programs aimed at rising firstst graders through 12th graders, including traditional day camps, a Teen Leadership Program, therapeutic sessions for kids with cognitive or developmental delays, a skateboarding camp and a theater camp. An Outdoor Adventure Camp series will highlight nature exploration for all ages, peaking with the Teen Canoe Camp, an overnight odyssey for older kids with primitive camping and a 25-mile canoe trip down the New River in northern N.C. Programs run June 14 through Aug. 20; rates vary. For more information, contact Amy Pruett Rickman at (828) 251-4080 or e-mail arickman@ashevillenc.gov.

A free overnight camp sponsored by UNCA, the irresistibly named Bug Camp (for rising sixth- through rising eighth-graders) happens in two sessions spanning June 20-25 and June 27 through July 2. "Activities include collecting, field trips, identifying, curating and experimenting with insects to investigate biological principles," according to a press statement. Enrollment, contingent on reference from a teacher, is limited to 20 students per session. See facstaff.unca.edu/tforrest/BugCamp.htm for registration forms, or call (828) 232-5150.

Photo courtesy Odyssey Community School

One place, one name, myriad experiences for both genders: Long-established Camp Pinnacle in Hendersonville – once a girls' camp that now also offers full sessions for boys — has such a stocked menu of outdoor activities that they're actually divided into two main categories: Land Sports and Water Sports. A classic overnight camp augmented by "adventure treks" that teach leave-no-trace wilderness ethics, Pinnacle is geared for kids 6-15 in sessions lasting 1-4 weeks. Girls' camp runs June 6 through July 3 and boys' camp runs July 11-Aug. 7. http://www.camppinnacle.com

The local Girl Scout camp is open to the public; all girls entering grades K-12 are welcome. Camp Pisgah for Girls in Brevard, with day-camp and overnight programs, is ACA-accredited and features a yurt option (so Asheville). For the full lowdown, see http://www.girlscoutsp2p.org or call (828) 252-4442.

From deep inside the earth to way up in space, The Colburn Earth Science Museum at Pack Place has the geosciences covered for preschoolers through rising fifth-graders. In a variety of week-long sessions running July 5 through Aug. 13, participants will hunt rocks, unearth fossils and discover first-hand "where the wild things" lurk in WNC. There's even a girls-only "Science Sisters" camp July 19-23. Find a brochure for this popular day-camp series at http://www.colburnmuseum.org or call (828) 254-7162.

Photo courtesy The Health Adventure

The Health Adventure is a kid-oriented health-and-science museum that offers learning programs year-round. In addition to its regular schedule, the 40-year-old downtown institution – soon to move to Montford – also hosts a seven-week Discover Science Summer Camp series June 21 through Aug. 6, for rising first- through rising eighth-graders. This year's high-energy themes include "The Science of Superheroes," "Sounds Like Fun" (in which kids can play echolocation) and "Family Robotics Workshop," where parents join in the action. Info and registration at http://www.thehealthadventure.org or (828) 254-6373, ext. 316. (Spaces fill up quickly.)

Discovery Camp at the North Carolina Arboretum offers a wealth of nature-intensive day camps as varied as the vast expanse of biodiversity they explore. Programs – including "Curious Critters," "Gone Buggy," "Advanced Citizen Science," "Eco Challenge" and "River Trek" — run June 7 through Aug. 15. Summer activities are geared for preschoolers through 8th graders. For full info, visit http://www.ncarboretum.org/education/discovery-camp or call (828) 665-2492.

Photo courtesy Camp Ruach

Appalachia School of Holistic Herbalism offers an Earth Sprouts! Summer Camp July 26-30 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. "Soulflower Botanical Sanctuary" teaches kids about medicinal plants, farm animals and healing with herbs in a setting that cultivates a love of nature. Each child receives a botanically correct wildflower coloring book and makes an herbal first-aid kit to bring home. Call (828) 350-1221 or e-mail info@herbsheal.com.

