At Appel Farm Arts Camp’s Family Weekends, Everyone’s in on the Fun
From campfires to classes, parents and kids can enjoy this New Jersey sleepaway camp together.
Ever drop off your kids at camp and think to yourself on the drive home, “I wish I could go to camp?”
At Appel Farm Arts Camp, a sleepaway camp in Elmer, New Jersey, parents can join their kids for a weekend-long taste of what it’s like to be a camper. From taking classes to sleeping in bunks to singing around the campfire, twice a year, entire families can do it together.
Tracy Power, Camp Director at Appel Farm, said Family Camp Weekends evolved from years of hearing parents talk wistfully about the idyllic camp, and how much fun it would be to experience it as a family. Now, once in the fall and once in the spring, families arrive for a two-day, one-night camp experience that highlights the joy of camp for the entire family.
“It’s a perfect little weekend, a chance to just come and be with your family, and be in community together,” Power said. “While it’s a fun weekend, we are also very intentionally helping families communicate and connect through the arts.”
Appel Farm brings in some of its best counselors and instructors for these weekends, teaching some of camp’s most popular classes. Parents and kids can explore classes in visual art, music, theater and more. The program is designed for families with children of all ages, offering a wide range of classes for all learning levels from toddler to adult.
In addition to classes, families share meals in the dining hall, enjoy free time activities and games, sing songs at the campfire, and explore some of the camp’s other fun rituals, like “Fireside Chats,” a special time for gathering at the end of the day to talk about their experiences, and what they’re looking forward to the following day.
“This is one of our kids’ favorite traditions during the summer,” Power said. “Sharing our stories and hopes is one of the best ways to build connection and community. We love sharing this camp tradition with families, who often take it home and incorporate it in to their dinner or bedtime routines.”
Family Camp Weekends also let parents first-hand see why their kids love Appel Farm, which is open to boys and girls ages 7 to 17. The camp offers combinable two-week sessions, and is based on a five-period day, including two major courses, two minor courses, and a free period.
Major and minor classes are chosen by the camper from a wide-range of offerings in music, theater, dance, visual arts, photography, video, robotics, recording arts, creative writing, sports, and swimming.
While a two-week session is great for first-time campers, Power said many kids come for four weeks or more. The flexibility of choosing the session length allows families to craft a summer that complements other activities like vacations, day programs, or school activities.
“Appel Farm is an arts camp, but we’re really a camp for creative people,” Power said.
The emphasis at the camp is on the “spirit of creativity,” she said, and an effort to build on each campers’ unique strengths.
“Some kids hear art, and they think it means painting and drawing, but at the heart of what we’re trying to do is to get kids to grow their creativity, which is essential to building 21st century skills,” she said. “Our inclusive and nurturing community ignites creativity, kindness, and confidence in campers.”
One of Appel Farm’s advantages, she said, is how tailored each camper’s experience is.
“We’re putting a lot of emphasis on camper choice, and how important that is,” Power said. “We’re very focused on the individual camper, and giving them as much choice as possible, getting to know them, and then building a program around their unique interests and talents.”
Outside of class time, Appel Farm offers many traditional camp activities, from horseback riding to swimming to songs around the campfire.
“It’s a great combination, the best of both worlds,” Power said. “All the really fun social, traditional aspects of a sleepaway summer camp, but with a curriculum that is customized for the interest of more creative kids who don’t necessarily find what they’re looking for at a traditional camp.”
Appel Farm Arts Camp is a sleepaway camp for boys and girls, ages 7 to 17. For more than For more than 50 years, summers at Appel Farm have sparked the imaginations of thousands of young people as they interacted with artists from around the world in a beautiful part of rural southern New Jersey.
Want to know more? Come meet Appel Farm at the 2018 Philadelphia Family/Main Line Parent Camp Fair, from 10 am — 2 pm on January 21 at the Franklin Institute.
Photographs courtesy of Appel Farm Arts Camp.