Family camps a great summer holiday

Family camps are an affordable way to enjoy the outdoors and vacation with kids

Spending quality time together as a family is great in theory but oftentimes hard to do in practice. With extra-curricular activities and homework, there is little time during the week and most weekends are spent running errands, doing chores and taking part in various activities with friends. Toss in the daily siren call of television, computer games, email and web surfing and it’s no surprise that families say they don’t see enough of each other.

One way to remedy the situation is to consider signing up for a family camp. It is a great chance to get away from the everyday hectic schedules and get back to nature. Several residential camps near Montreal offer week-long sessions where families stay together at the camp, sampling all the traditional camp activities if they wish (reading a novel by the lake is also fine!) and enjoying meals prepared by the camp staff.

For the past eight years, Sylvie Charbonneau, her partner and their four sons have attended the Holiday Week at Camp Nominingue in the Laurentians. Charbonneau says getting away from everything — including computers and phones —helps the family re-connect.
“We do not bring any technology,” says Charbonneau, adding that her now-teenage boys gladly unplug for one week each summer. The family does some activities together, some apart but share meals and, at night, a tent, which Charbonneau laughingly calls “a very intimate environment.” Away from their busy lives, she says, “We get to do activities and share experiences that we would not have otherwise as a family.”

Grant McKenna, director of Camp Nominingue, says the Holiday Week has been offered for the past 28 years and is very popular with families, many of whom return year after year.  Some come for the chance to introduce their child to camp while others just want to spend quality time together.  Whatever the reason for wanting a camp experience, there are many options available. Here are some around Montreal and in the United States.

Camp Nominingue
Nominingue, QC • Offers a wide range of activities for adults and children ages 4 and up including sailing, treasure hunts and nature hikes. Day and overnight canoe trips also offered.
Dates: August 18-26, 2012 (participants choose how many nights to stay)
Cost: $99 per day for adults or $693 for full, 9-day session; $65.90 per day for kids or $461 for full session. Costs includes all food and activities, but there are additional charges for tent accommodations which vary depending on the size of the family or group.
Information: Call (866) 910-1551 or visit www.nominingue.com/holiday-week.php.

Camp Livingstone
Eastern Townships, QC • Camp with a Christian focus offers families time to do water sports, games and crafts as well as participating in chapel services.
Dates: July 15-21 and July 22-28, 2012
Cost: Accommodation fees range from $85 for a tent to $250 for a motel room (sleeps 5). Meal fees are $135 for adults and
children age 10 and up; $95 for children ages 6-9 and $10 for kids under 5.
Information: Call (819) 843-2019 or visit www.camplivingstone.ca

Frontier Lodge
Eastern Townships, QC • A camp with a Christian focus offering two programs: a first-timers camp for children ages 5 and up and one parent and a Father and Son camp for boys ages 6-16 and their dads. Camp activities include fishing, swimming, games and chapel time.
Dates: Aug 12-18, 2012 and July 20-22 for the Father and Sons camp.
Cost: $100 per camper for either camp. Includes accommodations, food and activities.
Information: Call (819) 844-2277 or visit www.frontierlodge.org.

Parkside Ranch
Orford, QC • A Christian camp offering a family week for the first time this year. Activities will include trail rides on horses, archery and water sports.
Dates: Aug. 12-18,2012
Cost: $242 for adults, $121 for children, kids under age 5 are free.
Fees include accommodations, food and activities.
Information: (819) 868-0431 or visit www.parksideranch.com.

Camp Common Ground
Starksboro, VT • Located about 21/2 hours from Montreal, the camp offers families swimming, nature hikes and arts activities. For families with children ages 3 and up. Offers a session (Camp Kaleidoscope) for families with an autistic child.
Dates: June 21-24, 2012 (Camp Kaleidoscope), July 21-27, Ju;y 28 to Aug. 3, Aug. 4-10, Aug. 11-17, 2012
Chinese Family Camp Aug. 20-23
Cost: vary depending on family camp, call for more details
Information: Call (800) 430-2667 or visit www.cgvt.org.

William Lawrence Camp
Tuftonboro, NH • Offers activities such as swimming, hiking and arts. Each family has a private cabin.
Dates: Aug 14-19, 2012
Cost: $300 for adults and children over 16; $200 for children ages 2-16; free for toddlers under age 2.
Information: Call (603) 569-3698 or visit www.wlcamp.org.