Overnight Camp Suggestions for Teens & Preteens

Parent Q&A

Overnight camp that's comfortable for nonbinary kids? Feb 13, 2021 (4 responses below)
Sleep away Summer Camp for adacemically-oriented 13 yr old? Dec 18, 2019 (3 responses below)
Summer options away from home after a year of boarding school Mar 16, 2018 (4 responses below)
Short summer away experience for reluctant teen Feb 12, 2018 (1 responses below)
Sleep-away camp for 12 year old girl who loves sports? Feb 3, 2018 (4 responses below)
Summer Sleep Away Camp for 14 year old Feb 22, 2017 (2 responses below)
Sleepaway camp for boy w/adhd Feb 4, 2017 (2 responses below)
  • Hi - My 13 year old would like to go to an overnight camp this summer. They're interested in City of Berkeley Echo Lake camp and are open to others. Does anyone have experience sending a nonbinary kid to overnight camp? Most places have only girls/boys cabins, but say they're welcoming of all kids. I'm wondering where kids have felt safe/accepted? My kid loves typical camp activities - swimming, campfire, crafts, hikes etc - along with music and drama - in case that helps. Thank you!


    If your child would like a specifically trans/non-binary kids' camp, just in case you don't know about it, Camp Aranu'Tiq https://www.camparanutiq.org/camp-news/ is a camp in New Hampshire specifically for non-binary and trans kids up to age 13. Perhaps they would be a good resource to find other similar or inclusive camps.

    More locally, Camp Tawonga is leading the way on this type of inclusion.  They have an all-gender cabin in at least one of their sessions.  It is a Jewish camp, but non-Jews are welcome and Jewish religion is not intense or expected (many of the Jewish kids are secular). My kids have gone there for years and it's a truly wonderful camp, extremely well-run, very fun, and holds the kids very well.  Their COVID practices sound very good too. They may be filled up for this summer, but perhaps they could recommend other camps that do well with this.  They may have room specifically in the all-gender cabin, so I would call their phone number to find out.  (Also feel free to ask the moderator to contact me about this camp.)

    I've heard that Trackers is welcoming to non-binary kids, but I've just heard this second-hand.

    Best of luck for a safe and affirming summer for your kid!

    You may want to check out the gender neutral cabin at Camp Tawonga. My kids have had wonderful experiences at Tawonga. 


    Our kid was/is non-conforming in so many ways, and Camp Winnarainbow (Mendocino County) was an amazing fit.  They do all the standard camp activities, but also, it's a circus and performing arts camp - so there's lots of creative expresssion.  ALSO, they have a fantastic swimming hole.  That picture is what sold our kid on going.

  • Greetings.

    Does anyone know of a 2 (or so) week summer sleepover camp? My son loves STEM subjects and is doing great in school. He isn't really in to the typical "rah-rah" camps he's gone to (I loved them as a kid but he's more reserved, not into sports.) He loves electronics and academic challenge. He's ready for a sleep away camp pretty much anywhere but I am having trouble finding one! Any suggestions welcome! I know now is the time to start applying.

    Trying to avoid just hiring someone to stay at our home to watch him for 2 weeks- it would be more fun for him to go somewhere, do something.

    Thank you, community.

    It’s only one week, but take a look at the EPIC program at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo.  Info is at epic.calpoly.edu

    I’ve heard really good things about it.  My son is a current student in Mechanical Engineering at Cal Poly.  He didn’t do EPIC because we hadn’t known about it, but he sure would have enjoyed it if he had.

    ID Tech Camp is a good sleepaway camp! They operate at Stanford and many other locations across the country. They offer a lot of programming courses, some graphic design, game design. My son and daughter have done their day camps for a few years & it’s always a good experience. Friends have done the sleepaway option, and loved it too. 

    When I was a young teen, I did one summer with CTY (Johns Hopkins) and another with TIP (Duke). Both were great for connecting with like-minded/inclined peers and being nerdy together. CTY now has an overnight campus in the Bay Area which you might want to check out; you do have to submit qualifying test scores so there may be a timing issue for this summer. cty.jhu.edu

  • My high school junior is completing his first year at boarding school.  He was sent to boarding school for a better academic fit (support), because his behavior at home became untenable, and to put some distance between him and an unhealthy social dynamic.  He's doing much better academically. His behavior at school is very good. He seems to be making better social choices. Much to my relief, our relationship is improving as well.  However, when he comes home or travels with me or my husband over school breaks, all bets are off and he quickly reverts to old patterns.

