Summery summary

Photo courtesy of the N.C. Arboretum Discovery Camp

Western North Carolina’s many summer camps are keeping up with the techie times. Some offer up-to-the-minute instruction in rocketry, robotics, ecology, Web design and music production, among other exciting subjects. Delve into the science of summer!

Nature, Adventure, Health and Science

Appalachia School of Holistic Herbalism offers an Earth Sprouts! Summer Camp August 1-5 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 350-1221 or e-mail

Asheville Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts administers an ambitious series of programs aimed at rising first-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. 11; rates vary. For more information, contact Amy Pruett Rickman at 251-4080 or e-mail

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 11 through July 16. Sequoia National Park is in view, as well as the N.C. High Country. See or call 669-8766.

From deep inside the earth to way up in space, The Colburn Earth Science Museum has the sciences covered for preschoolers through rising fifth-graders. In a variety of weeklong sessions running June 27 through Aug. 5, participants mine for shining gemstones, dig for real fossils, blast off into outer space and explore our home planet through experiments, activities, crafts and games. Find a brochure for this popular day-camp series at or call 254-7162.

The Health Adventure’s extremely popular Discover Science Summer Camp series runs June 13 through Aug. 5, for rising first- through rising eighth-graders. This year's high-energy themes include "Far Out Science” (exploring the great beyond), "Around the World” (in which kids “journey to all seven continents”) and “Bodyology,” (where kids look inward to discover the science of the human body). Info and registration at or 254-6373, ext. 316. (Spaces fill up quickly.)

Discovery Camp at the North Carolina Arboretum offers a bounty of nature-intensive day camps as varied as the vast expanse of biodiversity they explore. Programs — including “Curious Critters,” “Gone Buggy,” “Feathers, Fur and Scales,” “Boots, Pedals and Wheels,” “Eco Challenge” and “Leadership Adventure Camp”— start June 6 and run through late August. Summer activities are geared for preschoolers through high schoolers. For full info, visit or call 665-2492.

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 or call 252-4442.

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. (Older kids get a chance to travel to the Outer Banks.) Naturalist “mentors” lead campers in wilderness exploration, and afternoon art might include pottery, drama or creative writing. Camps run June 4 through Aug. 6, plus a four-day Family Camp held Labor Day weekend. At press time, sessions were filling up fast.

A division of USA Raft, Mountain Adventure Guides sponsors a series of 12-day and 18-day overnight Summer Adventure Camps June 26 through Aug. 4, for kids ages 12-17. Counselor/camper ratio is small and expectations are high. 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 or call 866-813-5210.

Twin camps Mondamin and Green Cove, in lush Tuxedo, N.C., are geared respectively for boys and girls 6-17. Mountain sports are the standout here, among them kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking and extended wilderness excursions. Canoeing and horseback riding are options, too, rounding out an eclectic experience that draws campers from all 50 states and even from other countries. A wealth of sessions are offered, including a new August opportunity, all beginning May 29. (Mondamin was named one of the country’s top-five summer camps by Outside magazine!) and

An aquatic adventure awaits rising third- through rising eighth-graders who attend RiverLink's French Broad Summer River Camps. The first session runs June 13-17 (third- through fifth-graders); the second session runs June 20-24 (sixth-through eighth-graders). 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 or call 252-8474.

Another well-seasoned local camp, Brevard’s Rockbrook Camp for Girls goes back so far it even boasts fourth-generation attendees. And yet the curriculum is definitely of the moment. Open to girls 6-16, Rockbrook is a traditional overnight camp whose 3-week sessions run June 5 through Aug. 11. Swimming, tennis, equestrian endeavors, yoga, journalism, visual art and musical theater comprise the short list of activities. For full info:

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 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 for updates or call 828-686-3196.

