By Ben Olson
The weather is growing mild and the days are getting longer here in the Panhandle, reminding us that summer is on the way. It’s also the time of year for parents to start thinking about where to send their kids for summer camp.
In North Idaho, there are a wide variety of options for summer camps in North Idaho, both day and overnight format. Here is a breakdown of some of the best options for your children this summer. Have fun campers!
Cocolalla Bible Camp
Ages 9-18 and Family
Swimming, canoeing, paddle boats, water sports, team sports, fishing, etc.
Cocolalla Bible Camp has been a destination for area children for 44 years. It is an overnight week-long camp experience with four different sessions divided by age groups.
Teen Camp: July 10-15.
Age 11-12: July 17-21.
Age 9-10: July 24-28.
Age 7-8: July 31-Aug. 4.
Situated a stone’s throw away from Cocolalla Lake, the camp offers a bevy of outdoor activities, including canoeing, swimming, paddle boats, volleyball, horseback riding, Frisbee golf, and team sports like baseball and basketball.
According to Dirk Darrow, executive director of Cocolalla Bible Camp, kids benefit a lot from attending summer camp.
“Summer camps in general give kids the experience to learn new skills,” said Darrow. “In our particular case, it’s a very safe environment where they’ll make some lifelong friends and be in an environment where their parents can be free of any type of worry for their children being cared for.”
Darrow said teaching the Gospel is a strong tenet of their camp experience.
“We want to give kids a safe and enjoyable camp experience where we are intentional about sharing the love of Christ with them,” said Darrow, who added that daily chapel sessions are a part of the overnight camp’s package.
For more information or to register, go to www.clbcamp.org or call 263-3912. There is a discount if parents register their children before 10 days of the camp, but they welcome walk-in registrations the first day of camp.
Schweitzer Summer Camp
Ages 6-11, July-Aug
Hiking, crafts, swimming, village activities.
263-9555 ext. 2152
For parents interested in giving their kids a chance to experience all the great things the outdoor has to offer, Schweitzer Mountain Resort has an option that may be just what the doctor ordered.
Schweitzer offers a week-long day camp seven different times throughout the summer, beginning with the July 5 session and spanning all the way until the end of August with the final session. Word is they are starting to fill up, so if you’re interested in signing up, don’t delay!
Each session features a Monday through Friday day camp. Parents can drop their children off at the Red Barn and pick them up at the same spot at the end of the day, saving the drive up the hill.
Activities include riding the chairlift, hiking, the mining sluice box, the monkey jumper, climbing wall, swimming, and lots of games and fun stuff to do in the village.
“Summer camp gets kids active and keeps them outside,” said activities manager Dani Demmons. “They get to explore the region we live in and love so much.”
Huckleberry pickers need not worry, when the berries begin to ripe there will be picking activities scheduled.
“We pick like crazy when they’re ripe,” said Demmons.
To sweeten the deal, season pass holders get a discount on tuition.
For more information or to sign up, go to www.schweitzer.com.
Twin Eagles Summer Camps
Ages 6-18 and Family
Day and residential. Nature awareness, animal tracking, wild edible and medicinal plants.
Every camp seems to have a theme, and the overarching theme to Twin Eagles Summer Camps is a connection to the natural world while developing a genuine self-awareness.
Offering day and overnight camps for both kids and teens, Twin Eagles offers many outdoor activities such as learning to make fire by friction, learning about edible plants, archery, tracking wild animals and building shelters in nature.
The day camps are primarily engineered for younger kids, with each day having a different theme. There are so many fun programs, you’ll have to check out their website to explore them all.
For those ages 10-18, Twin Eagles offers overnight camps that feature total immersion in nature. Campers will learn many fun and useful skills, while experiencing those traditional aspects of camp we all know and love; sleeping in tipis, singing songs and telling stories.
To learn more, give them a call at 265-3685 or check out their detailed website at www.twineagles.org.
For those of you interested in the world of horses, Western Pleasure Guest Ranch has a great option for you.
This day camp features a very hands-on experience with horses.
“We assign each child their own horse for the week,” said wrangler Danielle Otis.
When campers arrive Monday morning, there will be a detailed orientation focused on horsemanship, how to be around horses, to brush and saddle them and general behavior of horses.
“They’ll also learn horseback in the arena and on trails,” said Otis. “We’ll work up to Thursday night, when a finale horse show will take place where children get to show friends and family what they learned.”
The finale includes many popular events such as barrel racing and other timed events. There are surprise games, too.
All experience levels are welcome. Class sizes are small to focus on individual attention.
“The focus is on being outside the whole time, experiencing the outdoors and horses,” said Otis. “A lot of children don’t get to experience that right now.”
