Kids Camps In Carolinas and Virginia Offer Unique Overnight Experiences


Published:

Looking for something different for your camper this summer? Not all children fit into a traditional overnight camp formula. Some kids would rather set out on a sailing adventure than sing around a campfire or play Capture the Flag.

Several unique camps in the Carolinas and Virginia offer overnight experiences unlike any other. Consider these camp experiences, which mix fun with out-of-the-ordinary learning.

Shadow Hill’s Summer Camp for Kids and Their Dogs
shadowhillshelties.com • Jackson Springs, N.C.

Kids can bring their best furry friends to camp with them at Shadow Hill Farm’s summer camp, which covers 134 acres in Jackson Springs. Jane Hammett-Bright, who has decades of experience raising and showing Shelties, works with kids and their dogs on everything from agility courses to grooming

“Parents are floored that their child and the dog learned all that they did,” she says.

All dogs are welcome as long as they are kid- and dog-friendly. Dog-and-child pairs stay together in a large building that Hammett-Bright recently constructed using the proceeds from winning the “Fan Favorite” award on the television show, Survivor: Nicaragua. Campers get up early to work with dogs on agility courses, and Hammett-Bright also takes them swimming and camping in the Uwharrie Mountains. She shares her Survivor experience by teaching campers how to build fires and constructing Survivor-inspired games. All meals are homemade and if the timing is right, campers may get to see a litter of newborn puppies.

Appalachian State University Forensic Science Camp
conferences-camps.appstate.edu/youth-camps • Boone, N.C.

Forget campfires and s’mores. At Appalachian State University’s forensic science camp, campers may spend an evening detonating explosives or making a DNA necklace. Designed for high school students, the camp offers a real-life look at what happens to evidence after it’s collected from a crime scene. Students learn from forensic professionals representing all areas of law enforcement, which could include bomb squads or digital evidence examiners. Crime scene investigation comes to life in the lab where students can investigate a suspicious arson, detect and classify fingerprints, analyze trace evidence and more. The university opens up its high-tech equipment for campers, allowing them to use scanning electron microscopes and polarized light microscopes to examine fusion methods of explosives such as TNT. The camp is staffed by ASU chemistry faculty members, and students stay on-campus (with staff supervision) at ASU for the three-and-one-half-day camp sessions.

RV Sea Lab Summer Camp
rvsealab.com • Wilmington, N.C.

Summer camp hits the water at RV Sea Lab, where campers spend up to five days sailing a research vessel up and down the Intercoastal Waterway. Students have likened the trip to experiencing what they’ve seen on the Discovery Channel. “The kids get an adventure,” says Matt Perkins, owner, founder and captain of RV Sea Lab. “We are overseeing them, but they live on the boat and crew it.”

Perkins packs in plenty of adventure, including surfing, exploring islands only accessible by boat and using an overboard camera to inventory ocean species. The camp is heavy on science that will benefit students interested in studying chemistry and oceanography, but Perkins says many students come on board for the thrill and freedom of the trip.

“It’s sort of like a literary experience, like they’re Tom Sawyer,” he says. Popular stops include Beaufort and Shackleford Banks, where campers likely will encounter wild ponies.

Camp Motorsport
campmotorsport.com • Clover, Va.

No driver’s license is needed at Camp Motorsport, where kids ages 9-16 can spend a week driving dirt karts, half-scale stock cars and racing go-karts. Campers get behind the wheel at least twice every day, taking a vehicle off-road or around a paved track. Drivers of all levels are welcome, from newbies to kids considering a motorsports career.

Teenagers who are closer to legal driving age can receive extra training in defensive driving and skills needed to get a learner’s permit or license. The Go-Kart Racing Challenge offers a week of competitive go-kart racing. Between driving sessions, campers stay busy with paintball and daily swims. They return home with more than just improved driving skills — the camp’s activities teach kids math, science, technology and engineering related to motorsports.

Camp Woodie
wildlifeedcenter.org/camp-woodie • Pinewood, S.C.