An aquatic adventure awaits rising third- through rising eighth-graders who attend RiverLink's French Broad Summer River Camps, a series of week-long day programs running June 14 through July 16. Environmental education and service learning (including river clean-up and interpretive nature walks) are emphasized in this reasonably priced adventure, but there's plenty of water recreation, too. For more information, e-mail Becca Childress at education@riverlink.org or call (828) 252-8474.

Twin camps Green Cove and Mondamin, in lush Tuxedo, N.C., are geared respectively for boys and girls 6-17. Noncompetitive mountain sports are the standout here, among them kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking and extended wilderness excursions. Sailing and horseback riding are options, too, rounding out an eclectic experience that draws campers from all 50 states and even from other countries. Sessions run May 29 through Aug. 15. http://www.mondamin.com and http://www.greencove.com

Photo courtesy N.C. Arboretum

Green River Preserve, a pristinely situated, conservation-minded residential camp in breathtaking Cedar Mountain (south of Brevard), assures parents that no kid leaves here with a "nature-deficit disorder." Immersion in — and respect of — the outdoors is paramount, with 1-, 2- and 3-week sessions designed for rising second- through rising 12th-graders. Highlights include noncompetitive instruction in canoeing, rock climbing and fly-fishing. Gardening, pottery and creative writing are other popular activities. Camps run early June through early August, plus a three-day Family Camp held Labor Day weekend. At press time, sessions were filling up fast. http://www.greenriverpreserve.org

An outgrowth of Black Mountain-based residential camps Merri-Mac and Timberlake, local Black Mountain Expeditions has taken teens to the literal ends of the earth in search of the ultimate hiking challenge. French Alps, anyone? Or how about topping a summit in the Bolivian Andes? This year's series of treks run June 12 through Aug. 6. Sequoia National Park is in view, as well as the N.C. High Country, Wyoming's Wind River Range and the Everglades. See http://www.blackmountainexpeditions.com or call (828) 669-8766.

Another well-seasoned local camp, Brevard's Rockbrook Camp for Girls goes back so far it even boasts fourth-generation attendees. Open to girls 6-16, Rockbrook is a traditional overnight camp whose 3-week sessions run June 6 through Aug. 12. Rafting, rock climbing, equestrian endeavors, visual art and theater comprise the short list of activities. For full info: http://www.rockbrookcamp.com

A division of USA Raft, Mountain Adventure Guides sponsors a series of 6-day and 12-day overnight Summer Adventure Camps June 13 through Aug. 6, for kids ages 12-17. MAG camps feature rugged outdoor excursions in a wilderness area straddling the N.C./Tenn. border, including caving, rafting, advanced hiking and outdoor cooking. No cabins here: The young adventurers are expected to make their beds under the stars every night. Gear is included in tuition, and a good attitude must be packed along with bug spray. The program's motto says it all: "We put the camping back in camp." See http://www.mtnadventureguides.com or call (866) 813-5210.

Photo courtesy Asheville Art Museum

The Swannanoa 4-H Center was the first 4-H camp in the state and does the mountains proud with a comprehensive series of day and residential camps running 3, 6 and 10 days for kids ages 4-16. Specialty programs abound for those kids who want to pursue a particular skill (e.g. rock climbing, mountain biking, white water rafting or caving). A special week for children of military families is offered free of charge. But the menu also includes lots of all-around traditional fun. Prices vary based on length of camp and interests. Some sessions were already full at press time; check http://www.swan4h.com for updates or call 828-686-3196.

Other camps sponsored by UNCA include the free Spring Into Wellness program June 13-19, an overnight health-careers-themed camp for rising eighth- and ninth-graders co-administered by Mission Hospitals and MAHEC (e-mail Tracie Pouliot at tpouliot@unca.edu, or call (828) 251-6991); a series of day and overnight Volleyball Camps for kids 14-18, held June 11 through Aug. 4 (contact Julie Torbett at jtorbett@unca.edu, (828) 232-5659); and Smoky Mountain Running Camps for those entering ninth grade and above, held July 11-16, July 18-23 and July 25-30 (www.unca.edu/oaci/sumYouth/sumYouth.html).

