Summertime in Oregon begs us to get outside and soak up all of the sunshine and drop-dead gorgeous scenery the Pacific Northwest has to offer–and that goes for our kids, too. Sign up now to get those wily kiddos of yours outdoors, active and in nature with the following 11 outdoor summer camps offering archery, horseback riding, canoeing and plenty of chances to get their hands covered in dirt.
photo: Audubon Society
When you think Audubon, you might think of bird watching, but their summer camps aren’t about binoculars and being quiet so as not to upset the Black and White Warbler. Check out an array of outdoor adventures, including Survival 101, where kids in Kindergarten and first grade will get the confidence to navigate the wild, build a shelter and spend lots of time winding through the woods.
5151 NW Cornell Rd.
Camp Collins offers a traditional camp experience in a beautiful setting, with options for day camp or staying overnight in Hobbit-like treetop cabins or yurts. Archery, swimming, capture the flag, outdoor skills, art, horseback riding — this camp has it all! Campers create lifelong memories and friendships, and kids and parents both rave about the kind counselors and array of character-building activities.
3001 SE Oxbow Pkwy.
In this overnight camp, the littlest campers can get a taste of independence without spending too much time away from home. First and second-graders can do a single night, and second and third graders can spend half a week or longer doing cookouts, hiking, swimming, boating, arts and crafts, nature, and singing. Kids going into fourth grade can try out the climbing wall, archery, and horseback riding.
10300 SE Camp Namanu Rd.
photo: Catlin Gabel
The school offers a wide variety of camps for kiddos in preschool through 12th grade. Camps range from Life on the Farm, where little ranchers will garden, visit a working farm, make ice cream (mmmm!) and card wool to Engineering for Kids. Two of their more popular camps for littler kids include the PreK-K Summer Beehive Camp and their Honey Hollow Adventure for kids in 1st-4th grades, focusing on woodworking, imaginative play, sports and media. Kids don’t need to be enrolled in the school to participate in summer camps or enrichment programs.
Catlin Gabel School
8825 SW Barnes Rd.
503-297-1894 Ext. 613
Country Girl Farm Horse Camp
Got a horse lover on your hands? Little buckaroos will get a daily ride, and one daily activity that teaches horsemanship (or horseladyship), like grooming, cleaning tack, and of course, mucking stalls. Campers must be seven or older, but six-year-olds with four or more lessons can join in the fun, too.
Country Girl Farms
17531 S. Henrici Rd.
Friends of Tryon Creek Nature Day Camps
Half or full-day camps both make full use of Tryon Creek Park for outdoor activities and fun with intriguing themes in this gorgeous wooded setting. There’s plenty of green space to explore and programs to choose from here. Would your little explorer like to take tips from nature in how to camouflage? How about mapping secret spots with GPS?
11321 SW Terwilliger Blvd.
photo: Mittleman Jewish Community Center
Mittleman Jewish Community Center
MJCC campers can choose a classic summer camp with swimming lessons twice a week, sports, dance, nature activities, and more. Or, they can choose a specialty camp, with emphasis on outdoor painting or outdoor adventures. Camps are available for kids as young as three years old, and school-age kids can venture a bit farther and choose archery or rock climbing.
6651 SW Capitol Hwy.
Oregon Episcopal School Adventure Camp
OES offers 275 camps for preschoolers through seniors in high school, with a huge range of activities. Half and full day camps are avaliable for school age kids, with Farm Camp, where budding farmers explore Sauvie Island Organics farm and Howell Territorial Park, learning about how their food grows and shooting longbows at Nature Camp, or finding hidden treasures in Portland’s west hills with Geocaching. The school also offers a ton of other camps, from Animation to Knitting.
6300 SW Nicol Rd.
photo: Justin P. Lambert via flickr
Once Upon A Horse
Since 1995, this stable has been introducing children to horses and ponies in a gentle manner. No prior experience is needed for kids to enjoy a safe, fun week riding and learning about horses. Ages 6-12 can enjoy four days of small group instruction, with a maximum of 15 riders per camp. On Thursdays, families are invited to see the campers show off their skills for Pizza-Party Thursday.
contact for address
Southwest Community Center
So many summer camps, so little time. The Southwest Commnunity Center has plenty of facilities for your little ones to take advantage of, and lots of green open spaces nearby. Kids as young as 2 can get a “starter” camp of two hours a day to get them used to the idea of being away from home, and older kids can go on field trips to archery ranges, hit the river on jet boats, or start rolling at the roller rink.
Southwest Community Center
6820 SW 45th Ave.
(various pick up/drop off points)
photo: Portland Trackers Earth
Trackers’ camps are some of the most popular in the region, due to the the commitment of the staff and the unique and compelling programming. Your kids can become ninjas sneaking through the forest, train in archery, blacksmithing or…protect your village from zombies!
Trackers Earth Portland
4617 SE Milwaukie Ave.
Grant High School
2245 NE 36th Ave.
Sylvan Middle School
1849 SW 58th Ave.
What’s your family’s favorite summer camp for outdoor romps? Let us know in the comments!
— Kelley Gardiner