Terra Summer is an experiential, interdisciplinary summer day camp for children 11-14 located on an organic farm in Mills River, 20 minutes south of downtown Asheville. The program revolves entirely around the magical worlds of food, cooking and farming. What is the story behind what we eat? What is the importance of those choices? Campers learn elements of science, history, geography and other academic topics while exploring important environmental, economic and social justice issues related to food. Three sessions are scheduled for 2011. The first starts on June 13. Full and partial scholarships are available, as is transportation. Please visit for more information about each session, or call Sybil Fix at 782-7842.

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 20-24 and June 27 through July 1 The program uses insects to inspire creative thinking through hands on, interactive, discovery based learning. Activities include collecting field trips, identifying, curating and experimenting with insects to investigate biological principles. Enrollment, contingent on reference from a teacher, is limited to 20 students per session. See for registration forms, or call 232-5150.

Other camps sponsored by UNCA include a series of day and overnight Volleyball Camps for kids 10-18, held July 11-16 (contact Julie Torbett at, 232-5659); and Smoky Mountain Running Camps for those entering ninth grade and above, held July 10-15, July 17-22 and July 24-29. (

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 weeklong 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; “Rhythms of the Earth,” a new, highly experiential camp this year, focused on the patterns and cycles of nature; and “Forest of Lilliput,” another new camp, invites campers to “discover of the Appalachian forest.” (Most programs, including the Pee-Wee Camp for preschoolers, emphasize some interaction with the Nature Center's resident animals.) Wild Weeks runs June 1 through Aug. 5.

Arts and Academics

Enrollment is open for Appalachian Institute of Creative Learning’s Summer Enrichment Camp, held at scenic Warren Wilson College in two weeklong sessions: July 17-23 and July 24-30. Rising third- through rising 12th-graders are invited to attend either day camp or overnight sessions. Arts and academics are highlighted. See or call (800) 951-7442.

Asheville Arts Center nurtures budding performers year-round, and that means two full months — June 13 to Aug. 12 — of “music, drama, dance and life!” Kids ages 3 and up can expect everything from Irish dance to the circus of fun and performance that is “Under the Big Top.” The returning "Asheville Idol" series (for kids 8 and up) is sure to stay a hit. A varied menu of musical theater, including “Gleeeeee Camp,” “Superheroes to the Rescue” and “The Little Mermaid,” is available — but the full list is extensive, so see for dates, rates and the whole lowdown.

Asheville Art Museum offers morning, afternoon and all-day programs for rising kindergarteners through rising 12th-graders, presented in a true studio environment in the museum’s spacious WNC Art Resource Center, June 13 through Aug. 1. Among the full spectrum of media, kids might learn printmaking, cartooning and sculpture. Classes include regular visits to AAM's various galleries. This popular program fills up fast. Info at 253-3227, ext. 122, or e-mail Sharon McRorie at

Carolina Day School presents a series of public, weeklong day camps for pre-kindergarteners 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 13 through Aug. 5.

Dandelion Hill celebrates the joy of childhood in a home-like environment for kids ages 3 to 9. Following the Waldorf early-childhood model, three- and four-day sessions run between June 28 and Aug. 4. Dandelion Hill will provide an organic healthy snack each day. Children will bring lunches from home. Daily activities include songs and finger-puppet theater. Story times are also a daily experience where traditional folk tales are shared and then serve as a springboard for delving into puppetry and drama. Kids can also expect painting, modeling and seasonal crafts — and plenty of outdoor play. Send inquiries by e-mail to

The First Stage Youth Theatre of Madison County presents its Summer Workshop Camp for area kids ages 8-18. The series of weeklong programs — “by kids and for kids” — culminates in a production and after-play picnic. Workshops start mid-July and emphasize "the skills of discipline, concentration and teamwork so prominent in the theater and in real life." Todd Weakley returns for the seventh year as Summer Camp Director. Todd is a professional theatre artist, Playwright and Director, and holds a masters degree in theater education. As usual, Todd has developed two full weeks of theatre fun for students. See for details.

