Explorers Camp focuses on some of the core Calleva activities, but broadens the appeal with some more traditional camp experiences. Explorers experience a rotation of four activities each day, which can include Rock Climbing, Kayaking, Horseback Riding, Adventure Island, Arts & Crafts, C&O Adventures, Woodland Adventures, and Farm Fun. Explorers have their own Council designed around weekly themes to encourage their age-appropriate interests and creativity. Campers experience variety, a great balance of spontaneity and structure, and access to streams, trails, and Calleva Farm for an amazing summer experience.
Explorer Camp travels within the National, County and State Parks, as well as private property near the Potomac and Seneca Creek confluence. Transportation to and from camp is provided from “pick-up points” throughout the DC
All Explorers are expected to participate in all activities, unless they are unable due to health reasons. Special considerations for campers that have anxieties or health conditions can be addressed through communication that starts in our office at registration time.
Kayaking: If you drive to Riley’s Lock in summertime, chances are you’ll pass a stream filled with little yellow boats. Our campers love to get wet, and a kayak is the perfect vehicle for water fun. Every summer kayaking is one of the highlights for many of our campers, and our focus is giving Explorers a great first impression. Explorers learn how to exit an overturned kayak, maneuver the boat, and feel confident in a boat in the water. Kayaking takes place right outside our office, in the calm, shallow waters of Seneca Creek. Explorers are taught safety and basic concepts and given an opportunity to fall in love with the sport, as we did at very early ages. Calleva directors remember becoming familiar with kayaking from even younger ages than our Explorers, and we have reaped the benefits for a healthy understanding of water and appreciation for the simple joy of paddling. We create challenges that slowly increase development and confidence. This activity is revisited a few times during the week so that Explorers can build on what they are learning each day. Explorers wear flotation vests and swimming skills are not required, but a willingness to get into the water is crucial. Kayaking is a core activity to our schedule. Instruction is based on fun games and challenges, emphasizes skill building and reflects the theme of the week.
Rock Climbing: As babies we tried climbing out of our crib, as toddlers we climbed trees, and as Explorers we climb the Calleva Rock Wall. The climbs offer up a variety of routes from pitch angle, hold sizes, and route difficulty with multiple belay ropes/routes. Up to 4 campers can climb on the wall at a time and each climber is belayed by our staff who coach andinstruct campers as they make their way up the wall. Every year, we work on new ways to expand the experience and increase the fun! Campers are given a chance to continue to push themselves and new challenges are created daily. Staff are aware of the challenges and difficulties for young children to face in front of their peers and special consideration is taken to create a positive environment for children to struggle and succeed. This is sure to get the Explorers pushing themselves, giving them a sense of accomplishment. Each time up at the climb gives our staff a chance to encourage and praise our campers as they scale the skill awards as well as the wall. Last year as campers waited, they participted in team challenges… soccer, stick hockey, and more…! Safety is our #1 priority and belayers are certified and trained. All campers are secured in age/weight appropriate harnesses and helmet and are tied into the rope before they climb. Ropes are certified, inspected and kept out of the elements.
Horseback Riding takes place at Calleva Farm, where Explorers will enjoy a beginner ride, stables, covered craft room and classroom if inclement weather comes our way. Under the careful supervision of our staff, Explorers are introduced to the wonderful world of horses and have the opportunity to ride and familiarize themselves with the sport. We feel very strongly about the benefits of introducing children to animals. The first riding day is all about getting Explorers comfortable with the care and handling of these large animals. The second day of riding allows them to go beyond that introduction into a deeper connection with horses and riding. Instruction and horse care are built around skills & task completion with a healthy mix of fun games and relaxed downtime on the farm.
