US: Southeast, Family Camps - Affordable Summer Family Vacation Fun.
Family camp requires no management skills. From exotic up-close animal encounters at Busch Gardens or mother/daughter sailing lessons in North Carolina to space simulations at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville or river rafting at Ace Adventure in West Virginia. Family camps make it easy to be a kid with your kids.
We have found some interesting options for families. Many of them have a great high value lost cost ratio, in other words a bargain. The catch is that the places and spaces fill quickly. West Virginia: Ace Adventure Camp.
Located along the New River Gorge National River ACE is not officially a “family camp” but the 1400-acre wooded adventure complex has the atmosphere and appearance of a camp wonderland. Families can enjoy water fun in the lake, kayaking, canoeing, horseback riding, rock climbing, cave expeditions, mountain biking and all day rapid experiences all from base camp. Famous for world-class whitewater rafting on the Gauley River, they also offer lots of activities suitable for kids as young as six on the upper New River. Sleeping options include campsites, per night, platform tents, chalets and one retreat house by the lake. All-inclusive vacation packages are available. Need to know:
The Camp ACE option provides kids and parents a full day together rafting the Upper New River, plus one to five of "kids only" adventures giving parents "camp days" of their own. Bonus points:
In deluxe lodging, children 13 or younger stay free with paying adult. (ACE Whitewater & Adventure Center, Oak Hill, 25901, USA. 1(304) 469-2651 or toll-free 1-888-223-7238 or www.aceraft.com
) North Carolina: Arapahoe, Camp Seafarer.
Located on the water, this YMCA Camp facility offers family camp weeks and special weekend camps. The family camps give the entire family the opportunity to relax, have fun and regroup while someone else takes care of the details. Bonus points:
Each year they host "One for the Girls Weekend," a mother/daughter weekend filled with fun, including sailing, power boating, canoeing, and low-rope initiatives. There is also a camper/dad weekend that includes time to sing your favorite camp songs, participate in skits, try sailing, golf tournament, powerboats, basketball fishing tournament soccer, tennis and softball, canoeing swimming and volleyball. (YMCA Camp 2744 Seafarer Road, 218 Sea Gull Landing Arapahoe, NC 28510 USA. 1(252) 249-1212 or www.seagull-seafarer.org
) Virginia: Wintergreen, Family Wonders.
Enjoy all of the advantages of a world class resort and take part in innovative parent/child excursions. Innovative hands-on learning opportunities allow young naturalists to explore new interests with older family members. The programs strive to create an awareness of the environment through positive nature experiences. The summer programs allow families to enjoy the outdoors together. Spend the day on the beautiful James River where parent-child teams will learn the basics of canoeing on this gentle stretch of the river and discover the teamwork it takes to stay the right course. Enjoy horseback riding and numerous family programs using the Out of Bounds Adventure Center and the Wintergreen Nature Center. (The Wintergreen Nature Foundation Nellysford, VA 22958. 1(434) 325-7451 or www.twnf.org
and Wintergreen Resort Route 664 Wintergreen, VA 22958 or www.WintergreenResort.com
) Alabama: Family Space Camp.
The thrilling weekend camp provides participants with nonstop activities. Parent/child teams explore the history (both up to present and future) of space flight and experience the sensations of real shuttle launches from giant-screen IMAX movies showing. The three-day camp for children ages 7-12 provides hands-on fun. This program is designed to give families an overview of space exploration, while experiencing very real space simulations. Bonus points:
Participants also get a packet of exciting activities to explore scientific concepts at home. (United States Space & Rocket Center NASA Visitor Center, P.O. Box 070015.Huntsville, 35807, USA. Toll-free 1-800-637-7223, 1(256) 837-3400 or www.spacecamp.com
) Florida: Tampa, Busch Gardens Family Camp.
Families can also share a minicamp experience by registering for the special parent-child sleepovers offered throughout the year. The idea is to enjoy the park after dark including roller coasters, innovative shows and see the creatures of the night. Engage in fun crafts and activities, and a chance to make friends and memories for a lifetime; concluding a full evening of family fun sleepover at Mzinga Lodge, the secure on-site dormitory. The unique “Summer Nights” include frontline access to rides and shows; nocturnal animal interaction; overnight accommodations; dinner & continental breakfast; t-shirt and water bottle, plus a “Sunrise Safari” across the Serengeti Plain. (Busch Gardens 3605 Bougainvillea Avenue Tampa, FL 33612 USA. 1-877-BGT-CAMP, International visitors should call (813) 987-5252 or www.swbg-adventurecamps.com
) Content researched and written by FTF. Images from FTF. Copyright 2008. Updated 2011.