By Kate Scriven
When researching summer camps in the area, the offerings for the elementary school set are numerous. I even wrote an article detailing the vast number of camp options in and around Olympia with the majority geared for the kids under the age of twelve. It makes sense – the little ones can’t be left home alone and parents are looking to get them out of the house during the long school break.
But even though teens can stay home unsupervised while parents work or run errands, there are other options. Staying active, both physically and mentally, is essential for teens growing bodies and brains and Lacey Parks and Recreation Department knows this for a fact. Their long experience working with youth of all ages tells them that “a teen at home is a teen at rest.” With that in mind, the staff have created a whole summer full of camps, both day and overnight, to engage teens mentally, physically, and socially during the summer break.
Kathy Owen, Recreation Supervisor at Lacey Parks and Rec explains that the Teen Adventure Camps grew out of a question repeated by staff and parents alike: When a kid turns 12 and ages out of elementary focused camps, what then? “We are big proponents on getting kids away from screen time in the summer. There is a need for these programs to give them great role models, get them outside and being active. The national average for teens is 20-30 hours of screen time a week and we want to change that for our kids.”
And changing it they are. The Teen Adventure Camps are week-long day camps that focus on outdoor activities, challenging kids and providing opportunities for adventure and exploration in a safe and guided environment. Camps run from 8:30am to 4:30pm each day and are geared for kids ages twelve to fifteen.
Each week has a theme and outings include energetic adventures such as spelunking at the Ape Caves or hiking and riding the Mt. Rainier Gondola at Crystal Mountain as well as visits to Wild Waves, the Olympic Game Farm, The EMP and Space Needle, and Tacoma Rainiers games.
“There is no better place to get out and enjoy the outdoors than the Pacific Northwest. How many kids haven’t been to Mt. Rainier or the Ape Caves? There are so many options for exploration,” says Owen.
And kids love these camps – parents, too. In fact the regular sessions are filled for this summer. However, Lacey Parks and Rec is working hard to add additional sessions. Call the Lacey Parks and Rec office at 360-491-0857 or contact Kathy Owen at firstname.lastname@example.org to get on the wait list.
There are spots still available, however, in the Summer Overnight Camps. Camps run 4 days and 3 nights and include varying levels of “camping.” From a traditional summer camp setting of cabins, a mess hall, and campfire songs, to authentic tent camping at Lake Wenatchee – there is something for every teens interest.
Teens ages twelve to seventeen are welcome at each of the camp sessions below.
- Camp Cascadia – July 16 – 19 at Cascade Resort – This is the traditional overnight camper experience in cabins on the shores of Elbow Lake.
- Adventure Challenge – July 29 – August 1 at Lake Wenatchee State Park – This camp focuses on outdoor challenges including rock climbing which is supported by local outdoor store, Alpine Experience, both financially as well as with trained staff to assist with climbing and equipment.
- Summer Scream – August 6 – 9 – Campers and staff travel to Riverside State Park in Spokane where they camp for 3 nights, visiting Silverwood Theme Park in Idaho for 2 full days of fun.
- Fun in the Sun at Lake Chelan – August 26 – 29 – This camp is the last “hoorah” of summer where teens visit sunny Lake Chelan, spending time at the water park, floating the river, and visiting shops and restaurants in town.
Camps are designed for fun as well as educating teens. “If we can expose teens to the outdoors, they may develop a passion for it and become lifelong outdoor enthusiasts. We also have an environmental and stewardship component to each camp which we feel is very important,” explains Owen. You can access full camp descriptions here.
When I reflect back on my teen years, one of my most vivid memories is of my days at camp. Boating, campfires, art projects, and addresses exchanged at the end of the week. Lacey Parks and Rec staff likely have these memories too, helping them craft engaging and memorable experiences. I hope to build these same memories for my kids (when they become teens) and know that the programs at Lacey Parks and Rec are about as good as they get.
For more information on Lacey Parks and Recreation Day and Overnight Camps for Teens visit their website or contact Recreation Supervisor Kathy Owen at (360) 491-0857.