Summer camp isn’t just for kids.
From campfires to color wars, crafts to canoeing, all the delights of sleepaway camp are available to every member of the clan. Around the U.S., there are traditional kids’ sleepaway camps that reserve weeks for “family camp”—sessions that children and parents (and even grandparents) can share. Other camps are devoted to families, with communal meals, organized activities, and accommodations that are several steps up from bare-bones bunks.
Just like with regular sleepaway camps, family camps give you the chance to both unplug and engage in outdoor activities. Family members can step outside of their comfort zones and try new adventures, from night hiking to waterskiing to ziplining. But one of the best things about family camps is that parents can relax or participate in their own activities, knowing that kids are under the watchful eye of the counselors.
Family camp experiences can vary widely. Some are focused on specific themes or activities, like ocean life or horseback riding. Some run throughout the summer, while others are held for just a handful of days. Some offer cottages with private bathrooms, while others have shared facilities.
But most are all-inclusive, which keeps things simple. And they all promise a memorable summer for family members of all ages—sometimes even the furry ones.
We rounded up five of the best family camps around the country, so you can make the most of this summer together.
Camp Walt Whitman
If you’re looking for an off-grid adventure, this Parent Trap-style camp lies in a pine forest on the edge of a lake overlooking New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Camp Walt Whitman Family Camp welcomes around 20 families each year for five days of fun (Aug. 16-20) at the end of the traditional sleepaway camp season. You’ll sleep in a cabin usually reserved for kids and be able to participate in games and activities such as tennis, archery, waterskiing, ziplining, and Color Wars. Parents can also relax by the lake or hop on a paddleboard while counselors keep younger ones busy. In the evening there are campfire sing-alongs, luaus, and pool parties, plus nightly social events just for grownups. $700 for adults, $500 for kids 4-17, free for under 3, compwalt.com
Medomak Family Camp
Life doesn’t get much better for parents, kids, and even grandparents than at Medomak Family Camp. This quintessential New England summer camp is located in mid-coast Maine and hosts 12 families for each session, with many returning year after year. You’ll stay in rustic cabins, enjoy top-quality food, and have the chance to try an impressive selection of camp activities, from sailing to soccer, to swimming in the lake—and even milking cows. While kids are kept busy all day, adults can take a yoga class, sign up for a beer and cheese tasting, or do very little at all. The camp runs from July 4 through August 13. Six nights from $1,540 for adults, $1,390 for kids 5-12, $1,250 for kids 2-4, free for kids under 2, medomakcamp.com
Jean-Michel Cousteau Family Camp
Catalina Island, Calif.
Have some budding marine biologists in the family? The Jean-Michel Cousteau Family Camp takes place each year at Howlands Landing on Catalina Island, off the Southern Californian coast. For five days, families can learn about the ocean from Cousteau and other naturalists, snorkel, kayak, go on night hikes, embark on stargazing expeditions and more. You might even get roped into their talent show. Families stay in simple bunks with separate bathrooms and showers. For the 2021 season, camp takes place August 18-22. From $4,000 per cabin for up to six people, including round-trip travel to Catalina, catalinaislandcamps.com
Spread over 1,000 acres in Vermont, Quimby County is one of the oldest family camps in New England. It’s especially popular with multigenerational families—and furry friends are welcome too! Families stay in charming cottages that sleep up to eight people, overlooking the lake. Each day, counselors run a wide range of activities for kids, from fly fishing to archery. Parents can relax and then participate in Family Olympics or some other game. In the evening, guests can sit around the campfire or try a spot of square dancing. The adult cocktail party is always a hit. This year, camp runs from July 10 to August 21. $1,610 a week for adults, $1,470 a week for kids 12-15, $910 for kids 3-11, free for kids under 3, quimbycountry.com
Cheley Colorado Family Camp
Estes Park, Colo.
Befitting its location at the base of Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, Cheley Family Camp has a western vibe—and that extends to its accommodations. Families sleep in a set of covered wagons, with a bathhouse nearby. Horseback riding is a big draw; the camp has 30 horses that guests can ride. Spend the day together, or head off on a hike while the kids do crafts, practice archery, try out the ropes course, and more. In the evening, everyone comes together for a campfire. A highlights for young guests is the kids-only camp out under the stars. This year, family camp runs runs form August 9 to 14. $2,700 for a family of four (kids must be aged 6 and up), cheley.com