When we were kids, our parents took the approach of tiring us out. Our evenings and weekends were jam packed with bike rides, hikes, and camping trips. They left us with no time for boredom. On weekdays, we were sent us out the door, and it locked behind us almost immediately. “Go play,” they would say, and we would return only to refuel, then we were quickly gone again.
If you were fortunate enough to attend camp as a kid, it's probable that you made some pretty magical memories there. For us, it was that week of summer we looked forward to most, and for those of us who are parents now, it is still the week we look forward to most. We are huge fans of anything that gets the kids outdoors, encourages them to step out of their comfort zones, helps them make new friends, and develop new skills. It really is incredible to have your child come home after a week of independence, clearly more confident than when you dropped them off. We loved summer camp as kids, and we love summer camp as adults, too.
To help you with the selection process, we've rounded up five camps we wish our parents had sent us to. All boasting a low camper to counsellor ratio and all offering something especially unique. Let us know what you think!
For the aspiring athlete
Name: Olympia Sports Camp
Location: Huntsville Ontario
Why we love it: We don’t know of another camp with as many athletic offerings as this one. Olympia provides a true summer camp atmosphere, with beautiful grounds and great facilities stretched along 1, 500 feet of Muskoka waterfront. In addition to athletically oriented counsellors, this camp offers coaches for 90 different sports and activities, making it the perfect pick for an athletic and energetic kid. Did we mention they have a triathalon camp? Expect to pick up an exhausted and sun soaked child at the end of the week.
For the well-rounded
Name: Muskoka Woods Sports Resort
Location: Rosseau, Ontario
Why we love it: This place is the dream camp for the child who loves to do it all. Have a kid who is creative and athletic, but want the best of both worlds? Then, this is the camp for you. The Junior High camp, for boys and girls aged 10-17, gives campers the chance to try almost anything. Campers can learn the basics of riding BMX bikes, or try other activities, like archery, cake decorating, golf, and photography, to name a few.
For the daredevil
Name: The Base
Location: Nelson, British Columbia
Why we love it: A great camp for kids who have a bigger appetite for adventure than their parents. The multi day camp at the Retallack Lodge gives (advanced to intermediate) riders an opportunity to mountain bike in the Selkirk Mountains, just west of the Kootenays. Riders will tackle descents of up to 5000 vertical feet, and will gain access to trails by off road vehicles and helicopters. Helicopters! Does it get any more exciting, really?
For the outdoor enthusiast
Name: Camp Summit
Location: Squamish, British Columbia
Why we love it: Set in the Squamish Valley, with a backdrop of mountains and forests, this camp is perfect for the kid who loves to be outside, or child that needs to unplug and re-connect with the nature. Here, staff pride themselves on understanding the impact positive camp experience can have on young people. Camp Summit offers the usual selection of summer camp activities (canoeing, kayaking, crafts, and campfires), while also giving campers a chance to try things like bouldering and mountain biking.
For the activist
Name: Camp Stella Puella
Location: Dunnville, Ontario
Why we love it: This social action and self esteem camp for girls is truly unique. In addition to offering all of the traditional camp activities, campers are educated on a variety of local and global issues, and taught to transform ideas in to action. Counsellors foster leadership opportunities and empower campers to feel comfortable in their own skin, helping them gain confidence by showing them they can make a difference in their world. At the end of the week, campers create a fundraising or awareness building campaign on a issue chosen by the group.
Did you go to camp as a kid? Do you have any tips for those of us getting ready to send our kids off for a week or two this summer?