When the sun is shining, birds are chirping and the flowers are blooming, I always start questioning my choice to live on a 15th-floor New York City apartment. And I am not alone. I was talking to a group of urban mothers about summer plans for our kids, and I noticed a theme: Everyone wanted to give their city kids a wholesome, simple experience to encourage them to put down the smartphones and video games and get outdoors.
One mom mentioned she was looking into a farm camp as a possibility. Inspired, I went home an did a bit of research. Here are just a few places I found:
- Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, NY, has a summer farm camp (which is actually already sold out for this summer but not next year) that offers a wide variety of farming activities for all ages, including collecting eggs, planting seeds, exploring the woods, and caring for the animals.
- Shoofly Farm outside of Seattle offers numerous summer sessions where kids take care of the farm animals, work in the organic garden, prepare their own snacks, and do some outdoor cooking.
- Rodale Institute is a one-week camp in Kutztown, PA, that features age-appropriate nutrition education, gardening activities, and cooking classes. Kids will participate in planting, watering, science projects, nature walks, and just plain “fun at the farm.”
- Sprout Creek Farm, located in Poughkeepsie, NY, prides itself on teaching both kids and adults "to love our fragile earth and understand our connectedness to it" as well as how to milk a cow or gather eggs.
- The Farm School in Athol, MA, offers a full camp experience for 5th through 10th graders and another program for 11th graders. The program includes building, hiking, swimming, singing, star gazing, shooting hoops, and sawing timber, as well as typical farm skills.
Sounds like so much fun, I might have to spend some time on a farm myself this summer. Do you have any other suggestions or experience with a specific camp? I'd love to hear about it!
Francesca Olivieri is co-founder of sage baby, an online eco-friendly baby store offering everything from organic clothes and skin care to furniture. She also runs a green consulting business; blogs for The Family Groove and Scenic Hudson; and contributes to Daily Candy Kids, YogaCity, Citiscoop, and NRDC’s Simple Steps. Please visit her website at FrancescaOlivieri.com.