Getting ready for your child's first summer camp experience means having real conversations about what to expect."> Getting ready for your child's first summer camp experience means having real conversations about what to expect." />

10 Conversations to Have With Your Child Before Summer Camp


Published:

Going away to summer camp for the first time is a rite of passage for your child and you. Getting ready for this adventure together means having real conversations about what to expect.

1. Choosing a destination

Start the camp conversation with your child before choosing a camp. Talk to him about what type of camp experience he wants and is ready for. Katie Johnson, executive director for the Southeast field office of the American Camp Association, suggests asking children what camp activities they most look forward to, then using this as a guide when looking at possible camps.

She says parents should also respect their children's feelings about readiness for overnight camp. Overnight camps often offer mini-sessions to help children step into a full sleep-away experience.

If children are interested in overnight camp but are nervous, consider signing up for the same camp session as close friends, suggests Jen de Ridder, the director for the YMCA Camp Hanes in King. "Going to camp with a friend can be a real confidence booster, especially for the first time," she says.

Research possible camps and narrow your choices down to two or three, says Robert Danos, assistant director for Camp Mondamin in Tuxedo. Then, let your child make the final choice. "That can work well for a child who needs to 'buy in' to the idea," he says.

2. Getting ready for fun

Once you choose a camp and register, prepare your child for the experience by stoking the excitement. Build confidence by focusing on the fun.

"Talk about the friends they will make, the skills they will develop, and even share some of your own positive camp experiences," says Brian Hollingsworth, director of Oak Hill in Oxford.

Hollingsworth cautions parents to pace themselves. "You don't want to overload them with information or too many expectations," he says. "Just keep the topic fresh and alive over time."

3. Learning routines

Review handbooks and other information about day-to-day life at camp, then share it with your child. Johnson suggests discussing how the camp routine will differ from home. "Gradually introduce this information during daily routines," she says.

Explain tasks such as making beds, packing trunks and tidying up, and how all of these things are important in a shared space. Also discuss bathroom procedures, such as what items your child should take to the bathhouse, and what to do if she needs to go to the bathroom at night.

Meals at camp are often served family style with everyone sitting around the table and pitching in to clean up. During meals at home, prepare kids for camp dining by emphasizing healthy food choices, table manners and cleaning up after oneself.

4.  Medicating appropriately

If your child takes daily medication, discuss this with the camp director and staff in advance, and prepare your child for the camp's medication procedure. Also find out what your child should do if he or she is not feeling well.

5.  Turning out the lights

Once the flurry of daytime activities ends and the fire dies down, "lights out" can be the most difficult time for some children. Visit the camp beforehand to familiarize your child with the sleeping quarters. Also give your child strategies for falling asleep, such as relaxing by deep breathing or visualizing himself in a favorite spot.

Many city children go to camp unprepared for the total darkness without streetlights. Allay fears by buying a special camp flashlight and practice using it in the dark. Also prepare your child for the symphony of insect sounds he will hear during a country night.

6. Making friends

Give children behavioral guidelines about how they should treat others and befriend camp mates. "Relationships are the heart of every camp experience," Hollingsworth says.

He also advises talking with children about the strengths and abilities they bring to the group. Their actions, gifts and talents can enrich the camp experience for everyone, Hollingsworth says.

Parents should prepare children for the diversity they are likely to experience at camp. "They will need to learn to get along with a wide variety of people," de Ridder says. Teach them to make new friends by asking about others' interests and being a good listener. Camp friendships often last a lifetime.

7. Enjoying the great outdoors

Much of summer camp fun involves being outside. Teach your child to protect herself from the elements.

Sunscreen is a must. Come up with a plan for when and how to apply it. Your child will want to ask a friend or counselor to help cover unreachable spots. Some children, especially boys, object to having others touch them to apply sunscreen. If this will be a problem for your child, send spray sunscreen, which is worth the extra expense to prevent a painful burn.

Also make sure children have basic outdoor training. Point out or show pictures of poisonous plants such as poison ivy and poison oak, and share the rhyme, "Leaves of three, let it be." Teach your child to stay with the group to avoid getting lost on outings.

8. Pining for home

Most children who go away to camp feel homesick at some point.  Don't dwell on it, but let your child know what homesickness feels like. Explain that he may feel lonely or even have a stomachache. Let him know this is normal. Reassure him that as he gets involved in camp activities, these feelings will pass. "That just means you love your family and love your life," de Ridder says.

Find out how the camp handles homesickness. Once you know the procedure, tell your child what to do if these feelings become a problem.

Danos warns parents not to give their child an "out'' after some artificial number of days if he is still missing home. "It is key for parents to let their child know that they are committed to the full session," he says.

