Cabin Fever: 5 Family Camps in Iowa

Cabin Fever: 5 Family Camps in Iowa

Heading off to summer camp is a rite of passage for many Des Moines kids.  But did you know that families heading off to summer camp is a growing trend?  I was surprised by the number of our friends and neighbors that told us they were going to camp last summer.

As we’re all more attached to our electronics, I hear parents discussing how to get their kids outside and into nature.  Attending summer camp as a family is one great way for families to unplug, bond and strengthen their ties.  Grandma and Grandpa can even tag along for a multi-generational adventure.

Iowa offers some diverse opportunities for families wanting to go off to summer camp together.  Some of the camps listed below offer full blown camp experiences, a few offer special weekend events for families, and others let you rent out their facilities and create your own fun.

Camp Fire Heart of Iowa

Camp Hantesa •1450 Oriole Road • Boone, IA 50036 • 515-432-1417

Camp Fire Heart of Iowa offers programs that emphasize camping and other outdoor activities for youth in Central Iowa.  They have Family Weekend programs during the fall, spring, and summer where you can go to Camp Hantesa in Boone and experience your favorite camp activities.  They also rent out a number of their facilities for reunions and retreats so you can plan and create your own family camp memories.

Cost: Family Weekends – $32.00 per person.

Dates: Family Weekend dates are offered throughout the year. See the website for date details.

Camp Foster YMCA

PO Box 296 • Spirit Lake, IA 51360 • 800-456-9622

Located in Spirit Lake, Camp Foster YMCA offers Family Camp Programs two weekends throughout the summer.  The camp offers accommodations, meals and a number of activities including: boating, horseback riding, archery, ropes courses, hiking, fishing, crafts, and much more.  Each day ends with an evening program, such as a campfire program or family competition.

Cost: Mother’s Day Family Camp – Cabin, $240 per family of 1-4 people ($55 each additional person)Tent, $190 per family of 1-4 people ($50 each additional person), Children under 2 years-old are FREE.  Labor Day Weekend – Cabin, $360 per family of 1-4 people ($90 each additional person) Tent, $390 per family of 1-4 people ($85 each additional person) Children under 2 years-old are FREE.

Dates: May 8-10, 2015 (Mother’s Day Weekend) and September 4-7, 2015 (Labor Day Weekend)

Camp Okoboji

1531 Edgewood Drive • Milford, IA 51351 • 712-337-3325

A full service camp, Camp Okoboji can accommodate families and groups of up to 500. Facilities include dormitory-style cabins and modern housekeeping cabins.  They also have two community centers, a small camp store and a dining hall on site. Activities offered include: gaga ball, basketball, volleyball, canoeing, kayaking and swimming.  Families can attend one of their three Family Retreat weekends throughout the summer or rent out their facilities and create their own fun.

Cost: $115-300 per person, depending on dates and accommodations.

Dates: Family Retreat June 28th – July 4th; Family Retreat I July 26th-August 1st; Family Retreat II August 2nd – August 8th.

Camp Shalom Christian Camp

6262 Caves Road • Maquoketa, IA 52060 • 563 -652-3311

Two weekends a summer Camp Shalom Christian Camp opens their doors to families.  Led by their staffers, families are invited to help plan campfire services, make s’mores, and play family games. On Saturdays, staffers lead children in games while the adults meet for Bible Study. The afternoon is spent canoeing the Maquoketa River, shooting arrows at the archery range and making crafts. They also offer staff-led trips to the Maquoketa Caves and offer challenge course activities.

Cost: Village & Outpost Cabins, Adults: $50 and Children 6-18: $30, Under 6 FREE; Charis Lodging, Adults: $75, Children 6-18 $45, Under 6 FREE
Dates: June 19th-21st and July 17th-19th.

Des Moines Y Camp

1192 166th Drive • Boone, Iowa 50036 • 515-432-7558

Y Camp can help you create a memorable family camp experience. Nestled in the Des Moines River Valley in Boone; Y Camp is located on 400 acres with facilities and staff that cater specifically to groups including families.  Y Camp’s facilities include modern sleeping cabins, two treehouse cabins and a dining hall.  Activities include: ropes course, horseback riding, climbing tower, archery, canoeing, trails, zip line, swimming and more.

Cost: Will vary by group.  Contact the Y for cost details.

Dates: Will vary by group.  Contact the Y for available dates.


Have you ever been to Family Camp? Share your experience with us in the comments section below!

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