photos courtesy of Weissman Teen Tours

by Carol Anne Pagliotti

If your child wants to travel during his summer camp experience, there are programs out there to match almost every child’s interests.

Kids can tour the U.S., Europe, Asia and Australia; visit Central America to take part in community service projects; scuba dive in Australia; or visit college campuses to learn what college life is really like.

No matter what choice you make, camp directors say come with an open mind and bring your sense of adventure.

Student Tours
On student tours, kids sightsee with other kids, visiting locales as American as Yellowstone National Park or as far-flung as China. “Kids learn about themselves and about others by traveling,” says Ronee Weissman, owner and director of Weissman Teen Tours. For these types of summer camps, parents can expect to pay from $5,000-$12,000.

Founded in 2006, China Prep takes kids in grades 9-12 to China on 2- to 4-week trips. They learn about the arts, business and entertainment. Those who choose the month-long trip this year will participate in a one-week community service project with Habitat for Humanity in a Sichuan province location affected by the devastating 2008 earthquake.

If you camper is not quite ready for a trip all the way to China, he can also participate in the 3-week Chinese summer program in New York City. Participants reside at International House while taking part in classes in language and culture and culturally relevant field trips.

Weissman Teen Tours offers 5-week trips to Europe, month-long trips throughout the U.S. and Western Canada and 2- and 3-week trips to Hawaii for kids ages 13-18. This year Weismann is incorporating community service projects into their trips. In Hawaii, campers will work with the Pacific Whale Foundation to help protect the environment. During the U.S./Western Canada trip, campers will work one day in Yellowstone National Park with the National Park Service.

Travel/Adventure Camps
At travel/adventure camps, kids experience scuba diving in Australia, ride roller coasters throughout the U.S. or explore the wilderness in the U.S. and Canada. Captain Monk Daniel of Sea Trek BVI says “kids who want to achieve something” get the most from these experiences. Parents can expect to pay from $1,400 to $6,000 for a travel/adventure camp.

For campers ages 12-18, Adventure Treks offers wilderness experiences. Kids ages 12-14 can visit the southeastern U.S. on the Blue Ridge Experience. They will backpack in the Appalachian Mountains, go caving in Tennessee and go whitewater rafting on the Chattooga River.

Older campers ages 16-18 can take part in the Alaska Challenge, where they will backpack in the Chugach Mountains and Denali State Park, sea kayak in Prince William Sound, go ice climbing on the Matanuska Glacier and go whitewater rafting on the Nenana River. Other Adventure Trek groups visit California, Oregon, British Columbia and the Northeastern U.S.

On one of many All About Visiting Earth summer programs, kids visit Australia for three weeks to learn scuba diving, surf, go white water rafting and stay at a working ranch in the Outback. This experience is open to kids ages 14-18 who have passed a scuba physical.
Sea Trek BVI offers sailing, scuba diving and marine biology expeditions in the British Virgin Islands for junior high through college-age kids. Sailing camps offer hands-on experiences as campers take full control of their yachts, including sail trimming, navigating and serving as skipper of the day.

Sea Trek BVI also offers 2- and 3-week scuba camps at five experience levels. Its marine biology programs let participants take part in marine science research and community service projects.

Thrill Coaster Tours will offer three trips this summer for roller coaster enthusiasts ages 12-16. In July campers head off to California to visit Universal Studios, Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, Magic Mountain and other venues. In August the tour heads to Pennsylvania and Ohio to visit Cedar Point, Knoebels Amusement Park and Hersheypark. Also in August, another trip takes campers to Dollywood in Tennesee, Carowinds in North Carolina and Kings Island in Ohio.

For More Info

Adventure Treks, 888-954-5555, www.adventuretreks.com

All About Visiting Earth, 800-222-3595, www.aave.com

China Prep, 888-878-4814, www.chinaprep.com

Education Unlimited, 510-548-6612, www.educationunlimited.com

Giant Campus Tech, Digital Media and Gaming Camp, 888-904-2267,
www.giantcampus.com

Global Works Travel, 800-784-6362, www.globalworkstravel.com

Lifeworks International, 800-808-2115, www.lifeworks-international.com

Sea Trek BVI, 877-GO-SAILING, www.seatrekbvi.com

Thrill Coaster Tours, 888-542-4842, www.thrillcoastertours.com

Vassar College, 845-437-5904, www.vassar.edu/summer/sports.html

Weismann Teen Tours, 800-942-8005, www.weissmantours.com

Service Travel
Service travel brings kids to areas throughout the country and the world to help others. Brian Di Feo of Global Works Travel says that on these trips, “campers gain an appreciation for what they have. They also gain confidence, self-esteem and independence.” For this type of camp, parents can expect to pay from $3,200-$6,200.

Global Works Travel brings kids in grades 9-12 to countries such as Australia, China, Ireland, the Fiji Islands and Nicaragua. They take part in local community environmental conservation efforts, build elementary school playgrounds and help renovate rural school buildings.

Lifeworks International’s Global Service and Adventure Programs for Teens offers service learning programs for ages 14-19. Destinations include the British Virgin Islands, China, the Galapagos Islands, India and Costa Rica.

In the British Virgin Islands, campers sail from island to island to help protect sensitive reefs. In China, participants assist in providing medical support and programs to orphaned children. In India, campers spend ten days learning Tibetan language, music, art, cooking and cultural philosophy. They also work with local volunteer organizations to provide free child care services.

College Experience Camps
At college experience camps, students experience life on a college campus while learning about specialized subjects such as digital media or participating in sports. For this type of camp, parents can expect to pay from $900-$7,850.

Giant Campus’s Tech, Digital Media and Gaming Camp offers technology-based courses for kids ages 10-17. Locations include Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, PA; Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ; and University of Maryland in Baltimore, MD. Campers can learn 3D game creation, flash animation, C++ programming and robotics during the week and be picked up on weekends to come home.

Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY offers residential sports camps for both boys and girls ages 14-18. Choices include co-ed epeé fencing and squash. Girls ages 13-18 can attend a soccer academy, and girls in grades 5-12 can compete in a field hockey camp.

For an off-campus college experience, kids can attend Education Unlimited’s 14-day College Admission Prep Camp at the Club Med Sandpiper Resort in Port St. Lucie, FL. It includes SAT prep, college counseling and personal statement instruction — along with beach volleyball, private beaches and gourmet dining.

Whichever type of travel interests your child, there are camps to match.

Carol Anne Pagliotti is a freelance writer and former MetroKids resources editor.