Children Unplug and Explore Nature at NC Adventure Camps


Published:

Teenage campers at Adventure Treks enjoy the thrill of climbing a mountain.

Photo courtesy of Adventure Treks

Have you ever looked into the eyes of a living, breathing sea turtle? Made a campfire in the rain? Challenged yourself to your limits by riding a wave?

These are questions adventure camps throughout North Carolina pose to the thousands of children who travel from all over the world to participate in extreme camp experiences.

From rock climbing and camping to surfing and snorkeling, North Carolina is home to dozens of world-renowned adventure camps.

What are Adventure Camps?

Adventure camps, also referred to as “extreme” camps, focus on giving campers unique, life-changing experiences that often feature direct interaction with the natural world. North Carolina’s abundant natural wonders, stretching from the mountains to the sea, offer campers many settings in which to test their mettle.

Instructors at WB Surf Camp, located in Wrightsville Beach, teach campers to catch a wave the right way, as well as integrate ocean safety, marine science and conservation.

Instructors at Adventure Trek, based in Hendersonville, set up a myriad of outdoor challenges in the nearby mountains. The camp also allows older campers to travel to locations ranging from the Pacific Northwest to British Columbia. Nearby Camp Pinnacle also offers a Ventures Program, which consists of day and overnight trips to explore surrounding parks, forests, mountains, waterfalls and rivers.

All adventure camps aim to go above and beyond a typical camp experience to provide opportunities for kids to face new challenges, gain independence and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Why Choose an Adventure Camp?

Now, more than ever, may be the best time to look into adventure camps for your children. These days, kids can fly jets, become superheroes and even create entire virtual worlds without ever having to leave the comfort of their couches. Adventure camps take them out into the world and teach them many of the skills necessary to becoming successful adults.

One such skill is creating challenging but realistic goals. WB Surf Camp Director Will Ahlers says setting goals is an important component of the camp programs they offer.

“No matter which program it is, from the guppy camps with our 5- to 6-year-olds all the way through our adult camps, we go through daily goal-setting,” he says. “In any camp or school setting, anytime you are learning a new skill, goal-setting keeps you in check as far as what is realistic and where you can push yourself. (Setting goals) also creates a great opportunity for our instructors to be supportive and good role models.”

Another important skill taught in adventure camp settings is independence. Many Generation Xers grew up in a world where they hopped on a bike in the middle of the day and their only instruction was to be home by dark. Their children live in a very different world and, as a result, are not presented with as many opportunities to gain the independence and confidence to make their own decisions, especially in stressful conditions.

At adventure camps, there are often activities that set up “perceived danger,” wherein campers are placed in new situations they have never been in before. They can feel that sense of risk and opportunity to fail while being in a safe and controlled environment with skilled instructors nearby.

Navigating those risks and challenges not only bring independence, but also a sense of confidence because they faced a fear and rose to meet a challenge. This is just one of the reasons why Camp Pinnacle and Adventure Trek Executive Director John Dockendorf is passionate about adventure camping. He believes the skills gained at adventure camps cannot be overlooked.

“When you go to camp and you learn how to mountain bike on a trail, go down a zip line that seems scary, climb to the top of a mountain when it was hard but you kept going ­— and when you were nervous about going to camp and being with kids you didn’t know — and suddenly you’re leaving the cabin with hugs and all these new friends ... you’re standing much, much taller when you get home,” Dockendorf says.

What to Look for in an Adventure Camp

Above all else, parents vetting adventure camps should make sure safety is the management’s top priority.

“We want perceived risk, not actual risk,” Dockendorf says.

Ahlers describes his instructors as the best in the business. “They have to go through extremely thorough and comprehensive training where the majority of it focuses on specific ocean safety information,” he says. “How to keep your campers safe in the ocean is our utmost responsibility and we take it very seriously.”

In addition, word of mouth reputation, staff retention and returning campers’ feedback are all good indicators for what camp is right for your child. 

Whether it’s the thrill of catching that first wave, navigating a white-capped river or falling asleep under a blanket of stars, North Carolina adventure camps offer countless ways for your children to unplug and be immersed in the beauty of our state.

Mandy Howard is a freelance writer and mother of three in Raleigh.

 

North Carolina Adventure Camps

Camp Pinnacle camppinnacle.com

Adventure Treks adventuretreks.com

WB Surf Camp wbsurfcamp.com

Sea Turtle Camp seaturtlecamp.com

Green Cove greencove.com

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PARENTS JOIN OUR DHHS APPROVEDCPR/AED & First Aid Certification ClassesFoster parents are required to be CPR & First Aid certified. Parents, bring your child to class with you. Children 10 years...

Cost: 50-80

Where:
Holly Springs, NC
1001 Silverstone Way
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Save A Life Now Training Center LLC
Telephone: 919-215-6942
Contact Name: Valentina Cordoba
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PARENTS JOIN OUR DHHS APPROVEDCPR/AED & First Aid Certification ClassesFoster parents are required to be CPR & First Aid certified. Must register in advance. Space is limited. Parents, bring your...

Cost: 50-80

Where:
Holly Springs, NC
1001 Silverstone Way
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Save A Life Now Training Center LLC
Telephone: 919-215-6942
Contact Name: Valentina Cordoba
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Calling all Black tech leaders and visionaries! Are you looking to spur future collaborations, discover new business and career opportunities, and invest in this community? Join us for T.H.E. State...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Durham Convention Center
301 W Morgan St
Durham, NC  27701
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Contact Name: Tarryn Henry
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Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
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Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
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Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
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Live online classes for kids - FREE! Kids and families can join our online classes from home while school is out. Our special guests teach kids about art, medicine, music, cooking, science and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online at your Home
265 Cambridge Ave #60923
Palo Alto, NC  94306
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Sponsor: ActivityHero
Telephone: 800-437-6125
Contact Name: Mabelle
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Want to do more to help out your community park? Do you like history, the environment, agriculture, and/or the arts? Consider volunteering at Yates Mill! Join us anytime during the program time to...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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The 16th Annual (Virtual) Beaver Queen Pageant, Beavers in the Stream! The Beaver Queen Pageant is the Triangle’s own special mix of folly, pageantry, and humor. Contestants take on beaver...

Cost: free

Where:
Online
, NC


Sponsor: Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association
Telephone: 919-423-1502
Contact Name: Rachel Cohn
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We invite all Triangle youth between the ages of 8 thru 17 with a sincere interest in the Performance Art of Magic to join Magic Youth Raleigh! This youth program teaches magic history and theory,...

Cost: $35 per Student

Where:
New Horizons Fellowship
820 E. Williams St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Sponsor: The International Brotherhood of Magicians
Contact Name: Roger Way
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The Beaver Queen Pageant is the Triangle’s own special mix of folly, pageantry, and humor. Contestants take on beaver personalities and compete for the title of Beaver Queen with their fashion,...

Cost: free

Where:
Online
, NC


Sponsor: Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association
Telephone: 919-698-9729
Contact Name: Rachel Cohn
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River Jam at the U.S. National Whitewater Center brings together live musical performances throughout the year to a one-of-a-kind outdoor venue, right in the middle of the world’s largest...

Cost: $6

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
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Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Contact Name: Jenny Hill
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