Your kids will be entertained all summer at these North Carolina summer camps

YMCA Camp Thunderbird

Photo courtesy of YMCA Camp Thunderbird

By Staff Reports

May 3, 2024

Let’s explore the top 7 summer camps in North Carolina and discover the perfect fit for your child this summer.

North Carolina is home to some of the best summer camps that offer a wide range of activities and experiences for children of all ages. From mountain adventures to nautical experiences, farming fun, and leadership development, there is something for everyone. Let’s explore the top 7 summer camps in North Carolina and discover the perfect fit for your child this summer.

Camp Highlander – A Mountain of Fun and Adventure (Mills River)

Age Range: 6-16

Tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains lies Camp Highlander, a haven where kids aged 6 to 16 can dive headfirst into an exhilarating outdoor adventure while also focusing on personal growth and character development. At this remarkable camp, young adventurers are given the unique opportunity to disconnect from their digital lives and reconnect with the natural world around them. The array of activities on offer is as vast as the surrounding wilderness, from scaling craggy rock faces and exploring winding hiking trails to galloping through forests on horseback.

Camp Highlander is a place where children are encouraged to step outside their comfort zones, fostering a sense of independence and self-confidence. Whether they’re navigating the challenges of a high ropes course or sharing stories and laughter around a crackling campfire, campers are continuously building character and forming bonds that will last a lifetime.

The dedicated staff at Camp Highlander understands the importance of creating a supportive and nurturing environment. They guide each camper through their journey of self-discovery, ensuring that every child feels valued and understood. This focus on personal development is seamlessly blended with the excitement of outdoor adventures, making Camp Highlander an ideal setting for young spirits eager to explore, learn, and grow during their summer break.

Engaging in these immersive experiences not only leaves campers with a backpack full of memories but also instills in them a deep appreciation for the great outdoors and the invaluable lessons it teaches. Camp Highlander stands as a beacon for those seeking both adventure and self-improvement in the picturesque setting of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

Sea Gull and Seafarer – Nautical Adventures Await (Neuse River Area)

Age Range: 7-16

At Sea Gull and Seafarer, young mariners have a unique chance to master the waves through sailing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. Campers are also invited to plunge into an array of water-based activities that promise to cool off those hot summer days, making every moment by the sea an unforgettable one.

Beyond the thrill of water sports, Sea Gull and Seafarer foster an environment where teamwork and confidence flourish. As campers navigate through challenges together, they learn the true value of collaboration and the strength found in unity. Whether it’s mastering a new water skill or cheering on a fellow camper, the bonds formed here are as deep as the ocean itself.

These camps blend the excitement of nautical adventures with cherished camp traditions. From the creativity unleashed in arts and crafts to the laughter shared around campfires and the applause at talent shows, Sea Gull and Seafarer create a well-rounded summer experience.

Gwynn Valley – Where Farming Meets Fun (Brevard)

Age Range 5-11

Gwynn Valley offers an enchanting blend of farm life and traditional camp joy, creating an unparalleled summer experience for kids who are eager to dig into nature’s bounty. Nestled in the heart of North Carolina, this unique camp introduces young minds to the wonders of sustainable agriculture through a plethora of engaging, hands-on activities. Imagine the delight on campers’ faces as they gather eggs in the morning, care for the camp’s friendly animals, and harvest fresh produce straight from the garden.

But Gwynn Valley is a vibrant community where creativity and environmental stewardship are celebrated daily. Campers can tap into their artistic sides with crafts inspired by nature, or they can take part in adventurous outdoor activities that complement their farm duties, like kayaking on the serene camp lake or exploring nearby trails. Every activity is designed to foster a deep connection with the environment, encouraging kids to consider their role in the ecosystem and how they can contribute to a healthier planet.

The spirit of Gwynn Valley lies in its commitment to creating a nurturing space where campers can flourish both as individuals and as part of a community. By engaging in farm tasks, children learn the values of responsibility, teamwork, and the rewards of hard work, all while having the time of their lives.

Camp Kanata – Building Community Spirit (Wake Forest)

Age Range: 6-17

Camp Kanata is a vibrant summer camp designed to nurture connections, encourage teamwork, and create an environment where every camper feels like part of a big, happy family. From the thrilling heights of ropes courses that challenge and exhilarate, to the focused calm of archery, every activity is an opportunity for campers to discover new strengths and forge lasting friendships.