    With the end of the school year fast approaching, I need to find a summer option for him that does not involve living at home.  Staying at the boarding school or with relatives are not options available to him.  Best would be something that involves paid work or an internship.  Any suggestions?


    I’m sorry I can’t help with your question but wondered if you could share your process for finding your child’s boarding school. I have the same kind of kid as you describe and I think boarding school will have to happen in the next year. I’m worried his negative behavior will just continue in a new location though. It sounds like that didn’t happen for your child. Would you be open to sharing where your child is boarding and/or how you chose the school?

    Best of luck to you  I feel your pain  

    The summer after my jr year I went to summer college, sleepaway.  Many colleges do this, from huge UCSB to tiny Lewis and Clark College.  This might be an option for him.  There were great courses to choose from as well as a supportive environment to practice independence, explore outdoors, try radio DJing, etc.  In the meantime, if your kiddo is at all self reflective, you might ask him what triggers him to the prior behaviors once back home.  My partner had these troubles, still, as an adult when returning to his parents' home.  After realizing they couldn't recognize his maturity and still treated him as their child, instead of as a maturing/mature adult, he was able to not be triggered.

    This is a response to Jean as requested below.

    We have been through years of educational testing and various therapies and therapists with our son.  A lengthy process (years of considering) lead up to the boarding school decision.  We've looked at and tried various educational options throughout his education, beginning with our own research and ending up utilizing the services of a school placement consultant.  When considering boarding schools, it is important to know they cover quite a range from traditional college-prep, to traditional with supportive services, to therapeutic.  If therapeutic is a consideration, I suggest (recommend with some reservation) The Bodin Group in Los Altos.  For tradition college-prep schools, I recommend NextStep: School Selection LLC in San Carlos.  We pieced together information from both, layered on our own research, selected a small handful of traditional with supportive services schools to visit, and let our son decide which to attend from that small group.  Our son was reluctant to attend boarding school.  However, he did not have the choice whether to go, but he did have the choice where to go. 

    It is very hard to send a reluctant teenager away and I would only suggest doing so if all local options have been exhausted.  Good luck to you on your journey and may there be better days ahead for both all of us.

  • Does anybody have recommendations for a 1-2 week summer experience away from my house for a 15 year old boy who likes to be home? Something that your kids LOVED and doesn't cost too much (around $1000)? All kinds of fantastic, low cost opportunities have come across my inbox, but they are usually five or so weeks, which my son says is too long, because 1.) he likes to be home, and 2.) he is super excited to volunteer at a local day camp this summer. I support this plan 100%, but I know him, and if he does this the entire summer, he will get bored and won't want to go back next year. Plus I only work part time in the summer and we are guaranteed to get on each other's nerves. It will be a lot better for both of us if he takes a week or so away. For reference, he doesn't have any deep passions outside of video games, but he generally likes to do a little bit of everything except the arts - sports, academics, computer stuff, being outdoors, etc. Thanks in advance!

    My teens love Camp Woolman (near Grass Valley, CA) and their backpacking excursions. For years they attended their lower camp for ages 9-14 and now they go to their Teen Leadership camp for 15-17 year olds. The kids spend most of the time backpacking on the Pacific Crest Trail. My children were originally very reluctant hikers, but have grown to love this aspect. Camp is literally the highlight of their summer, and I’m so glad I pushed through their reluctance and encourage them to go. It has been a life-changing experience for my kids. Cool counselors, fun activities, good food, new friends and being in nature - priceless! I love getting them away from screens and socializing face to face. Great value too! Email me if you have any questions. Good luck. 

  • My twelve-year old daughter would like to go to a sleep-away camp this summer. She loves sports. Does anyone have any suggestions? Thank you.

    Camp Unalayee. Best camp ever!

    You might try Julie Foudy Camp - http://www.juliefoudyleadership.com

    My daughter went for 2 years & loved it. 

    Good Luck!

    Take a look at Coppercreek Camp - 3rd year and going strong! http://http://www.coppercreek.com

    My son went for the first time 2 years ago for 2 weeks, last year for 4, this year it will be 4 weeks .... he's counting the days.

