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How to choose a summer camp for your teen

Summer camp isn’t just for little kids. Older children and teens can benefit from going to camp, as well. At camp, kids of all ages have opportunities to meet new friends and for social growth.

Camps also provide exposure to new interests and activities that can become favorites for a lifetime.

What to look for in a summer camp

Every family and every child is different, but there are some basic things you should look for in a camp including activities, safety, location and cost. Bob Hanson of Columbia Gorge Teen Camps provides a little more insight on what parents should look for in a summer camp.

“First of all, parents should look for a camp where their child will have a good time,” says Hanson. “Learning and character building happen most readily when a child or teen is enjoying themselves. Hopefully, the camp experience will lead to new skills and new friendships, so exposing the camper to activities which he or she hasn’t participated in previously is a good idea. A good camp will provide opportunities for the camper to make some choices. Experienced, mature leaders will be valuable role models… important in the growing-up process. Safety is, of course, most parents’ number one consideration. In general, campers are safer in camp than they are in their own neighborhood.”

Hanson also points out a good camp will provide opportunities for teens to develop leadership skills and a sense of independence. Additionally, camps are a fantastic way to get teens off the couch and active. Camps also provide an opportunity for parents to get teens away from TV, video games and all their other electronic gadgets.

Selecting the right summer camp >>

Camps for teens

While most camps are designed for younger campers, Columbia Gorge Teen Camps are designed to meet the needs of teens. Hanson outlines what makes these camps different.


“Lots of teens continue attending the camp which they have gone to since they were 8 years old because it is comfortable, and they feel at home there,” explains Hanson. “In most cases, the program isn’t one which challenges them or gives them new skills. Campers need to go outside their comfort zone and expand their world view.”

Outdoor skills

Columbia Gorge Teen Camps are aimed toward campers ages 14-17. They offer Photography Camp, Windsurfing Camp, High Adventure Camp and Climbing & Mountaineering Camp. “Many sports and performing arts camps exist for teens, but there are very few teen camps specializing in outdoor skills. Our camps allow specialization in activities which can provide a lifetime of enjoyment and physical fitness.”


“We think leadership is the key to a camp’s success and have gone out of our way to line up the best leadership available,” says Hanson. “We also provide a small group living experience, where campers are not “lost in the crowd” but develop close relationships. Some teen camps have an excellent instructional program, but not much attention is given to the other 16 hours a day. We provide the finest experiences 24 hours a day.”

Check out our summer camp visiting day primer >>

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High-tech, musical and artsy summer camps
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