Thursday, September 19, 2019 Elyria 80°


Summer camps offer chance for kids to unwind, experience nature


I am continually reminded by the neighborhood kids how many days are left of school. For most districts, it’s somewhere between 10 and 15. Following that … almost three months of bliss.

During summer vacation though, parents sometimes struggle to find childcare or even to entertain their kids who are coming off nine months of stimulation during the school year.

A great opportunity for kids is to send them to a summer camp. There are a lot of outdoor camps through Lorain County Metro Parks and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s Conservancy. Topics range from Junior Ranger training to educational programs about nature and habitats along with hands-on outdoor recreation. Camps are available based on a wide range of ages.

Lorain County Metro Parks

Young Naturalists, June 10-14 for children entering Kindergarten and 1st Grade. This camp is for first-time campers and exploring basics of the outdoors and nature.

All About Habitats, June 17-21 for children entering second and third grades. During this week campers learn about parts of habitats and how animals use them.

Outdoor Adventure Camp, July 15-19 and July 22-26 for ages 9-11. Campers will take part in archery, hiking, river activities, kayaking and more depending on the weather.

Survivor Camp, July 29-Aug. 2, ages 12-14. Geared toward older kids, this camp teaches survival skills like using maps and compasses, shelter building, kayaking, water safety and fire-building skills.

Prices and times of day vary from camp to camp.

However a link to sign up and more details can be found visiting the Lorain County Metro Parks website at or by calling one of the park reservations.

There are camps with Lorain County Metro Parks that are more specific in topic. There are programs on fishing, standup paddleboarding, a nature camp for middle school children along with an explorers camp that runs all summer with different weekly topics.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park camps focus on teaching kids a lifelong appreciation and stewardship of the environment. Of their three camps, two are already full but you can join the waiting list by visiting and signing up.

The camp with spots available is July 22-26 and its topic is Preserve & Protect. The two other camps take place the week before, with the focus on rivers. The last week of July and first week of August camp focuses on survival tactics.

Cleveland Metroparks has a lot of camps, too, and they vary across a vast footprint of the parks around the Cleveland and Northeast Ohio region. Information on those can be found visiting

One of my favorite experiences as a kid was sixth-grade camp, which we went to as a class for a couple days in late fall. The exposure it gave me to nature and the world around us created a lasting appreciation for me.

Summers that expose kids to the natural world may encourage them to get outside instead of spending summer break at a computer or television screen.

Summer is every kid’s favorite time of the year, void of homework and school. What better way to enjoy it than being outside in what feels like our shortest season.

Contact Brad Zahar at
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