An evening at Camp Woodie could involve anything from tug-of-war over a tractor tire to navigating the night sky. The weeklong camp, established in 1995 and overseen by the S.C. Waterfowl Association, mixes fun and games with hands-on education about wildlife, hunting and the outdoors.

“(We teach kids) about how beautiful it is to step outside in God’s creation and to love, respect and use natural resources wisely,” says Ed Paul, Camp Woodie’s director.

Campers learn how to operate in the outdoors, whether they are practicing hunting safety with firearms or figuring out where the best fishing is on a body of water. Outdoor survival classes teach campers everything from how to build a fire to how to navigate by the stars.

Many campers arrive with little experience with the outdoors, but leave with increased confidence and appreciation for nature, Paul says. “They learn just how small we are when we step outside, but also how large of a role we can have in keeping the outdoors a place for the next generation.”

While specialty overnight camps can cost up to $1,200 for five days, the experience is often life-changing. Kids who build on the skills they learn at camp can earn everything from college scholarships to counselor jobs when they are older — a worthy investment in their fun and future.

Marty Minchin is a freelance writer based in Charlotte. She has two elementary school age children.

Unique Day Camps Closer to Home

Camp Moo Gung Hwa
koreanculturecamp.net; Raleigh
Covers Korean culture for Korean-American children.

Cirque de Vol Studios Circus FUNdamentals Camp
cirquedevol.com; Raleigh
Teaches circus arts including aerial silks, trapeze and juggling.

Doll Camps at the Historic Polk House
facebook.com/polkhouse; Raleigh
Kids enjoy colonial games, crafts and stories with American Girl dolls.

Duke Lemur Center’s Leaping Lemur Summer Science Camp
lemur.duke.edu; Durham
Campers learn about primate evolution, natural history, research and conservation.

Girls Rock NC: Rock and Roll Day Camp for Girls
girlsrocknc.org; Chapel Hill, Raleigh and Durham
Girls participate in music and empowerment workshops.

Lil’ Chef Kids Cooking Studio
lilchefraleigh.com; Raleigh
Little chefs learn about cooking, food chemistry and more.

The N.C. School of Traditional Music: Folk Music Summer Camp for Kids
trianglemusicschool.com; Durham
Campers discover folk music and play historical games.

Town of Cary Camps
townofcary.org; Cary
Choose from camps that focus on bluegrass, BMX biking, Civil War history, photography and more.

Here’s one a little farther away, but worth the drive:

Junior Vet Camp
tripleplayfarm.com; Davidson
Dr. Robbie Whaley of Piedmont Equine Mobile Veterinary Services offers three days of vet camp for kids ages 10-16 who have a “serious interest” in pursuing a career in veterinary medicine.

For more camp resources, read our feature, Arts-Based Camps Invite Kids to Paint, Act or Dance Through Summer.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Content

Making Summer Camp Affordable

Follow this advice for saving on the costs of camps and giving your little ones a fantastic experience.

Arts-Based Camps Invite Kids to Paint, Act or Dance Through Summer

Whether you're raising an artist, mathematician or athlete, an arts-based camp may be just what your child needs to further enrich, his or her developing brain.

Camp Doctors: Keeping Kids Healthy Away From Home

Take a behind-the-scenes look at how camp doctors, nurses and other medical personnel are working to create a safe and healthier environment for kids.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

August 2018

Run Club meets every Sunday at 8 a.m. in Midtown Raleigh or Wake Forest. Stroller friendly; children invited. 

Cost: $10/run or $100/annual pass

Where:
Optimist Park Community Center/Greenways
5900 Whittier Drive
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: FIT4MOM
Telephone: 919-348-0472
Contact Name: Missy Currin
Website »

More information

June 30-August 12; 8:30 a.m.– 5:00 p.m. Come to Historic Yates Mill to see a new temporary exhibit, Rich in the Rare, on loan from the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. This...

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Join Mindful Families of Durham, a Buddhist-inspired spiritual community that supports area parents, caregivers, and their children in the practice of mindfulness and the understanding of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
Website »

More information

Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
View map »


Website »

More information

Shop antiques, crafts and art, and enjoy food trucks at this artisan and vintage market in downtown Cary.

