Category: Summer Camp

residential camp tie dye shirts

A few days ago, while interviewing two of our “perpetual” residential campers for a camp video, I heard something that caught me by surprise. When asked what their favorite part about residential camp was, both girls answered simultaneously, “Talking to the other girls at the end of the night.” In a camp where a typical day consists of crawling around a cave 50 feet underground or tip-toeing up a rock climbing route 50 feet above the ground, their favorite part was building relationships with their fellow campers.


Almost every week of residential camp begins the same way. Campers are dropped off, signed in and then thrust into a new-ish world with at least 20 smiling-yet-apprehensive faces they have never seen before. From the time that their parents leave all the way until their parents arrive at the end of the week, campers have each other and their instructors. We do not have a hidden cave of televisions and video games in the middle of the woods or WiFi accessible to our campers.

We do not have a hidden cave of televisions and video games in the middle of the woods


All of our campers sign up for Adventure Links camp for the same reason, the activities. There is no doubt that spending your day kayaking or rock climbing is more fun than a day doing math problems. What campers don’t realize until they leave is that the one piece of Adventure Links that will stay with them forever is the community. By attending residential camp, campers have the opportunity to do all of those cool activities listed in our brochure, but they also have the opportunity to share these experiences with each other. Campers sing together next to the campfire, dine together in the lodge, paddle together at the river, sleep together in the bunks, challenge themselves together and, by the end of the week, transform themselves together.ao1

What campers don’t realize until they leave is that the one piece of Adventure Links that will stay with them forever is the community.


By the end of each week of residential camp, those smiling-yet-apprehensive faces are all familiar and just smiling, without apprehension. Some campers are usually sad to say goodbye to their new friends and bunkhouses, but the majority have already come up with ways to stay in touch and made plans for residential camp next year.


The community that has begun to form around our residential camps is caused by the campfire songs, the post-lights-out conversations, the daily challenges, and most importantly, the shared experiences. The relationships that are developed at camp are one-of a-kind. Each year it is our goal to provide an environment that creates those relationships organically.



eric newmanEric Newman | Program Coordinator

Day Camps


In a time where recesses are being cut short, technology is ever-present in our children’s eyes, and coding is the newest language being taught in school; we are advocating for more time outside! The best way to give your children that time outside is Summer Camp!


For the past 19 years, Adventure Links has been providing the summer camp experience for youth in Northern Virginia. We offer a variety of camps for rising 2nd through 12th graders. Our ultimate goal is to provide an experience that is meaningful for our campers each year they come back. 


Let’s talk Day Camps. Currently, we offer four different day camps for participants from 2nd through 8th grades: Hemlock (rising 2nd-3rd grades), Classic (rising 3rd-5th grades), Ultimate (rising 6th-7th grades) and Summit (rising 7th-8th grades). Each of Our Camps has their own variety, but are all focused around adventure sports and getting a little dirty. Our range of activities include: rock climbing, zip lining, caving, sailing, mountain biking, kayaking, canoeing, and the list goes on.


Quick Facts: Day Camps

  • We offer convenient pick-up/drop-off locations throughout the summer in Arlington, Vienna, Ashburn, Centreville, Manassas, Gainesville, Chantilly, Springfield, and Herndon.
  • We pick up campers at 8AM from the location and drop off at the same location at 5PM.
  • We maintain a maximum ratio of 13:2 (or 6.5:1) with all of Our Camps.
  • Each instructor must keep a minimum of Basic First Aid/CPR, but most go a step further and have a minimum of Wilderness First Aid.


Why Adventure Links Day Camps?


My first answer is fun! There are factors that come to mind when thinking of fun at Adventure Links. The first factor is our Instructors. While each Instructor usually has their own favorite adventure sport (some have many), we all share a passion for youth development. The second factor is programming. We offer exciting experiences for all different ages and abilities. Each day our Instructors tailor the activity to the experience level and comfortability of each group to ensure a positive experience.


