Best Overnight Camps In North Carolina 2023

There’s nothing like summertime in North Carolina. Scenic forests like the Pisgah National Forest, rich history, and beautiful beaches offer tons of different ways to enjoy the outdoors.

Relax by the coastal beaches or head to the mountains to explore rivers, lakes, and dense forests.

The experience of summer camp is highly beneficial for children. A week away from home where they can make new friends, try new activities, and learn about the natural world can be transformative and restorative.

With plenty of national parks around the state, North Carolina is the perfect place for your children to spend a week or two at a camp. These are the best overnight camps in North Carolina.

north carolina camps
Southern Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina

1. Camp Illahee

Address: 500 Illahee Rd, Brevard, NC 28712

Ages: 7-17

Dates: June 5 – August 12

Founded in 1921, Camp Illahee offers a beautiful environment for girls to grow, learn, and make meaningful friendships. Located in the western region, Camp Illahee boasts beautiful open-air cabins, an abundant forest, and a spring-fed lake. On the beautiful campgrounds, girls can spend the week horseback riding, playing games, and learning wilderness survival skills. 

At this all-girls summer camp, they can explore new interests, enjoy the outdoors, and celebrate Christian values. Girls spend their days exploring different activities like archery, canoeing, outdoor sports, pottery, woodworking, ropes courses, rock climbing, and trail hiking. They might even take a field trip to the Sliding Rocks or the Hannah Ford Farm. 

Kids book their schedules in advance, so they know exactly what they’ll be doing when they arrive at camp. It’s truly one of the best North Carolina summer camps for girls. At night, they gather around to play games, dance, do skits, and connect with each other. 

Junior camp is a five-day introductory program for girls entering 2nd-5th grades. Two-week sessions are available for girls entering 2nd-8th grades, or camp enthusiasts can enroll in three or four-week sessions for girls in 3rd-11th grade. 

2. Gwynn Valley Camp

Address: 301 Gwynn Valley Trl, Brevard, NC 28712

Ages: 5-16

Dates: June 4 – August 6

Gwynn Valley Camp values simplicity, sustainability, nature, and non-competitive activities. The camp’s conservation easement protects the 435 acres of land and its endangered plants and animal species. At Gwynn Valley, youth learn about food production, sustainability, and recycling in a positive camp environment. Camp leaders strive to teach children the importance of sustainable practices and living in harmony with nature. 

Campers gain access to traditional camp activities like rock climbing, horseback riding, arts and crafts, ropes courses, canoeing and kayaking, mountain biking, and wilderness survival skills. In addition, they explore the camp farm, which provides most of their meals, and create cornmeal and grits from scratch at the mill.

This overnight camp even has its own newspaper, the Tajar Times, where campers can conduct interviews, follow stories, and publish articles. Backpacking day trips are also available, as well as activities like blacksmithing and creative writing. 

Camp Gwynn is located in the western region of North Carolina just an hour outside of Asheville. Younger campers K-6th grade can enroll in Main Camp, which runs June 4th through August 6th. Students in 6-8th grade can enroll in Mountainside Camp, and 8th-9th graders can enroll in Riverside Camp. While 9th and 10th graders interested in becoming camp counselors can enroll in the Young Leaders program. 

3. YMCA Camp Kanata

Address: 13524 Camp Kanata Rd, Wake Forest, NC 27587

Ages: 6-15

Dates: June 12 – August 13

Boys and girls ages 6 – 15 are welcome to spend a week at the YMCA’s Camp Kanata. Camp Kanata’s rustic cabins and no technology policy help kids disconnect from social media and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Camp Kanata is located just north of Raleigh on 150 acres of forest. The counselor to camper ratio of 1:5 helps counselors give each camper individual attention and care throughout the week. 

Kids can spend their time exploring the wildlife and tranquil trails around camp. There are tons of activities to choose from, like ropes courses, disc golf, canoeing, arts, sports, waterfront activities, and drama. Their Neuse River trip is a seven-mile excursion led by trained counselors, and campers ages 12-15 can sign up for the day trip in advance. 

