Watersports Camps in Coastal Virginia




Coastal Virginia is surrounded by water. Why not take full advantage of it? There are several great local camps that promote physical activity, instruction and safety when it comes to being in or around water. Here are just a couple that have been highly recommended by our readers:

 

Ebbing Tides summer camp

Ebbing Tides in Virginia Beach offers standup paddleboard (SUP) sales, rentals, lessons and tours. Adding to that repertoire is a week-long camp for kids ages 8–14 that promotes a healthy love and respect for the outdoors and is offered throughout the summer months.

“Typically, we spend about six hours a day, Monday through Friday, outside, providing our campers with the proper techniques, safety skills, rescuing maneuvers and anything else associated with standup paddle boarding,” says Sarah Pope, owner of Ebbing Tides. “We do that for about three or four hours of the day, take a break for lunch, then spend the rest of the day doing arts and crafts, pulling nets, fishing and crabbing or doing scavenger hunts.”

Pope, who is a retired high school teacher and teaches homeschooled children marine biology, likens the camp to a marine biology camp under the pretext of standup paddle boarding. “We do a lot of identification, we do a squid dissection, whatever it takes to get the kids outside and in the environment, learning about all the different coastal ecosystems and how to fully appreciate them. Making science fun and engaging for kids so they’ll want to protect it when they are older is what we’re really trying to achieve.”

The name of the camp comes from when the tides are moving from high to low. “There’s a huge sandbar in the Lynnhaven Inlet that is exposed when the tide ebbs out,” says Pope. “It’s the size of a football field, and we’ll regularly go spend an entire day on that sandbar, exploring and interacting with the tidal ecosystem.”

For additional information on the camp and details on how to register, visit here.

 

Chesapean Outdoors summer camp

Another very popular watersports camp that regularly sells out each year is offered through Chesapean Outdoors, also based in Virginia Beach. With 2019 marking their 23rd year, owner Matt Redford boasts that they are the longest operators of eco-tourism and kayaking in the region, mainly dolphin watching tours. In addition to dolphin tours, the company offers kayaking and SUP lessons, rentals and sales, bike tours and rentals and surfing lessons, catering to individuals or groups, including corporate outings. The summer camps started five years ago.

“I was already working with so many school groups, church groups, scout troops, the Virginia Aquarium and Discover Virginia, that it just made sense to do a summer camp,” says Redford. “Where other camps have a regular agenda, we have more of a free-form flow. It’s one of the things that parents and kids say they love about us. We do have structure, but the kids are able to move around and do all of the different things we offer, based on what they feel like at the moment.”

Redford initially started with a structured agenda for his camps but quickly decided that wasn’t what he wanted to provide. “So much of life for children these days is structured. They go to school, then they’re off to soccer practice, then music lessons, then they have homework to complete. There’s so much structure, they don’t just have time to ‘be.’ So, we decided with our camp, our kids can do whatever they want to do, when they want to do it. So, if they want to build sandcastles, they can. If they want to play ‘capture the flag’ with other kids, they can. If they want to go swimming or paddle boarding, they can. They get to make the decision.”

Chesapean Outdoors offers a high ratio of instructors/staff to campers, to ensure their charges are kept safe and learn skills properly. “We have an army of people that interact with the campers constantly,” says Redford. “It’s pretty amazing.”

For additional information on the camp and details on how to register, visit here.

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