Camp Jack Hazard

Outside the Bay Area
School-Aged, Preteens
Editors' Notes: 
  • Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains

Parent Reviews

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I realize this may not be exactly what you have in mind, but my non binary teenager and several of their trans/non binary friends have been working at Camp Jack Hazard for the last few summers and will all be there again this year. CJH has a warm, supportive environment with traditional camp activities, including a backpacking trip in each camp session. I believe several trans kids attended last summer, and I know that the whole camp staff will welcome and nurture your child.  I think it's worth checking out.  Best of luck. 

I recommend Camp Jack Hazard in the Sierras near the Sonora Pass. Their program is not specifically for kids with ADHD, but the program is great for these kids because of the high intensity, active, outdoor time. It is a traditional summer camp in many ways--campfires, songs, arts and crafts, hiking--but also has a focus on wilderness adventure, and kids all participate in backpacking and rock climbing (no prior knowledge necessary). Kids stay in cabins with 8 to 10 peers, which creates social bonds in a way that is much easier and more automatic than what kids often feel in other environments. But mostly, it is the active environment and intensity of running around with other kids, led by exuberant, loud young adult counselors, that seems to serve ADHD kids so well. Lots of stimulus, lots of opportunity to try new things, lots of fresh air. Kids get dirty and get tired and my kids love it. And it is very reasonably priced. It is a small organization so you can easily talk personally with the director, Jason Poisson, who is friendly and honest and direct with parents.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

July 2015

RE:  Suggestions for away camp with hiking and rock climbing

Camp Jack Hazard ( fits your requirements almost exactly. Located in the Sierras at above 6,000 feet near the Sonora Pass. Includes backpacking and rock-climbing. No kayaking or mountain biking, but archery and horseback riding. No religious affiliation (used to be affiliated with YMCA but is now run by an alumni organization made up of former campers). Great environmental stewardship and character-building curriculum. Has been in operation for 91 years so has a solid track record. Best part for my family is the old-school camp atmosphere: rustic cabins, arts and crafts, campfires, skits, capture-the-flag, silly songs, etc. One week (7 day) session is only $549. Shorter sessions for younger kids are even cheaper. My two daughters have attended multiple summers and love it, look forward to it every year. Very personable executive director will answer all your questions. I'll look forward to hearing other suggestions as well. Stephanie

Feb 2015

RE: Suggestions for good camps/CIT for middle schoolers

Another possibility is sleep-away camp. We love Camp Jack Hazard in the Sierras near Sonora Pass, and it is very reasonable at only $625 for a week of camp. The ''Leaders In Training'' have to be 15, but the younger teens have their own cabin groups and go on a back-packing trip with the other kid their age. They learn a lot of responsibility and gain confidence just from that outing, and the camp is fun in a traditional summer camp way. You can find more information here:

Stephanie B

April 2014

Re: Outdoor/ camping summer camp for 13yr old boy
I highly recommend a small residential camp in the Sierras called Camp Jack Hazard ( 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 magical. Stephanie

Feb 2013

Re: Sleepover camp for third grader?
I've got just the place for you! Camp Jack Hazard ( is a sleep-away camp in the Sierras near the Sonora Pass. They do week-long sessions, but also have a shorter 3 night ''rookie'' camp for kids age 6 to 10. The three night sessions are a great option for kids who are new to sleep-away camp. The camp involves a lot of the traditional camp stuff: arts and crafts, campfires, etc but also has a ropes course and they take the kids backpacking too: the week-long sessions involve a two night backpacking trip, but even during the rookie camp, they take the kids backpacking for one night (they only ''backpack'' about a 1/2 mile, but still get the experience of setting up camp in the woods).

My 10 year old did her first sleep-away camp there last year. She did the week-long camp (she actually did two sessions, with a week break between) and, although she had moments of homesickness, the counselors were great with her and I think things were so fun and busy, the homesickness was fleeting. She had a friend with her, which also helped, and they accept requests to be in the same cabin.

Best part: its pretty cheap as sleep-away camps go. Three night sessions are are $295 and week sessions are $495, and they offer financial assistance.

Full disclosure: I serve on the board of directors, which is made up entirely of alumni of the camp. Lots of happy former campers! Feel free to email me if you want more information. Stephanie