The 2014 summer camp listing
Time was when all summer camps were weeklong retreats into rustic surroundings where kids could enjoy some time outside, improve some social skills, and—the best part—take delight in acting utterly childish while learning how to be a little more grown up. Camp was something most kids yearned to do.
Today there are as many kinds of camps as there are topics, addressing nearly every array of interests. And weeklong day camps have overtaken boarding camps as the most popular—in part because working parents need “some coverage” during summer months.
Still, despite all the changes in American society over the last few decades, summer camps have stood the test of time, says Jill Atchessen, a retired Northern Virginia family therapist. “Whether day camps or overnight,” she said, “it’s one of the few things that have been able to keep the best traditions of the past while changing to meet the needs of modern families.”
Take nature, for example. Spending time outdoors is more important now than ever before, says Atchessen. “When I was a kid, it was fun to swim in a lake for a week. Now, for some kids, it’s their only access to nature. And most camps, whether for math, or science or art, tend to give kids a little time outdoors.”
Another summer camp tradition, that of being totally off grid from contact with friends and family, offers an antidote to today’s plugged-in culture. Most camps have a no cell phone rule, and getting kids unplugged without access to cell phones for several hours a day, or a week for overnight camps, is a benefit cited by many parents of campers. “When kids take a break from television and electronic devices they rediscover creativity, and how to navigate the challenges of the real world, including their own emotions when thrust into a situation of meeting new people,” said Ellen Brevard, who develops education programs for day camps.
Something else that hasn’t changed: Camp helps children build self-confidence. Removed from the pressure of getting a grade or being the best, kids get to learn new things on their own terms. “Camp is a real boost for young people,” said Brevard. “The good ones are designed to give every kid a chance to finish a project every day, to learn something new every day.”
In and near Clarke County there are several day and overnight camps offering programs ranging from the arts to Bible study to outdoor adventure and equestrian skills. Some are all day, even offering pre-camp drop off for an additional fee. Others are half-day, with morning and/or afternoon sessions.
The Observer’s 2014 Summer Camp Directory will get you started in your search for the summer camp that fits your child’s interests and your family’s budget.
Blandy Experimental Farm
Camp Sandy Cove
Christian overnight and day camps
Clarke County Historical Association
milling, history, conservation camps
Clarke County Parks & Rec
sports, art, science, business
The Old Opera House
The Outdoor Education Center of For Love of Children (FLOC)
wilderness, frontier, survival, patriots
day & overnight camps
horse lovers camps
Keystone Baptist Church
soccer, Chinese culture camps
Oak Hart Farm
farm, exploration, cooking camps
Opus Oaks, An Art Place
Powhatan Summer Camps
pre-k/k, invention, sports camps
outdoor adventure, aerial park camps