For the last installment of our 2017 camp guide, we went right to the experts — the kids. After all, they're the ones who can speak with authority about the day and sleepaway programs they attend. We asked a handful of happy campers to tell us about (and, in some cases, write about) what they like best about camp. From pulling pranks to hitting targets, find their answers below.
Autumn King, 11
Camp Ta-Kum-Ta (Vermont Cancer Camp for Kids & Families), South Hero
I like going on the ropes course. You climb up, and you look out and can see Lake Champlain and all the mountains. It's really pretty.
You can get up in the morning at 6-6:30 and go down to the pool, and they have a polar bear plunge. If you do it the whole entire week you get a polar bear charm.
At the very end of the camp week, they have a formal dance, and people come and they do hair and nails, and there's this big barn, and everyone goes and dances and has a fun night. You can pack something to wear, and they also have a costume box. It's a room with dresses and tuxes and all that kind of fancy stuff.
Our camp is pretty famous for pulling pranks ... I went into a cabin with one of those things that blows leaves. I put a toilet paper roll on it and was blowing toilet paper all over the cabin. It was really funny.
Everyone is really supportive because they know what you are going through or have gone through.
Lily Clark, 13, and Sunshine Clark, 11
YWCA Camp Hochelaga, South Hero
Lily: Just being with eight girls in a cabin, even if you don't like someone by the end of the week or weeks, you're kind of like sisters, and if you met up again you'd know everything about them. Another fun thing about camp is decorating your bunk.
Sunshine: It sort of made me feel independent because you can take showers whenever you want, and you can decorate [your bunk] however you want. I brought Bobbleheads.
Lily: There's kayaking, sailing, paddleboarding, canoeing. We play "Swamp" where we fill the canoes with water. Getting back into your canoe is so hard.
Sunshine: There are counselors in tents, and they stay up, and you can go talk to them if you're feeling homesick. My counselor sang to me. One night there was this giant wolf spider in a corner. We were all screaming until the counselor came in. At the end of camp, you stick a candle in a plate and sing songs and then put the plate out in the lake. It's really fun, but sad.
Gabe Little, 9, and Gavin Little, 7
Camp Sunrise (Cub Scout camp), Benson
Gabe: My favorite activity is either archery or BB guns. In archery, they have targets set up. You have your bows and arrows; you have to wait for the commands to draw back and shoot. I like the feeling, the whoosh of air, when you let [the arrow] go. [One time] I shot it straight in the exact center of the target, and I was proud.
Two years ago, we did this thing where each Cub Scout pack, before going to camp, made a catapult and tested and modified it. On the last day, they see whose catapult will launch the farthest and whose was best built.
Gavin: All of it was the funnest. Every year, it's themed something. Last year it was Superhero. The year before that, it was Medieval.
Gabe: When it was Medieval Times, there was one time we were eating drumsticks, and we could just throw them on the floor, bones and everything.
Zoe Richardson, 10
Fusion 802 Dance Camp, South Burlington
What I like about the Fusion 802 dance camp is that it is really fun and enjoyable. One thing about the camp is that you get put in your age group even if you haven't really done that much dance. The kids and the dance teachers are all really nice. I also like how there are many different types of dance you can do like ballet, tap and jazz hip-hop.
Graham Resmer, 11
YMCA Camp Abnaki, South Hero
One of the main things is that I can be around more boys — I'm the only boy in my family. I really like how you have so much freedom there, and the fact that it's right next to the lake makes it a really interesting setting. I feel like the counselors and the other people there really support you. Campers are a little more open about expressing themselves there than at home.
Zoe Paxton, 11
Camp Celiac, North Scituate, Rhode Island
I've had celiac disease since I was three, so eating gluten-free is pretty easy. But sometimes it's hard not being able to eat the same things as other kids, and I feel left out. Two years I went to Camp Celiac, a sleepaway camp for kids who can't eat gluten. I was so excited and wasn't nervous until we started the drive down to Rhode Island, but after we got there I felt okay. It was an awesome week, since I could eat everything and not worry about reading ingredients or getting sick. I think all kids with special food or health needs should go to a camp just for them!
Ella Gibbs, 13
Camp Downer, Sharon
Driving down the familiar road to Camp Downer, I am excited because I know I'm about to have another time of my life. I briefly remember that I won't have electronics for the week, but I know I won't miss them. I am looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new people. From mornings to evenings, each of my days at "Downer" are filled with fun activities, especially dodgeball, and just enough downtime to be able to enjoy the peaceful surroundings. I look forward to the nightly gathering in the theater; it's the perfect way to wind down each day. Soon, I will go back to the cabin to fall asleep to the sound of crickets while reading the writings on the walls that previous campers have written from many years ago.