Camping in Place: How to Make a Sleepaway Camp in Your Own Backyard
Create a guest-ready, teen-approved backyard glampsite with sleepaway camp style that’s almost as fun as the real thing.
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The California summer camp experience is just as deep and storied as its East Coast counterpart, but with a Western twist. Kids sleep on rustic open-air platforms at Jameson Ranch camp and feel the ocean breezes in the Santa Cruz mountains at Kennolyn Camps. They spend hours in the cold, clear water at Skylake in Yosemite, unplug at Farm Camp in off-grid coastal Sonoma style, or retreat to the remote woods at Bar 717 Ranch at the southern edge of the Cascade Range. When my kids returned from their first session at Farm Camp, after weeks spent feeding and caring for pigs and goats, gardening, hiking to the Pacific, and sleeping under the stars, they had acquired two distinctly Western traits: Their favorite camp meal was pozole, and they knew the lyrics to at least one John Denver song. While many summer camp plans are uncertain this year, you can conjure some of that dark-sky, play-all-day, clean-air magic in your own backyard.