Most Exclusive Summer Camps for Our Kids!

March 24, 2010 § 3 Comments

This is to my husband, Jeff, who swears that kids DO cost a lot: 

According to recent studies, 82% of young people surveyed said that they would like the to go off on summer vacation – without parents of course.  87% of parents do agree with their children’s decision, as long as there is adult supervision.  The top priority in the US for summer camps is sports and adventure while in Europe the preference leans towards cultural  and social exchange.

Stagedoor Manor
Location: Loch Sheldrake, N.Y.
Cost: $4,445 for 3-week session
If your kid dreams of becoming the toast of Broadway or making it in Hollywood, Stagedoor Manor is a summer must. The 33-year old camp boasts famous alum like Natalie Portman, Mandy Moore and Robert Downey Jr. and currently has 7 former campers on Broadway.   Campers, who range in age from 10 to 18, spend the first two weeks of a 3-week session rehearsing for such productions as “Les Miserables,” Disney’s “High School Musical” or Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods.”  Stagedoor Manor is the surrounding community of campers and expert teachers who share a passion for the performing arts.  For many, it’s “the first time in their lives they feel validated,” says Konnie Cittrell, production director for Stagedoor. The camp’s social atmosphere is one that welcomes and encourages students to be unique and melodramatic–the kind of support that may be lacking from their usual peers, adds Cittrell.  The camp, located in New York’s Catskill Mountains, boasts seven theaters, an extensive costume collection (it includes attire from Broadway productions such as “Oklahoma!” and “West Side Story”), and superstar alumni like Zach Braff and Natalie Portman. Campers audition in the first two days of camp; the rest of their stay is filled with five hours of daily rehearsals and over three hours of daily class time.

Canyon Ranch for Teens
Bryn Mawr College, PA
Price: $3,090 for 2-week session

Private golf lessons, citrus facials and Shiatsu massages. Absolutely no expense is spared at the Julian Krinsky/Canyon Ranch summer program.   About 100 campers attend each 2-week session, which bills itself as a wellness program for teens. Campers can split their time doing Pilates, scaling a climbing wall or taking classes like “The Tao of Stress.”   At Canyon Ranch for Teens, students work one-on-one with nutritionists and personal trainers; feast on organic produce, whole wheat pancakes and blackened mahi-mahi; and build their own schedule of fitness classes and personal services. Among the activities offered: tai chi, belly dancing and the “zen of eating.” Teens stay in the air-conditioned, private Bryn Mawr College campus dorms in Pennsylvania.  While most U.S. camps run anywhere between $100 and $780 per week, according to the American Camping Association, a luxurious stint at Canyon Ranch costs nearly double that – this year, a two-week session will run a camper $3,090.

Westcoast Connection
The outfitter offers teens a number of trips abroad. History buffs can explore museums throughout Eastern Europe, while the more adventurous can get scuba-diving certification in the Grenadines and explore the barrier reef in Australia–all with experienced leaders who have been to the destinations repeatedly and know the hot spots and the locals.  This kind of adventurous and in-depth experiential learning comes with a hefty price tag; tuition at some super-luxe camps ranges from $1,300 to $2,200 a week. But while many camps house campers in plush dorms and offer stays at four-star hotels, those in the camp industry say these programs are as committed to traditional values as they are to their specialized curricula and facilities.

: Tahiti, Australia, Galapagos Islands, British Virgin Islands
Cost: $2,500 to $5,000

Forget being the envy of their peers. Kids that participate in one of ActionQuest’s summer programs are probably making their own parents jealous.   Campers can take a 3-week jaunt around the Mediterranean on a 112-foot sailing yacht, making stops in Monte Carlo, Sardinia and Cannes, or they can snorkel with sea lions and white-tipped reef sharks in the Galapagos Islands.   Even though the cost for an ActionQuest summer program is at a premium, kids aren’t exactly coddled. Campers have to work to help preserve the Galapogos ecosystem by surveying the giant tortoise population and the like. Participants in the Mediterranean program are expected to rotate through different ship duties. “It’s not a luxury cruise,” explains an ActionQuest spokesperson. “They are making it happen for themselves.”

