Experience Your Best Summer Ever at These 8 Virginia Summer Camps

By Aila Boyd

May 19, 2023

Virginia offers unique summer camp experiences for preschoolers to teens, each with its own range of fun activities.

For tweens and teens, summer camp is a right of passage. It allows kids to gain a sense of independence by spending time away from home. They’re able to explore the outdoors and meet new friends. There’s also an upside for parents who are looking for fun childcare options during the summer—or simply want a week or two to themselves!

If you’re on the lookout for an engaging summer camp to send your child to, you’re in luck because Virginia has a number of unique options. No matter what kind of summer camp experience your child wants, one of these eight getaways will surely align with their interest. 

Diversity Camp

Experience Your Best Summer Ever at These 8 Virginia Summer Camps
Courtesy of Diversity Camp

Location: Craig County

Diversity Camp offers an overnight summer camp experience for youth and families who identify with the LGBTQ+ community. 

“We pride ourselves on our nurturing and caring programs that allow attendees of all ages to find community and create friendships,” the camp’s website noted. 

Some of the activities the camp offers include swimming, hiking, dancing, art, music, campfires, stargazing, and games. Community-building and educational workshops are also offered for campers, which helps them develop tools to improve their mental health.

This year’s camp will take place June 11-16 at Craig Springs Camp & Retreat Center. The deadline to register is Saturday, May 27. 

Camp Bethel

Experience Your Best Summer Ever at These 8 Virginia Summer Camps
Courtesy of Camp Bethel

Location: Fincastle

Camp Bethel is a faith-based summer camp that focuses on building relationships with “God, with each other, and with creation.” It is affiliated with the Virlina District Church of the Brethren. 

“We try to be living examples of Jesus’ ministry of life, hope, and unconditional love,” the camp said on its website. “Likewise, your camper will enjoy their week with excellent counselors and with campers who have different backgrounds, gifts, and abilities.”

The camp consists of 470 acres of forests, fields, ponds, streams, and hills that connect with Jefferson National Forest and a three-mile trail hike up through Horseshoe Bend to the Appalachian Trail. 

No matter what grade your child is in, there’s a camp for them. The groups are broken down for rising first through third graders, rising third through sixth graders, rising seventh through ninth graders, and rising ninth through 12th graders. 

There are seven week-long camps throughout the summer, starting June 11 and ending July 28. The camps range in interest and include activities like canoeing, kayaking, paddle sports, white water rafting, backpacking, biking, cave climbing, and camp skills. 

In addition to the week-long camps, there’s also an option for families with children between the ages of four and seven. Adult family members can accompany the youngest trailblazers on June 2 for an optional one-night stay, complete with a slew of camp activities the following day. An adult must be present to take part in this option. 

Camp Horizons 

Experience Your Best Summer Ever at These 8 Virginia Summer Camps
Courtesy of Camp Horizons

Location: Harrisonburg 

Camp Horizons is a co-ed overnight camp that is open to all campers. The camp strives to create a safe environment where campers can have fun and feel that they are part of a community. 

“Offering a variety of activities that challenge our campers to reach their full potential as individuals and team players, we are dedicated to making sure that campers experience their best summer ever at Camp Horizons and come to see their new camp friends as their new camp family,” the camp’s website said.

Camp Horizons will hold five sessions this summer, with each one being two weeks in length (except for the first session, which runs from June 11-17). The various sessions are available for those ages six through eight, nine through 11, 12 through 16, and rising high school seniors. Registration for each session closes 10 days before the session start date.

The camp offers over 50 activities for campers, including horseback riding, swimming, outdoor adventures, visual arts, performing arts, science, and technology.

Parents with children who have dietary restrictions will likely be pleased to hear that the camp offers vegetarian, gluten-free, nut-free, and dairy-free meal options. The vegetables served come from the camp’s own garden. 

Blue Ridge Field Camp

Experience Your Best Summer Ever at These 8 Virginia Summer Camps
Courtesy of Blue Ridge Field Camp

Location: Charlottesville 

Blue Ridge Field Camp is an outdoors day and once-per-week overnight camp for boys and girls ages six through 15 that emphasizes “friendships, adventure, and wonderful memories of summer.” 