    Good luck

  • Summer Sleep Away Camp for 14 year old

    (2 replies)

    Does anyone have experience with the White Stag Summer Sleep Away camp? We have a 14 year old son. Is backpacking experience required? Anything you can share about this and other Sleep Away camps for teens would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    I haven't heard of White Stag before, but I have another recommendation. If you are looking for backpacking adventure, my kids have had a great experience at Camp Woolman (http://camp.woolman.org/sierra-friends). Both my kids have gone to the lower camp (ages 9-14) for the past two years and this year my oldest will be in their Teen Leadership Program for 15-16 year olds. My younger kid, age 13, will still be at the lower camp. The lower camp participants go on backpacking trips for 3-4 days at a time (one hike for the one week programs and two hikes for the two week programs) and spend the rest of the time in the camp doing activities, visiting the swim hole, etc. The Teen Leadership hiking sessions are longer and the teens spend 8-9 days on the Pacific Crest Trail (two week sessions). The camp is nothing fancy, but it's good old-fashion fun in a place that embraces nature, sustainability and diversity. I think it's a hidden gem!

    My now 17-year old went to White Stag when he was around 13 years old and LOVED it!  He hadn't done any backpacking before, and it was fine.  Lots of team-building and therefore confidence building.  Seems like a great group, and is associated with a few Oakland Scouting groups.

  • Sleepaway camp for boy w/adhd

    (2 replies)

    My 10 yr old son is very interested in going to sleepaway camp this summer.  He is relatively active and outgoing but has some typical adhd struggles with social groups.  Does anyone have any recommendations for summer camps that have worked out particularly well (or not!) for your child with adhd, and also any experience with taking medication at camp?  Thanks!


    I sent my son to SOAR, which runs programs designed for kids with ADHD.  It was a great experience.  Not cheap, but great.  For more information, see https://soarnc.org/

    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. www.campjackhazard.org

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Summer camp for 12-yr old with cabin camping

April 2016

My son is interested in a summer camp where, for a week or two, he would 'go off to camp' and do outdoor camping activities like canoe, kayak, hiking, swimming, etc. Ideally it would be 'cabin' camping over tents, but open to suggestions for any. SF Bay area preferably... not too far to drive to… Dad

This sounds exactly like Camp Ravencliff which is located in Humboldt county. It's a YMCA camp for 5 weeks in the summer and the city of El Cerrito runs a camp for a couple weeks there in August. Campers stay in rustic cabins and swim and canoe in the Eel river. There is hiking, art and crafts, archery, camp fires and all the classic summer camp activities. Both the Y and El Cerrito offer transportation from the east bay as part of the camp fee. We have attended family camp there for the past several years and had an amazing time. Amy

I would highly recommend Shaffer's High Sierra! www.highsierracamp.com It sounds like a perfect fit for your son. They have the activities that you are looking for, it's just up near Tahoe, and you couldn't ask for a better run camp. I've looked at all the sleepaway camps around for my kids (and have one son who goes to a great camp in Southern CA, Jameson Ranch Camp) and this is one of the best. It was hard to sort through all of the marketing talk that all seem to say the same thing, but once I spoke with the director's and now know what a truly excellent camp gives my kids I'm so happy to have found them. Camp Mom

Whitewater rafting camp for teens

May 2014

My 16-year-old son would love to go to a sleep away camp that focuses on whitewater rafting. Can't seem to find one online. Anyone know of such an animal? Kid who wants to get wet

Please look into ARTA (http://www.arta.org/). They are a nonprofit rafting company that has week-long junior training trips in CA and UT for teens. My son did the UT trip 4 years ago when he was 15. He absolutely loved it. He went rafting with the company the following year in Idaho and then took the real guide training course with them last year when he was 18. He may be guiding this summer. As a parent, I couldn't be more comfortable with the company.Tell them I recommended them. Linda B

YMCA Camp Jones Gulch has a teen adventure/travel camp that may be just what you're looking for! I just found out about this camp yesterday and signed my 14 year old adventure seeking boy up for 2 weeks. Camp is based near Big Sur and transportation to and from the Bay Area is $40 if you need it.

