Set in spectacular natural settings, these action-packed, all-inclusive camps are a fun alternative to resort vacations and guaranteed to keep everybody busy.
By Pamela Wright
Bar Harbor, Maine
Track animals and spot whales along the rocky coast.
Kids can explore sleepy fishing villages and bustling Bar Harbor at this camp on Mount Desert Island. They'll track animals and observe creatures in tide pools, then kayak the surrounding coastline, coves, and fjords. Excursions include a boat trip to view seals, porpoises, and bald eagles, as well as whale watching in the Gulf of Maine, home to humpback, finback, and minke whales. There's also free time for hikes (Acadia National Park, five minutes from campus, has 120 miles of trails, from flat beach walks to more strenuous cliff climbs), bike rides on historic carriage roads, and scenic drives through the park and surrounding areas. Young skippers will get a kick out of a half-day sail on a four-masted schooner in Frenchman's Bay, or a kayaking trip to the offshore fishing village of Frenchboro.
Lights out: Families share dorm suites with up to five other families at the College of the Atlantic's oceanfront campus; communal bathrooms.
Cost: Five one-week summer sessions are offered from late June to early August. Rates are $400 (ages 15 and under) to $800 (ages 16 and older), including room, meals, guided field trips, and three boat trips (pick from a variety of whale watching and nature cruises).
More info: 800-597-9500; coa.edu/html/famnatcamp