9. Checking in

Promise to write to your child at camp and follow through, but don't promise more communication than the camp allows. De Ridder says some parents have trouble accepting not being able to communicate with their children more. They may send cellphones or expect daily email communication. She believes parents should embrace the independence fostered by the camp experience and not create unrealistic expectations for their child.

"Tell your child how excited you are about all the fun they will have and that you want to hear all about it when they get home," she says.

10.  Sharing feelings

Listen to what your child has to say about her summer camp hopes and fears. Encourage excitement and talk through concerns. Let your camper personally email or call camp directors with any questions, which encourages her to take responsibility for her camp experience, Danos suggests. Attend camp tours and open houses. Doing so gives you both a better context to discuss the upcoming camp experience.

"Visiting ahead of time allows children to see the cabins and learn where the bath house is," Johnson says. "That way parents and children have a visual."

Talking to your child about going away to camp will help prepare you as well. Parents often have mixed feelings about their children leaving the nest. Emphasize the positive to your child and know that you are giving him a wonderful experience full of fun, new friends and opportunities to learn self-reliance.

Jan Wharton is a freelance writer and mother of three from Winston-Salem. For more information, visit janwharton.com.

To find lots of camp options, visit our Camp Directories.

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Calendar

November 2019

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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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We will be conducting a food drive during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get involved...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Our seventh annual food drive will be held during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

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Whole Brain Escape, the Triangle’s newest escape room, is debuting its 4th room! Located in Apex, Whole Brain Escape is excited to unveil The Curse of Dr. Conundrum on Friday, November 8th....

Cost: $29/person

Where:
Whole Brain Escape
410 Upchurch St
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: Whole Brain Escape
Telephone: (919)355-2714
Contact Name: Heather Chandler
Website »

More information

Discover Historic Yates Mill – a place of business, community, and exciting local history! Watch a brief slideshow, then explore the inner workings of the mill itself and witness the power of...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (60+ yrs), $3/Child (7-16yrs), Free/Child (6yrs & younger)

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
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View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

We will be conducting a food drive during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get involved...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Our seventh annual food drive will be held during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd
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Cost: For all ages (adult accompaniment required for all children); FREE. Registration

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Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
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Telephone: 919-662-2850

More information

Whole Brain Escape, the Triangle’s newest escape room, is debuting its 4th room! Located in Apex, Whole Brain Escape is excited to unveil The Curse of Dr. Conundrum on Friday, November 8th....

Cost: $29/person

Where:
Whole Brain Escape
410 Upchurch St
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Sponsor: Whole Brain Escape
Telephone: (919)355-2714
Contact Name: Heather Chandler
Website »

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Cost: FREE

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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
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Cost: $18/resident, $23/nonresident

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We will be conducting a food drive during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get involved...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Our seventh annual food drive will be held during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

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Cost: $0

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Duke School
3716 Erwin Road
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Whole Brain Escape, the Triangle’s newest escape room, is debuting its 4th room! Located in Apex, Whole Brain Escape is excited to unveil The Curse of Dr. Conundrum on Friday, November 8th....

Cost: $29/person

Where:
Whole Brain Escape
410 Upchurch St
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: Whole Brain Escape
Telephone: (919)355-2714
Contact Name: Heather Chandler
Website »

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Show More...
Show Less...

We will be conducting a food drive during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get involved...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Our seventh annual food drive will be held during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Ages 1-5 and caregiver delight in the discoveries of nature. Register online. 

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Whole Brain Escape, the Triangle’s newest escape room, is debuting its 4th room! Located in Apex, Whole Brain Escape is excited to unveil The Curse of Dr. Conundrum on Friday, November 8th....

Cost: $29/person

Where:
Whole Brain Escape
410 Upchurch St
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: Whole Brain Escape
Telephone: (919)355-2714
Contact Name: Heather Chandler
Website »

More information

November Story Time, Puppet Show and Art Activity Puppet Show Incorporated https://www.puppetshowinc.org/ presents the classic folk story Stone Soup. Activities include a story time, puppet show...

Cost: Free

Where:
Hillsborough Main Library
137 West Margaret Lane
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Library
Telephone: 919-245-2525
Contact Name: Beth Hawkey
Website »

More information

Don’t miss one of the Triangle’s most popular fundraisers, benefiting Urban Ministries of Wake County. Stone Soup Supper, presented by Bank of America, that features 15 local...

Cost: $25-$45/person

Where:
McKimmon Center
1101 Gorman St.
Raleigh, NC
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Website »

More information

Learn the basics of Stop Motion Animation then make your own movie.  Call to register, 919-245-2532. Space is limited. Best for kids ages 8 and up. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

More information

See horses compete and enjoy food trucks, children's activities and more. Admission is free; Saturday evening Grand Prix tickets are $10/person. Proceeds benefit Duke Children's...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gov. James B. Hunt Horse Complex
4601 Trinity Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

We will be conducting a food drive during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get involved...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Our seventh annual food drive will be held during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

When Possum sees the full harvest moon, he decides to throw one last party before the long winter. But everyone is too busy preparing for winter and it looks as if nobody will come to Possum's...