Wild Weeks Summer Camp at the Western North Carolina Nature Center is, well, wildly popular. This comprehensive series of day camps, designed for kids from age 2 through ninth-graders, comes in week-long segments including "Pioneer Living," where pre-teens will barter for goods and make cheese from scratch; "Staying Found," i.e., how not to get lost in the woods; "Earth, Water and Sky," an eclectic nature-immersion program including on-site river exploration; and "ATBI (All Taxa Biodiversity Index)" Camp, a challenging, hands-on program for serious future naturalists, led by state scientists. (Most programs, including the Pee-Wee Camp for preschoolers, emphasize some interaction with the Nature Center's resident animals.) Wild Weeks runs June 2 through Aug. 6. www.wildwnc.org

Photo courtesy Carolina Day School

Arts and Academics


Asheville Arts Center, now in two locations, nurtures budding performers year-round, and that means two full months – June 14 to Aug. 13 – of high-wattage summer programs for infants through high-schoolers. Expect everything from the coveted "Rock Band Camp" for teens to a "Tinkerbell's Fairyland" camp for the preschool set. The returning "Asheville Idol" series (for kids 8 and up) is sure to stay a hit; also new for 2010 is a full stage production of Beauty and the Beast, Jr. (ages 8 and up) and Aladdin Kids! (ages 4-7). A varied menu of musical theater, including "Best of Broadway Camp," "Irish Dance Camp" and "Triple Threat Camp," is available — but the full list is extensive, so see http://www.ashevilleartscenter.com for dates, rates and the whole lowdown.

Asheville Art Museum offers morning, afternoon and all-day programs for rising kindergartners through rising 12th-graders, presented in a true studio environment in the museum's spacious WNC Art Resource Center. Kids might learn printmaking, cartooning and 3-D art – for a start. Classes include regular visits to AAM's various galleries. This popular program fills up fast. Info at (828) 253-3227, ext. 122, or e-mail Sharon McRorie at smcrorie@ashevilleart.org.

Carolina Day School presents a series of public, week-long day camps for pre-kindergartners through rising 12th-graders, divided by age group into "Quests," "Explorations" and "Workshops." Activities are definitely on the cutting-edge side of creative: Consider everything from junior engineering to candy making, fashion to ecology, Web design to stage combat. Swimming and outdoor mountain fun are also a big part of the mix. June 14 through July 30. http://www.cdschool.org

Budding authors can hone their style at a series of Creative Summer Camps for Young Writers held at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Site downtown and enhanced this year by an alliance with Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center. Special guests will include cartoonist Jeff Kinzel and local star children's author/poet Allan Wolf. Day programs begin June 14 and are held in small groups for rising fourth- through rising 10th-graders. Completing their experience, students will share their work at a public reading. Camp is led by a local published author who holds an MFA in Creative Writing. See http://www.true-ink.com or call Janet Hurley at (828) 215-9002. Spaces are limited.

Flat Rock Playhouse, The State Theatre of North Carolina, hosts a comprehensive selection of summer-long programs in acting and stagecraft — check out "Clown Skills" and "Aesop's Fables Camp" – through their YouTheatre division, a four-decade-old institution. Morning and day camps are intended for kindergartners through rising ninth graders, and a technical-theater mentoring program is offered for rising ninth- through rising 12th-graders (a chance for students to work alongside FRP pros). Check http://www.flatrockplayhouse.org for full postings on this year's themes, dates and rates. (Tuition assistance for qualifying families is available.)

Photo courtesy WNC Nature Center

Green-minded Gwynn Valley in Brevard gets kids down to earth with an assortment of overnight (1-3 weeks) and day-long programs geared strongly toward traditional crafts and survival skills. Basketry, gourd sculpture, tie-dying, leatherwork and candle making are among the artsy offerings. Older kids get to try wilderness training. And all attendees help out on the farm, a vital part of the Gwynn Valley experience (70 percent of the camp's food is grown on-site). Sessions, running June 11 through Aug. 15, are for kids who've finished kindergarten through eighth grade. Info at (828) 885-2900 or at http://www.gwynnvalley.com.

