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Summer Camps in the Great Outdoors

Animal tracking, wild cooking, white water rafting and more!

Published on: February 05, 2024

A group of kids on a small bridge over a pound at an outdoor camp

Time spent in nature can improve mental health as well as develop skills needed to lead an active lifestyle. The following summer camps offer ultracool activities, such as animal tracking, wild cooking, white water rafting, backpacking, rock climbing and many more. Whether you choose a day camp or overnight experience, your child will have a blast.

Arboretum Summer Camp (Seattle)

This camp offers two locations this year, the Washington Park Arboretum and the Center for Urban Horticulture. Campers will get dirty while playing and investigating the natural world around them; they’ll also walk the trails and learn to identify flora and fauna. Choose from one- or two-week camps, which are filled by lottery.

Dates: Various
Ages: 6–14
Cost: $400–$800

Trackers Seattle (Kenmore)

Campers learn wilderness survival skills in these award-winning day camps. Campers will make new friends while exploring and learning skills such as animal tracking, archery, homesteading, foraging, fishing, boating and more.

Dates: Weekly, starting June 24; July 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29; Aug. 5, 12, 19 and 26
Grades: K–9
Cost: $510–$540

Camp Nor’wester (Johns Island, San Juan Islands)

In these monthlong camps, kids will learn outdoor skills as well as sailing, hiking, rock climbing and archery, to name a few. Each session includes overnight trips in which campers hone their wilderness survival skills.

Dates: June 23–July 20 and July 24–Aug. 20
Ages: 9–16
Cost: $6,150–$7,150, financial aid available

Avid4 Adventure (Bellevue)

These day camps offer kids a chance to learn mountain biking, rock climbing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and other outdoor sports. Campers will come home with skills to help them enjoy an active outdoor lifestyle in the years to come.

Dates: Weekly, starting June 24; July 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29; Aug. 5 and 12
Grades: K–7
Cost: $649

Wolf Camp (Lake Sammamish, Puyallup, Mount Rainier)

These cool camps feature a 6-to-1 counselor-to-camper ratio and give kids the opportunity to learn wilderness survival, herbology, wild cooking, foraging, animal tracking, animal search and rescue, ancient artisan skills and even advanced earth conservation. Wolf Camp offers both day and overnight camp experiences.

Dates: Various
Ages: 8–17 (7-year-olds can join an older sibling)
Cost: $495–$1,075 (sliding scale, financial aid and returning camper discounts available)

Wilderness Awareness School (multiple locations)

Wilderness Awareness School uses its own “coyote mentoring” techniques, which blend ancient and modern ways of connecting with nature. With a small staff-to-student ratio, campers will learn about nature while also learning practical lessons, such as survival skills, animal tracking, plant identification and more.

Dates: Various
Ages: 6–18
Cost: $575–$1,595

Camp Gallagher (Lakebay)

This overnight camp for middle school and high school students offers a variety of activities, including canoeing, sailing, swimming, games and crafts. Some camps feature a one- to two-night excursion in which campers travel to another campsite and work as a team.

Dates: June 24–July 2; July 6–11, 14–22 and July 26–Aug. 1; Aug. 5–14 and 17–25
Grades: 7–12
Cost: $805–$1,341

Alpengirl (multiple locations in Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana)

Alpengirl camps include a variety of adventure activities, such as backpacking, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, sea kayaking, rock climbing and more. With 1-to-4 and 1-to-6 counselor-to-camper ratios, girls can develop confidence and lasting friendships.

Dates: Various
Ages: 12–16
Cost: $1,845–$4,295

Camp Fire Central Puget Sound (multiple locations)

For older teens who crave adventure, Camp Sealth offers three overnight camps for kids in grades 8–10. Kids can choose from hiking and white water rafting during Cascades in Action camp; check out lava tubes and hike around Mount St. Helens during Volcano Venture camp; or try a couple of days backpacking and then return to camp for traditional activities when they sign up for the Cascades Backpacking camp. Camps are gender inclusive, which means coed cabins are available as requested.

Read more about the gender-inclusive policies.

Dates: Various
Grades: 8–10
Cost: $1225–$1425, with tiered pricing

YMCA Outdoor Leadership Camps (various locations)

Boys & Girls Outdoor Leadership (BOLD & GOLD) offers tweens and teens amazing outdoor experiences while teaching leadership skills. Rock climbing at Mount Erie, hiking through the rainforest and backpacking on the beach are just a sample of the types of camps offered. There are also all-gender options.

Dates: Various
Grades: 6–college
Cost: $1,215–$3,995

Adventure Treks (multiple locations)

Exclusively for teens, campers will enjoy the outdoors while facing physical challenges such as rafting, climbing, hiking, biking, camping, kayaking and canoeing as a group. While having fun in beautiful places, teens gain confidence, leadership skills and outdoor skills that set them up for a successful future.

Dates: Various
Ages: 13–18
Cost: $4,295–$7,095

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