The weekly news publication, which is turning 90 this year, partnered with Plant-A Insights Group to determine the 500 best summer camps in the U.S. from a list of more than 12,000 across the nation. The list, which does not create a ranking but is categorized by state, includes Adventist-managed MiVoden Camp & Retreat Center in Hayden, Idaho, Camp Akita in Gilson, Illinois, and Camp Au Sable in Grayling, Michigan. It also lists Lone Star Camp in Athens, Texas and Sunset Lake Camp in Wilkeson, Washington.
In providing a rationale for the initiative, Newsweek reminded its readers that summer camps “are an iconic American tradition.” It added that, according to the American Camp Association, “approximately 20 million kids go to summer camp each year — and for good reason. Camps can offer children a unique opportunity to explore new interests, make lasting friendships, and gain independence in a fun and supportive environment.”
The list is based on social media reviews and a comprehensive survey of 15,000 parents, Newsweek reported. It is intended to be a supplemental resource for parents scouting out suitable summer camps for their families. The rankings are informational, not prescriptive, the publication stated.
Below is a brief description of the five Adventist summer camps included in the list.
MiVoden Camp & Retreat Center
The camp, located near the Idaho-Washington border in Hayden, Idaho, advertises itself as “Introducing People to Jesus since 1940.” Managed by the Upper Columbia Conference, it offers youth and family camps, with seasonal activities that range from skiing to swimming, drama, and crafts.
MiVoden also offers Disciple Trek, a three-week camp for teens ages 15-18. Disciple Trek is advertised as a “dynamic Bible and leadership experience,” which promises to “take your spiritual journey to the next level as campers and staff dig deep into the Bible to discover and rediscover truths about who God is and what that means in everyday life.” Spiritual activities are combined with activities such as white-water rafting, as participants spend their days “worshipping, discovering, adventuring, and eating together.”
Located a three-hour drive southwest of Chicago in Gilson, Illinois, Camp Akita advertises youth and family summer camps. Weekly programs are geared toward specific age groups between 7 and 17. “It’s a week full of fun, nature, adventure, challenges, and most of all, each camper will be inspired to make Jesus their best friend!” its advertising says.
Family options include a full week “without the stress of meal prep or planning,” the camp website announces. “Each evening, special worship and programs are prepared where our main goal is to inspire you to continue making God the center of your home.”
The camp, managed by the Illinois Conference, advertises multiple activities such as mountain biking, archery, and photography. It also includes geocaching, fishing, and canoeing.
Camp Au Sable
Located in Grayling, in northern Michigan, Camp Au Sable welcomes hundreds of kids ages 8-17 for one of its four unique sessions: Adventure Camp, Junior Camp, Tween Camp, and Teen Camp. “We prioritize spiritual, physical, and mental growth,” advertises the site of the camp.
The camp also dedicates three weeks to families. There are special activities for all ages, including scenic nature fun and spiritual events. Families can choose to camp in tents or rent rustic cabins or lodges. Families can choose among several classes, including sewing, vegan cooking, glass art, and woodworking. In the afternoon, families can sign up to do activities together, like tubing and high ropes courses.
“Our campers get opportunities to climb, canoe, swim, study God’s Word, and grow their connections with peers,” the facilities advertising says.
The 800-acre camp is located by Shellenbarger Lake and is managed by the Michigan Conference.
Lone Star Camp
Managed by the Southwest Region Conference, Lone Star Camp is located one hour southeast of Dallas in Athens, Texas. The 300-acre camp, which includes a 25-acre lake nestled among pinewoods, is used for various youth and adult events throughout the year.
According to the camp website, summer specialities include horsemanship, horse trails, hiking trails, canoeing, knee-boarding, waterskiing, sail-boating, jet-skiing, pedal-boating, swimming, roller-skating, archery, horseshoe pitching, volleyball, badminton, shuffleboard, and basketball.
Housing options include cabins of various sizes and duplexes. Facilities include a café, an area for RV rental, a cafeteria, and meeting rooms. An indoor meeting and sports venue can seat 800 people.
“If you are looking for a great camp experience for your family, church, youth program or convention, we believe Lone Star Camp is the right place for you,” its advertisement says.
Sunset Lake Camp
One hour southeast of Seattle, in Wilkeson, Washington, Sunset Lake Camp welcomes young people and families to their facilities by world-famous Mount Rainier. The facilities advertise a dozen activities, including archery, art studio, banana boating, biking, and blobbing. It also lists, among others, swimming, wall climbing, and zip lining.
Sunset Lake, managed by the Washington Conference, offers a Base Camp (for children 8-11), a Timberline Camp (for 12- and 13-year-olds), and an Alpine Camp (for 14- to 17-year-olds). It also advertises a Summit Camp, a special option for 13- to 17-year-olds that is designed “to deepen campers’ walks with Jesus and develop them as leaders.” The camp features special guests, one-on-one mentorship, and time for “deep, honest conversations regarding faith, culture, and life in a confusing world.”
“Imagine summer camp as an expedition up a mountain,” a camp promotion says. “Each summer, a new and unexpected adventure awaits, while each step of the journey shapes you to become the leader that God has called you to be.”