Family travel five: Camping experiences bring families together
Camp-style activities bring families together in nature. Here are five opportunities.

1. Surf Camp, Wrightsville Beach, N.C. Travel to the warm waters and sandy beaches of the Cape Fear coast for a five-day adventure. Family members 8 and older will surf together, learning how to assess an incoming wave, improve balance and surf barrier islands. You also will learn about the coastal ecosystems and visit the East Coast's only sea turtle hospital. Family surf camps are also held in Costa Rica, Hawaii and the Virgin Islands.

Contact: 1-866-844-7873; http://www.wbsurfcamp.com/camps/camp—family.asp.

2. Donohoe Outfitting's River Camp, Nye, Mont. Join the Donohoe family on their 4,000-acre cattle ranch for a customized family camp experience in the heart of the Beartooth Mountains. Ride horses into adjacent canyons, help with ranch chores or raft nearby white water. Sleep in safari-style tents beside the Stillwater River.

Contact: 406-328-6291; http://www.donohoeoutfitting.com.

3. Marine Science Consortium, Wallops Island, Va. While enjoying the beauty of Virginia's Eastern Shore, your family can learn about marine science and the mid-Atlantic ecosystem. Kids will love taking a mud bath in the marsh almost as much as they will kayaking through tidal creeks and watching for wild ponies and coastal birds. Choose among age-appropriate summer sessions.

Contact: 757-824-5636; http://www.msconsortium.org; http://www.virginia.org.

4. Alford Lake Camp, Hope, Maine. For most of summer, this pristine camp on the Maine coast is reserved for girls eager to explore the outdoors and make new friends. For five days near the end of summer (this year, Aug. 17-21), families are invited to enjoy the 400-acre campus and participate in activities such as horseback riding, sailboarding, swimming, pottery and theater.

Contact: 207-785-2400; http://www.alfordlakecamp.com.

5. El Capitan Canyon, Santa Barbara, Calif. This beachside camp offers guided llama or botanical hikes, fireside storytelling, a ropes course and more. Guests stay in cedar cabins, safari-style tents or family yurts.

Contact: 1-866-352-2729; http://www.elcapitancanyon.com.

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Lynn O'Rourke Hayes is editor of FamilyTravel.com: lohayes@familytravel.com