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Sanity-Saving Summer Camps

Okay, before I say this, I need to clearly state: I do love my kids. I promise. They were all wanted, all super planned for, and I cherish each of them. That said, I just survived two weeks of spring break and… I. CAN’T. DO. THAT. ALL. SUMMER. Ermagherd, it was soooo loooong. And summer break will be here before we know it: eight weeks and two days to be exact (but who’s counting?!).

Therefore, I’m busy booking summer camp plans to get these kids out of the house. That, and stocking wine in the cabinet. Kidding! Sort of… Assuming some of you might be in the same boat, here’s a list of my top choices that I’ve already booked – there are options for the youngest of campers all the way up to 17, so read on!

(Disclaimer: there are a lot of choices out there…these are my tried and true favorites that we’ve personally experienced and know to be amazing!)

Sierra Nevada Journeys Overnight Camp
Ages: 8-17
Hours: Five glorious days and 4 amazing nights!!!!
Location: Portola, CA (45 minutes from Reno)

Paul successfully climbed the 5-story Alpine Tower!
Paul successfully climbed the 5-story Alpine Tower!

This is an overnight camp at its finest. I never did an overnight camp as a child but am thrilled to give my kids the opportunity to attend this one. And I’m super excited for a week with them gone 24/5 (or 24/7 if you enroll in a layover weekend)! Er, what I really mean is, I’m super excited for the awesome experiences they’ll have. They stay in cabins with full electricity, running water, toilets, showers (not that my son will use them), etc. They can go kayaking, strap on a harness and helmet and scale a challenge course, zip-line through a forest, play Katniss and shoot some arrows, swim in a pool, go on night hikes, perform skits, and so much more. Older kids (11-13) can even participate in survival camp and learn what it’s like to live without the conveniences of the modern world; they even sleep in camper-built shelters. The food is amazing. The location is breathtakingly beautiful. The staff take pics and blog so you can virtually check in if you’d like to. And the instructors are these young yet experienced, super-knowledgeable, safety trained, ultra-excited peeps who love kids – even mine, which is astounding! Kidding again! Sort of…If you’d like the chance to check it out before you commit, consider driving up for their Open House on Saturday, May 17th from 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM.

My kids were amazed to see in person where eggs come from. It's one thing to tell them about it, it's an entirely different thing when they see it happen!
My kids were amazed to see where eggs come from. It’s one thing to tell them; it’s an entirely different thing when they see it happen

Urban Roots
Ages: 5-12
Hours: 9:00 – 4:00, but they do have extended hours if you need them (8:00 – 5:00)
Location: Reno

Located out on the corner of Fourth and McCarran (3001 West 4th Street to be exact) is a gorgeous little farm. Formerly a parking lot, this amazing group of guerrilla gardeners has turned this into a little sanctuary focused on teaching kids where food comes from. My kiddos love the chickens, the rabbit and the farm cat. They love getting dirty in the mud and eating fresh-picked salads and fruit (this is an amazing feat for my vegetable-challenged son; he only eats veggies from the Urban Roots farm). They also adore the teachers who are young, energetic and full of awesome ideas. Kids eat fresh eggs from the resident chickens, make amazing snacks like homemade granola, and play lots of games. Your kids will come home exhausted and filthy, yet incredibly happy and full of new knowledge. Learn more online here. 

Paul and his Discovery invention "arm plate" (which he took quite literally; he eats off it all the time)
Paul and his Discovery invention “arm plate” (which he took quite literally; he eats off it all the time)

Camp Discovery
Ages: Entering 1st–7th grade
Hours: 9:00 – 4:00, but they do have extended hours if you need them (8:00 – 5:30)
Location: The Discovery Museum in downtown Reno

Brain-building, physical activity, and fun? Sounds good to me! Camp Discovery has a bunch of themed options ranging from pirates and zombies to experiments and spies. Kiddos get time to play in The Discovery itself and they also walk to a nearby park each day for some sunshine and a picnic lunch. My son actually was near tears upon conclusion of the camp he attended because he didn’t want it to end; he still plays with much of what he invented during his time there. Super fun, check it out!

Kayaking as a family is trickier than it might look!
Kayaking as a family is trickier than it might look!


Sierra Nevada Journeys Family Camp

Ages: ALL
Hours: Friday afternoon through Monday afternoon
Location: Portola, CA (45 min. from Reno)

For those of you with kiddos younger than the ages of most typical camps, consider booking a trip to Sierra Nevada Journeys Family Camp. Taking place over Labor Day weekend, this is the 4th year of their offering. Although you don’t get the luxury of having time away from your kids, it’s a fantastic way to wrap up summer and get back into school mode.

Our future Katniss.
Our future Katniss.

After a busy summer of camping, planning meals, doing endless amounts of laundry, this is “hoity toity” camping and is relaxing for moms. Can you imagine? A relaxing camping trip? This is it! You get a complete cabin all to yourself. It has electricity with your own sink and toilet, with nearby shower facilities. They cook every meal for you (and the new chef is amazing with a great balance of sinful and healthy – all delicious!). There are activities galore (kayaking, challenge courses, archery, swimming, basketball, etc.); you can choose to participate or just take it easy riding bikes or tossing frisbees on the lawn.They even host a “parent’s night out” where they watch your (potty-trained) kiddos while you do what you want.

Heck yeah I got up there and did a challenge course! Couldn't let my kids have all the fun!
Heck yeah, I got up there and did a challenge course! Couldn’t let my kids have all the fun!

Our kids love the Sierra Nevada Journeys Family Camp. Seriously. One year we went to San Diego, camped in a variety of places, visited my parents in Utah, and went to Family Camp with Sierra Nevada Journeys. The trip our kiddos have asked for over and over again is Family Camp. They actually rated it above Sea World and Legoland. And that’s really saying something! Our kids were 9, 5, and 16-months-old the last time we went; there was something perfect for each of them. This camp has very limited spacing and is nearly full – so if you want to join us (yup, we’ll be there again! We wouldn’t miss it!), sign up soon! 

I hope that gave you some ideas for summer fun for your kids – and maybe a few quiet hours to yourself. I can hardly wait! Oh, and if you should see me with a shopping cart full of wine, don’t ask…

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About Fayth Ross

Fayth Ross
Fayth moved from a no-stoplight town in rural Utah to Reno in 2006. She’s happily married with three kids ages 11, 6, and 2. Fayth is a Director of Development for a Reno-based non-profit. When she’s not working, doing endless amounts of laundry, or helping with homework, Fayth loves her Keurig, reading, pedicures, baths without children, naps, Mommy juice, and dancing to 80’s music while cooking. Fayth embraced life in the biggest little city and, despite the multiple stoplights on her daily commute to work, loves living in Reno.

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