Family camps in US

Hello! 

We're a family from the UK, just moved over here. We hear 'family camps' are a thing in the US and think this may be just the ticket for us to explore the many beautiful landscapes that America has to offer. If anyone has any suggestions on must see places or even better, summer family camps, I'd be very grateful. :-)

Anna 

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RE: Family camps in US ()

Welcome to the US! "Family camps" aren't exactly common, but they do have interesting sociological history. A handful of progressive US cities bought (or acquired long term leases) on Forest Service land in the mountains in the early part of the 20th century, and created "auto camps" for their residents to go spend a week in more healthful air. Many of these camps exist in some form or another now, either run by city governments, YMCAs, or non-profit organizations. They are not cheap - much more expensive than car camping, because the camp provides all meals and organized activities with very rustic accommodations. It will certainly be possible for your family to go for a short vacation (most families do not go for more than 4-5 days max, and plenty just do a long weekend) even with COVID capacity restrictions, some operations in flux, etc., but you will need to book by March-ish for the summer. City of Berkeley probably is running one this year? but they haven't announced schedule or registration?? We've been very happy with their operation for years (pre COVID). There's also City of San Jose's, which is in a great location on the Tuolumne river but allows cars in camp (an issue with smaller kids). I've heard good things about the YMCA one in the Sequoias, and even a YMCA one in Colorado. YMCA Camp Loma Mar and Camp Campbell run family camp weekends throughout the year/season, for a taster.

Outside of a family camp setting, you get that rustic nice Americana camp feel at Camp Richardson, in tahoe, and Camp Curry, in Yosemite.

RE: Family camps in US ()

Look no further than the Family Vacation Center held each summer on the beach, on the campus of UC Santa Barbara. My family spent 10 fabulous summer vacations there. Their motto is “the best vacation since becoming parents” and they live up to the motto in all respects. 

RE: Family camps in US ()

Welcome!

if your travels can take you to the east coast I highly recommend exploring Maine during the summer. Beautiful state and there are several family camps I have heard amazing things about.

RE: Family camps in US ()

I want to preface this recommendation with yes, it's a bit expensive, and yes, it's far away, but Tyler Place in Vermont is the BEST FAMILY CAMP IN THE WORLD! We went there because we used to live on the East Coast, so it's a bit of a trek from the West Coast, but Tyler Place is a happy place that we have not found elsewhere. Families can live in little cabins with kitchenettes, or in a room in the "inn"; the rooms are simple but have MAID SERVICE. All meals are provided, and all the food is amazing. Here's the best part: Your kids get enrolled in a traditional camp, with camp counselors, marching chants, they go jump in the lake, ride ponies, and play all day. They eat all 3 meals with their counselors. They get returned to you for 3 hours in the afternoon, and then return, happy and tired, in the evenings for bedtime. We found this the best compromise for our little boy who was afraid to sleep away from us. At Tyler Place, he got the full camp experience, without really being away from his parents. Meanwhile, the adults get adult-only meals, and can sign up for so many activities--hiking, archery, golf, kayaking, fishing, you name it. Tyler Place has been run by the Tyler family for generations, and they have made it a little piece of heaven. High recommend.

RE: Family camps in US ()

Our family is indelibly loyal to Cazadero Family Performing Arts Camp; despite the name, there are lots of activities for non-performing folks (yoga, art, writing, crafts).

RE: Family camps in US ()

We have gone to Lair of the Bear (through UC Berkeley) and Feather River Camp (city of Oakland) and both were great and pretty different, though some differences are due to COVID - we went to Lair pre-covid and OFRC last year. Lair is bigger and has more activities, including more kid's camp time (where they supervise your kids so you can have time off, a HUGE selling point of family camp for us!) - their kid activities are 2-3 hours in the morning and in the afternoon, whereas OFRC only has it in the morning. I think OFRC feels a little more laid-back because it's smaller and has less going on. Lair has a pool on site but the lake is a couple of miles away, which was a downside. OFRC has a swimming hole in the river on site, and there are even nicer swimming holes a quick drive away - like some of the nicest swimming spots I've ever been to. Because we have young kids (3 and 6) who are a handful and need to be supervised, I would choose Lair because it has more supervised kids' activities, if I had slightly older kids who could run around on their own I think it would be a draw. 

RE: Family camps in US ()

Oakland Feather River Family Camp should be on your list! https://featherrivercamp.com/

RE: Family camps in US ()

Check out the camps run by, or affiliated with, Bay Area cities in the Sierras: Oakland | SF | Berkeley | San Jose | story listing more

Have only done one -- Oakland's, last summer -- but would 10/10 endorse as a way of being in nature and meeting people. Also don't have to worry about cooking or cleaning for a week, which was actually the #1 reason we went. 

RE: Family camps in US ()

Camp Tuolumne near Yosemite, operated by the city of Berkeley, is a popular family camp and is scheduled to reopen this summer after being closed for almost 10 years because of a wildfire in 2013.  My family has attended Tuolumne for years and we love it and are looking forward to the camp reopening. There are lots of reviews on BPN's website. Keep up to date on registration dates and constructions updates on its website https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Parks_Rec_Waterfront/Recreation/Tuolumne... or by subscribing to mailings from Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp https://www.fobtc.com/

RE: Family camps in US ()

Sorry this answer is a bit late. The East Coast really has the camp tradition and tons of camps on lakes all over New England but the West Coast not so much. However most YMCA camps have family camps. I've never done them but I can attest that YMCA camps are great - beautiful settings, cute tents, just the classic camp experience.

Here are a few close by -   

YMCA Camp Campbell down in the redwoods by Bounder Creek (between Cupertino and Santa Cruz) https://www.ymcasv.org/ymca-camp-campbell/camps/family-camp

YMCA Camp Loma Mar - similar location i think as Camp Campbell, but a bit north (by La Honda), bu I've never been but it too as several Family Camp dates https://ymcaeastbay.org/camps/camp-loma-mar/family-camp

YMCA also has wonderful camps on the East Coast all over New England and many of these would have family camps too if you are heading that way or prefer to do it there. YMCA camps are also affordable (comparatively speaking) but offer a ton of great stuff - really amazing and those back east even more so. Definitely something to think about for your kid on their own someday too.

RE: Family camps in US ()

Oops I just said YMCA camps have cute tents - no - I mean cute cabins!