Island Adventures is a full day of adventure on the water, along the banks, amidst the islands of the Potomac River. Our huge, stable “war canoe” is the perfect ride for two groups to travel to the island at one time! That’s right…this is a sturdy boat that makes getting to the island as a large group a very memorable experience. Explorers launch from the river banks near our office and paddle to the top of a nearby island chain. From here they hike trails and enjoy treasure hunt style activities. Explorers have all day to explore, swim, and hike the multiple islands below the breaks. Campers may engage in team and individual challenges that encourage them to think out of the box and expand their cooperation skills. Playing is a big part of every Explorer day, and the trails on the Virginia side weave through rocks and hills that light up the imagination. Before wrapping up island activities, Explorers return to the huge war canoes and paddle back to Riley’s Lock.
C&O Adventures (H2O): Prepare to get wet – C&O adventures is always a camper favorite! Utilizing Seneca Creek, the Potomac River, and other neighboring creeks, Explorers paddle, float, tube, swing, splish and splash in through our local waterways – and never without a floatation vest! The best way to keep cool in the hot summer months is to keep our Explorers hydrated and wet. This is not a swimming class, and swimming instruction does not take place. Campers never swim in the river or creeks without some sort of water craft and lifejacket. Campers have loads of fun and learn about plants & critters that live in natural waterways and how to safely play in calm and moving water. Activities can include a canoe trip to Poole’s Store or tubing down from Berryville… whatever the schedule calls for it sure is going to be fun! Safety in and out of the water is essential for this activity to be fun. Our staff recognizes the potential dangers of waterways, and every camper is equipped with lifejacket, is well supervised and has some type of water craft. Water levels and water quality are monitored throughout the summer.
Woodland Adventures: This is Land-Based Adventure at its best, and all Explorers gain a variety of outdoor skills through these creative outdoor activities! Explorers will be on the trails and in the woods surrounding our headquarters at Riley’s Lock, visiting many beautiful natural sites and historically significant places and buildings. Explorers learn about the workings of the canal, life on the C&O and all the great places to play in the C&O National Historic Park. During various scavenger, treasure, and staff hunts, Explorers visit the many nooks and crannies of our outdoor neighborhood. A visit to the old Stone Mill will bring stories and imaginations to life, while a trek down the canal reveals the little details of nature and a connection to our region’s history. With so many places to visit, and so many games up our sleeves, this program is a great chance for the group to bond as Calleva counselors encourage the campers to play and create together. Campers learn about the river, do some conservation and stewardship activities, and feel connected to their natural environment. Activities sometimes include geo-caching. Safety is our priority; Our staff recognizes the potential hazards involved in this activity, and we’ve developed a fun menu of activities and activity locations, creating boundaries and structured games. Campers will be in the woods and many of the neighboring trails that neighbor the C&O Canal. As with any hiking experience, Poison Ivy and Ticks are concerns that we will be addressing. We encourage parents to be aware of these possibilities as well.
Farm Fun: Kids love animals, plants, and worms!!!! So getting dirty on the farm is a core piece of the Explorer week. Explorers get to work with animals and participate in VERY basic farm chores — all the benefits of growing up on a farm without the ongoing responsibilities! It’s a refreshing change of pace for our city kids! The Calleva Farm has so much to offer our campers, and the Explorers have an opportunity to help feed the baby goats, check for eggs in the hen house, and check on the pigs & cows. Farm Fun goes beyond caring for the animals, introducing young famers to the joy of growing vegetables & fruits as part of Calleva’s sustainable farm. Explorers take on everyday farming tasks, helping to care for our garden, plants and soil. Explorers who sign up for multiple weeks will see their plants grow, learn to weed, water & harvest, and make the connection between farming and the foods that we all eat every day. Safety and proper sanitary conditions are a high priority on the farm. Campers wash hands after handling the animals and using the restrooms. Drinking water is provided.
Rain Plan: We are aware that there are concerns regarding Rain & Storms at camp. For any programs that we can continue to do the activities with happy campers we will do so. If for any reason the rain or storm has us stop the activity, then all groups have an alternative plan and location under cover. For adverse weather (such as severe storms), all activities have nearby shelters or use Calleva bus as a temporary shelter.