The second reason is community. Summer camp in general provides an unparalleled opportunity for kids to interact with people they have never before met. The first day of Our Camps is geared towards familiarizing campers with each other, their Instructors, the expectations, and challenges of the week. Throughout the week, campers form new bonds, collaborate with new people, and participate in challenging activities alongside their new friends.


The final reason Our Camps provide a meaningful experience for our campers is personal growth. From the perspective of the individual, the challenges that our campers are faced with allow them to step out of their comfort zones. Everything from meeting new campers to climbing a 40’ cliff can be a learning experience. At the end of each activity, Instructors encourage reflection that helps each camper take something unique away from the activity.


Whether the reason for looking at summer camp is to keep your child engaged throughout the summer, to introduce them to new adventure sports and people, or to catalyze personal growth, we are confident that a week spent at Adventure Links will have an impact on their life. Day camp is the beginning of a meaningful journey that we, at Adventure Links, enjoy creating and following along with.





ryan daleRyan Dale | Summer Camp Director

DSC02161My education philosophy perpetually changes the more I learn and experience. One of my core foundations that has remained throughout my entire professional career is that every child should have the opportunity to engage in meaningful play outside. In general, this can only be achieved if you are not afraid to get a little dirty.

I once had an art teacher that prior to making her first brush stroke would rub paint all over her hands and shirt. She claimed that in the past she was cautious about getting paint on herself while working which proved to be a creative distraction. She reasoned that if she was covered in paint before she started she could devote 100% of herself to her work.  This idea has resonated with me since and I apply the same rationale to working outside.

Throughout the years I have noticed more and more youth I work with are a bit timid and apprehensive when first exposed to an outdoor classroom. I believe some of this apprehension is due to that fact that getting dirty outside is sadly becoming less acceptable in the urbanized world.

To nip it in the bud, I like to ask the groups I work with to pick up a bunch of dirt and rub in into 20140807_123922their hands. This request is usually followed by nervous giggling and darting eyes; checking to see if mom or dad is around the corner.  I always tell my students, and my adult chaperones, that today it is okay to get dirty and if they overcome the anxiety of getting a grass stain on their knee they will be able to take full advantage of the day, learn a valuable lesson or two, and maybe just maybe have a little fun while doing it.

I find that once they are comfortable with the fact that it is acceptable to get dirty, at least for the day, they truly start to relax, are more open to learning, and engage in meaningful play with one another and their surroundings. I believe kids need to be kids and we should be encouraging them to get outside and play. Parents and guardians be warned, if you send your child to Adventure Links they may just come home a little dirty, a bit tired, and a little bit more excited to interact with the natural world.

Read more about how getting dirty outdoors benefits kids

kyle halstead

-Kyle Halstead | Program Coordinator

Fall Staff 2014

We are getting both sad and excited around here. Friday November 21st is just two weeks away and it marks the last day of our 2014 program season. We break the week before Thanksgiving so that our staff have the opportunity to spend the holiday at home. Our staff travel far and wide to, places as far as California, Michigan, Florida, and Vermont. Our staff are the faces and soul of Adventure Links and we will miss this year’s crew when they leave for the winter.

That is the sad part, the exciting part is that Monday, December 1st is the opening of registration for Summer Camp 2015. After we have devoured our turkey dinners, shopped our hearts out on Black Friday, and rested up and traveled home over the weekend, we will already be looking towards 2015. We are extremely excited for what is going to be an amazing summer, and we look forward to hiring and planning out the final details this winter and spring.

Make sure to check out our website as we get closer to registration for the posting of the 2015 schedule.

Camp Registration Opens Dec. 1

Camp Navigator has featured our Summer Camp Director Mark Diedering in their latest issue. Marks asks and answers the top questions you should ask when choosing an adventure camp. Check out the article here.

camp navigator, adventure camp, questions, mark diedering


Camp Navigator also phone interviewed Mark with some basic questions about Adventure Links’ Summer camp. You can hear the interview by clicking here. We are excited to not only offer summer camps to the DC Metro area, but to offer our experiences and advice for parents looking for the right summer option for their children.interview with mark

P1030692Have any other questions? Want more information about Adventure Links? Contact Mark at