Flat Rock Playhouse, the official state theatre of North Carolina, hosts a comprehensive selection of summer-long programs in acting and stagecraft — check out "Aesop to BeBop" — through their YouTheatre division. Morning and day camps are intended for kindergarteners through rising ninth-graders, and a series of specialty camps for (including a film program) is offered for seventh- through rising 12th-graders. Sessions run between June 6 and Aug. 5. Check for full postings on this year's themes and rates. (Tuition assistance for qualifying families is available.)

Green-minded Gwynn Valley in Brevard gets kids down to earth with an assortment of overnight (1-3 weeks) and daylong programs geared strongly toward traditional crafts and survival skills. Basketry, gourd sculpture, tie-dying, leatherwork and candle making are among the artsy offerings. Way-cool sports include ultimate Frisbee and cricket. 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 onsite). Sessions, running June 10 through Aug. 14, are for kids who’ve finished kindergarten through eighth-grade. Info at 885-2900 or at

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 and Middle Folk School for 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 the week of June 19. Find updates and details at, or call 1-800-FOLK-SCH to get on the mailing list.

Roots + Wings School of Art, for preschoolers, families and adults based at the Cathedral of All Souls at Biltmore Village, will offer three-day art-exploration camps for kids ages 3-12. Sessions run June 13 through Aug. 8 and include instruction in clay, drawing, painting, collage, printmaking and design. Classes tend to fill up fast, so call soon: 545-4827 or e-mail

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 25-29 for rising second- through rising fifth-graders. This year’s theme, “Who Were the Victorians?” will include major costume fun, old-time photos, themed crafts, and even making homemade ice cream. Camp runs Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Registration is limited to 12 students. Call 253-9231 or e-mail Lisa Whitfield at for registration information.

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 runs in 2-week-long sessions June 27 through July 8, for kids 5-17, Each series is capped with a performance on ACT’s Main Stage. See or contact Camp Director Janna Hoekema at

Transylvania Community Arts Council has a busy summer planned! It all starts with the outdoor “fun-in-the-sun” Kids Art Day on May 7 (part of the Transylvania County Sesquicentennial Celebration). Summer Art Camp begins on July 11 this year, through July 29 at the Transylvania Community Arts Center in Brevard, mornings or afternoons, for kids 5-12. Visual art, pottery, dance and music will all be explored. Flanking the art camp, The Carwile-Dodson Studio's Summer Pottery Camp hosts two sessions, June 27-July 1 and July 11-15. See or call 884-2787 for registration info.

True Ink’s Creative Summer Programs for young writers (elementary through high school) are experiential and active, and include visual art, crafts, dance, performance, math, science, publishing, music, history, bookmaking and more. Program locations such the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Site, the New School of Dance studio (both in downtown Asheville) and the River Arts District give kids the chance to work in the realm of real practitioners past and present. New this year: a collaboration with Roots + Wings School of Art, which will include a summer intensive for high-school teens. Returning instructors Jeff Kinzel, cartoonist, and Allan Wolf, internationally renowned performance poet, author and musician, are examples of some of the esteemed faculty. Camps begin the week of June 13, schedules and fees vary. For complete descriptions and registration, visit or call 215-9002.


Camp Ton-a-Wandah for girls is located in a cozy cove in Hendersonville. Camp runs June 5 through Aug. 5 in 2- and 3-week residential sessions, for girls 6-16. The curriculum is particularly eclectic, including rappelling, whitewater rafting (its name means “by the fall of water”) on the Nantahala and Pigeon rivers and horseback riding. Find full info at

Eliada Summer Camp 2011 is a five-star program that will begin early in June and run through mid-August (depending on the Buncombe County school schedule) and provides care for children that have completed Kindergarten through age 13. The camp runs Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and focuses on peer relations and conflict resolution, character building and promoting a positive self-esteem through organized activities and games that promote teambuilding skills. Eliada’s 188-acre campus includes a heated swimming pool, mountain hiking and riding trails (children ages 9-13), a full-size gymnasium, ball field, golf driving range and playground. Contact Denise West at or 210-0224.

