Summertime and the camps are calling


At Belle Meade Farm in Sperryville, their property includes a large pond perfect for paddling. There’s also a swimming pool complete with lessons.
Photo courtesy of Belle Meade Farm


School will be out sooner than we realize. Then for a few weeks the days open to new opportunities for your children. There is no shortage of area camps to consider whether you are looking to immerse your child in art, music, swimming, sports or perhaps learning to ride a horse. You might as well plan early to book dates, budget and then look forward to sharing your child’s experiences.

Touch Point Farm offers five days of riding lessons and fun with horses for boys and girls ages six and up. Camps for all levels of rider includes riding lesson, barn lessons, small group instruction and individualized attention. Barn activity is a time for the children to learn about horsemanship. Throughout the week they will learn about horse safety, the parts of the horse, colors, braiding the mane and tail, cleaning and caring for tack and about the upper levels of riding.

Riding lessons will be in small groups, according to ability, for an hour each day. Beginners can expect to learn to control the horse at the walk, and begin to trot, post, and ride in 2-point position. More advanced riders will work on equitation and jumping. While the morning hours at their regular Summer Day Camp will be devoted to horses, the afternoons are filled with swimming, games, free-swim in the pool, crafts, board games and sports.

Family and friends can attend a horse show at week’s end.

On Friday afternoon students will participate in a horse show for friends and family.

In addition to owners Peter and Jan Schwenke, Meredith Schwenke Jones (farm manager and principle riding instructor), staff includes two counselors, barn manager and certified lifeguard.

Campers may bring their own horse to camp on space available basis. Register early.

Your children will enjoy meeting lots of animals, exploring nature, spending time on the water and learning about horses at Grovespring Farm. It’s definitely a place to have fun.

They have friendly dogs that bring the ball back over and over begging you to throw it one more time, a cat that loves laps, and horses and ponies of different sizes and breeds. There are creeks with crayfish and jewelweed. Blackberries, wine berries and raspberries line the pastures. The pond has fish that love to be caught and released as well as canoes and kayaks for learning and practicing paddling skills. There’s an arts pavilion and a sports field.

The camp at Grovespring is relatively small. Groups are divided into eight to work on skills such as horseback riding, paddling, arts and drama. At the end of the day campers are given a choice of activities: they can spend extra time with the horses, finish art projects or play Capture the Flag.

Campers create a community by helping each other whether it’s making ice cream or singing a song. Most of the counselors have been campers and junior counselors. They love being outside, in the pond, with the horses, in the creek, and each have skills to share.

The riding camp includes lessons in basic horsemanship as well as how to ride. The farm’s farrier and veterinarian visit. Groups are divided by skill level. More advanced students are encouraged to take the USHJA Horsemanship quiz challenge.

Staff includes Susan Deal, a USHJA certified instructor and has produced a video series of Susan teaching riding. Kris Deal is a high school teacher, former coach, long-time white-water canoe instructor, and avid outdoorsman.

Located in Sperryville, Belle Meade Camp offers youngsters between the ages of six to 13 a sprawling 138-acre farm to explore featuring streams, meadows, forests, mountains, and a pond. In addition to the beautiful natural setting, camp facilities include a swimming pool and pavilion. A variety of activities both instructional and exploratory are part of each day: swimming instruction, recreational swimming, excursions/nature hikes. pond activities, canoeing, archery, informal sports, writing, drawing, games, arts and crafts, stories and singing.

Camps are held in June and July for two week sessions. A cookout and overnight is included. Campers are picked up at several locations (Amissville, Washington, Sperryville, Madison, Culpeper) between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m. and dropped off between 3:00 and 3:15 p.m.

Wakefield Country Day School in nearby Rappahannock County offers a summer academy where your camper can test his or her skills at being a spy, a math wizard or explore explosive science by creating volcanoes or launching a rocket. Nature and drama camps are also offered as well as basketball and volleyball. There are camps for good, old fashioned summer fun that include getting wet and messy science projects.

If you are looking for a traditional summer day camp experience Kid Central offers plenty of activities, flexible hours and affordability. Kid Central Summer Day Camp has been a popular choice for children and working parents in Culpeper County since 1990. The camp annually serves hundreds of local children providing a great camp experience with a vacation close-to-home feel.

Many know about Kid Central as a before and after-school childcare program and think that its summer camp is only offered to kids enrolled in the school-year program. This is not the case. The camp is open to all children. Kid Central is designed to serve children ranging from kindergarten to middle school.

In addition to focused themed activities, there will be weekly trips to the pool, art projects, cooking classes, scavenger hunts, field trips and guest speakers.

The camp offers flexibility for parents and children, allowing campers to attend the weeks of their choice, depending upon availability of slots. Enrollment continues throughout the summer.

Field trips include such places as  Splashdown Water Park, Dinosaur Land, Skyline Caverns, Riverside Theater, Bounce-N-Fun, Richmond Zoo, National Museum of the United States Marine Corps, Rebounderz, Mountain Run Bowling, Dominion Skating Rink and Golden Skate World.

Kid Central also will have weekly swimming trips, movies, special shows in cooperation with Culpeper County Library, bowling, snow cone days, arts and crafts, sports, music exploration and a popular end-of-summer talent show. Other reasons to choose this camp are its hours of operation, free lunches and breakfasts via the USDA’s Summer Food program, tuition assistance, an in-town location and it offers both before and after-camp childcare.

For five years, the Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office has offered their Youth Sports Camps at no cost. Designed to bring the community and law enforcement officers together, instruction is offered to children and teens. Starting with a camps include football, baseball/softball, soccer and new for 2017 a cheerleading camp.

Funds are raised to support this program through the Annual Scott H. Jenkins Youth Sports Benefit Basketball Game between local law enforcement and local school staff. Monetary and in kind donations were also made by M.D. Russell Construction, Updike Industries, Chick-fil-A, Buffalo Wild Wings, Chipotle and Eastern View Athletic Boosters.

In 2017, their  summer sports camps will be in conjunction with area youth sports associations including Culpeper Little League and Culpeper Soccer Club.  Culpeper Little League and its coaches have generously donated the use of all equipment for the youth baseball/softball camp.  Culpeper Soccer Club has supplied not only all equipment, but have volunteered their coaches and players to help plan and organize a soccer camp for every age group.  Also. Culpeper Soccer Club will be providing special guest coaches throughout the week which ends with a tournament on the last day.

In each camp the basic fundamentals of each sport are taught to children aged 5 to 16. Each player will have the opportunity to learn new skills and to improve existing skills. There is a strong emphasis on sportsmanship, respect, and teamwork. The goal for each camp is to have participants use lessons related to good sportsmanship and respect on the field and in their everyday lives as they continue to grow and mature.

Registration begins May 1. Visit

About Anita Sherman 145 Articles
Anita Sherman is the editor of the Culpeper Times. You may reach her at