Here's the White Water rafting camp description: ''White Water Rafting Adventure (Session 3; $695.00 July 6-11) Entering grades 7-12 . In a high adrenaline adventure, thrill seeking teens rally inflatable rafts down the Middle Fork of the American River. Experience impressive rapids down miles of crystal clear water. Between rafting we will explore areas around James Marshall Park, go mountain biking, and enjoy access to a beautiful swimming pool and natural river swimming hole. Swimming proficiency is recommended but not mandatory.'' www.ymcasf.org/campjonesgulch/what_we_offer/youth_and_teens/teen_adventure_camp Each week has a different theme. They all look great and I see good reviews online. Best of all it's pretty cheap for sleepaway camp and everything is included. tjda

Outdoor/ camping summer camp for 13yr old boy

April 2014

Seeking recommendations for my 13 yr old nephew for a summer camp that is outdoors, camping, perhaps (easy) back-packing in northern california. I want a camp that will introduce him to the wonders of nature, while having a good time. (He doesn't go out in nature much now.) Any suggestions welcome, pls tell your experience if possible. Also, he's a brown-skin boy so would be nice if there is some diversity.... ariana

Check out the wonderful Camp Augusta near grass valley. They are great. I go for family camp

Hi Ariana, I highly recommend a small residential camp in the Sierras called Camp Jack Hazard (www.campjackhazard.org). 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

Our 12-year-old boy will be attending a session at Camp Chrysalis this summer. They have different options, like Big Sur, Mendocino and the Sierra, for different lengths of time. Caveat: I have no direct experience with this camp, but my son is attending with a friend whose family has experience with it and raves about it. Other friends recommend it also and it has good reviews on BPN. As for brown-skinned campers, sorry, I don't know, but you could certainly email the director and ask. anon

I am replying to the recommendation for Camp Chrysalis. My kid attended a few years back. We found it to be a camp where a lot the staff has known each other for years and some are relatives of each other, and where many of the campers know each other or know the staff previous to the camp, and it is not a large camp. My kid went to camp without any previous relationships to the staff or other campers, and would recommend going with a buddy or buddies. anon

Didn't see the original post but I just spent a weekend researching sleepaway camps for my 13 year old boy. We decided on YMCA Camp Ravencliff on the Eel River. They have a ''teen week'' for 13-16 year olds. Looks like your basic traditional sleepaway camp, rustic cabins, swimming on the river, canoes, camp games, hikes, etc. but tailored for the teen crowd. We also signed up for a week at YMCA Camp Jones Gulch teen adventure/travel camp. Different theme each week from White Water Rafting to Backpacking to Surfing to Horses. They also offer a traditional residential camp without the travel. My son can't wait.

Hidden Villa Ranch in Los Altos was a close second. They have a great program for 8th-10th graders (but my son didn't want to backpack). I was a camper there many years ago and absolutely loved it.

Here's the blurb ''As Farm & Wilderness campers, teens build close relationships within a small group, living at the primitive Hollow Oak campsite at Hidden Villa for nine days and going on a three-day mid-session backpack trip to Black Mountain. While on the trail, campers work toward team-building and achieving group goals. Campers and counselors care for the farm animals (cows, goats, pigs, sheep, chickens). Each day they choose from a variety of activities - hiking, swimming, archery, arts and crafts, sports, or gardening. Evenings are spent storytelling, sharing music, taking a night hike or a moonlight swim.''

*The YMCA camps are about $600 a week, everything included! They have scholarships too if needed and really cheap or free transportation to and from Berkeley. Hidden Villa also on the more affordable side of sleepaway camps. Loving the Y

Outdoor/backpacking camp for teen daughter

March 2011

Does anyone know of an outdoor or backpacking camp that lasts for a week at the beginning or the end of the summer? My daughter wants to go to Stage Door Conservancy which will take from July 5 to August 14, so we're trying to fit a week or two of outdoor camp in to balance that out. anon

Well, it only touches on your date, but the program is so Excellent it's worth it, check out Camp Unalayee at www.gocampu.org Unalayee's been taking teens backpacking for 62 years, has a rare setting in the uncrowded, pristine Trinity Alps Wilderness, and offers the only Wilderness Immersion (not just toe wetting) program for teens around. Seena

Kayak, canoe or rafting summer programs

Nov 2009

My 16 year old son would like to spend a few weeks canoeing or kayaking this summer and we are looking for recommendations of programs. Thanks

My daughter had a fantastic life-changing 4 weeks kayaking around southern Alaska with NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School ) last summer. They learn so much more than just kayaking. See www.nols.edu. Anna

