Summer Camps on Lookout Mountain: Where kids get to be kids in the great outdoors

Summer Camps on Lookout Mountain: Where kids get to be kids in the great outdoors

With the possible exception of the first day of kindergarten, dropping my daughter off at summer camp was probably the most traumatic day of my life (so far).

Of course, we both survived the week apart, and she came home happy and tan and, well, dirty. A week is a long time to go without a bath (and no, sweetie, the river and/or pool do not count as a bath). But she also came home a little different.

She was a little more confident. She’d spent a week doing things she’d never done before: hiking, kayaking, fishing, even learning to dive. She came home believing it was ok to try, to fail, and try again.

She was a little more outgoing. She went to camp all alone, not knowing a soul, and came home with a tightknit group of friends I suspect she’ll keep for a lifetime. She learned that strangers can become friends quickly if you let them.

She was also a little more independent. A little more willing to try things on her own without asking for help first.

My daughter was more curious, too. More interested in investigating things she might have overlooked before: the shape of a leaf, the color of a flower, the call of a bird. She developed a love of nature that even trumped her fear of things like bugs and squirrels (she still doesn’t like ladybugs, though).

Summer camp was an experience I would wish for every child, and the beauty of Lookout Mountain makes summer camp even more spectacular. You’ll find nearly a dozen different summer camps for kids – some that have been around for nearly 75 years – all nestled in various spots in these stunning foothills of the Appalachians.

There are camps for boys, camps for girls, and camps for both. Camps for Boy Scouts. Camps with a specifically Christian focus. No matter which camp you select, the overall goals are unified: a chance to experience the majesty of creation, take time away from technology and “busy-ness,” an opportunity to simply be a kid.

They also offer “working” camper options and counselor options for kids in high school and college.  Check out all of the area’s awesome summer camp options here today.

I guarantee your child will make real connections (with something other than the internet) and thank you for years to come for the opportunity!

And while you’re here dropping off the kids, plan to spend a little time here yourself. My first stop was the Wildflower Café and Country Store—a charming shop filled with gorgeous handmade jewelry, delicately fragrant locally-made Moon’s Bath and Body Care, ultra-cool AL Dirt Shirts, and tons of other enticing Alabama-made creations. After shopping around a bit, I treated myself to a delicious lunch of Wildflower’s Tomato Pie in the sweet little café. It was just the pick-me-up I needed to leave my little girl to the wonder of the wilderness at summer camp.

Afterwards, I spent some time in the great outddoors myself. You’ll find two of Alabama’s 22 state parks right here in DeKalb County, and another three others within an hour’s drive. One of the state’s most scenic views is nearby, too, on the Little River Canyon National Preserve. Forested highlands, waterfalls, bluffs, swimming holes, and sandstone cliffs offer plenty of options for adventure seekers. With so many options, you could spend the whole weekend exploring the lakes, caves, mountains, and waterfalls of North Alabama.

If you reach your fill of the outdoors (is that even possible?), you’ll find plenty of museums and galleries featuring area artisans, plus historic sites and antique shops for those in search of times gone by. For weekend accommodations, you’ll find everything from bed and breakfasts to campgrounds, cabins to hotels and motels.

Don’t miss the opportunity to make memories for your kids with a summer on Lookout Mountain. And be sure to treat yourself while you’re here. It’ll help take the sting out of leaving the little ones behind.

You can also check out other great mom-approved shops and lunch spots here!