For more information, log onto www.westernpleasureranch.com/childrens-programs/.
Eureka Institute and Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper
Hands-on activities centered around understanding the science of the lake.
The Watershed Discovery Camp is a week-long day camp centered around a variety of fun and educational water stewardship activities.
Partnering with the Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeepers, the Eureka Institute offers many different activities for campers to know and understand what it means to keep our greatest asset—Lake Pend Oreille—clean and healthy.
Activities include water quality monitoring, shoreline cleanup, invasive species prevention and a wetland ecology field trip. Afternoons will be spent enjoying Lake Pend Oreille with trips to Sandpoint City Beach, kayaking, water-themed arts and crafts and fun at the Eureka Center’s challenge ropes course.
“The Watershed Discover Camp is the only thing in our area where kids get some science based education on watershed safety and get to explore nature and have fun at the same time,” said executive director Steve Holt.
For more information, call 265-4000, or check out www.eureka-institute.org.
Ages 4-10; teen and up
Experiential treks in the outdoors with emphasis on Leave No Trace and therapeutic value of the outdoors.
There are summer camps and then there are expeditions. SOLE operates somewhere between, offering a variety of different options; most centered around the idea of immersion in nature.
SOLE founder and administrator Dennison Webb is no stranger to summer camp. His own experiences in the past at sailing and exploration camps have left a dramatic impression; one which he desires to pay forward to those who partake in SOLE’s expeditions.
Two options SOLE offers for teens are the Exploratory and Empowerment Treks, for males and females, respectively.
Both treks feature a total immersion in nature, with an expedition to the Cabinet Mountains and the Missouri River in Montana. Participants will learn to develop outdoor leadership skills as well as technical skills like navigating with a compass.
“We’re real big on the Leave No Trace idea,” said Webb, who said participants will be taught everything from camping etiquette to leadership skills.
The male-specific Exploratory Treks take place June 20-26, July 25-31 and Aug. 25-31. The female-specific Empowerment Treks will take place Aug. 9-15 and 25-31. Both programs are recommended for ages 13-18 years.
There are scholarship programs available for those who may not be able to afford tuition.
Another option is SOLE’s Junior Naturalist Experience for the budding botanist in us all.
This is a perfect opportunity for kids 4-10 years old who love exploring and learning about the natural world.
The experience is a great opportunity for campers to balance outdoor free-play with educational activities that increase their knowledge of the natural world.
The Nature Detectives is engineered for kids 4-6 years old, and will take place June 20-22 and again July 11-13 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
The Nature Explorers is for kids age 7-10 years old, and will take place June 20-24 and again July 11-15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Both are day camps with drop off and pickup schedules, and offer member discounts.
“Our mission is about educating people why it’s important to Leave No Trace,” said Webb, “while also teaching them leadership skills in the outdoors.”
Music Conservatory of Sandpoint Summer Music & Theater Camps
Grades 4 and up
Music instruction, choir and theatrical based day camps.
Have a budding musician, singer or actor who wants some real, hands-on experience? We’ve got a great option for them—the Music Conservatory of Sandpoint has some great opportunities this summer.
Summer Orchestra Camp will take place July 25-29 and will feature visiting students from Mexico’s Redes 2025 Orchestra. Guest conductor Emiliano Lopez will help kids improve their technique.
The Summer Choir Camp will take place July 18-22, and again July 28-29 for rehearsal and a performance. This is the first year MCS has offered the Summer Choir Camp. They’ll explore a variety of vocal techniques, including proper posture, breathing techniques and performance preparation.
Both camps will culminate with a combined performance that usually takes place at the Panida Theater. Those wishing to audition may even have a chance to play on the Festival at Sandpoint stage!
Also offered by MCS is the Summer Theater Camp from July 5-15. This camp is for those aged 8-16 years old. As with the other offerings, this camp will culminate with a special production for students to show off what they have learned.
For more information, contact MCS at 265-4444 or www.sandpointconservatory.org.
While we have you ...
... if you appreciate that access to the news, opinion, humor, entertainment and cultural reporting in the Sandpoint Reader is freely available in our print newspaper as well as here on our website, we have a favor to ask. The Reader is locally owned and free of the large corporate, big-money influence that affects so much of the media today. We're supported entirely by our valued advertisers and readers. We're committed to continued free access to our paper and our website here with NO PAYWALL - period. But of course, it does cost money to produce the Reader. If you're a reader who appreciates the value of an independent, local news source, we hope you'll consider a voluntary contribution. You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.
You can contribute at either Paypal or Patreon.Contribute at Patreon Contribute at Paypal