The summer camp experience can lead to some of the most cherished memories. From making new friends to learning a new skill, spending time at a summer camp or school will enrich the kids’ vacation in North Carolina. These aren’t the send-the-kids-away-to-camp offerings, but experiences that will fill their days with exciting activities while you all are on a family trip.
And grown-ups, don’t worry – you’ll find several summer schools and camps for adults across our state, in addition to fun kids-only camps that allow parents to enjoy some time for themselves. Don’t wait to book. These activities are popular among locals, too, and many will sell out.
1 North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher Summer Camps
1 North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher Summer CampsKure BeachSee on map
Aquarium summer camps are a great way to nurture children’s love of the water and educate them about this delicate ecosystem. The camps at the North Carolina Aquarium provide specific themes for various age levels, fostering skills such as storytelling, investigation, habitat exploration, animal care, conservation and even an understanding of careers in marine science for older teens.
Dates: Camps run Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 3 p.m., during select weeks in June, July and August.
2 Camp for the Kids, Wine-and-Shine for You
2 Camp for the Kids, Wine-and-Shine for YouClayton, SmithfieldSee on map
Plan a family trip to Johnston County, where small towns pack big outdoor adventures and charming retreats. Book the Sip & Stay Package, and get a discount on rooms at 10 participating hotels while also receiving an itinerary for great places for the grown-ups to eat, drink and sightsee. Hit all the stops on the JoCo Beer, Wine and Shine Trail, including Broadslab Distillery, Fainting Goat Brewing Co. and Hinnant Vineyards.
Your kids will be occupied and entertained at Howell Woods Environmental Learning Center, which offers a summer day camp and is open year-round. Activities include a ropes course, kayaking lessons, fishing, hiking and biking. Also, plan outdoor fun for the family at the many greenways and trails throughout the county and the iconic Neuse River.
3 Paddle or Adventure Camps with The Haw River Canoe & Kayak Co.
3 Paddle or Adventure Camps with The Haw River Canoe & Kayak Co.SaxapahawSee on map
The Haw River Canoe & Kayak Co. offers two types of summer camps for ages 10-15: paddle camps or adventure camps. At the full-day adventure camp, campers will kayak, paddleboard, hike and learn essential outdoor survival skills. At the half-day paddle camp, expect to focus on developing paddle skills on kayaks, paddleboards and canoes while exploring different sections of the Haw River.
Dates: Visit the website or call for the schedule and availability of these trips.
4 Nantahala Outdoor Center Paddling School
4 Nantahala Outdoor Center Paddling SchoolBryson CitySee on map
With more than 40 years of experience in all things whitewater kayaking and canoeing, Nantahala Outdoor Center is an ideal place to learn or strengthen your skills in whitewater paddling. The Introduction to Whitewater Kayaking Course covers all the basics on the calm Fontana Lake, then it puts your skills to the test on a whitewater river. Experienced paddlers can try the multiday courses to solidify techniques.
Dates: Courses run through fall; check NOC's website for specific class dates.
5 CTS Brevard Mountain Bike School
5 CTS Brevard Mountain Bike SchoolPisgah National Forest (near Brevard)See on map
CTS Brevard hosts three multiday mountain biking camps throughout the year for riders looking to pedal 40-80+ miles per day. All three camps focus on endurance miles and offer the opportunity to ride in events such as the Assault on the Carolinas or White Squirrel Cycling Classic.
Dates: March 30-April 4, 2020; April 22-25; Oct. 7-10.
6 Flour Power Kids Cooking Camps
6 Flour Power Kids Cooking Camps8 locations statewide
Flour Power Kids Cooking Studio hosts camps for tiny chefs (ages 5-8) and tween chefs (ages 9-12) that include all snacks, lunches, supplies and materials needed for the week. Kids can learn a variety of skills in the kitchen such as whisking, chopping and ingredient measuring, and enjoy classes themed from some of their favorite movies, international destinations and holidays.
Dates: Classes are held Monday to Friday through August.
7 North Carolina Barbecue Society’s BBQ Boot Camp
7 North Carolina Barbecue Society’s BBQ Boot CampSugar Mountain
Take your love of barbecue to the next level. The North Carolina Barbecue Society arranges for you to learn the essential skills of how to cook whole hogs Eastern North Carolina-style, pork shoulders and butts Western North Carolina-style, and chicken, pork ribs, beef brisket and more from the state’s premier pit masters. You’ll receive additional instruction on how to judge barbecue competitions, graduating from camp as a NCBS Certified BBQ Judge. Lodging is not included.
Dates: The camp is held three times a year, each time in a different region of the state. Spring camp: May 15-16, 2020, in Clemmons; Summer: July 24-25 in Sugar Mountain; Fall: Sept. 25-26 in Castle Hayne (near Wilmington).
8 Adult Summer Camp at the Museum of Life + Science
8 Adult Summer Camp at the Museum of Life + ScienceDurhamSee on map
While the Museum of Life + Science is usually a hotbed of activity for kids, this summer outing is strictly for the grown-ups. Adults (ages 21 and up) are invited to relive the joys of childhood summer camp for one evening by making friendship bracelets, hitting targets in archery practice, climbing wall races, roasting s’mores, playing in the treehouses at Hideaway Woods and riding the Ellerbe Creek Railway old-time train. Plus, you get to sample beer, wine and food truck fare.
Dates: Various dates throughout summer; check website for details.