Summer adventure experience for 17-year-old boy

May 2009

I am looking a weeklong, or longer, outdoor summer adventure experience in CA for my 16 (17 year old in the summer) boy. I want him to have an experience away from Oakland this summer, and experience a different, healthy reality. He's gone white water rafting before and loved it. Can anyone recommend a reputable program that is not over-the-top expensive? Michele

If your son is not already a member of a local Boy Scout troop, I would highly recommend it for anyone with a love of the outdoors and a concern for the environment. My son joined Boy Scouts as soon as he turned 11 (was not involved in Cub Scouts) and it has been a wonderful experience all these years for him. These are some of the activities he has been involved in:

  • monthly outdoor outings for hiking, camping, & bicycle trips -- to Bay Area state parks and national recreation areas (Point Reyes, for example);
  • summer backpacking trips;
  • a week long trek to Florida for canoeing: http://www.bsaseabase.org/
  • a two week trek to New Mexico: http://www.scouting.org/highadventure/philmont.aspx for hiking & camping;
  • summer camp at the Council boy scout camp in the Sierra;
  • and even a ''scout exchange'' trip to Japan for 3 weeks, where he climbed to the top of Mt Fuji & stayed for a week with a host scout family.

His scout troop is also involved in many community service projects throughout the year. You can contact your local Boy Scouts of America council at: http://www.bsa-mdsc.org/ or http://www.sfbac.org General information can be found at http://www.scouting.org/ Scout Parent

Last summer I also wanted my son to be outdoors for a week, so we sent him to a one-week whitewater rafting class. He didn't know anyone who was going and wasn't thrilled about it when I dropped him off. But he had a great time, and when I picked him up at the end of the week, he got goodbye hugs and cell number exhanges from a bunch of kids. He was 15. The camp was: www.rarafting.com. It is not big, and the owner is there the whole time and answered my questions thoroughly in advance. I'd recommend it. anne

My daughter has had wonderful experiences with Camp Chrysalis , an outdoor nature and environmental education camp run by Lee Tempkin, a Berkeley teacher. He runs four camp trips a year, geared to different ages and levels of ability. Supportive yet challenging, we love the program for how it has engaged our daughter. Lee also keeps it very affordable, which is great! http://www.campchrysalis.com/ City mother of outdoorsy girl

The best outdoor camp in the world is Camp Unalayee , a non-profit camp situated in the Trinity Alps. It is non-affilated and run with wonderful care. The kids come back with a strong sense of self. It is two weeks long and there is no cell phone coverage. It's very good for the soul to be out in nature with minimum possetions. The ratio is small and the food is wonderful. Of course, they may just be hungry. The next session is mid-July to early August. First session was cancelled -- so few people send their kids to outdoor camps. Here is the website: http://www.unalayee.org/ PS If it's too expensive don't write it off -- there may be a way. anonymous

Outdoorsy camp for athletic 13-year-old

Dec 2008

Hi - we're looking for a summer camp for our son, who'd like to do the following: archery, target practice (I know, this will send shudders throughout many households), rock climbing, swimming, river rafting. Our son is a good athlete and pretty outdoorsy, but not at all macho and not highly competitive. He is not into arts and crafts. He's been to a couple of camps (Ravencliff, Tawonga, Newman) and has enjoyed himself, but no camp experience has seemed worth repeating to him. He does not need a lot of exposure to nature, does not need a ''Touch the Earth'' or ''Sarah's Science'' kind of place - He's thirteen, a very smart cookie, makes friends easily, and is happy to go away from home for a few weeks if it's the right kind of camp. Perhaps Boy Scouts? We have no experience with a scouts camp, although he was a scout many years ago. We're open to places around state, not just in the Bay Area. Thanks for your ideas

My sons have both enjoyed Mountain Camp in the Sierras, www.mountaincamp.com. They might not have every activity that your son is looking for, but they have archery, all kinds of water activities and sports (they're on a lake) and mountain biking. My kids also like the fact that you get to choose your activities, so if you're not an arts and crafts person, you don't have to do that. It's basically a good, old-fashioned, outdoor-oriented co-ed summer camp.

Another program that might appeal to your son is Adventure Treks . They offer outdoor adventures for teens, with an emphasis on community and outdoor skills. The kids backpack, river raft, climb mountains and do all kinds of cool stuff for 2-3 weeks. It's expensive, but it's exceptionally well-run, and the kids have a real sense of accomplishment at the end.

