The past few years have seen a huge push toward outdoor activities, and summer camps are no exception: Outdoor camps experienced increased interest, and many traditionally indoor camps moved their activities outside. Along the way, a good number of campers no doubt discovered an outdoor hobby or skill worth exploring. The following camps in the Washington region offer kids an opportunity to practice new, or long-loved, outdoor pursuits.
This 30-year-old outdoor-adventure-camp company offers dozens of summer day and overnight options in Maryland and Virginia for ages 4 through 16—including “sample” weeks for those still testing the adventure-sport waters. More focused sessions include a weeklong kayaking day camp for ages 9 through 15 in McLean ($750), a weeklong rafting day camp based in Poolesville (with one overnight) for ages 9 through 15 ($750), plus fishing and mountain-biking camps, among others. The organization also offers traveling camps in which kids travel from local meeting spots to neighboring states—and even Canada—for overnight adventures in kayaking, climbing, and more.
2. Camp Tockwogh
In addition to the traditional overnight camp and mini-camps, those who have completed grades seven through ten can hone their water-sports skills at the YMCA Camp Tockwough’s weeklong overnight specialty camps in Worton, Maryland ($1,600), about two hours from DC. Certified lifeguards—most of whom, according to the website, have collegiate and international water-sports experience—teach waterskiing, sailing, and wakeboarding.
3. Capital SUP
Capital SUP’s five-day “Grom” camps in Annapolis teach standup paddleboarding (including water safety) for ages 7 through 14 in full-day and half-day sessions. Check the website for 2023 prices.
4. Echo Hill Camp
Just across the way from Camp Tockwogh in Worton, Maryland, this sleep-away camp hosts children ages 7 to 16 on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. The main camp offering is a two-week general session ($3,550), but Echo Hill also has a one-week “Sail, Ski, Fish, Crab Camp” that focuses specifically on those water activities ($1,700).
5. Mulford Riding School
Ages 5 through 15 learn riding and general horsemanship—with at least one hour of riding and one hour of off-horse instruction per day—plus crafts, archery, photography, water games, and more at this full-day, weeklong riding camp ($630) in Centreville.
6. Pedal Power
Campers can “say goodbye to training wheels” at this bicycling program’s learn-to-ride camp for ages 4 through 11, or advance their skills with a few different adventure camps for ages 5 through 12. The camps are each one week long and take place in various locations, including Georgetown Day School in DC, St. Martin’s Lutheran Church in Annapolis, and Kinder Farm Park in Millersville.
7. Play DC Golf
The organization that owns East Potomac Golf Links, Langston Golf Course, and Rock Creek Park Golf Course offers summer camps. The details for 2023 haven’t been announced, but last year, children 5 through 15 could practice their skills with weeklong sessions for beginners (half day, $299) and intermediates (full day, $499).
8. Potomac Paddlesports
A five-day day camp on the Potomac River ($695) caters to kids 12 through 17 who want to learn or sharpen skills in whitewater kayaking. Beginners can register for level 1 and start with fundamentals but will paddle in Class II whitewater by the end of the week.
9. Severn Sailing Association
Kids 5 through 17 can find a summer sailing camp at the Severn Sailing Association in Annapolis. The youngest set, 5-to-7-year-old “harbor rookies,” learn the basics at a half-day, one-week camp ($400), while 7-to-10-year-old new sailors can enroll in full-day, weeklong Beginner Opti camp ($600). There are also camps for inexperienced sailors hoping to join a high-school team, plus sessions for intermediate and more advanced sailors of all ages. Camps vary from one week to summer-long and cost $400 to $3,600.
Kids 10 through 16 with climbing experience can spend a week at this climbing gyms’s indoor/outdoor Adventure Camp ($525), in either Alexandria or Sterling. Meanwhile, new climbers and younger campers have indoor options for preparing for the indoor/outdoor skill. Ages 6 through 14 can try a one-day camp ($110), and those 8 through 14 can choose between the one-day or weeklong program ($475).
Correction: An earlier version of this story said that Capital SUP’s camp was in partnership with the Annapolis Maritime Museum and that it was four days.
This article appears in the February 2023 issue of Washingtonian.