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Beyond Soccer — Summer Camps for Fans of Nontraditional Sports

Supplement the usual summer sports with something new, from rock climbing to horseback riding and more

Published on: January 29, 2020

little boy rock climbing

If your little sport doesn’t go in for the usual suspects — say, soccer, basketball and baseball — but still wants to enjoy getting physical, check out these summer camp candidates. There is an abundance of area camps that offer opportunities to learn a new water sport, such as sailing, kayaking, paddleboarding or rowing; scramble on rocks indoors or out; compete in Ultimate Frisbee; hike or learn to backpack; and more. Read on for a list of sporty camps that will rock your kid’s summer!

Climbing

Seattle Bouldering Project

Kids ages 6–12 can learn to climb while also conquering obstacle courses, playing games and running relays. For teens ages 12 and older, check out Junior Training camp, which is tailored for kids who want to improve their climbing skills.

Ages: 6–12, 12 and older

Dates: Various

Cost: Kids’ summer camps are $250/week for members, $300/week for nonmembers; teen training camps are $275/week for members and $325/week for nonmembers.

Ultimate Frisbee

DiscNW

Ultimate Frisbee is a team sport that combines the nonstop movement of soccer with the passing skills of football. One of the unique qualities of Ultimate Frisbee is that it is governed by the spirit of the game, which puts the responsibility for playing fair on the players instead of referees.

Grades: 3–12

Dates: Various; camps at Seattle, Bellevue and Tacoma locations run 9 a.m.–3 p.m.

Cost: Per-day and per-week rates apply; see website.

Sailing

The Center for Wooden Boats

Campers learn beginning sailing on 20-foot livery boats. Skills include knot tying, sail trimming, rigging and water safety. It’s the perfect introduction for future mariners. Check the website for a complete list of 2020 offerings, including advanced sailing camps for teens.

Ages: 12 and older

Dates: July 6–10, 9 a.m.–noon

Cost: $275; “pay what you can” scholarships are available.

Rowing

Pocock Rowing Center

Participants learn to row during this fun two-week fitness-building camp. Students will be introduced to the basics, such as equipment, water safety and waterway navigation, as well as play games on land and build strength. And of course — they get to race!

Grades: 6–12

Dates: Middle schoolers’ camp dates are June 29–July 10; high schoolers’ camp dates are July 13–24; times for both are 9 a.m.–noon.

Cost: $329

Backpacking

Ozette Triangle Backpacking Adventure Camp

A perfect introduction to backpacking, this camp teaches backcountry skills, such as navigation with a map and compass, cooking and setting up camp. All of this takes place in the Ozette Triangle, a triangular trail through forest and along coastline.

Ages: 10–14

Dates: July 28–30

Cost: $430 for members, $480 for guests

Advanced Climbing Week

Campers will enjoy learning to rock climb in the great outdoors. Not only will kids learn to climb, but will also experience rappelling, belaying and column climbing. Camp culminates in a field trip to a climbing area known as Exit 38, off Interstate 90, to test their skills.

Ages: 9–12

Dates: Aug. 17–21, 8:45 a.m.– 4 p.m., with before-camp and after-camp care available for an additional cost

Cost: $410 for members, $470 for guests

Water Week

This camp includes traditional favorites such as singing songs, making crafts and playing games, along with kayaking on Lake Washington and rafting down the Skykomish River. Other skills, such as climbing and wilderness survival, are also taught.

Ages: 6–12

Dates: June 22–26, 8:45 a.m.– 4 p.m., with before-camp and after-camp care available for an additional cost

Cost: $470 for members, $520 for guests

Hike Week

Each day presents a new hiking adventure in this full-day camp. Sign up for one day or all five. Choose from a short, flat hike to Heybrook Lookout on Monday, which is perfect for beginners, or hike Wallace Falls, a 4-mile hike with 1,300 feet of elevation gain. Other hikes include Bridal Veil Falls, Little Si and Lodge Lake.

Ages: 6–12

Dates: June 29–July 3, 9 a.m.– 4 p.m.

Cost: $95 per day

The Mountaineers provides many other summer camps — check the website for a complete list of 2020 offerings. 

little boy paddleboarding
Credit: Ben White, Unsplash

Kayaking, Paddleboarding and Sailing 

Moss Bay

Participants have fun with teammates and play games on Lake Union’s protected waterways while learning water safety and skills. Campers will learn to sail, paddleboard and kayak at new water destinations daily.

Ages: 6–12

Dates: TBA

Cost: $405

For more camps that are all about the H2O, see parentmap.com/water.

Multisport Camps

High Trek Everett Sports and Adventure Camps

For a mashup of unusual and traditional sports and activities, check out High Trek. Sports day camps include favorites such as kickball, soccer and badminton, along with fencing, archery and snookball. Bonus: Campers also get to tackle the facility’s epic ropes course, zip lines, laser tag battlefield and miniature golf course!

Ages: 7–13

Dates: Various

Cost: $375 for full-day camp (five days, 8:30 a.m.–4:15 p.m.); half-day camps offered for three days ($225) and five days ($250), 12:30–4:15 p.m.; after-camp care available for an additional cost

Fencing

Emerald City Fencing

Fencing provides a great workout while promoting coordination, speed, agility and confidence. Plus, what kid doesn’t want to cross swords (or épées) with others in a safe and fun environment? Camp is a great way to try out fencing, and all required equipment is provided for the perfect beginner experience. This might even turn into a lifelong sport!

Ages: 7–10 (beginner), 11–15 (cadet)

Dates: Half-day camps are offered two weeks in July, four in August; beginner camp runs 9 a.m.–noon, cadet camp runs 1–4 p.m.

Cost: Early-bird pricing is $250 until April 1.

little girl brushing a pony

Horseback Riding

Northwest Natural Horsemanship Center

If your child is an animal lover, horseback riding might be just the sport for them. Spending time around animals has been shown to increase levels of serotonin, a chemical produced by nerve cells that is a natural mood stabilizer associated with feelings of happiness and well-being. Riding also increases strength, especially in the core and legs. Northwest Natural Horsemanship Center in Fall City offers three levels of horse camp:

“Horse Crazy” Camp, for riders ages 5–7; June 22–26 and July 27–31; $300

Horsemanship and Riding Camp, for riders ages 8–16; July 6–10, 13–17 and Aug. 3–7; 9 a.m.–4 p.m.; $550

Wrangler Camp, for riders ages 10–16; July 20–24 and Aug. 10–14; 9 a.m.–4 p.m.; $600

For a corral full of more horse-camp options, see parentmap.com/horse-camps.

No matter which of these camps your child decides to attend, learning one of these unique sports will prove a fun summer experience. And who knows? Maybe your kid will discover a passion that will lead to a lifetime of enjoying physical activity!

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