If he's looking for local day camp activities and is really into archery, I recommend the Shake, Rattle & Roll camp (I have no idea why it has that name) offered by Oakland Parks & Rec. It's for ages 12-15. The kids make their own bows and arrows, and learn a lot about outdoor survival skills. Mom of Boys

My rec for Bar 717 www.bar717.com is in the archives, so I won't say much other than check it. Has archery, swimming, and serious hiking, but not the other activities you mentioned. happy Bar 717 parent

You might want to check out the co-ed overnight camp called Mountain Camp in the Sierras. www.mountaincamp.com. Both my sons have gone there and will go again this year. One goes for 2 weeks; the younger for one. Last year they just started letting kids combine sessions to make 3 and 4 week stays, but few did it during my kids sessions. They don't have river rafting, but have sailing, water skiing, canoeing and other water sports. They have a ton of activities too numerous to list both outdoors and indoors. We have known kids that have attended this camp over the last 15 years from all over the bay area. It is always recommended. Feel free to contact me if you have questions. If you decide to go there please use my name as a reference. Thanks. Linda

I have two sons ages 14 and 15. My 14 year old loves Mountain Meadow Ranch in Susanville, CA. He will go back next year. The other loves Catalina Sea Camp where he got Scuba certified . We too have gone through many camps but these two were exceptional. Feel free to contact me. rita

Try Schaeffer's High Sierra Camp just north of Lake Tahoe with all the activities you mentioned. Great counselors and one, two and three week options. Joan

Great sleep away camp for 13-year-old boys?

Feb 2008

I'm looking for a great sleep away camp (preferably in California) for 2 middleschool boys entering 8th grade in the fall. Both are very popular at school, seem to just like to hang out and socialize, not really into sports, (more into the creative arts) and aren't too thrilled about the idea of going to a sleep away camp. However, we think it would be really good for them and that they would have a great time!

(Editor Note: click on the camps below to read the full reviews)

Hi, My children go to a great summer camp called Habonim Dror Camp Gilboa ...

I highly recommend Camp Tulequoia in the Sierra's. Both the Youth and the older Teen camp's are excellent. ...

You may want to look into Mountain Camp in the Sierras SW of Lake Tahoe. www.mountaincamp.com Our 13 year old went last year for two weeks and loved it....

I highly recommend Bar 717 Ranch www.Bar717.com. It's a sleepover camp in the Trinity Alps of Northern California. Beautiful! ...

Overnight camp for 14-y-o computer addict

Feb 2008

I have a son who has just turned 14 yrs old, and is in 8th grade. He is totally addicted to computer games and other screen forms of entertainment (TV, gameboy, etc.) and is not doing very well in school,(says it is very boring). I would like to find a summer program or camp where he could learn good values,discipline and get support and help with anger management, caring about his school work, and learn to appreciate and get involved in outdoor activities and/ or sports. We live in Berkeley and I am only interested in residential programs that are in Northern California, or non-residential programs in the East Bay.

I recommend Camp Winnarainbow for your son. Despite its slightly goofy name, this is an amazing, life changing camp, at which teen campers, especially, get a large amount of self-determination about their activities (of course there are no electronic devices around), and the main goal, though not overtly stated, is to help kids become good, caring people, in the context of having fun.

(See Camp Winnarainbow for the rest of this review).

Summer Growth Experience for high school daughter

Feb 2007

I would like to find a summer experience for my high school sophomore daughter that would help develop her in a number of ways. Top 2 are self reliance and larger perspective outside of the high school ''fitting in'' microcosm. She's a good student and makes friends easily but I think she needs to develop her self confidence and get a stronger sense of who she is. Some experiences with boys are giving me cause for concern. Her interests include animals, esp.horses/ veterinary work (she has volunteered for a vet), and adults or children with disabilities and musical theater. I am open to many possibilities. I have looked at girl scout destinations - national or international trips or camp counseling. I question whether having an away from home experience might foster this as opposed to having another summer of volunteering at the vet and a school for adults with disabilities. I already know these resources.