The Experiment in International Living
Locations: Ghana, Turkey, Navajo reservation, Poland
Cost: $4,200 to $6,200
Spending a summer abroad soaking up another culture is nothing new. But the 75-year old Experiment in International Living allows high schoolers to spend their breaks tutoring kids in Thailand or building homes in Botswana.   Sure, at $6,000 a pop it’s a costly proposition. But how many kids will get to put this kind of stuff on their Harvard applications?

International Riding Camp
Location: Greenfield Park, NY
Cost: $1,600 to $12,000
The 30-year old upstate New York camp offers standard fare like trail riding, but experienced campers can also sign up for more sophisticated pursuits like polo lessons or foxhunting.   The price tag, which can top $12,000 for a 10-week stay, includes a menu that features organic vegetables and locally-produced beef.   The camp also offers an annual trip to Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia for a 7-day equestrian teen tour. The half a dozen or so campers lucky enough to attend stay at four-star hotels – one of which is located on the former country estate of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin – and spend their nights taking in a ballet or attending the theater.

Camp Nashoba North
Location: Raymond, Maine
Cost: $4,800 for 4-week session
Camp Nashoba North, it’s not out of the ordinary to have a child dropped off by chartered plane or to have an ambassador’s son or daughter in attendance.   Nashoba, which welcomes over 300 kids from across the U.S. and from overseas, offers a modern twist on the traditional Northeastern sleep-away camp, explains Sarah Seaward, the camp’s co-owner and director.  Besides offering standard activities like basketball and waterskiing, Nashoba boasts all-weather tennis courts, a recording studio where musically ambitious kids can record a CD, and a 300-seat outdoor theater.

Camp Tennis: Europe
Locations: Spain, France and Australia
Cost: $3,900 to $8,000
Want your kid to perfect his serve in the French Riviera, or catch Wimbledon in person? One Connecticut-based organization, Tennis: Europe, offers just that.  Campers in the program, which offers 15 destinations abroad and in the U.S., divide their time between playing tennis and seeing sights like the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam or Las Ramblas in Barcelona.  But not every aspiring Agassi can sign up. Some campers are ranked regionally, or even nationally, by tennis’ national governing body, the United States Tennis Association (USTA). Non-ranked players are encouraged to sign up, but require a tennis reference who will vouch that they have mastered the fundamentals of the game.

Longacre Expeditions – Surf Costa Rica & Panama
Location: Costa Rica and Panama
Price: $3,495 for 18-day trip
If all your high schooler can think about is spending a lazy summer at the beach, you might consider sending them on an 18-day surfing trip to Costa Rica and Panama.   Campers spend time perfecting their turns and cutbacks at legendary surfing destinations along both the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean. After a long day on their board, they get to kick back in ocean-front, air-conditioned rooms. The program also features a two-day rafting trip down the Pacuare River in Costa Rica – and even then the kids dine on sea bass and banana flambe.

Junior and Teen Camp Flims-Laax, Switzerland
Located in the Swiss mountains, the idyllic village Flims-Laax is host to the Junior and Teen Camp, a luxurious journey for 7 – 16 year old children, throughout summer.  5 times per week the students are tutored in English, French, German and / or Spanish two hours each.  In the afternoon there are plenty of activities to choose from such as soccer, hockey, climbing, athletics, biking, swimming or rafting as well as horseback riding, martial arts, etc. Artistically talented children are offered the possibility of showing their works during social evenings.   A stay of three weeks in Flims-Laax in the canton Grisons costs between 6000 – 7500 SFr.
Junior and Teen Camp
P.O. Box 44
7031 Laax GR1
Phone: +41 81 927 9712
Junior and Teen Camp

Camp Motorsport
Calling the Schumachers of tomorrow! Pull into the pit stop of Camp Motorsport in Virginia where US racing driving legend Kevin Young leads classes for boys and girls from 10-16 explaining all the tips and tricks needed to become a Formula 1 ace.  During the 1-week intensive course, participants eat and sleep in dormitories on the 3000-acre race track which also boasts a swimming pool and several sports pitches. A particular high point of this course is the “Adult/Child Weekend Camp”, an opportunity for racing-mad parents to join in with their offspring and experience the adrenalin rush of passing the checkered flag!