Cost: FREE. Registration is required.

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Discover all things sweet potato at the State Farmers Market. 

Cost: Free

Where:
State Farmers Market
1201 Agriculture St.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Website »

More information

Whole Brain Escape, the Triangle’s newest escape room, is debuting its 4th room! Located in Apex, Whole Brain Escape is excited to unveil The Curse of Dr. Conundrum on Friday, November 8th....

Cost: $29/person

Where:
Whole Brain Escape
410 Upchurch St
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: Whole Brain Escape
Telephone: (919)355-2714
Contact Name: Heather Chandler
Website »

More information

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Cost: $125

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201 E Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Read and Feed
Website »

More information

See horses compete and enjoy food trucks, children's activities and more. Admission is free; Saturday evening Grand Prix tickets are $10/person. Proceeds benefit Duke Children's...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gov. James B. Hunt Horse Complex
4601 Trinity Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

We will be conducting a food drive during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get involved...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Our seventh annual food drive will be held during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Baileywick Road Park
9501 Baileywick Rd
Second Shelter Field
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View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Redhawks Rugby
Contact Name: denise travis
Website »

More information

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Cost: Registration is not required.

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Step back in time with our 19th-century costumed interpreters and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal. Tour fee: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60 & over), $3/Child (ages 7-16),...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (60+ yrs), $3/Child (7-16yrs), Free/Child (6yrs & younger)

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

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Cost: $5/child

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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Halle Cultural Arts Center
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Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Website »

More information

November Story Time, Puppet Show and Art Activity Puppet Show Incorporated https://www.puppetshowinc.org/ presents the classic folk story Stone Soup. Activities include a story time, puppet show...

Cost: Free

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900 Old Fayetteville Road
Inside McDougle Middle School
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View map »


Sponsor: Orange County Library
Telephone: 919-969-3006
Contact Name: Beth Hawkey
Website »

More information

Take a walk in the woods and discover the animals and plants that call our park home. Help collect data for our Natural Resources Inventory Database and other citizen science projects. All...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Whole Brain Escape, the Triangle’s newest escape room, is debuting its 4th room! Located in Apex, Whole Brain Escape is excited to unveil The Curse of Dr. Conundrum on Friday, November 8th....

Cost: $29/person

Where:
Whole Brain Escape
410 Upchurch St
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: Whole Brain Escape
Telephone: (919)355-2714
Contact Name: Heather Chandler
Website »

More information

Step back in time with our 19th-century costumed interpreters and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal. Tour fee: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60 & over), $3/Child (ages 7-16),...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (60+ yrs), $3/Child (7-16yrs), Free/Child (6yrs & younger)

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

During harvest time, farmers often helped their neighbors to get hard work done during communal gatherings such as corn shucking. Learn about this fall tradition and make a corn husk doll to take...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Usher in the holidays with a tree-lighting ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Carolers, a visit from Santa, a dance scene from the Nutcracker, special performances from local schools, and dozens of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lafayette Village
8450 Honeycutt Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


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All evening and into the night, 3000 pounds of molten iron will be poured into molds, in an exciting fiery display. Additionally, there will be Liberty Arts artists’ work for sale, scratch...

Cost: Free

Where:
Durham Central Park
501 Foster St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Discover what's happening as the sun sets and listen to stories around a campfire. All ages with adult. Register online. Choose course #127674.

Cost: $18/resident, $24/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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East Cloud Kungfu hosts a Parent's Night Out event, featuring a safe environment for kids as they about the wide world of kungfu.   Check it out!...

Cost: $25 first child, $20 each additional child

Where:
East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
5655-A Western Blvd
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Sponsor: East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
Telephone: 252-646-7053
Contact Name: Imari Colon
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Join the Studio School of Durham team to sip, tinker, and create on Saturday, November 16th at 7:00pm for this FREE event!  We will provide the food, wine, beer, and non-alcoholic...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Studio School of Durham
1201 W Woodcroft Pkwy
Durham, NC  27713
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Sponsor: The Studio School of Durham
Telephone: 984-377-4502
Contact Name: Danielle Sunde
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The EWFL carries a unique experience in youth football to play in a “big game” atmosphere.  Our games begin in the afternoons on Saturday and play into the evening “under the...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Durham County Stadium
750 Stadium Dr
Durham, NC  27704
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See horses compete and enjoy food trucks, children's activities and more. Admission is free; Saturday evening Grand Prix tickets are $10/person. Proceeds benefit Duke Children's...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gov. James B. Hunt Horse Complex
4601 Trinity Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Annual Guides

Education Guide

The 2019-20 Education Guide offers 718 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. In our 2019-20 issue, explore 1,028 resources for family fun.