Camp sessions run from June through August and can be booked online. Day camps and weekend camps are also available for those who can’t commit to a full week or just want to see what Camp Kanata is all about. 

4. Green River Preserve

Address: 301 Green River Rd, Cedar Mountain, NC 28718

Ages: 6-15

Dates: June 5 – August 11

Located near DuPont State Recreational Forest in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina, Green River Preserve offers coed campers a place to learn about the importance of environmental protection and appreciation. With a counselor to camper ratio of 1:3, campers are adequately supported as they grow physically, spiritually, socially, and intellectually. 

Participants learn about environmental science and explore the natural world by rock climbing, fly fishing, canoeing, biking, learning outdoor skills, and going on the popular mentor hike. During the mentor hike, expert naturalists guide campers through the camp’s forests, streams, and valleys, where they can discover waterfalls and caves while learning things about the environment. Other camp activities include yoga, music, arts, theatre, homesteading skills, ropes courses, and field games. 

Different camp sessions lasting 1-3 weeks are offered from June through August for children in 1st-9th grade. The Rookie Session is available for children who are new to summer camps. 

5. Camp Glen Arden

Address: 1261 Cabin Creek Rd, Zirconia, NC 28790

Ages: 6-17

Dates: June 5 – August 7

For over 70 years, girls in 1st through 11th grades have been coming to Camp Glen Arden to connect with nature in a supportive environment. The summer sessions run from June until August with 2, 3, or 4-week camp experiences. 

Camp Glen Arden summer camp for girls is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, where evergreens, rhododendron, and fresh air inspire campers to appreciate the great outdoors. The all-girls camp emphasizes the importance of physical strength, health, and connections with friends and nature.

Campers have access to various activities such as horseback riding, rock climbing, pottery, mountain biking, gymnastics, music, waterfront games, swimming, sports, and more! 

Camp Glen Arden’s progression system is used to pace girls through activities from beginner skill level to expert skill level. Together, campers and counselors push each other, support each other, and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. In August, they also host a mother/daughter weekend.

6. Camp Rockmont

Address: 375 Lake Eden Rd, Black Mountain, NC 28711

Ages: 7-16

Dates: June 12 – August 5

Camp Rockmont offers all-boys residential summer camps. Located just outside Asheville in North Carolina’s mountains, Camp Rockmont offers young men the opportunity to develop physically, emotionally, spiritually, and socially. Boys ages 7-16 can enroll for 1, 2, 3, or 4-week sessions this season. 

There’s so much to do at Camp Rockmont. Kids can choose from wilderness survival skills courses, waterfront activities, outdoor sports, Appalachian arts, adventure trips, and group activities to fill their days. Horseback riding and whitewater rafting are some of the adventure trip highlights. 

At camp, boys have access to hiking trails and a private lake for swimming, paddle boarding, and bouncing on the blob or water trampoline. Additionally, counselor training programs are available for 16 and 17-year-olds interested in becoming camp counselors. Children can welcome to experience an unforgettable summer camp where they can focus on Christian values and grow as individuals. 

7. YMCA Camp Hanes

Address: 1225 Camp Hanes Rd, King, NC 27021

Ages: 6-15

Dates: June 19 – August 5

YMCA has a few sleepaway camps in North Carolina. The YMCA’s Camp Hanes is located in the northwest region of the state. Here, kids ages 6-15 can spend a week camping with their peers and trained counselors in a Christian-focused setting. 

Daily activities include swimming, outdoor cooking, paddleboarding, nature study, hiking, rock climbing, horseback riding, fishing, riflery, arts and crafts, sports, and chapel service. At night, campers bond by the campfire, play cabin games, perform during skit night, or enjoy a nighttime pool party. The wide variety of activities at this summer camp allows kids to explore new interests and develop new life skills. 

Campers are divided by age into groups of 1st-4th graders, 5th-7th graders, and 8th-10th graders. Young adults interested in leadership can enroll in the Leaders in Training session or the Counselors in Training session, so they can one day become a camp counselor or camp director. 

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