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The top 20 summer camps in the U.S. offer something a little different

Melissa Chapman and her brood of three live in the urban concrete jungle of NYC. She writes Kids in the City Kids in the City a weekly column and blog for the Staten Island Advance, contributes to SheKnows, Time Out NY Kids Time Out N...

How to find the perfect summer camp for your perfectly unique kid

They grow up so fast, and the next thing you know, they'll be wanting to go to summer camp. While sleep-away camp may be a big step for parents, it's sure to be the highlight of your child's summer. If you're ready to let go just a little and encourage some independence (not to mention all the other tricks and skills a kid can pick up at camp), there might be a top-notch summer camp in your neck of the woods.

For the parents who want to let your child take the sleep-away-camp plunge, here are 20 camp and teen tour experiences that should be on your radar:

1. Cheley Colorado Camp, Colorado

How to find the perfect summer camp for your perfectly unique kid
Image: Cheley Colorado Camp

Located at the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, Cheley Colorado Camp is an amazing summer camp for kids that offers a number of activities from horseback riding and hiking to archery and riflery. If your kids love adventure and the outdoors, this is a terrific option.

2. Four Winds Westward Ho camp, Washington State

How to find the perfect summer camp for your perfectly unique kid
Image: Four Winds Westward Ho Camp

Situated on Orcas Island near Seattle, Washington, Four Winds Westward Ho is a place where kids can get away from technology and modern comforts and discover new friendships and interests in the great outdoors.

3. Virginia State Parks YCC, Virginia

How to find the perfect summer camp for your perfectly unique kid
Image: Virginia State Parks Youth Conservation Corps

For something completely different, consider sending your kids to the Virginia State Parks Youth Conservation Corps. This three-week residential program allows kids to live and work in the state park, preparing meals, performing chores and enjoying nature.

More: My grandparents thought they were done having kids... then I showed up

4. Camp Wicosuta, New Hampshire

How to find the perfect summer camp for your perfectly unique kid
Image: Camp Wicosuta

This all-girls camp in New Hampshire is located just south of the White Mountains on Newfound Lake. Girls enjoy water sports, creative arts, horseback riding and other outdoor adventures at Camp Wicosuta.

5. Thrill Coaster Tours

How to find the perfect summer camp for your perfectly unique kid
Image: ThrillCoaster Tours

Not your traditional camp, this teen program is all about roller coasters. Thrill Coaster Tours allows kids to visit various amusement parks and try out different roller coasters all over the country. The "campers" travel by luxury bus and stay at Marriott hotels as they go from city to city.

6. Sanborn Western Camps, Colorado

How to find the perfect summer camp for your perfectly unique kid
Image: Sanborn Western Camp

Located on 6,000 acres of aspen, spruce, Douglas-fir, and ponderosa pine-filled forests, an hour west of Colorado Springs, Sanborn Western Camps provide the perfect place for kids to do everything from fly-fishing to horseback riding and community service to science projects.

Next Up: Camp Chief Ouray, Colorado

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