Spring is here and that means it’s almost time for summer camp fun! From the coast of North Carolina to the mountains of West Virginia, there are camps tailored to young nature lovers. We’ve compiled a list of summer camps to get your kids outside, where they can meet lifelong friends and learn about protecting ecosystems and enjoying the great outdoors.
By Madison Hinshaw
Sea Turtle Camp
Location: Topsail Island, N.C.
Age: 13-17; Session: 11 days
Sea Turtle Camp is an 11-day program where campers will care for and explore the habitat of sea turtles at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital. Campers will earn up to 20 community service hours working on eco-service projects describing the challenges facing all sea turtles and studying the coastal habitats from the muddy marshes to the ocean floor.
Green River Preserve
Location: Blue Ridge Mountains, N.C.
Age: 7-17; Session: 1-3 week sessions
Located on a 3,400 acre wildlife preserve, this co-ed overnight camp experience hiking scenic trails, exploring beautiful waterfalls and tracking the preserve’s wildlife. Campers will learn to fly fish, rock climbing, gardening, and will spend one night camping under the stars.
Eagle’s Nest Camp
Location: Pisgah Forest, N.C.
Age: 5-14; Session: 1-3 weeks
Eagle’s Nest Camp is located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. Eagle’s Nest encourages campers to live simply and reconnect with the core values of nature. All activities promote community awareness and a connection with nature whether they are learning about art, music, biology or forest survival.
UNC Wilmington MarineQuest
Location: Wilmington, N.C.
Age: 5-17; Session: 1-3 weeks
Spend a week, or three, exploring some of North Carolina’s coastal wildlife from the tiniest microbes to the largest whale. Learn about chemistry, video production or how to scuba dive in MarineQuest’s various summer camp programs.
Location: Greenville, Tenn.
Age: 5-14; Session: one day, two days (overnight stay), three days (overnight stay)
Camp Explore, located at the Clyde Austin 4-H Center, is committed to enhancing children’s awareness of the environment. Students learn by hands-on, experiential activities like studying wildlife, observing and sampling stream water, and orienteering with maps and a compass.
Smoky Mountain Adventure Camp
Location: Smoky Mountains, Tenn.
Age: 8-18; Session: 5 days to 4 weeks
An adventurous summer camp a stone throw away from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Smoky Mountain Adventure Camp takes advantage of all that the environment has to offer. From backcountry hikes, to rock climbing, to horseback riding, each session is sure to pack in the fun.
Tate’s Day Camp
Location: Knoxville, Tenn.
Age: 3-13; Session: 4-5 days
Tate’s Day Camp provides campers with traditional camp activities like swimming, canoeing, along with hands-on nature studies and group initiative activities. Tate’s sits on 50+ acres of land that includes a fishing pond and recreational fields.
Location: Duck River, Tenn.
Age: 5-11; Session: one week
Inspiring a love of nature, campers will build forts, explore creeks, hike, make arts and crafts, watch birds and learn about organic gardening. Camp Idyllwild is located on a rural 30 acre piece of land surrounded by a spring-fed creek serving as a daily main attraction for most campers.
Life Adventure Center of the Bluegrass
Location: Versailles, Ky.
Age: 7-18; Session: 1 day or 2 days (overnight stay)
Life Adventure Center is situated on a 575 acre farm in the heart of horse country. They offer various programs from environmental education, to wilderness living, to the challenge course. Life Adventure Center strives to engage, educate and empower each participant.
Bear Creek Aquatic Camp
Location: Kentucky Lake, Ky.
Ages: 10-18; Sessions: 1-2 weeks
Bear Creek Aquatic Camp is a Girl Scout camp located on Kentucky Lake, featuring over 200 acres of waterfront property and 2 miles of shoreline. Campers learn sailing, windsurfing, archery, horseback riding, hiking and more.
Camp John Currie on Kentucky Lake
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources
Location: Kentucky Lake, Ky.
Age: 9-12, Session: 5 days
While at Camp John Currie, campers begin intensive and basic instruction in the safe pursuit of outdoor activities like outdoor survival, boating, fishing/casting and swimming. Completion of camp activity entitles each camper to an achievement patch or award.
“Geology Rocks” Camp
Location: Henderson, Ky.
Age: 10-12; Session: 3 days (9 a.m. to noon)
Located in John James Audubon Park, Geology Rocks Camp will teach campers about minerals and how they are formed. They will also study the earth’s layers and plate techtonics and fossils found in the Ohio River Basin.
West Virginia State Conservation Camp
Location: Webster County, WV.
Age: 14-18; Session: 5 days
Cost: $185 (with sponsor)
Campers enjoy an action packed week filled with interactive workshops, group assemblies, recreation opportunities, evening campfires and social events. Located in the rustic mountains of West Virginia, Conservation Camp teaches campers the importance of fish management, forest protection along with other skills to become more aware of nature conservation.
Burgundy Center For Wildlife Studies
Location: Capon Bridge, WV.
Age: 8-15; Session: 1-2 weeks
Located in a remote valley of the West Virginia Appalachians, the Burgundy Center’s purpose is to educate its campers about the natural world. Campers will handle plants and animals, participate in hiking trips and will go on a couple overnight camping trips.
Camp Greenbrier For Boys
Location: Alderson, WV.
Age: 7-18; Session: 3 or 5 weeks
Camp Greenbrier is an all boys camp located in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virgina. From kayaking, to rock climbing, to woodcrafting, the sessions are full of adventurous activities that each camper can enjoy.
Camp Rim Rock For Girls
Location: Yellow Spring, WV.
Age: 7-17; Session: 1-4 weeks
Camp Rim Rock is an all girls camp with a well-rounded program. Campers participate in activities like performing arts, arts and crafts, horseback riding and various sports. While campers learn to work with others in these activities, they also learn to work individually, building self-esteem.
Location: Rockbridge County, Va.
Age: 9-18; Session: 2 weeks
Nature Camp is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, and teaches its campers the importance of conserving and protecting the environment and to become more informed on the earth’s natural resources. Campers will explore nature through hands-on, outdoor and experiential learning.
Browne Summer Camp
Location: Alexandria, Va.
Age: 3-13; Session: 8 weeks (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
Cost: $270-390 per week
Browne Summer Camp is a day camp with a new theme each week. From exploring the arctic, to working some magic, this camp is filled with fun from the beginning to end of summer. Campers will engage in sports, arts, and crafts, along with taking various field trips.
Virginia Aquarium Summer Camp
Location: Virginia Beach, Va.
Age: 5-15; Session: 2-5 days
Virginia Aquarium camps focus on marine science, other types of science and nature. Campers will learn through animal interactions, outdoor investigations and hands-on activities. Located along Virginia Beach, campers will participate in dolphin watching, snorkeling and other activities tailored to each program.
Outdoor Discovery Trip
Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing
Location: New Castle, Va.
Age: 8-12; Session: 1 week
The Outdoor Discovery Trip allows campers to explore the outdoors and the wildlife that comes with it. Campers not only learn to camp and canoe, but they also gain other skills like caving, rock climbing and outdoor survival skills.