Summer is prime time for kids to romp in the woods, get dirty, climb trees, and take new risks. Around the region, there are summer camps devoted to helping children of all ages learn more about nature, camping, science, and all things related to the great outdoors.
TWIN EAGLES WILDERNESS SCHOOL
This innovative, unique school, based in Sandpoint, Idaho, and operating since 2005, has camps throughout the summer to learn wilderness survival skills, foraging, animal tracking, natural shelter building, traditional archery and more. Youth enjoy personalized attention with adult mentors as they explore, learn and develop deeper connections with nature. With sessions in Spokane, Sandpoint and now in Coeur d’Alene, Twin Eagles’ day camp program (ages 6-13) features three different themes: Nature Adventurers, Wilderness Survival and Nature Ninjas. Overnight camps (ages 10-18) are more intense experiences and may include challenging activities such as nighttime scout games and wilderness survival campouts. This spring, Twin Eagles hosts a father-son wilderness weekend retreat (April 28-May 1). Twineagles.org, 208-265-3685.
Located on the shores of Davis Lake and 500 wooded acres at the foot of the Selkirk Mountain Range, near Newport, this Presbyterian-affiliated Christian camp offers Pioneer Camp, with different sessions for various school-age groups, grades 2-12. Different from Spalding’s regular program, Pioneer Campers sleep in an authentic 18’ Sioux tipi, cook meals over an open campfire, and hike to an overnight campsite. Other camp sessions include “Mom, Dad, and Me Overnight” for children entering grades K-2 (June 16-17), an all-ages Family Camp (August 16-20), and 3-6 night camps for different developmental ages: Discovery (three nights, children entering grades 2-4); Junior (six nights, grades 5-6), and Junior High and Senior High. Overnight accommodations include the Clearwater Lodge or cabins. New for this summer is a nature and crafts building with a wrap-around deck and “four glass garage doors that roll up to give the building a pavilion-feel,” says Camp Director Andy Sonneland. “It will serve as dedicated space for our popular crafts program, a base for our nature program, and a popular gathering space in the heart of the camp.” Campspalding.org, 509-731-4244.
BEN BURR SUMMER CAMP
Spokane’s East Central Community Center is offering a day camp (8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.) for ages 5-12 to experience hands-on learning about science, cultural diversity, history, gardening and art, as well as field trips, games-based sports, weekly swimming at the Liberty Park pool, and hikes to learn about local ecology. Ecspokane.org/youth-summer-camp, 509-868-0856.
ART OF NATURE DAY CAMP
The 5th annual Art of Nature day camp in Coeur d’Alene, for 2nd – 6th graders, will take place July 17-21. This day camp hosted by the Kootenai Environmental Alliance combines art, science and nature adventures. kealliance.org, 208-667-9093.
WEST VALLEY OUTDOOR LEARNING CENTER
At Spokane city and county libraries, the center’s staff will conduct “entertaining and educational presentations for families and children” to learn about animal homes, according to Director Jami Ostby Marsh, which includes “interaction with live animals like birds of prey, tortoises, hedge hogs or insects. Participants will also take home a fun project to do, related to animal homes.” Olc.wvsd.org, 509-340-1028.
SPOKANE PARKS AND RECREATION
Outdoor day camps include horseback riding (ages 8-13), outdoor adventures with different weekly themes for youth (ages 8-11) and teenagers (ages 12-15), and a 3-day stand-up paddleboard camp (ages 12-15). For older teens and adults, there are 1-day excursions, such as day-hikes and a canoe or paddleboard tour of Plese Flats (ages 15+). There is also a Wild Walls Indoor Summer Climbing Camp (ages 9-14, four sessions available), as well as various sports camps. At the Corbin Art Center, there are day camps focusing on science, ecology and conservation themes – half-day sessions for preschool (ages 3-5) or full-day for elementary (ages 6-12). Camps include “Surf & Sea Safari” (June 26-30, preschool); “Environmental Superheroes” (July 10-14, elementary); “Science ‘Art’splosions” (July 17-21, elementary); “Animals at Night” (July 17-21, preschool); and “Science & Nature Camp” (August 7-11, preschool). My.spokanecity.org/parksrec/, 509-625-6200.
PEAK 7 ADVENTURES
Based in Spokane, Peak 7 offers a 50+ day excursion-based Bower Adventure Course for ages 15-18 (June 19-August 11), for both males and females. This course will provide opportunity to be “certified as a Wilderness First Responder, backpack on the Olympic Peninsula, summit a peak in the North Cascades, experience a 24-hour solo time, learn basics of sport climbing, raft through class III-IV whitewater on several rivers, and spend a week serving others in the community,” according to Peak 7’s webpage. Peak7.org, 509-467-5550.
WASHINGTON TRAILS ASSOCIATION
Youth Volunteer Vacation for teenagers, ages 14-18, is an opportunity to camp and complete 40 hours of volunteer trail work at locations around the state. The local “vacation” is at Sullivan Lake in northeast Washington, June 25-30 and includes working on restoration of trails in the Salmo-Priest Wilderness within the Colville National Forest. With the East Sullivan Lake Campground as base camp, work may include brushing, treadwork, rock work and ford improvement of trails, including the Sullivan Nature Trail, Elk Creek Falls and Red Bluff Trail. Wta.org/volunteer/youth/youth-trail-work-parties/youth.
NORTHWEST MUSEUM OF ARTS & CULTURE (MAC)
The MAC is again offering day camps that explore art and natural science topics, with sessions divided into three age groups (grades 2-3, 4-5, and 6-7). Some of the weekly camp themes include Animal Camp, July 31-August 4, and Exploration Camp, Aug. 7-11. Northwestmuseum.org, 509-363-5355.
WSU COUGAR KIDS CAMP
“Explore the Outdoors” is the day camp theme for July 17-21. Sponsored by Washington State University (Pullman campus), in partnership with the university’s Outdoors Program, children entering grades 3-6 will learn Leave No Trace principles, campsite setup and outdoor cooking, and compass and map navigation. A hike led by the Adventure Program staff will be the week’s capstone event, along with an optional overnight campout (July 21). Urec.wsu.edu/cougarkids/cougar-kids-camp, 509-335-2218.
KEENs POND TO PINES
Based in Ellensburg, Wash., the Kittitas Environmental Education Network (KEEN) is offering 9-weeks of summer day camps at Helen McCabe State Park, from June 19 to August 18, with weekly themes for K-9th grade age groups. Themes include Nature’s Playground, Wild Wildlife, Survivor and Aquatic Explorations, among others. There is also a half-day preschool camp (ages 2.5-4). Ycic.org/keens-summer-camp-pond-to-pines, 509-551-0087. //