Asheville Gymnastics Summer Gymnastics Fun Camp for kids 5-13 emphasizes fun physical activity: Think Indoor gymnastics, a climbing wall and walking field trips in the downtown area. Camp runs June 13 through Aug. 5, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday. See for rates, or call 252-8746.

In its 10-week day-camp program running June 6 through Aug. 12, Odyssey Community School in Montford promises "sheer fun and relaxation" along with soccer, ultimate Frisbee, daily swimming 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. Three weeks of half-day Summer Intensives for Teens (13-17 year olds) are offered mid-July through early August and include Digital Photography with Photoshop, Digital Video Shooting and Editing with iMovie, and 3D Modeling and Animation with Google Sketchup. For rates and more information, call 259-3653 or e-mail

Waynesville Parks and Recreation will offer its third annual Summer Camp, a series of weeklong day camps that run June 17 through Aug. 5 for rising first- through rising fifth-graders. Lots of outdoor sports and educational field trips are highlighted, 7:30 a.m. — 5:30 p.m., M-F. For rates and registration info, call 456-2030 or e-mail

YMCA of Western North Carolina facilitates a comprehensive selection of day-camp programs running June through August. Y camps are held at various area schools, and central pick-up and drop-off locations are available for parents' convenience. Theme programs and environmental awareness are emphasized. Around for more than 100 years, Y camps are always coveted, so don't delay in checking out for registration info.

At the YWCA Summer Day Camp, kindergarteners through sixth-graders enjoy weekly field trips, nature hikes, swimming lessons, music, art and much more. Camp will starts June 15. Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Call CiCi Weston at 254-7206, ext. 111, or e-mail her at


Camp Cedar Cliff, based in Asheville, has a simple mission: "communicating the truth of Christ’s love in word and deed." For kids grades K-12, with nine sessions starting June 13 and going until Aug. 12, there is plenty of adventure and fun as well. Even the program names are fun —“20,000 Leagues Under the Cedar”; “Around the Cliff in 80 Days”; “Clifflock Homes”; and “Wild, Wild Cedar Cliff” are just a few. For more information, and to register, visit, call 828.450.3331 or e-mail

Camp Celo is a scenic, noncompetitive overnight camp near Burnsville that has 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 12 through Aug. 13) are designed for kids 7-12. A low counselor-to-camper ratio is a hallmark of Camp Celo.

Camp Hollymont on Lake Eden in Black Mountain is a Christian residential camp for girls 6-15. An expansive list of activities includes digital photography, sewing, modeling, guitar, horseback riding, tennis, creative writing and “outdoor living.” Program options include 1-, 2- and 4-week sessions, June 19 through Aug. 12.

Traditional overnight camps that emphasize visual arts, music, sports and high-octane outdoor adventure in a nondenominational Christian atmosphere, Camp Merri-Mac for girls 6-16 ( and Camp Timberlake for boys 7-16 ( also boast low camper-to-counselor ratios and special wilderness trips. Sessions run June 12 through Aug. 13 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 particularly gorgeous setting is one highlight, as is an ambitious roster of activities that includes disc golf, storytelling, lacrosse, zip-lining and rocketry. Sessions include day-camp options for grades K-4; the overnight programs run six days to a month, June 12 through Aug. 12, for boys 6-16.

The Jewish Community Center’s five-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 13 and go through Aug. 5. Field trips take advantage of the area’s scenic beauty. Other unique highlights include Israeli dance, archery, weekly Shabbat celebrations and guided nature expeditions. See for information on a counselor-in-training program for rising ninth- and 10th-graders and for more details on camp.

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. Mini sessions are available for kids as young as kindergarten age, while main camp (for kids age 6-16) runs for various lengths up to five weeks, June 19 through July 28.

Emmanuel Lutheran School in Asheville has all the cultural bases covered with its Summer Rocks! 2011 series of day camps running June 13 through Aug. 12. The long, varied list of programs, held on the school's 8-acre campus, are targeted for rising kindergarteners through rising sixth-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 The Wizard of Oz. For details on auditions for the play or for general camp information, see or call 281-8182.

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