Offering a unique day-camp experience that includes up-close-and-personal immersion in the most fascinating eras of the past, Smith-McDowell House Museum will host a Hands-On History camp July 26-30 for rising second- through rising fifth-graders. Camp runs Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (828) 253-9231 or e-mail Lisa Whitfield at education@wnchistory.org for registration information.

John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, N.C., isn't just a great place for adults to find their roots. Their summer kids' programs, the Little Folk School (for rising second- through rising sixth-graders) and Middle Folk School (rising seventh- through rising 12th-graders), aim to teach the next generation about Appalachian culture. Nearly 30 classes in dance and craft are traditionally offered, running sometime in June. Find updates and details at http://www.folkschool.org, or call (800) FOLK-SCH to get on the mailing list.

Rainbow Mountain Children's School in West Asheville administers an outside-the-box series of week-long day camps for rising first- through rising eighth-graders, including a nature-awareness program using Native American storytelling techniques, a Greek Mythology week, and camps exploring faeries, Qigong, modern art, vintage dance and algebra (though not necessarily in that order). And that's just the short list. The fun runs June 7 through Aug. 6, open to RMCS students and non-students alike. E-mail info@rmcs.org or call (828) 258-9264.

Roots + Wings School of Art, a new institution for preschoolers, families and adults based at the Cathedral of All Souls at Biltmore Village, will offer three-day art-exploration camps for kids 3-12. Sessions run June 21 through July 28 and include instruction in clay, drawing, painting, collage, printmaking and 3-D art. The school was founded by River District artist Ginger Huebner. Classes tend to fill up fast, so call soon: (828) 545-4827 or e-mail info@rootsandwingsarts.com

Transylvania Community Arts Council will host a flexible, affordable Summer Art Camp June 14-18 at the Transylvania Community Arts Center in Brevard, offered mornings or afternoons for kids 5-12. Visual art, pottery, dance and music will all be explored. Snack included. See http://tcarts.org or call (828) 884-2787 for registration info.

The Appalachian Institute of Creative Learning is psyched to announce the offerings available at this year's Summer Enrichment Camp, held at scenic Warren Wilson College for two weeks: July 18-24 and July 25-31. Rising third- through rising 12th-graders are invited to attend either day-camp or overnight sessions. Arts and academics are highlighted. See http://www.appalachianinstitute.org or call (800) 951-7442.

The First Stage Youth Theatre of Madison County presents its Summer Workshop Camp for area kids 8-18. The series of week-long programs — "by kids and for kids" — culminates in a production and after-play picnic. Workshops run in June and July and emphasize "the skills of discipline, concentration and teamwork so prominent in the theater and in real life." See http://www.firststageyouththeatre.com for details.

Tanglewood Youth Theatre, a division of Asheville Community Theatre, hosts many youth-oriented theater programs each year, including its well-known Tanglewood Summer Camp, which boasts a health-and-wellness motif for 2010: "Healthy Play, Healthy Kids." Themes of music and movement will be high on the marquee, as well as set design and improvisation. Tanglewood is a day camp that runs in 2-week-long sessions July 19 through Aug. 13, targeted to kids ages 5-17; each series is capped with a performance on ACT's Main Stage. See http://www.ashevilletheatre.org or contact Camp Director Janna Hoekema at summercamp@ashevilletheatre.org. (Camp-information sessions will be held from 4-6 p.m. on March 26 and June 4.)

