As temperatures climb, summer fun really heats up in West Virginia. Nearly the entire state is an outdoor playground and the perfect place to spend a week or all season.
From cool breezes at mountaintop resorts, in hidden caves or on shady hiking trails, to the warm sun toasting golfers, rafters and boaters, there's something for everyone to enjoy. Families are making arrangements for and planning family reunions and, along with nearly 11 million young people and adult counselors nationwide, many West Virginians are exploring opportunities for summer camps.
Across the Mountain State, many of our young people enjoy traditional day camp activities including scout camps, church camps, programs sponsored by YMCA and YWCA centers, theater programs and dance schools to spend a week or two getting really involved in a subject they enjoy or want to try.
Museums around the state offer programs as well. The West Virginia Division of Culture and History offered a summer arts workshop and an historic preservation day camp. Museums offer day camps for arts subjects. Check with your local museum or art center to learn more about their summer camp plans.
Some of our state's colleges and universities offer camps focusing on science, arts and sports. Not only will the youth that attend these camps learn about the camp's subject, they will have the opportunity to stay in dormitories and get a taste of college life.
Many camps for youth with disabilities and learning handicaps are also offered. These camps are very special, offering youth a place to experience the fun of summer camp with the support of health and education professionals who help the children understand more about how to maintain healthy lifestyles.
This summer, the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) is also offering a number of summer camp opportunities for children to learn during the summer months including the West Virginia Spanish Language Immersion Camp, a residential language education program that challenges Spanish language students and the West Virginia Youth Science Camp, a residential science education program for high school sophomores.
In addition, WVDE's 21st Century Community Learning Center is providing a number of academic enrichment opportunities during non-instructional periods, including more than 20 programs covering a variety of topics including healthy lifestyles, the arts, science, technology, engineering and math, community service and entrepreneur training like the Lemonade Day program.
Best of all, there are ways for families to plan their own camps. Think about activities you enjoy sharing together or adventures you have always talked about discovering. In the New River Gorge, a family or group of friends can design their own camp program. Stay at Babcock State Park and hike the trails, learning about the nature and history of that region. Spend a day whitewater rafting and another day experimenting with the aerial adventures of zip lines, canopy tours and aerial playgrounds.
Don't forget that many of our West Virginia State Parks offer great outdoor recreation and arts programs, as well. Your summer camping adventure could be a tour of your favorite state parks.
Whether you choose a day camp close to home, an overnight camp or a family camp, I encourage you to make time for an adventure this summer. The experiences of meeting new people and making friends, discovering a new hobby and stepping out of the routine are what make summer camps memorable.
To learn more about camp opportunities available through the Division of Culture and History, find a local museum near you by visiting www.wvculture.org/museum/index-museumhome.aspx. For more information about summer activities sponsored by WVDE, visit wvde.state.wv.us. To plan your summer adventure at a West Virginia State Park, visit www.wvstateparks.com.