Photo: Boys hiking over rocky ground

Kids take the lead in the Appalachian Mountain Club's Family Adventure Camps, designed for 5- to 12-year-olds.

Photograph by Herb Swanson, Appalachian Mountain Club

By Kim Brown Seely

Revisit your summer-camp days at the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Joe Dodge Lodge Family Adventure Camp, geared toward 5- to 12-year-olds. It’s staged along the Appalachian Trail at the base of 6,288-foot (1,917-meter) Mount Washington, and set up for a classic sleepaway experience—sign up for morning and evening activities, sit down family-style with other guests for meals in the lodge, and sleep in rustic bunk rooms. You’ll even set out on a backcountry overnight at an Appalachian Trail hut like the one at Mizpah Spring, set just below tree line in the Presidential Range and overlooking Crawford Notch. Pack light for the two-and-a-half-mile (four-kilometer) hike uphill—you’ll be sleeping in a bunk and eating food prepared in the hut’s full kitchen.

“It gives kids the overnight backcountry experience without having to carry the same amount of weight you might normally have to,” says AMC’s Laura Hurley. “And you have those creature comforts at the end of the day.”

Work up an appetite on a mountainside nature hike for the four-course dinner, where you may hear trail tales from an AT thru-hiker stopping on his or her final stretch up to Mount Katahdin. In the morning, you’ll hike back down the mountain to your home base at the lodge. Choose from animal tracking, night hikes, and owl-calling lessons. At this all-inclusive price, AMC Family Adventure Camps are a steal.

Where to Play

Mount Washington is a daunting hike for a seven-year-old, but driving to tree line and hiking the last stretch makes it a doable family adventure. An AMC van takes you high up to explore mountain trails, and after checking out views from the top, worn out kids can hitch a ride down. You’ll also spend a day rafting a mellow stretch of the Androscoggin River, giving kids an easy introduction to white water.

At Day's End

“Most activities include everyone,” says Hurley. The daily camp schedule runs from breakfast to after dinner, when evening activities wrap up around 8 or 9 p.m.. If you’re not too tired, BYOB and hang out with other adults after hours in the lodge living room.

Details

6 days; $540 per adult, $361 per child; www.outdoors.org

Based on articles from National Geographic Adventure and updated by Greer Schott

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