Cost: Free

Where:
Fidelity Bank Parking Lot
100 W. Chatham St.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Contact Name: Leslie & Jessica
Website »

More information

Children make treasured memories while increasing their knowledge of plants and animals. Ages 7-10. 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

Join staff and volunteers from the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, Chapel Hill Astronomical and Observational Society (CHAOS) and Raleigh Astronomy Club (RAC) for a free skywatching...

Cost: Free

Where:
Dorothea Dix Park
2105 Umstead Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Examine “Shinrin-yoku," a Japanese healing technique that "takes in the forest atmosphere." Visit a natural area in the park and walk in a relaxed way to receive calming,...

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Contact Name: Rebecca Cope
Website »

More information

Squish, touch and feel your way through center-based activities to explore the senses.  Make a smelly painting and splash in a sink/float bucket. Ages 18 months-3 years with an...

Cost: $2/child

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Enjoy a family-friendly movie. See the website for the movie title. Showings at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Crabtree Valley Mall
4325 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27612
View map »


Website »

More information

Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
View map »


Website »

More information

Observe the 41st anniversary of Elvis' passing by seeing two tribute bands, Scot Bruce and The Fab Four, face off in an adrenaline-pumping musical showdown. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $35-$65

Where:
Fletcher Opera Theater
2 E South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Enjoy live entertainment, hands-on projects and gallery hunts.

Cost: Free

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Meet a favorite princess or superhero from 11 a.m.-noon and 1-2 p.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
Crabtree Valley Mall
4325 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27612
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn froggy fun facts through trivia games and activities. Discover the differences and similarities between frogs and toads. All ages with adult. Registration required online. Meet...

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
View map »


Website »

More information

Weekly basic skills cooking class for children aged 5-10 at Whole Foods North Raleigh.  This free class meets each Tuesday at 4 p.m. and is offered by registering in advance...

Cost: Free

Where:
Whole Foods Market (North Raleigh)
8710 Six Forks Road
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Website »

More information

Take the family for Kids Night at Chick-Fil-A in Garner. Enjoy a free indoor playspace, face painting and balloon twisting with Mimi the Clown. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Chick-Fil-A
2720 Timber Dr.
Garner, NC  27529
View map »


Sponsor: The MelodyMaker Entertainment
Telephone: (919)639-9328
Contact Name: Melody Scruggs
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Enjoy live entertainment, hands-on projects and gallery hunts.

Cost: Free

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
View map »


Website »

More information

Read "Froggie Babies" by Suzanne Farrior and make a froggy craft. Practice jumping skills, learn to "ribbitt," and examine the differences between the frogs and toads. Ages...

Cost: $4/child

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

See Happy Dan perform magic, comedy and more.

Cost: $5/person

Where:
Renaissance Centre
405 Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy a Build-A-Bear activity, storytime, games and painting from 11 a.m.-noon and 1-2 p.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
Crabtree Valley Mall
4325 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27612
View map »


Website »

More information

Expand your knowledge of our local flora and fauna by exploring a different area of the park each month. Join park staff as they "nerd out" over amphibians, birds, insects, spiders, and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 191-946-03355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

Join park staff for an informal fishing experience for the whole family. Take your own poles or borrow one from the park through the Tackle Loaner Program. Bait and basic instruction are...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Parkway
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

Join park staff for an informal fishing experience for the whole family. Take your own poles or borrow one from the park through the Tackle Loaner Program. Bait and basic...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 191-946-03355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Celebrate National Tell a Joke Day by sharing some jokes with the park community. Meet in the Exhibit Hall. Drop-in program. All ages. Registration not required.

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Contact Name: Rebecca Cope
Website »

More information

Enjoy live entertainment, hands-on projects and gallery hunts.

Cost: Free

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy an easy-paced and stroller-friendly walk along the greenway. Suggested for ages 3 and younger with parent. Register online. Choose course #219872.

