Sleep-away camp roundup for 2016

Want your kids to have a more immersive experience? Here’s the list of camps that will keep your child for all of the hours of the day and night!

Photo by: rhyndman

Summer camp is a distinctly character-building adventure that gives your child a whole lot of opportunities and pretty much douses them in independence. If we’ve missed a summer camp in Virginia that you think is worth including, please fill out the correction form below or email us at


Camp Carysbrook

Riner, Virginia

Virginia’s oldest girls overnight camp was established in 1923. Ohhhh SNAP, other camps! Girls 6 – 16 can do archery, horseback riding, canoeing, rockclimbing, and I’m going to guess chants and songs and bug juice. Girls can go up to seven weeks or as little as one week (that’s what they recommend for new campers).

Camp Friendship

Palmyra, Virginia

Coed friends of various ages, doing various generalist things! Also, a girls’ equestrian camp, and then a camp that’s a little bit of both! You can stay as little as a week or as long as the camp lasts (through August), assuming you register in time to get your spot!

Camp Hanover

Mechanicsville, Virginia

Camp Hanover is, technically, faith-based, but ask anyone who’s been there and they will tell you it’s about community and being into nature. Read more in our Camp Hanover interview from 2015. Coed campers enjoy one- to two-week terms as well as a three-day term option, and now you can even get more specialized, with Amazing Race, fishing, archery, horseback riding, serving the needy, mysteries and puzzles, campfire cooking, and even a camp for night owls.

Camp Horizons

Harrisonburg, Virginia

Camp Horizons offers one- to two-week terms (unless you’re towards the 17-18 age range, and then you have some leadership training term options that are four weeks, or unless you’re into performing arts, and then you’ve got three weeks to hang). Hang in the pool, learn how to rock climb, ride horses, and bond with your cabin! This camp is coed and goes from age 6-16 for the regular camp–the Leadership Camp is for rising high school seniors.

Camp Strawderman

Edinburg, Virginia

A girls camp for ages 6-17, Camp Strawderman has been in business since 1929. They boast gorgeous surroundings in the Allegheny mountains, a lot of horseback riding, campfire tales, and even synchronized swimming. Stay for as long as two, four, six, or eight weeks, with the option to ride horses or not ride horses (different rates apply).

Camp Chanco

A Christian camp on the banks of the James River, Chanco’s got a bunch of options for kids 7 – 16. Mariner’s Camp gets you seaworthy, Ropes Camp gives you more access to ropes courses and zip lines, and there’s even Family Camp, which gives you a chance to camp…with your parents? Thanks, Camp Chanco, for throwing us old people a bone! Two-week terms are the norm for the regular camp, with specialty camps clocking in at a little less than a week (Family Camp is only three days long).

Westview on the James

Goochland, Virginia

This one-week camp gives coed campers the full roundup of traditional camp activities: archery, boating, and splashing around in life jackets (if the photos are any guide). Less traditional interests? You may still be covered by Westview on the James–disc golf, water trampoline, and “zip n’ dip.” Ages 7-14, campers live in “hogans” with about 15 other kids of their same age and gender.

Oak Hill Camp

Mechanicsille, Virginia

Located just outside of Mechanicsville, Oak Hill Camp offers Christian summer camp opportunities for rising kindergarteners on up through college-aged kids. Camps vary in length but each gives the kids a chance to experience some traditional camp fun–e.g. tetherball, campfires, and a pool–as they build friendships and received encouragement in their faith.

Super Outdoorsy

Apalatchi Hikes at Old Meadows Farm

North Garden, Virginia

For the outdoor kid (or maybe the indoor kid who wants to learn how to be more of an outdoor kid), Apalatchi Hikes takes groups on a week-long hiking adventure through the Appalachian Mountains. Camping and hiking and leave-no-trace backpacking–plus cooking and writing and sketching! This camp kind of makes me want to burst into tears at the beauty of it all. For girls only!

Shiloh Quaker Camp

Madison County, Virginia

No, campers will not be raising barns and churning butter. They’ll be hiking, playing in creeks, putting on shows, climbing rocks, and doing service projects. Shiloh Quaker Camp involves multiple off-camp trips. Sessions are either one-, two-, or four-week for ages 9-14, and the teen adventure program (15-17) is three weeks.

Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing

New Castle, Virginia

Not for the meek, unless the meek are into learning how to be un-meek! These camps put kids in the outdoors and help them learn about it, whether they’re scaling rocks or mountain biking on trails or canoeing on rivers. You can choose more specialized options (like JUST mountain biking or rock climbing), or send your kid to the introductory “Outdoor Discovery” session. Most sessions are one-week, but some are two. The leadership course for 17 year olds are three weeks long.


Ferrum College Summer Enrichment Camp

Ferrum, Virginia

There’s a ton to do at Ferrum College’s Summer Enrichment Camp, where you take classes, but classes about fun stuff that you’re really into. And it’s all up to you. If you’re a kid, that is (I am not talking to you, parents). The list of classes is long but not overwhelming, and focuses mostly on the arts (writing, drama, music composition, etc.) but also has some other stuff in there (“Living, 1800 Style”–yes, please!).

Special Interest

Civil War Adventure Camp

Petersburg, Virginia

Kids! Gotta love them. They haven’t seen Dances with Wolves yet, so they don’t know about things like gangrene and running out of morphine. Give them the experience of pretending to be IN the Civil War and living life as those unfortunate souls did. I mean, I’m sure they have staff on hand to make sure no one actually stabs anyone with a bayonet.

Comfort Zone Camp

Richmond, Virginia

While not technically a summer camp (Comfort Zone’s camps are year-round), it brings so much joy to children that we couldn’t not include it. Comfort Zone is a FREE camp for children who have lost someone close to them, usually a family member. It’s a weekend of growing, healing, and having fun. Read our interview with Comfort Zone’s Pete Shrock, who lays down knowledge of what grieving is like during the holidays.

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Susan Howson

Susan Howson is managing editor for this very website. She writes THE BEST bios.

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