Summer Camps in the Hills

By

Features, The Current Issue

March 20, 2017

Whether your child loves the arts, riding, sports or campfire singing, here’s how to find the perfect summer camp in Erin, Caledon, Orangeville and area.

Hiking through a section of the Oak Ridges Moraine is a highlight of the YMCA's summer camp at Cedar Glen. Photo courtesy YMCA Cedar Glen Outdoor Centre.

Parents, we hear you. Once school’s out, it can be a challenge keeping kids active and busy – and off those glowing screens – for two long months. One time-honoured way to head off the “I’m bored” chorus is enrolling them in summer camp. We’ve combed the huge selection of camps in the Headwaters area and found five major trends going strong – from riding programs to classic campfire-and-canoe getaways. Campers can dive deep into their favourite activity or take up something entirely new (farm camp, anyone?).

This page shows just a taste of the offerings. For our complete camp listings, visit Kids’ Camps in the Hills. Then get out your calendars – registration time is upon us!

The great outdoors

School-age children spend enough time indoors during the year. For a fun-filled and sun-soaked change of pace, many of the best camps in the hills go outside all day. At Everdale Farm near Hillsburgh, the organic farm opens its gates so campers can collect eggs, build forest forts, and compete in salsa-making and bread-baking competitions.

The longstanding Eco Camp at Island Lake Conservation Area in Orangeville has a sterling reputation for full-on adventure, fishing and canoeing, sealed with s’mores over the campfire. Survival games, nature-inspired crafts and mountain biking round out the weekly schedule. A relative newcomer, Go Adventures in Melancthon promises plenty of pond exploration, Amazing Race-style antics and teamwork activities on its 130-acre property.

Athletic pursuits

For kids who adore a specific sport or want to dabble in a new one, sports camps are the answer. At Headwaters Racquet Club in Amaranth, little ones learn squash and tennis from the pros, with some epic scavenger hunts off-court. Snacks and hot lunches are provided too. Soccer nuts flock to SSE 90 camps at a variety of locations, including Caledon. There are full- and half-day options, as well as an Active Start program for four- to six-year-olds dreaming of being the next Christine Sinclair. All skills levels are welcome.

Twisters Gymnastics in Orangeville caters to the bouncy, bendy crowd with trampolines, a tumbling floor, bars and equipment tailored to younger gymnasts. At Mono’s Athlete Institute mini Thon Makers will feel they’ve hit the big time with the top-notch coaching and state-of-the-art facilities at the day and overnight basketball camps.

Arts and science camps

Summer is a great time for little ones to focus on their left- or right-brain obsessions. Pottery Parties in the Hills art studio in Orangeville is tiny but terrific, with tools including polymer clay, a potter’s wheel, painting canvases and ceramics. Bonus: If your vacation schedule is mostly jam-packed, they offer single-day camps to fill small gaps.

If  you’ve got a theatrical type on your hands, consider the fabulous drama camps offered by Theatre Orangeville, featuring improv, dress-up and classes on writing original plays and skits. For more brain-building good times, Erin toy shop Brighten Up runs imaginative week-long camps with themes such as Weird and Wacky Science and Fantasy, Legends and Myths.

Going old-school

Despite loads of innovation in the camp world, traditional camp programs are holding strong. Some day camps also offer an overnight trip for kids who want to test the waters of sleepover camp. Nestled in 30 private acres in Hillsburgh, the weekly day camp Kids Inc. offers a sleepover option for campers ten years and older on some Friday nights (they found Thursday night sleepovers made for sleepy Friday campers!). Kids Inc. also offers other off-site excursions such as rock climbing and all-day canoe trips. The daily bus service covers a wide swath of Caledon, Dufferin and beyond.

Teen Ranch in Caledon is known for its overnight camp, but its day program for kids five and up includes trampolines, pony rides, indoor skating and classic camp food. YMCA Cedar Glen, on 236 acres of Oak Ridges Moraine just outside Bolton, has the vibe of a sleepover camp too, with archery, crafts, swimming and high ropes – along with a thriving organic garden and a leader-in-training program. Bus service is available from various stops in Caledon and area.

In Mulmur, the super rustic Mansfield Outdoor Centre offers week-long camps based on art, swimming and wrangler themes – all with campfires, retro camp games and short-term sleepovers. There’s even an option that allows little ones to stay in a cabin with their family. Come to think of it, why should the kids have all the fun?

Saddle up

Have a little horse lover? You don’t have to travel far to fill their summer with riding and caring for the beautiful beasts. The camp at Caledon Equestrian School has a wonderful sense of community, with opportunities for older campers to learn what it takes to become riding coaches. For newer riders, participants also pick up skills around stable management and chores.

The upside to the indoor arena at Creditview Stables in Brampton is that it takes place rain or shine. Riding and horsemanship activities are grouped by each rider’s experience. On 31 acres in Erin, Greyden Equestrian Centre expands on the fun with a trampoline and water slide. Horsemanship, proper feeding and grooming are taught in a fun and informative way, and campers also come away knowing about various horse breeds.

At Singing Waters Equestrian Centre just north of Orangeville, the kiddos are immersed in riding and all the horse, stable and equipment upkeep that comes with it. Swimming, crafts and outdoor play make for a well-rounded adventure.

For our complete camp listings, visit Kids’ Camps in the Hills.

Janice Quirt is a freelance writer who lives in Orangeville.

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