For some parents, family camp is an opportunity to be in safe surroundings, where their children are off having fun but are never very far away. "It's a magical environment in which no one is thinking about work, your kids are having a fabulous time, and there's something for everyone to do," says Phil Neiman from San Rafael, CA, who, with his wife, Maria, and their three children, has been going to the Berkeley Tuolumne Family Camp near Yosemite National Park for the past six years.
Family camp accommodations can vary from a lodge room or a simply furnished cottage with a kitchenette to a wooden cabin or a tent-topped cabin. Some have bathrooms, while others require a walk to a bathhouse. It's a good idea to decide before you book your stay how rustic you and your family want to go.
When it comes to food, most camps serve three family-style meals at communal tables; others, such as Tyler Place, put more emphasis on finer cuisine and give you a choice of group dining or a quieter table for two. Either way, food is plentiful, with snacks offered through the day to energize campers after their activities.
The best reason to go, say family campers (myself included), is simply the combination of fun, relaxation, and family time. "It's sort of like utopia," says Ringler. "The kids have such a sense of freedom. They're in their own environment, which I can enter at any point." He'll be jumping from the monkey tree again this summer.
Some of the following family camps cater to parents and kids all summer long, while others are available to families for a specific period during the summer. Rates can vary widely, depending on the camp, date, length of stay, choice of accommodations, and number of people. For example, a family of four can spend from $936 for a four-day stay in June at the Berkeley Tuolumne Family Camp to $5,200 for a week in August at Tyler Place.
Berkeley Tuolumne Family Camp
Yosemite, CA, 510-981-5140
Brush Ranch Family Camp
Terrero, NM, 866-757-2267
Washington, ME, 301-854-9100
Cheley Colorado Camps
Estes Park, CO, 800-226-7386
Family Camp at Lincoln-Lake Hubert
Lake Hubert, MN, 800-242-1909
Great Camp Sagamore
Raquette Lake, NY, 315-354-5311
Montecito-Sequoia Lodge Family Vacation Camp
Los Altos, CA, 800-227-9900
Highgate Springs, VT, 802-868-4000