Traditional and Spiritual

Camp Celo is a scenic, noncompetitive overnight camp near Burnsville that's operated for more than 50 years. Though not overtly religious in its mission, the program seeks to teach boys and girls the Quaker values of nonviolence, simplicity and environmental awareness. The arts, including performance and traditional crafts, are a major element of the experience, as is animal stewardship and enjoying the nearby South Toe River. Sessions (June 13 through Aug. 14) are designed for kids ages 7-12. A low counselor-to-camper ratio is a hallmark of Camp Celo. http://www.campcelo.com

Camp Hollymont on Lake Eden in Black Mountain is a Christian residential camp for girls 6-15. An expansive list of activities includes sign language, digital photography, modeling, rock climbing, creative writing, and whitewater rafting. Program options include 1, 2 and 3-week sessions, June 13 through Aug. 6. http://www.hollymont.com

Traditional overnight camps that emphasize visual arts, music, sports and high-octane wilderness adventure in a nondenominational Christian atmosphere, Camp Merri-Mac for girls 6-16 (http://www.merri-mac.com) and Camp Timberlake for boys 7-16 (http://www.camptimberlake.com) also boast low camper-to-counselor ratios and special father-son/mother-daughter weekends. Sessions run June to August in programs ranging from 1-5 weeks. Both camps are located in Black Mountain; registration is available online.

Camp Rockmont, a Christian residential camp for boys in Black Mountain, is better known locally as the site of the biannual Lake Eden Arts Festival. Like the festival, the camp draws kids from all over. A gorgeous setting is one hallmark, as is an ambitious roster of activities that includes disc golf, storytelling and rocketry. Sessions include day-camp options; the overnight programs run six days to a month, June 6 through Aug. 6, for boys 6-16. http://www.rockmont.com

The Jewish Community Center's 5-star-rated Camp Ruach (Hebrew for "spirit") combines traditional day-camp activities for boys and girls with cooking, gardening, Israeli dance and instruction in Jewish values and concepts — including environmental stewardship and charitable deeds. The two-week sessions, designed for rising first through rising eighth graders, begin June 21 and go through Aug. 13; there's also a one-week "Mini Camp" Aug. 16-20. Field trips take advantage of the area's scenic beauty. See http://www.jcc-asheville.org for information on a counselor-in-training program for rising ninth- and 10th-graders, and for more details on camp.

Camp Ton-a-Wandah for girls is located in a cozy cove in Flat Rock, also home to the Flat Rock Music Festival. Camp runs June 6 through Aug. 6 in 2- and 3-week residential sessions, for girls ages 6-16. The curriculum is particularly eclectic, including rappelling, field trips to Biltmore Estate and the equestrian arts. Find full info at http://www.camptonawandah.com.

Pretty Camp Wayfarer, a Christian overnight camp for boys and girls in Flat Rock, offers the typical summer-camp experience, including classes in such wide-ranging subjects as "pioneering" and puppetry – plus an emphasis on confidence building. One- and 2-week mini sessions are available for kids as young as kindergarten age, while main camp (for first- through 10th-graders) runs for six weeks, June 20 through July 29. http://www.campwayfarer.com.

Boasting one of the most affordable — and popular – day-camp programs in the area, the 188-acre, 5-star Eliada Summer Camp offers field trips, golfing, horseback riding, confidence-building exercises, mini-biking and swimming in a heated pool. Activities are geared for kids 5-12. The related Eliada Summer Sports Academy, for kids ages 8-12, features focused instruction in lacrosse, basketball, baseball, soccer, and more. See http://www.eliada.org, or call Denise West at (828) 254-5356, ext. 224, to check out summer dates and rates for Summer Camp. E-mail jcarnivale@eliada.org for Sports Academy info. But be quick; registration is already in process.

High Flight Gymnastics' Summer Day Camp for kids 5-13 naturally emphasizes fun physical activity. But storytelling, swimming, field trips, art and "games designed to teach emotional awareness, leadership and life skills" are embedded in the adventure. Camp runs 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and includes an afternoon snack. Special "counselor in training" positions are open for teens 14-16. See http://www.highflightgym.com for dates and rates, or call (828) 252-8746.

