Nature and Adventure Camps Get Children Back to the Great Outdoors This Summer

olympia nature camp
Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation offers rock climbing camps that teach children climbing safety and techniques to use while climbing in the great outdoors. Photo Courtesy: City of Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation.


By Melanie Kallas Ricklefs

thurston solid wasteThe mere mention of summer vacation brings back memories of endless hours playing in the woods, climbing trees, and running wild. We had all the time in the world to explore our natural surroundings, and nobody ever worried that we weren’t spending enough time outside. Though many things have changed over the last few decades, we still want our children to experience the carefree days of summer enjoying all that nature has to offer. Fortunately, there are many outdoor camps being offered in the Olympia area this summer to help stimulate your child’s desire for outdoor adventure.

Nature Nurtures Farm is dedicated to providing today’s children with the same hands-on, exploratory nature experience that was so common for children growing up a few decades ago. Nature Nurtures Farm encompasses 23 acres of pasture and forest in the Delphi Valley of Olympia. They offer a variety of day camps for kids ages 7-12, including farm camps and horse camps. In June, they will offer a camp counselor training for kids ages 13 and up that are interested in becoming volunteer junior camp counselors at the farm.

nature camp olympia
Nature Nurtures offers farm and horse camps on their 23-acre farm in the Delphi Valley. Photo Courtesy: Michelle Thieling.

Each day at farm camp, children explore the woods, play games, and have unstructured play time in the pasture. They also learn how to interact with and care for animals on the farm. Campers get the opportunity to ride horses one day each week, and can feed some of the animals every day.  Nature Nurtures Farm focuses on building social and emotional skills such as compassion and empathy for each other and for animals.

Swallow Circle Summer Camp is located on Circle Hawk Farm, a 16-acre farm comprised of fields, woodland acreage, a stream, and a large pond. They have garden beds and small farm animals for children to care for during their day. They offer day camps for children entering grades K-8 that focus on exploring the farm’s diverse ecosystems through art and play. Their Raven Adventures Camp, for children entering grades 6-9, also incorporates wilderness skills and eco art, and includes an overnight camping trip.

The City of Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation is offering a wide variety of camps for children of all ages this summer. There are several week-long sailing camps grouped by age and level of experience, including their new Learn to Race Sailing Camps for skilled sailors ages 9 to 18. For a closer look at the water and a daily workout, they offer week-long kayaking camps as well. If your child prefers the beach, the Sand n’ Sun Camp takes children to explore a different beach every day of the week.

Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation also offers camps for those with a taste for the forest environment. The Tread Head Bike Camp gives children ages 12-17 the opportunity to learn trail safety while mountain biking on several Capitol Forest Trails throughout the week. Rock climbing camps are also available, which include climbing at the Warehouse Rock Gym and Lake Cushman. If it is just too hard to choose between all of these amazing options, you may want to look into their variety camps. Each variety camp is one week long and includes a mix of outdoor adventure activities.

nature camp olympia
Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation offers week-long kayaking sessions to explore Puget Sound while getting daily exercise. Photo Courtesy: City of Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation.

Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation provides overnight camps for children ages 11 and up as well. Camp Cascadia takes children north to Elbow Lake near Mount Baker for a week full of outdoor adventures at Camp Cascades. The Volcanic Adventure, a three day camping trip at Cougar Camp, features trips to Ape Cave and Yale Reservoir to explore varying aspects of Mount St. Helens. Aqua Terra is a week-long adventure day camp, including mountain biking, rock climbing, and kayaking. It culminates in an overnight rafting trip near Mount Adams. To learn more about the day and overnight camps offered through Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation, check out their Experience It! summer camp catalog.

Spending time in the great outdoors is good for the mind, body, and soul. Knowing that you can enjoy nature safely, and be prepared for a survival situation provides peace of mind while on the trail. Wolf College offers a Wilderness Skills Sampler Day Camp at Millersylvania State Park that features different topics each day of the week. Some of the topics include nature awareness, wildlife safety, natural navigation, reading a map and compass, wilderness survival, wild edibles, and traditional fire making. The Skills Sampler Day Camp will be held from August 31 through September 4. You can sign up for individual days, or the whole week. Transportation is available to and from Tumwater Falls Park each day.

If your work schedule, or other commitments have you trapped inside during summer vacation, these nature camps can help you provide an exciting outdoor adventure for your child. It’s time to bring back the carefree days of summer!  Find 30 more summer camps in this article.


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