Cost: Free

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson St.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-2761
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
Website »

More information

Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
View map »


Website »

More information

Ages 7-12 enjoy fashion and design activities from 11 a.m.-noon.; ages 13-18 enjoy the same activities from 1-2 p.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
Crabtree Valley Mall
4325 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27612
View map »


Website »

More information

Celebrate Raleigh's creativity under the beautiful lights and cobblestone streets of City Market. Find locally-made goods and enjoy a night filled with music and entertainment with over 30...

Cost: Free

Where:
City Market
306 Parham St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Night Market
Contact Name: Sara Buxton
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

More information

Enjoy live entertainment, hands-on projects and gallery hunts.

Cost: Free

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
View map »


Website »

More information

A wonderfully kid-paced hour featuring music, play and dancing with toddler stars singing on the mic at Cotton's gently amplified & participatory music show. Children delight in...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Pump It Up Raleigh
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
View map »


Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
Website »

More information

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

More information

Experience the the excitement of wheelchair basketball in preparations for August Madness. Whether your team is practicing for August Madness or you're looking for a fun Friday activity, all...

Cost: Free

Where:
American Tobacco Campus YMCA 'Cage' Court
304 Blackwell Street
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Sponsor: Bridge II Sports
Telephone: 18668802742 x12
Contact Name: Katharine Doyle
Website »

More information

Take a walk with a park naturalist to explore the woods and fields at this special time of day.  Register online.

Cost: $3

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Wilkerson Nature Preserve staff
Website »

More information

See the PG-rated movie under the stars at Booth Amphitheatre. After the disappearance of her scientist father, three peculiar beings send Meg, her brother,and her friend to space in order to...

Cost: $5 ages 13 and older. Free for ages 12 and younger.

Where:
Booth Amphitheatre
8003 Regency Pkwy.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Kindergarten students entering the traditional school calendar practice a lunch line, get moving at recess, hop on a school bus and more.  

Cost: Free

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

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

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Young entrepreneurs, ages 6 -14, have an opportunity to sell their products or services to the general public. Participants can keep any profits from sales they make at the fair and will earn cash...

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Village Market Place
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Triangle Children's Business Fair
Website »

More information

Enjoy a celebration of products, services and resources for families featuring local organizations focusing on education, health and wellness, safety, special needs, child care and more....

Cost: Free

Where:
JD Lewis Multipurpose Center
2245 Garner Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: Sunshine Family Expos
Telephone: 813-463-2712
Contact Name: Melinda Perez

More information

Enjoy live entertainment, hands-on projects and gallery hunts.

Cost: Free

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy an interactive dance story and craft time. Ages 3-7. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Graceful Expressions Dance Education
312 W. Chatham St., #103
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: Graceful Expressions Dance Education
Telephone: 191-975-86003
Website »

More information

Search for snakes, salamanders, turtles and more. Ages 10-13. Register online.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

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


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Children's booksellers read their favorite picture books. All ages.

Cost: Free

Where:
Quail Ridge Books
4209-100 Lassiter Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Website »

More information

Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn more about pollinators during this family friendly event. Sample and buy local honey and honey-based products.

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Take the family for treats, music, art and more. See a special exhibit showcasing the work of Artspace's talented young artists.

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace
201 E. Davie St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Stop by a discovery table to learn fun about the animals that live in Crowder Pond. All ages. Registration required. The display table is located at the Upper Playground.

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Explore how bees pollinate flowers and help gardens grow. Discover how bee hives work and learn the ways that bee-keepers have historically housed and cared for their hives. All...

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Explore the historic heart of downtown Raleigh on a walking tour of Fayetteville Street. Tours highlight the people, places, architecture and political movements that have shaped...

Cost: Adults (18+) $10; Youth (7-17) $4; Children (6 & under) Free.

Where:
City of Raleigh Museum
220 Fayetteville St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

See the PG-rated movie "Jurassic Park," part of the City of Raleigh's Movies by Moonlight series. Also enjoy food trucks. Register online....

Cost: Free

Where:
Dorothea Dix Park Flowers Field
2105 Umstead Dr.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh
Telephone: 919-996-6688
Contact Name: Joseph Voska
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit Module

Magazine

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Directories

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Annual Guides

Education Guide

The 2017-18 Education Guide offers 660 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. Plus, find out who our 2018 Readers' Favorites are.