In its 10-week day-camp program running June 7 through Aug. 13, Odyssey Community School in Montford promises "sheer fun and relaxation" along with soccer, ultimate frisbee, daily swim, and tennis lessons led by Brad Lawrence (who's coached such stars as Andy Roddick and Venus and Serena Williams). A traditional arts-and-crafts program is distinguished by such unique offerings as didgeridoo-making and playing. Sessions are divided into three age groups (5-6, 7-9, and 10-13), and campers may attend as many sessions as they wish. Hours are 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., and before- and after-camp care is available. New half-day camps for teens were added just before press time. For rates and more information, call (828) 259-3653 or e-mail office@odysseycommunity.org.

Emmanuel Lutheran School in Asheville has all the cultural bases covered with its Summer Rocks! 2010 series of day camps running June 14 through Aug. 13. The long, varied list of programs, held on the school's 8-acre campus, are targeted for rising kindergarteners through rising 6th graders. Highlights include gymnastics, Tae Kwon Do, a Cooking With Kids week and Survivor Week. For older campers, a two-week drama series will culminate with a performance of You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown on Asheville Community Theatre's Main Stage. For details on auditions for the play or for general camp information, see http://www.emmanuellutheranschool.org or call (828) 281-8182.

Waynesville Parks and Recreation will offer its third annual Summer Camp, a series of week-long day camps that run June 14 through Aug. 18 for rising first- through rising sixth-graders. Lots of outdoor sports and educational field trips are highlighted. For rates and registration info, call (828) 456-2030 or e-mail recyouth@townofwaynesville.org.

YMCA of Western North Carolina facilitates a comprehensive selection of day-camp programs for kids of all ages running June through August. Y camps are held at locations across the area, including Y branches, and central pick-up and drop-off locations are available for parents' convenience. Theme programs, including sports, and environmental awareness are emphasized. Offerings include the Iddy Biddy Sports Camp, Flat Football Camp, both Mild and Wild Adventure camps, Leaders-in-Training Camp and many more. Around for more than 100 years, Y camps are always coveted, so don't delay in checking out http://www.ymcawnc.org and (828) 210-YMCA for registration info, early-bird specials and info on financial assistance.

A highlight of the YWCA Summer Day Camp, for kindergartners through 12-year-olds, is working in the facility's Urban Garden – not to mention swimming in its state-of-the-art, solar-heated pool. Field trips, weekly themes, art and music are also emphasized. Programs, beginning June 14 and ending in August, run 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (or 6 p.m. for an additional fee) and include gardening, science, dance, fitness and other culturally enriching classes. Call CiCi Weston at (828) 254-7206, ext. 111, or e-mail her at cici.weston@ywcaofasheville.org.

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2 thoughts on “Where to send the kids this summer?

  1. Tammy Brackett

    The Playroom Academy of Music in Fort Mill SC offers an innovative summer program including The Songs of Guitar Hero, Strawberry Fields Forever (The music of The Beatles) Live Production Basics, We Got the Beat (Record a Demo) and so much more. Lessons are taught by professional award winning musicians. Please call 803-802-6683 for more information or visit http://theplayroomacademy.com

  2. Brandi Hand

    Movers and Shakers!
    Asheville Contemporary Dance Theater’s
    Summer Hip Hop & Jazz Dance Camp
    For Girls Ages 7 – 12

    Is your child a Mover and a Shaker?
    Then she will love our summer camp!

    Under the direction of Brandi Hand

    Two 5-day Sessions
    Camp 1: June 28 – July 2, 2010
    Camp 2: July 12 – July 16, 2010
    9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
    20 Commerce Street, Downtown Asheville

    • Hip Hop Dance Instruction
    • Jazz Dance Instruction
    • Jazz Technique
    • Self-expression through improvisational movement and theater
    • Art activities
    Register now – space is limited!

    Brandi Hand has 15 years teaching experience. She has extensive performance and choreography experience, including coaching and choreographing for the NFL New Orleans Saints’ dance team, the Saintsations. Brandi is also available for private lessons.

    Questions? Call 707-4178 or e-mail brandihand@gmail.com

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