Adventure camps in Washington and Idaho provide unique, adrenaline-pumping opportunities that teach specialized recreation and nature-based skills. And with today’s alarming increase in mental health challenges among children and teens, today’s “Pandemic Generation” need summer camps more than ever.
Here is a list of summer camps for 2022 that offer high adventure and intensive outdoor experiences, from backcountry expeditions and survival skills to mountain biking and ziplining. In addition to day and resident camps based in the Inland Northwest, multi-day travel expeditions take place throughout the Pacific Northwest region and mountain West destinations, including national parks.
Breakwater Expeditions: Teen Wilderness Trips
Specializing in backcountry trips (7-14 days) and high-adventure recreation, including canoeing, canyoneering, backpacking, whitewater rafting, and sea kayaking. Though Breakwater Expeditions is headquartered in Sandpoint, Idaho, their summer 2022 adventure travel destinations include Moab, Utah; Yellowstone and the Missouri River; and Puget Sound’s San Juan Islands.
Overnight camps for grades 1–12 (plus a family session) with waterfront and adventure recreation that includes paddling, water trampoline, and “The Blob”; horseback riding; archery; rock climbing; high ropes course and zipline; and mountain boards. Camp Spalding is located on 500 wooded acres at Davis Lake, near Newport, Wash.
Camp Spalding has a variety of recreation, including watersports and horseback riding (photos courtesy of Camp Spalding), as well as group games (photo: Amy McCaffree).
Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance: Dirt Camps
Kids learn technical mountain bike skills—including balance, obstacles, drops and jumps, and uphill and downhill riding—and gain confidence on their mountain bikes. Evergreen East, the Eastern Washington Chapter of Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, hosts its camps at Beacon Hill/Camp Sekani in Spokane for ages 8–13 (girls-only session available).
Other statewide chapters host Dirt Camps for kids as young as 6 years old.
Evergreen East Dirt Camp in Spokane at Beacon Hill Bike Park. // Photo courtesy Evergreen East..
Mt. Spokane Mountain Adventure & Mountain Bike Skills Day Camps
Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park expanded its summer day camps program for 2022, based on popularity and high-demand that led to sold-out camp sessions last summer.
Mountain Adventure Day Camps (three days, ages 5–14) feature outdoor games and activities such as hiking, climbing, and crafts, while teaching environmental stewardship within Mount Spokane State Park.
Mountain Bike Skills Camps (four days) teach technical riding skills, flat-tire fixing, and trail maintenance. Sessions tailored for beginners and all levels (ages 7–15) as well as advanced riders (ages 10–17). Includes daily bike games and trail-riding.
Peak 7 Adventures: Backpacking
Peak 7, based in Spokane, provides Introductory backpacking courses for high-school and middle-school age youth with multiday expeditions in either Olympic or North Cascades national parks. Backcountry and technical outdoor skills include compass navigation, map reading, gear management, food prep, risk assessment, and basic first aid. High-school course includes alpine snow travel with an ice axe.
Peak 7 also have offices in Seattle and Portland, offering a range of programs for youth and families throughout the Northwest.
Schweitzer Adventure Day Camp
Atop Schweitzer Mountain, Adventure Camp for ages 6–10 includes hiking, chairlift rides, swimming, village games, climbing wall, and trampoline jumper. Transportation is provided from the Schweitzer parking lot at the mountain base.
SOLE—Selkirk Outdoor Leadership & Education
SOLE designs and facilitates experiential outdoor education programs. Programs include Junior Naturalist day camp for ages 4–9; Outdoor Leadership day camp for ages 10–12, with adventure and service-learning activities; and Backcountry Expeditions for ages 13–17.
Spokane Parks & Recreation Day Camps
The City of Spokane’s Parks & Recreation department provides a fully-summer schedule of camps for kids as young as 6 years old.
Adventures day camps are based at Riverside State Park with sessions for ages 8–11 and 12–15. Three recreation-focused options are available: 1) All Adventures: hiking, kayaking, rafting, rock climbing, and other recreation; 2) Climbing Adventures: rock climbing instruction at indoor climbing gyms, followed by outdoor rock climbing with instructors from Peak 7 Adventures; 3) Wild and Wacky Water Adventures: survival skill-building plus the “All Adventures” activities.
Wilderness Survival Camps, based at Camp Sekani Park, feature hands-on scenarios requiring teamwork and problem-solving during introductory (ages 6–9) and advanced sessions (ages 9–14). Skills include fire and shelter-building, navigation, rope and knots, tool use, and knife safety.
Twin Eagles Wilderness School.
Twin Eagles day and overnight camps connect youth with nature while teaching survival skills, including foraging, making fire with friction, wildlife tracking, and natural shelter building, and much more. Due to high demand this summer, a waitlist is available.
Twin Eagles’ summer campers connect with nature with hands-on survival skills, including foraging, making fire with friction, wildlife tracking, and natural shelter building. // Photos courtesy of Twin Eagles Wilderness School.
Washington Trails Association: Youth Volunteer Programs
WTA offers community service projects focus on building and maintaining hiking trails in Washington State. Choose between Day Work Parties for ages 10+ and week-long Summer Volunteer Vacations for ages 14–18, which includes camping. Three teen trip options: Frontcountry, Backcountry (prior experience required), and Shared Identity (all girls crew and LGBTQ+ crew).
Wild Walls Climbing Gym: Indoor Climbing Camp
Located in downtown Spokane, Wild Walls offers week-long camps for ages 7–14. Although indoor, it’s no less adventurous to learn top-roping, bouldering, belaying, climbing technique, slacklining, and much more. No experience necessary.
Recreation at Camp Spalding includes ziplining, “The Blob” and other lakefront activities and watersports, and archery. // Photos courtesy Camp Spalding.
Not sure if your child is ready for an overnight camp? Here are some helpful stories and resources from past Family Outdoors Guides: “When Are Kids Ready for Summer Camp?” and “Choosing the Right Summer Camp for Your Kid.”