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What Is Family Camp?

Alexandra Kadlec
March 26, 2014

Why should kids have all the fun? Go to camp together as a family with this unique alternative to a traditional summer vacation.

Planning a summer vacation for your family can be an exciting, albeit stressful, endeavor. Why not take some of the pressure off this year and sign up for an all-inclusive experience that everyone is sure to enjoy? Family camp can be a great option.

Unlike a family camping trip, a family camp offers activity- and interest-based programs shared with other families, from outdoor sports to educational sessions to art and drama. You’ll be amazed at the variety of family camps you can choose.

Family Camp: Is It For You?
Perhaps the number one question to ask yourself and your family members is: Can we agree on the type of family camp we’ll all be equally excited to attend? Because the environment, activities and overall experience vary from camp to camp, broach the topic with your spouse and kids about what everyone would most enjoy doing together.

In search of adventure? Relaxation? A chance to meet other families with similar hobbies? Once you’ve gotten a good idea of your family’s interests and priorities, you can begin researching further specifics, such as location, cost and length of stay.

One thing that most if not all family camps have in common: the “unplugged” factor. Without constant technological contact and other daily distractions, family camp can be a great opportunity to reconnect with loved ones in a fun, relaxed (or active) setting.

The Cost of Family Camp
Although there are many kinds to choose from, in general, you’re in for something a little more rustic than other types of stays (think cabins over hotels and beach condos). This also means family camps are typically a less expensive option, with some costing less than $1,000 per week for a family of four. (But there are more expensive options if you want a little more luxury with your vacation.)

Finding a Family Camp
Search for camps that have been accredited through the American Camp Association. Look for ones that correspond to your unique needs and factors (including location, activity type(s), and campers’ ages).

You might also want to consider doing a bit of Internet research on your own. BudgetTravel and Babble offer great lists with family camp recommendations.

“When choosing a family camp, an important consideration is how much 'roughing it' you want to do," shares Lissa Poirot, editor of Family Vacation Critic. "There are a variety of lodging types to choose from, including everything from tents and standard cabins, to “glamping” or more well-appointed cabins.”

Then take a look at your schedule. "Some family camps are only offered at the end of, or during, certain weeks during a summer camp’s programming,” shares Poirot.

When considering a family camp, don’t automatically restrict your plans to include immediate family only. Think of it this way: if you invite grandparents, cousins and other extended family, you might luck out with additional babysitting and entertainment options. All things considered, "the more the merrier" can absolutely apply to family camp!

A Different Kind of Family Camp
While family camps can exist as their own kind of vacation, there are additional kinds that overlap with other summer camping experiences. These are typically pre- or post-season weeks or weekends, where parents can join children before or after weeks-long camp sessions for a memorable shared experience. Parents may even decide to join their children for a particular week in a current summer session.

Beth Goldstein, a Pennsylvania-based advisor for Camp Experts & Teen Summers, affirms that that this can be an opportunity for parents to “share in the experience…and to see what it’s like firsthand,” and perhaps also enjoy “newfound camaraderie between families.”

In whatever way you determine the family camp that’s right for you and your loved ones, we hope the experience is a great one -- maybe even worth repeating next year!

Alexandra Kadlec is a freelance writer. When not writing, doing crossword puzzles or playing competitive games of Scrabble, she is known to get effusive about modern art, Jane Austen and karaoke. For more information, check out her website

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