I loved going to sleepover summer camp as a kid. As in it was the highlight of my youth. In fact, I have an entire scrapbook from the camp I went to my junior year in high school, where I wrote a poem about how much I loved camp. (Yes, I admit I’m a dork.)
As soon as my daughter was old enough to go to sleepover camp, I signed her up, and just like her Momma, she LOVED it too. She has been every summer since she turned eight. I’m totally excited that my son will finally be old enough to participate in the fun next summer.
Recently on Facebook, I saw a post about Family Camp at Sierra Nevada Journeys, and it totally made me pause.
You mean I could get in that camping trip I promised them without having to pitch a tent or cook on a camp stove?
Sign. Me. Up.
We went over Labor Day weekend, and I was at my wit’s end by the time I arrived at camp, as my kids fought in the back seat the entire 60-minute drive.
But as we drove up to the lush, green campus of Grizzly Creek Ranch, nestled in the pine trees with deer traipsing across the lawns, the stress lifted.
The entire camp, built in the early 2000s, had very new and pristine facilities. We checked into our cabin, which I was sharing with a girlfriend and her two kids, and each of us claimed our bunk bed. We had our own bathroom, sink, and mirrors. I must admit I felt I was “Glamping”. But I liked it!
And so started our 3.5 days of fun in nature at camp. I told the kids our mission was to “conquer the camp”, as in we had to do all of the activities. And that we did.
We put on our harnesses and climbed the Alpine Tower. Then we climbed a tree, made our way over a tightrope bridge to the zip line, and we dropped off that platform in abandon.
We learned to shoot arrows.
We all played a dodgeball-like game called Gaga Ball.
My son and I kayaked while my daughter did tie dye.
Then came Saturday afternoon, when it was announced that it was “parents’ afternoon out in Graegle”, and we were free to leave while the camp counselors took our kids swimming and had a pizza party with them.
HOT DOG! I can’t tell you how happy us parents were as we left camp to go to the adorable town just a few minutes down the road, where we found a lovely wine bar with a band playing on the back patio….
But back to family camp!
We did all kinds of activities together, but then, my kids could scatter and go do what they wanted while us moms took a nap or read our books. One day after taking a glorious nap, I hopped on my bike just to go see where I would find my kids. My daughter and a friend were at the pond with a counselor catching frogs and crawdads, while my son was engaged in an intense game of Gaga Ball.
That night at the campfire, I sat back and sipped hot tea while I watched my kids do skits and we all sang goofy camp songs.
Sierra Nevada Journeys is getting really involved with Washoe County School District. Many local elementary schools have hosted SNJ Family Science Nights or have had the opportunity to go through their Classrooms Unleashed program, a unique in-classroom and field day science program. Also, fifth and sixth-grade classes go to Grizzly Creek Ranch Campus during the school year for outdoor school, which entails students staying multiple nights on campus learning about engineering, pond ecology, astronomy and more. What makes Sierra Nevada Journeys’ camps different than other area camps is their focus on standards correlated science curriculum. I watched in just as much awe as the kids did as two counselors hosted a “Fire and Ice Science Fair,” which included science experiments with well…fire and ice.
In fact, my daughter is going to Grizzly Creek Ranch in November for outdoor school. I think it was really special that we could do all of the activities together prior to her going there with her classmates this Fall. We both know exactly what she’ll expect, and I’ll totally “get it” as she describes the activities she does with her friends. (And I’m sure she’ll laugh as she reminisces on the way I screamed as I jumped off the zip line tower.)
As for my son, on our way home, I asked him if he thought he was ready for sleepover camp next summer. His answer was a resounding, “YES!” I have no question in my mind that he’s ready.
I know some parents are leery of sleepover camp, but I truly think that sleepover camp is a safe, fun environment for kids to completely unplug from technology, school and their daily lives, and to immerse themselves in nature and comradery of new friends and role models. And at Sierra Nevada Journeys, they’ll sneak in some science education that is so fun and exciting that your kids won’t even realize that they’re learning!
Interested in Family Camp? It happens every Labor Day weekend, so be on the lookout for next year’s event! Learn more about Sierra Nevada Journeys in the video below, where I interviewed the CEO of SNJ, Eaton Dunkelberger.