It may never have occurred to you to send your children to camp while on a family vacation – after all you probably want to enjoy time together. But over years of spending long family vacations in Vermont’s Mad River Valley I’ve learned that summer camps not only give me and my husband a chance to relax and enjoy some kid-free time, they connect my children to the place in a deeper way.
My sons are now nine and twelve and one or both of them has been participating in Adventure Camp at Sugarbush Resort for the past six years. These camps have become an important summertime tradition for all of us, with returning friends and special activities that the boys look forward to all year.
Why do we all love Adventure Camp so much?
The activities vary each day
My boys are never bored at camp and look forward to the many different activities they do each day. For the first time this year, Sugarbush has decided to center each week of camp around a different theme from outdoor adventure to climbing to farmyard learning to survival skills. My boys are signed up for Water Week and will be checking out Sugarbush’s snowmaking pond, exploring the Mad River, and enjoying lots of pool time.
Other fun camp activities include hiking on Lincoln Peak, riding the zipline and the chairlift, disc golfing, the bungee trampoline, scavenger hunts, and naturalist tours. Since the kids are all over the mountain and other parts of the Valley as well, participating in camp has given them a real sense of ownership of the place that goes beyond what they would experience as tourists.
How do I know they’ve had fun? At the end of the day they are always filthy and exhausted.
Lunch is served
Sugarbush provides a hot lunch for all the campers and let me tell you, there’s nothing that makes me feel more like I’m on vacation than a break from slapping together PB&J sandwiches every morning.
The counselors are awesome
We’ve never had a counselor at Sugarbush that the boys didn’t really like. Many of them return year to year and really develop a rapport and relationship with the kids. They encourage the kids to enjoy the outdoors, teach them about local floral and fauna, and give them confidence to hike mountains, ride the zipline, climb rock walls, and jump into the cold river.
The camps have their own dedicated space
Sugarbush has such a commitment to its young guests that it built a separate building just for them. In the winter, the ski school programs take place in the Schoolhouse; in the summer it’s turned over to a gathering place for the campers. It’s a bright, inviting space that the kids know is just for them. An added bonus is that each child gets his or her own cubby to store belongings.
Sugarbush Adventure Camps are for children ages 6 to 12 and are far from the only summertime option for kids at the resort. There’s a golf camp for kids aged 6 to 17, tennis camp for 8- to 14-year-olds, and mountain biking camp for kids who are between 8 and 17. Got a preschooler? Three- to five-year-olds can participate in the Mini Campers program that’s just for them with crafts, nature walks, lift rides, and more.
Camps are available by the week or day, so you can customize your child’s experience to fit with your family’s vacation. You’ll pay a little bit less if you sign up in advance, but camps are available on a walk-in basis as well.
Learn about all of Sugarbush Resort’s summer programs for kids.
Over the years, my boys have challenged themselves as they’ve hiked on the Long Trail, have made friends that my older son now chats with on Instagram throughout the school year, and have even slept out in a cabin on the mountain. I couldn’t ask for a better set of memories than the ones the camps at Sugarbush have provided.
All photos courtesy of Sugarbush Resort.
Mara Gorman may live at sea level now, but she’s a native New Englander and mountain aficionado who grew up skiing in Vermont. She spends as many days each winter as she can chasing her two teen boys through glades and across mogul fields and regularly journeys far and wide to get on the slopes. Mara blogs about her family’s many travel adventures at The Mother of all Trips. She is also the author of The Family Traveler’s Handbook and an award-winning freelance writer whose work has appeared in various USA Today print publications as well as on websites such as BBC Travel. When there’s no snow, Mara and her family can be found hiking, biking and eating around the United States and Europe.