If you’re looking for a small camp experience for your child, Blue Ridge Field Camp could be the perfect fit. The camp only has between 75 and 100 campers per week.

“Given the relatively small size, we can get to know one another well,” the camp said on its website. “This works better, of course, when kids come multiple weeks, and most of our campers do come week after week, and year after year, making for a genuine community.”

The camp stresses that it’s a genuine outdoors camp, where the campers spend their days in nature by playing field games, swimming, and getting dirty.

A total of 12 weeks of sessions are offered this summer, with the first one running from May 29 through June 2, and the last happening from Aug. 14-18.

The camp runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays, with Thursdays being the overnight experience. Some weekends are already full, while select others still have space available as of publication.

Camp Mont Shenandoah

Location: Bath County

Situated on the Cowpasture River, Camp Mont Shenandoah provides a traditional summer camp experience for girls between the ages of seven and 16. Five defining virtues guide the camp: love, loyalty, friendship, sportsmanship, and spiritual awareness. 

Considering the camp dates back to 1927, it’s steeped in tradition. Some of the traditions include the Teams: the Greens and the Buffs, which places campers into two teams that compete with each other in various ways.

“At Camp Mont Shenandoah, you’ll create memories and friendships that will last a lifetime,” wrote director Ann Warner. “We offer a multitude of traditional camp activities including swimming, archery, tennis, sports, and arts and crafts, as well as a comprehensive horse riding program.”

Campers can decide from the six-week session, June 24 through Aug. 5, two three-week sessions, June 24 through July 15 or July 16 through Aug. 5, or the one-week session, Aug. 6-12.

Summer Cove

Experience Your Best Summer Ever at These 8 Virginia Summer Camps
Courtesy of Summer Cove

Location: Springfield

Summer Cove is a summer day camp dedicated to providing an environment that promotes creativity, innovation, and individuality. 

“We strive to create specialized camp programs that we feel are geared towards children in grades [six through nine], an age group that we feel is seriously neglected when it comes to summer camps,” the camp’s website said. “Our program works to engage students in ways that encourage them to think outside of the box and give them a place where they can truly grow as a person.” 

The camp offers eight sessions, with the first one running from June 20-23 and the last one from Aug. 7-11. They cover a range of interests, including cooking, business and product development, news, crime scene investigation, film production, survival challenges, and robotics.

While registration is currently open, some of the summer camp’s offerings are already on a waitlist. 

Camp Carysbrook

Location: Riner

Located on almost 200-acres, Camp Carysbrook has been “fostering connection and curiosity in a safe, fun, outdoor environment” for girls ages six through 16 since 1923. In fact, it’s the oldest overnight camp for girls in the commonwealth. 

“Camp Carysbrook celebrates the unique potential of each camper and is dedicated to developing the skills she needs to navigate a rapidly changing world while having the time of her life. A summer to remember,” the website said.

Regular camp activities include swimming lessons and horseback riding lessons.

Sessions range in length from one to seven weeks, with the first session running from June 18-24.

Camp Hanover

Experience Your Best Summer Ever at These 8 Virginia Summer Camps
Courtesy of Camp Hanover

Location: Mechanicsville

Nestled on nearly 600 acres, Camp Hanover offers Christian residential and day camp programs for elementary, middle, and high school youth from June through August. 

“The Camp Hanover experience is designed so campers build Christ-centered communities, develop skills in outdoor living, and understand and practice servant leadership,” according to the camp website.

The eight week-long day camps are for children entering first through sixth grade. The first session runs from June 19-23, with the last occurring Aug. 7-11. Daily activities include morning devotions, archery, arts and crafts, Bible study, swimming, and nature hikes. 

Overnight camps are open for children entering second through 12th grade, with eight sessions held between June 18 and Aug. 12.

  • Aila Boyd

    Aila Boyd is a Virginia-based educator and journalist. She received her MFA in writing from Lindenwood University.

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