Kids Camps In Carolinas and Virginia Offer Unique Overnight Experiences


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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.

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Calendar

November 2017

Step back in time with a 19th-century costumed interpreter and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal. Registration encouraged online. Tickets available at the...

Cost: $5/adult, $3 ages 7-16. Free for ages 6 and younger

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Celebrate the wonderful world of exotic animals and reptiles. Enjoy live specimens, presentations, raffles, vendors and much more. Purchase tickets online.  

Cost: $12 ages 13 and older, $5 ages 5-12.

Where:
N.C. State Fairgrounds, Kerr Scott Building
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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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
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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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
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Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
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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
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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Kicks off the holiday season with local art, music, food, and family activities at various locations in Durham’s historic downtown district. Presented by the Durham Arts Council with support...

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Downtown Durham
120 Morris St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Durham Arts Council
Telephone: 919-560-2719
Contact Name: Susan Tierney
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Participants develop their naturalist skills and understanding of local nature. Ages 5-8 with parent. Register online.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/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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Celebrate the natural world and where favorite Thanksgiving foods come from. Make a craft. All ages with adult. Register online.

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Crowder District Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Search the preserve for hidden holiday-themed clues and learn about native wild turkeys. Make a turkey decoration. Ages 5 and older with parent. Register online. Choose course code...

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve
2900 Horse Shoe Farm Rd.
Wake Forest, NC
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Search for salamanders, owls and more. Ages 10-13. Register online.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Park West Village hosts Winter Wonderland in the District. This year’s event will take place the weekend of November 17th. Take the family to enjoy train rides, magical winter lights, live...

Cost: Free; $5 donation for sledding

Where:
Park West Village
3400 Village Market Place
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Telephone: 919-234-6710
Contact Name: Conner Dixon
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See ponies, hunters and jumpers compete in an event that benefits Duke Children's Hospital. Visit the website for hours and fees.

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Gov. James B. Hunt Horse Complex
4601 Trinity Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Children ages 18 months-4 years and their parents enjoy free creative movement and music classes. The creative movement class focuses on the development of gross motor skills and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Sponsor: St. Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Sarah Rapp
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Make crafts celebrating turkeys. All ages with adult. Meet at the Cardinal Shelter. Registration not required. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder District Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Children ages 18 months-4 years and their parents enjoy free creative movement and music classes. The creative movement class focuses on the development of gross motor skills and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: St. Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Sarah Rapp
Website »

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Kids ages 6 and younger enjoy stories. Take part in an optional arts and crafts session after storytime for $5.

Cost: Free

Where:
Read With Me Book Shop
111 E. Hargett St., $110
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

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Learn what it was like to be a kid at the first Thanksgiving. Play games and make a food collage. Choose either the 10:30-noon and 2-3:30 p.m. session. Ages 7 and older. Register online.

Cost: $6/child

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, AL
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Toddler Time is a special time for ages 5 and younger to bounce under the supervision of their parents, and without interference from the big kids. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $7-$10

Where:
Sky Zone Durham
1720 Guess Rd., Ste. 90
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Children ages 18 months-4 years and their parents enjoy free creative movement and music classes. The creative movement class focuses on the development of gross motor skills and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: St. Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Sarah Rapp
Website »

More information

Explore the woods and shoreline for signs of nature and collect treasures to make a craft. Take a full water bottle, snack and a bag lunch. Ages 6-11. Meet at the Cypress Shelter. Advance...

Cost: $16/child

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Jackie Trickel
Website »

More information

Kids ages 6 and younger enjoy stories. Take part in an optional arts and crafts session after storytime for $5.

Cost: Free

Where:
Read With Me Book Shop
111 E. Hargett St., $110
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Listen for the sound of silver bells and climb aboard in your pajamas for a first-class journey on the Polar Express. Come early to meet Santa and enjoy kid-friendly activities and a traditional...

Cost: $14-$29

Where:
Meymandi Concert Hall
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

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Athletes improve their flexibility, balance, joint mobility, as well as body and breath awareness. Special attention will be paid to core strength and posture and its importance in performance and...