Perhaps I ask a tall order, but as a community many of you have probably grappled with the same concerns and have had some experiences to share. Thank you

My daughter (15 at the time) spent 2 weeks last summer at the Eagle Arts Academy on Vancouver Island. (www.eaglearts.ca) She met young people from all around the world, and enjoyed structured arts experiences, beautiful scenery, and real international travel. In my experience, going away to a safe, well-structured environment is a great - and necessary - growth experience for a teenaged young lady. anon

I don't have a specific resource to share, but I would like to encourage you to allow your daughter the most expansive experience that passes your gut test. Last summer I sent my almosts 15 year old daughter, who had just finished 9th grade, to spend 6 weeks with relatives in Africa. Sounds drastic, but I know the place well and the relatives, and the flight was the scariest part. I had this strong feeling that she was ready for a new level of challenge and maturity, and that she wasn't getting it at home or school. I feared that if not challenged, she would just turn that energy into something negative -- rebelling against her parents or indulging in the scary things that ''bored'' teenagers do. I am happy to say that she had a wonderful, world-view broadening experience, and came home more mature and balanced, as I had hoped. At her relatives, she was the adored older cousin of four young ones, and treated like an honorary adult by the parents. She also volunteered at an orphanage, and saw real hardship and poverty that put Bay Area life into much broader perspective. It doesn't have to be overseas -- but some time away from home might do her a world of good in the way you are hoping. Best of luck, anne

Summer Camp may be your best bet!

Given that your daughter really likes animals, Plantation may be just the place.

I have not been to this camp personally, but it is highly recommended by my very own summer camp friends and is where they send their kids. (our camp, Camp Beaverbrook, closed in 1985, so it was not an option) Since our camp was so amazing and produced such an incredible experience, we are all quite particular when it comes to recommendations such as this.

Another choice by former Beaverbrook kids is Copper Creek. www.plantationcamp.com www.coppercreek.com Good luck!! KT Pleasanton

Sounds like the SASS program would be perfect for your daughter. It is a partnership between the amazing folks at Julia Morgan School for Girls and Mills College. Check out their website: www.summerartscienceservice.org

It is ''a unique residential summer program for high school girls (entering 10th and 11th grade) located on Mills College campus. The program is designed to promote a young woman\xc2\x92s sense of purpose and make a difference in the world. The hands-on, project-based curriculum integrates art, science and service learning around the theme of nature and understanding one's place in the web of life.''

Summer 2007 Sessions Session One: June 17-30 Session Two: July 1-14 Contact: Kristen Brookes, Director of SASS Julia Morgan School for Girls 510.632.6340 x115 kbrookes[at]juliamorganschool.org


Summer outdoors adventure for teens

Feb 2007

Does anyone know of a good summer 1-2 week program in the US for teens, involving outdoor wildernness adventure/skills/training--eg backpacking, hiking, ocean, kayaking, whitewater, etc.? There are so many programs; it's hard to know which are quality and safe. We're looking for outdoor adventure/skills, but not dangerous, good supervision, for two competent boys ages 14&15. Thank you! anon

I'd recommend Lifeschool. My then 15 year old son went last summer on a hike on the Lost Coast and had a great time. It also included a white water raft trip. He didn't even know anyone to begin with. They offer lots of different levels and locations. see their website http://www.lifeschooladventures.org/

Outdoor adventure program for 14-year-old

Dec 2006

I'm looking for a 3-to-4-week outdoor adventure for my 14 year old daughter this summer. I have explored Outward Bound but would like some suggestions from parents who have had good experiences with other outfits. There are many listed on the web, but I would like a more personal referral. Thanks whitney

My son, now 15, has done Teen Quests through Camp Tawonga for the last three summers. These are trips for groups of 10-12 kids, with three counsellors, to places like the Pacific Northwest, Canada, the Southwest and Southern California. There is a lot of hiking, some backpacking and, depending on the trip, whitewater rafting, rockclimbing, or kayaking. Most important, these trips foster community and responsibility. The staff works hard to create a community in the group, keeping cliques from forming and making everyone accountable to everyone else. The kids set up camp, shop, cook, clean -- everything. Our son has come back each year happy (and filthy), with new confidence, skills and friends. It has been a wonderful part of his growing up.

Tawonga is a Jewish Camp, but kids do not have to be Jewish to go either to the Camp or on the Teen Quests. The trips do have some Jewish ritual incorporated, like making kosher meals and celebrating Shabbat. But it is pretty low key, especially since not all the kids and/or counsellors are Jewish. We are culturally Jewish but non-practicing, and basically atheist. The ritual part of Tawonga was no problem for us.

Check out www.Tawonga.org Big Tawonga Fan