Family camps are an affordable way to have a vacation in the Great Outdoors. Typically, families stay in simple camp-style lodgings (though some family camps have lodges and even inns), meals are served in a dining hall, a slew of activities are laid on for the whole family, and prices are all-inclusive. The bundling of accommodations, meals, and activities provides great value for families on a budget.
In addition to summer camps for children, many YMCAs around the country also offer family camps. Typically this is offered for select weeks only, but Deer Valley Family Camp in Fort Hill, Pennsylvania, offers family summer camp for ten weeks every year.
Deer Valley YMCA Family Camp
Open since 1957, the Deer Valley YMCA Family Camp is open year-round and is run by the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh. It is located in Somerset County at the base of Mount Davis (the highest point in Pennsylvania), and comprises 742 acres with woods, hills, fields, and a lake for watersports and fishing in summer, and ice-fishing and skating in the winter. Driving time is two hours from Pittsburgh and three hours from Washington DC.
Summer Family Camp
A weeklong family camp is offered 10 weeks every summer. This all-inclusive vacation includes lodging, meals and activities. There is a morning day camp with educational activities and fun for kids age 3 and up. The teen program features supervised outings and social events.
Deer Valley YMCA offers a wide range of lodgings, and families can choose the option that suits their needs.
A Lodge has a fireplace and activity rooms, and meals are served in a lakeside dining hall. Guests can stay in dorm-style bedrooms, with private bathrooms, in the lodge, in cottages, or in heated cabins with queen and bunk beds and bathrooms. The cabins are located near a washhouse with showers and washers and dryers.
Activities include tennis, volleyball, basketball, horseshoes, bocce, Frisbee golf, rock climbing, archery, and a BB rifle range. On the lake, there's windsurfing, swimming, paddleboarding, canoeing, and kayaking. Trails and woods are the setting for hiking, biking, bird-watching, animal tracking, nature scavenger hunts, and horseback riding. In winter, guests can go skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, and tubing.
Arts and crafts take place at the Craft Shop, which offers pottery wheels, jewelry making, clay sculpting, leather tooling, and more.
Nearby attractions include whitewater rafting and the architectural icon Fallingwater, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Deer Valley also offers seasonal special programs such as a fall foliage family weekend that includes hikes, hayrides, and a apple cider-making workshop where parents and kids do everything from crushing the apples to sipping the cider.
This brief profile is meant to introduce this resort to family vacationers; please note that the writer has not visited in person.
- Edited by Suzanne Rowan Kelleher
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