Family Camps Provide Parent-Child Bonding Time and Activities

Special to The Courant
'We offer programs for families to learn about the outdoors and have adventures in the outdoors'

A vast variety of summer programs — overnight camps, computer sessions and acting troupes — can teach kids independence. But, there is another option that inspires parent-child bonding in a natural setting: family camp.

"We offer programs for families to learn about the outdoors and have adventures in the outdoors," says Vinnie Spiotti, director of Lodging Operations for the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), based in Boston, with chapters from Maine to Washington, D.C. The AMC started the family camps about 15 years ago to allow moms, dads and kids to escape busy days of school, extracurricular activities and work and return to the basics together.

"With these programs, you have the opportunity as a family to go outside, unplug and enjoy the simple beauty of a pond," says Spiotti, who says parents can begin with a simple program when their children are toddlers and then "grow" with the AMC as the family matures.

"We have a new program. It's called the Family Multi-Sport Adventure Camp, so, now when you come with your children, you can not only go canoeing and hiking but rock climbing and whitewater rafting." Most of the camps — which last four to six days — take place near the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Cardigan Lodge is closest to Connecticut. Many local families take part in these programs; 9,000 AMC members are from Connecticut, though families don't need to be members to participate in the camps.

"We're the nation's oldest conservation organization. We were founded in 1876," says Spiotti, a father of two, who grew-up in Watertown. The Appalachian Mountain Club is committed to conservation, recreation and education. Many of the organization's books, such as "Best Day Hikes In Connecticut," help folks find safe, attainable excursions in the wild. But, the family camps are a unique offering.

"By the end of the week, the parents are taking care of everybody's kids and all the kids are traveling in packs and parents are eating meals together," says Spiotti. "It's a great way to build a community."

Our children aren't kids forever. "Sometimes the parents are just as new in the outdoors as the children, so everyone learns together. There are great dynamics," says Spiotti, noting that response to the family camps has been great. "Take advantage of that time when your children are young and teach them something … but also experience something with them. What better thing is there to experience as a family than the outdoors?"

Build memories of precious vacations that will never be forgotten.

For more information about AMC's family camps, check out outdoors.org and watch Monday's FOX 61 Morning News.

Copyright © 2017, CT Now
51°