At Camp Kanata, the laughter and cheers of newfound friends echo through the air, creating a soundtrack to a summer filled with unforgettable moments. It’s a place where kids can dive into the refreshing waters of the pool, rally on the sports fields, or delve into creative pursuits, all while being surrounded by supportive peers and mentors. The essence of Camp Kanata is found in its commitment to building a strong sense of community, ensuring each child feels valued, heard, and connected.

Beyond just fun and games, this camp instills in its attendees the importance of collaboration, respect, and empathy. Through team-building exercises, campers learn the value of working together towards a common goal, celebrating each other’s successes, and offering a hand in challenging times. Camp Kanata is where the seeds of community spirit are planted and nurtured, blossoming into a lifetime of memories and friendships that extend far beyond the campgrounds.

Camp Cheerio – On Top of the World (Glade Valley)

Age Range: 6-15

Perched amidst the breathtaking scenery of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Camp Cheerio is a paradise for young adventurers seeking to elevate their summer to new heights. This camp provides an incredible backdrop for a variety of outdoor activities that engage and excite campers of all ages. From the adrenaline rush of hiking and mountain biking through rugged trails to the serene moments spent in arts and crafts sessions, Camp Cheerio has crafted the perfect balance of adventure and creativity. The camp’s ethos centers around personal growth and outdoor exploration, ensuring that each camper is not just having fun, but also building confidence and resilience.

At Camp Cheerio, the spirit of exploration is nurtured in every activity, whether it’s mastering the art of archery or gathering around a campfire under a starlit sky. The camp’s dedicated staff are passionate about empowering campers, encouraging them to challenge themselves and step beyond their comfort zones. This nurturing environment is fertile ground for developing leadership skills and forging deep connections with fellow campers.

Every day at Camp Cheerio is an opportunity for discovery. Campers find themselves on an exciting journey of self-discovery, learning not only about the natural world around them but also about their own untapped potential. The memories made and the skills learned at Camp Cheerio are treasures that campers carry with them long after the summer ends, making it more than just a camp—it’s a transformative summer experience.

Camp Thunderbird – A Splash of Science and Water Sports (Charlotte)

Age Range: 6-16

Nestled on the shores of a glistening lake in North Carolina, Camp Thunderbird offers a dynamic blend of aquatic adventures and stimulating scientific exploration. It’s the ultimate playground for curious young minds and budding scientists eager to dive deep into both the mysteries of nature and the thrill of water sports. Here, campers can spend their days slicing through the water in sailboats, mastering their technique in water skiing, or discovering the serene joy of kayaking. Each splash is a mix of fun and learning, an approach that sets Camp Thunderbird apart.

Camp Thunderbird is a hub for budding environmentalists and scientists, with programs designed to engage campers in hands-on science experiments that spark curiosity and foster a love for learning. From exploring the local ecosystem on nature hikes to engaging in environmental stewardship projects, every activity is crafted to enrich young minds.

The magic of Camp Thunderbird lies in its ability to seamlessly integrate the exhilaration of water sports with the wonder of scientific discovery. This unique combination ensures that campers not only enjoy a summer packed with action and fun but also return home with a deeper understanding of the world around them and how they can protect it. By merging play with education, Camp Thunderbird creates an unforgettable summer experience that encourages campers to view the lake not just as a playground, but as a living laboratory full of secrets waiting to be uncovered.

Keystone Camp for Girls – Empowering Young Women (Brevard)

Age Range: 7-14

Keystone Camp for Girls is a sanctuary of empowerment and growth for young women. This camp offers a diverse array of activities that challenge and inspire, from the adrenaline-pumping excitement of rock climbing to the gentle rhythms of horseback riding. Creative spirits soar in arts and crafts sessions, where imagination and expression are celebrated in every project.

Keystone helps foster leadership skills through workshops and team-building exercises designed specifically for young women. Keystone Camp cultivates an atmosphere of confidence, encouraging campers to step into their power, voice their ideas, and lead with conviction. This supportive community bolsters self-esteem and mutual respect, setting the stage for lifelong friendships and unforgettable summer adventures.

As young women navigate through these formative experiences, they gain not just fun memories, but also the tools and confidence needed to thrive beyond camp’s bounds. Keystone Camp for Girls is a beacon of empowerment, illuminating the path for young women to discover their strength and potential in an inspiring and adventurous setting.

Read more: Here’s your guide to free things to do in North Carolina

This story was generated in part by AI and edited by The Cardinal and Pine staff.




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