Camp Marbella – Study Spanish
Do your kids want to mingle with the international jet set as much as they want to polish their Spanish skills? If the answer is ‘yes’ then one of GSL’s three language schools in Marbella could well be just what they’re looking for.  The institutes, known locally as Colegios, are divided according to age group; Colegio Alemán for 10-14-year-olds, Colegio Alboran for 14-18-year-olds and for 15-18-year-olds, Colegio Albergue. All three schools boast swimming pools for a refreshing dip after class, cafeterias and lounges and offer a diverse program of daily sports and cultural activities to supplement lessons. There are also several Spanish students living and studying English on the same campuses, a perfect opportunity for your child to perfect their Spanish skills.

Warminster British Camp
If your child feels the need to acquire an Oxford-style upper class accent then England is the place to head for and there’s no better establishment than Warminster, a private boarding school offering an extensive program for children aged between 11-17.  English lessons typically total around 15 hours spread across the week with a maximum of fourteen students per class. These are supplemented by an extensive selection of additional activities such as IT, art classes, archery, swimming and basketball while private tuition in sailing, horse riding, tennis or golf can also be booked. And as you have no doubt seen in many a creaky, black-and-white Gaumont-British movie, sleeping accommodation is typical for the traditional boarding school; rowdy 11-13-year-olds bed down in a communal dormitory whilst the more mature students share smaller rooms, usually with a maximum of three to a room.

Camp Tecumseh
The Sport Enthusiast’s Dream

If your sons are addicted to all things sporty then Camp Tecumseh will give them just the fix they need to see them through the summer months.  Camp Tecumseh was originally founded in 1903 by three Olympic sportsmen from the University of Pennsylvania and these days enjoys an unparalleled reputation. Working with the motto “Making good boys better” a multitude of field and water-based sports are on offer here. In addition to the standard daily program of sports (which includes baseball, swimming, basketball, football hockey wrestling) participants can also work with a personal trainer for more intensive coaching in a sport of their choice. The 7-week stay costs $6500 and the camp uniform is also an obligatory purchase. Dependent on your status, financial support through a scholarship program is also available.

From June-August Lugano in Switzerland sees an international crowd of youngsters aged between 6-18 descend on the historic campus of the Villa de Mobili, one of the boarding schools of The American School of Switzerland (TASIS).  Ever since the first TASIS school was founded back in 1956, the company has stood for American-standard education within Europe and now boasts schools not only in Switzerland but also in England, France and Spain. The morning program in Lugano however begins with language classes in English, French or Italian while the afternoons are spent competing in a range of different sports. Weekends are devoted to day trips throughout the surrounding countryside and neighboring towns.

Camp Wawenock
Girls Camp in Maine

Wawenock girls’ camp nestles on a serene lake some 25 miles from Portland, Maine and is one of the best and most expensive summer camps in all of the United States.  Not only is Wawenock one of the best camps in the USA, it’s also one of the oldest as girls aged between 7-16 from the east coast’s best families have been coming here all summer long since 1910. German children are especially noticeable by their absence, a guarantee that your daughter will pick up some English language skills along the way. The activities program encompasses more typical fare such as horse riding, sailing, surfing and tennis as well as slightly more unusual “sports” such as learning how to handle a revolver! Wednesdays will usually see the girls around the traditional campfire while Sundays are spent at the lakeside open-air fair. Mingling with the daughters of American high society on this 7-week program costs around $6,100 and participants must come equipped with the blue/orange uniform of the Girl Guides.

Camp Le Chateau at Antibes
Is there a better place to learn French than the beautiful Le Château school at Antibes, a mere fifteen minutes from the beaches of the Côte d’Azur?  The answer would appear to be no, especially for the 350 young people from Europe, Asia and Latin America who choose this particular boarding school – and its sister establishment in Juan les Pins – to study the language during the summer months. Classes consist of a maximum of 15 students, studying on either a main course (approx. 20 hours per week) or an intensive program (26 hours per week). Busy minds need to switch off and the schools offer an extensive program of leisure activities too, including sports, bowling, barbecues and trips to nearby Nizza, Cannes or Monaco.


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