Cost: Call for fees

Where:
Little Guru Kids Yoga and Creative Arts
215 Glenwood Avenue, Suite A
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Little Guru Kids Yoga
Telephone: 919-345-5873
Contact Name: Jen Bluestone
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Children ages 18 months-4 years and their parents enjoy free creative movement and music classes. The creative movement class focuses on the development of gross motor skills and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: St. Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Sarah Rapp
Website »

More information

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Celebrate what you're thankful for. Play a game and make a pine cone turkey craft. All ages with adult. Drop-in program. Registration not required.

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Shop more than 20 local vendors offering amazing gifts this holiday season. Enjoy daily raffles with proceeds benefiting local animal rescue Paws in the City. Kids can enjoy crafts...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cary Crossroads
333 Crossroads Blvd
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

Children ages 18 months-4 years and their parents enjoy free creative movement and music classes. The creative movement class focuses on the development of gross motor skills and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: St. Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Sarah Rapp
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
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Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
Website »

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Read the story by Karma Wilson and make a Thanksgiving-themed craft. All ages. Registration not required.

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

See a contemporary re-imagination of Tchaikovky's timeless music. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $35-$55

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

See the classic holiday story brought to life onstage featuring favorite characters Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and...

Cost: $15 and up

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


Website »

More information

See the classic holiday story brought to life onstage featuring favorite characters Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and...

Cost: $15 and up

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


Website »

More information

See a contemporary re-imagination of Tchaikovky's timeless music. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $35-$55

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Catch this comedy classic on the big screen—as the symphony plays the charming and delightful score by John Williams live. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $14-$29

Where:
Meymandi Concert Hall
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

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Fit & Able Productions presents the Turkey Chase trail festival at Umstead Park. Take part in a 5K, 10K or 20K. After the race, enjoy fruit, brownies and other...

Cost: $25-$45

Where:
Umstead Park
8801 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27617
View map »


Sponsor: Fit and Able Productions
Telephone: 919-673-4689
Contact Name: Travis
Website »

More information

Celebrate what you're thankful for. Play a game and make a pine cone turkey craft. All ages with adult. Drop-in program. Registration not required.

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Toddler Time is a special time for ages 5 and younger to bounce under the supervision of their parents, and without interference from the big kids. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $7-$10

Where:
Sky Zone Durham
1720 Guess Rd., Ste. 90
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Shop more than 20 local vendors offering amazing gifts this holiday season. Enjoy daily raffles with proceeds benefiting local animal rescue Paws in the City. Kids can enjoy crafts...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cary Crossroads
333 Crossroads Blvd
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

The Raleigh Boychoir makes an appearance before its big Christmas concert.

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Kids ages 6 and younger enjoy stories. Take part in an optional arts and crafts session after storytime for $5.

Cost: Free

Where:
Read With Me Book Shop
111 E. Hargett St., $110
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

See the classic holiday story brought to life onstage featuring favorite characters Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and...

Cost: $15 and up

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


Website »

More information

Take a 30-minute tour to view the main power drive and milling machinery. Tickets available inside the park's visitor center. Online registration encouraged.

Cost: $5/adult, $3 ages 7-16. Free for ages 6 and younger

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Explore the historic nature of Leigh Farm Park with a friendly guide. Venture inside the historic farmhouse while being captivated by tales about life at Leigh Farm throughout the years.

Cost: Free

Where:
Leigh Farm Park
370 Leigh Farm Rd.
Durham, NC  27707
View map »


Sponsor: Durham Parks and Recreation
Telephone: 919-560-1116
Contact Name: Natalya Buckel
Website »

More information

See the classic holiday story brought to life onstage featuring favorite characters Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and...

Cost: $15 and up

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


Website »

More information

Catch this comedy classic on the big screen—as the symphony plays the charming and delightful score by John Williams live. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $14-$29

Where:
Meymandi Concert Hall
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

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