Teen on an adventurous summer camp experienceSure, your teenager can hike through High Point and break out the boogie board in Belmar, NJ this summer. But he might crave a change of scenery and a bit more adventure. If so, here are some summer programs he (or she) might enjoy.

No Footprints

Shenandoah Summer Camp in Luray, VA, is a small, rustic, coed facility that offers one- and two-week programs for children in 7th through 12th grade. In the two-week session, 30 campers break into groups of 10, each with two staff members. Kids can choose to participate in backpacking, canoeing, hang gliding, caving, white-water rafting, and more.

According to Morgan Tebeau, the camp’s director, “We like to try to keep the experience individual and personal.” In addition, activities like zip lines and a giant swing, Tebeau says, foster team-building. “We try to teach kids skills like how to build fires, set up camp in the back country, and leave no trace.”

Shenandoah Summer Camp, 90 miles west of Washington, DC, accepts applications through May. Fees are $600 for one week and $1,300 for two weeks, and campers can register online. Contact mountaincampus.org or 540-743-6603.

Have Fun, Help Others

Deer Hill Expeditions in Mancos, CO, is a coed camp for kids aged 13 to 18 (or 7th through 12th grade). Each of its programs involves a community service component as “a way of getting close to the earth, and getting to know yourself and the group,” says Richard Malcolm, Deer Hill’s outreach director. Malcolm says the camp philosophy is built on “three pillars: safety first, fun, then learning.”

Service projects may include work on Navajo or Hopi Indian reservations, “working on things important to their traditional way of life,” such as building a hogan, or traditional Navajo house, Malcolm says. “The kids learn about the creation of a structure, how to build a rock wall, and the importance of helping others.”

Fees run from $2,650 for 15 days to $4,595 for 25 days and, depending on the program, may include a charter flight. The camp accepts applications through the end of May. Contact deerhillexpeditions.com or 800-533-7221.

Challenge Yourself

Outward Bound is a non-profit educational organization that serves people of all ages and backgrounds through active learning expeditions. Its philosophy is that facing adventures and challenges—including dog sledding, canyoneering, rafting, backpacking, and experiential education programs—in unfamiliar settings enables participants to realize they can do more than they ever imagined. Its offerings are open to those 12 years through adult, and operate all over the country, including Alaska. Programs for younger campers are single sex; most others are coed. Programs for college students may run from a week to a semester.

Applicants have to speak with a course advisor before enrolling, but the application process mostly is for medical review, according to Jenessa Connor, senior marketing manager. Applicants should “start the process at least 60 days in advance to ensure first pick,” she adds, “but there are always last-minute openings.”

The cost depends on the length and location of the program, but fees run from about $1,200 at the lower end to $10,000 or more for a semester. Contact outwardbound.org or 845-424-4000.

Pick a Program

Web-based, free camp advisory services and listings for parents take some of the legwork and guesswork out of selecting a summer program for your teen. Take a look at: find.acacamps.org, tipsontripsandcamps.com, and mysummercamps.com.

Carol Lippert Gray is the editor of Raising Teens, a New Jersey Family publication.

Photo by Jessica Milnes.