Update for 2014: Sugarbush Adventure Camp now has themes for each week. Learn more from my post on All Mountain Mamas.
I’m a fan of old-school summer vacations and am lucky enough to get to enjoy them in Vermont. Long weeks of relaxing in a vacation rental, days spent hiking, biking, and swimming – it’s my idea of perfect.*
But a few years ago Matt and I realized that the boys, while they loved being in Vermont with us, missed spending time with other kids and sometimes wanted more structured activities than we were willing to provide. That’s when we decided that they would spend one week of our vacation at a day camp. This summer, for the second year in a row, we’ve signed them up for the Sugarbush Resort Adventure Camp and it’s now become a highlight of their summer.
Sugarbush is well-equipped to create fun for kids – they have a dedicated building called The Schoolhouse that houses their programs. They also supply these lightweight cushioned shoes for safety on their playground. With two disc golf courses, a short zipline, and a bungee trampoline, and a fitness center with an indoor climbing wall and a pool there are plenty of fun things onsite to do.
But most of all I like that Sugarbush didn’t put “adventure” in the camp name for nothing. Yes, it is a resort with some nice amenities. But the basic expectation is that kids are in camp to be outside, pretty much no matter what.
And they seem to relish it.
Today the boys both left for camp in shorts and t-shirts without remembering to grab their hoodies. The average daytime temperature hovered somewhere around 62 degrees Fahrenheit and as if Mother Nature was showing us who is boss, it periodically rained either fat, cold drops or a penetrating chilly mist-like rain.
I expected recrimination, certainly not smiles when I picked them up. They had spent all day – seven hours – hiking miles from the Sugarbush base area to the resort’s snowmaking pond, stopping along the way for a good session splashing session in the frigid river. Their shoes were unspeakable and Teddy’s baseball cap looked like he had spent part of the time walking on his head. Lunch had been wolfed down hours before and both of them had new scratches and bug bites.
But although they were cold, tired, and hungry, they were also smiling and declaring what a fun day they had.
What are some other things I like about the camp at Sugarbush? The fact that they serve the kids lunch every day (yesterday was “Taco Tuesday” and the boys loved that dessert was chocolate pudding). The laid-back counselors, many of whom return year after year. And the rustic overnight that is offered on Thursdays. The kids ride the ski lift to an unelectrified cabin on the mountain where they roast hot dogs and make s’mores and sleep on the floor.
Last year the night of the sleepover was a stormy one, but the counselors still contrived to get the kids up on the mountain before the weather set in. This made for an especially exciting sleepover with dramatic flashes of lightning illuminating the mountains, just like in a spooky story. I was told that the kids were curled up in their custom face pajamas, watching the flashes of light and listening to the storm raging outside. They wanted to tell ghost stories but lost their nerves to the storm. Still, it was very exciting for them.
Neither of my kids can wait for a sleepover repeat this year (although no lightening is in the forecast, I think they may both be holding out hope). Teddy is especially thrilled that when he brushes his teeth he can just spit over the railing into the woods.
What I’m looking forward to is Friday afternoon when we will pick them up, filthy and exhausted. We’ll join them in their last activity of the week: Watching a slide show that the counselors have put together. Picture after picture of smiling kids reveling in the mountain air and their own physical competence. That’s Vermont summer fun at its finest.
Have you ever sent your children to camp as part of a family vacation?
*Very occasionally, there’s a topic I want to cover for which I don’t have a single photo. Today is one of those times – I’m not at camp with the kids. But since a picture-less post is Internet death, I decided to go into my considerable photo library and share pictures and even a short video from our day playing disc golf and enjoying Sugarbush as a family.
This post was written in conjunction with my relationship with Vacation Roost as one of their ambassadors. I was not compensated by Sugarbush and paid for my kids’ camps.