Whitewater center builds on popular outdoor camps

by Andrew Batten

The whitewater center offers campers a chance to raft, rock climb and mountain bike at its facility off Belmeade Drive.

CHARLOTTE – Budding whitewater kayakers, rock climbers and mountain bikers will have a chance to play where the pros practice while building outdoor skills at the U.S. National Whitewater Center’s summer day camps.

Last year, the center, at 5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy., drew more than 600 campers, and Aaron Peeler, the center’s program manager, anticipates more than 1,000 will attend the center’s day camps this summer. Peeler credits the center’s unique offerings as the reason many campers have chosen to spend a week rafting and rock climbing.

“We are opening these kids up to new adventures and new sports and new ideas,” Peeler said. “Every kid gets the opportunity to play basketball or football, but they may not have the opportunity to go mountain biking or rock climbing.”

While the center is offering some of the same camps as last year, it has added a camp session to its Rock, Ride and Paddle for 10- to 12-year-olds this year. Last year it was only open to older campers.

“We wanted to open it to younger campers to give them a chance to try some whitewater kayaking or help their interest in mountain biking and rock climbing as well,” Peeler said.

The camp covers the basics of mountain biking, rock climbing and whitewater kayaking. Campers will get a chance to focus on two sports each day as they hone their skills.

“Rock, Ride and Paddle is more of a skills camp,” Peele said. “They still get to participate in all the other activities here at the center, but it also focuses on learning more skills.”

The camp will continue with its popular Wet n’ Wild Adventure Camp that focuses on all types of water sports, including whitewater rafting, flat-water kayaking as well as rock climbing and teambuilding exercises.

“I think it’s our best overall camp,” Peeler said. “It gives campers the best opportunity to try all the different activities that we have here at the center.”

Summer camp schedule

Rafters take a ride down the U.S. National Whitewater Center’s man-made rapids.

The U.S. National Whitewater Center is offering a number of ways for kids to stay active outdoors this summer – and survive. All of the full-day camps offer an early drop-off service from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. for an extra $50. For more information, call 704-391-3900 or go to the center’s website, www.usnwc.org.

The facility, at 5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy., plans the following activities:

Half-day camps

• Whitewater Kayak Camp for youth 8 to 13 years old: June 13-17, June 27- July 1, July 18-22, Aug. 8-12.

• Whitewater Kayak Camp for teens 14 to 18: June 20-24, July 11-15, July 25-29, Aug. 15-19.
The kayak camp costs $225 and provides a half-day program introducing youth and teens to whitewater kayaking in a comfortable, safe environment with the guidance of qualified instructors.
Starting off with basic boat control and comfort, campers will then learn more advanced skills, such as rolling.

Full-day camps

• Wet n’ Wild Adventure Camp: June 13-17, June 27-July 1, July 5-8, July 18-22, Aug. 1-5, Aug. 15-19.
The name says it all. This themed camp combines the fun and values of a traditional summer camp with the excitement of an outdoor adventure experience, with activities ranging from whitewater rafting and rock climbing to flat-water kayaking and teambuilding.

• Wilderness Voyageurs Adventure Camp: June 20-24, July 11-15, July 25-29, Aug. 8-12.
If your child loves spending time in the wilderness, try this camp, which allows children to explore the outdoors through wilderness photography, ecology hikes and wilderness survival techniques. During this camp, your child will also enjoy whitewater rafting, flat-water kayaking and rock climbing. The adventure and voyager camps cost $275 a week. Both camps are open to youth 8 to 12 years old, and staff will assign campers to age-appropriate groups. Campers need to bring their own lunch and snacks.

• Survival Camp: June 13-17, June 20-24, June 27- July 1, July 5-8, July 11-15, July 18-22, July 25-29, Aug. 1-5, Aug. 8-12, Aug. 15-19.
Survival Camp provides an opportunity for 10- to 12-year-olds to develop and test survival skills in the outdoors. This camp centers on survival techniques, such as shelter-building, wilderness first aid, fire building, lost proofing and map/compass skills. Camp staff also will use games and initiatives for teambuilding, and the camp features one overnight stay at the whitewater center, with youth separated by gender. Campers provide their own lunch and snacks, except for the overnight trip. The camp costs $325.

• Rock, Ride and Paddle Camp: June 13-17, June 20-24, June 27-July 1, July 5-8, July 11-15 July 18-22, July 25-29, Aug. 1-5, Aug. 8-12, Aug. 15-19.
This camp will teach your teen the basics of mountain biking, rock climbing and whitewater kayaking. Each day is split into two clinics, providing an opportunity to learn skills for a variety of outdoor sports. No prior experience needed, except basic bike riding.
The camp costs $350 per week and is open to youth 10 to 17 years old. The staff will divide campers into age-appropriate groups.

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