About Blue Ridge Field Camp
What is Blue Ridge Field Camp?
Blue Ridge Field Camp was founded in Charlottesville in 2000 to emphasize “friendships, adventure, and wonderful memories of summer.” Over time, the camp has grown to encompass two sites in Western Albemarle County as well as outdoors engagement programs for youths from age 6 to 16. The backbone of Field Camp is its day and once-per-week overnight camp for boys and girls ages 6-14. Its director since the founding has been Todd Barnett.
What makes our camp unique? First, our most salient quality is our community of campers and counselors. We are defined by lots of things, but we thrive because of this community. Ours is a relatively small camp, with 75-100 campers per week over the course of a summer, and no more than several hundred different campers all summer. Given the relatively small size, we can get to know one another well. This works better, of course, when kids come multiple weeks, and most of our campers do come week after week, and year after year, making for a genuine community. Kids always get to know one another across ages here as we spend less time in age-specific or gender-specific groups than is often the case with camps. That goes for counselors too who are less restricted to just a small group of kids within the camp. Instead, we mostly provide choices for the campers throughout the day which promotes all counselors getting to know all the kids. It feels much more like a neighborhood or extended family gathering in the relationships that are formed.
Second, the camp’s staff is almost exclusively former campers, with an average of about 10 years experience at the camp among them. As often as not, the counselors started at camp when they were 6 years old, and have come annually ever since. The heart of the camp is its staff–mostly vibrant young high school and college students who provide excellent examples of character.
Third, we are a genuine camp camp – an outdoors camp. We can seek shelter when necessary, but our kids spend their days in the outdoors, running, playing field games, playing board games, doing crafts, getting dirty, swimming, and so forth. We have no electronics, and we tend to thrive in trying to find ways to make things happen and get things done with what we have, in true camp fashion. We swim only in natural water pools and streams, and our facilities date back from 75 to 105 years. We serve high quality meals that the kids enjoy, and when you’re getting so much exercise, a tasty and healthy meal is so very satisfying. The whole experience feels like it’s out of another era. The kids get so much exercise at camp, and grow like weeds. It’s pretty easy to understand this appeal as a parent for our kids–away from screens, engaged, physically active, surrounded by ideal camper role models, telling stories over the weekend about their camp adventures, and genuinely happy.
Field Camp has all the best features of a classic overnight camp. We do have an overnight on Thursday nights that is intended for all campers, which extends the feeling that Field Camp is more than a day camp but without the cost of an overnight camp. We tend to have very happy campers and parents, who appreciate having found this unusual summer haven for their kids.
Our only other programs are extensions of our regular camp. The Adventure Weeks groups take trips to area outdoors destinations including local paddling rivers, hikes, and climbs, but also spend much of the week participating in regular camp activities. The Leadership School groups, however, are more separate, with preparation for and then week-long backpacking or paddling trips at outdoors locations more distant from Charlottesville. We think these programs work well to challenge and engage our older campers.
If you are interested in trying Field Camp for your child, sign up for a number of weeks, ideally on the younger end of our age span, and give them a chance to get to know the routine and some of the other kids and counselors. You will almost certainly have found a long-term summer camp experience in Charlottesville, where your child will grow spending idyllic summer days in the outdoors having adventures, making friends, and collecting wonderful memories of summer.
Registration, Dates, and Tuition
To register, click on the Registration button on the bar at the top of this page. Fees (detailed below) are calculated automatically during signup. Below are the weeks of camp for 2022. In parentheses, we have also noted the Thursday/Friday camp themes:
Week #1 (May 30 – June 3, Outdoors Adventure Week at Field Camp)
Week #2 (June 6 – 10, Variety Pack)
Week #3 (June 13 – 17, Scavenger Hunt)
Week #4 (June 20 – 24, Relay)
Week #5 (June 27 – July 1, Elijahball)
Week #6 (July 4 – July 8, Andy Goldsworthy)
Week #7 (July 11 – July 15, Moormans River Fest)
Week #8 (July 18 – July 22, Arts and Crafts)
Week #9 (July 25 – 29, Hogs/Frogs)
Week #10 (August 1 – August 5, Film Fest)
Week #11 (August 8 – August 12, Pirates Week
Week #12 (August 15 – August 19, Bogenghis Holidays)
Adventure Week #1 (June 6-10)
Adventure Week #2 (June 13-17)
Adventure Week #3 (June 20-24)
Adventure Week #4 (June 27-July 1)
Adventure Week #5 (July 4-8)
Adventure Week #6 (July 11-15)
Adventure Week #7 (July 18-22)
Adventure Week #8 (July 25-29)
Adventure Week #9 (August 1-5)
Adventure Week #10 (August 8-12)
Adventure Week #11 (August 15-19)
Leadership School – Appalachian Trail: (June 13 – June 24)
Leadership School – James River): (July 26 – August 6)
The weekly fees (which includes everything including daily lunches and overnight meals) are $550/week for 1-2 weeks, $500/week for 3-4 weeks, and $450/week for 5+ weeks. A $25 per week discount is provided for all registrations prior to April 15th. You can hold spaces for the summer by making a $550 deposit (and the deposit will be credited toward the last 1 to 2 weeks’ fee). The Adventure Weeks have the same fees with an additional $100/week. The Leadership School fees are $750/week for the Appalachian Trail and James River trips.
Cancellation and Change Policy: We have flexibility about changing weeks of attendance prior to April 15th and as long as weeks are not full. After April 15th, however, we often cannot honor change requests. In the event of a family’s change of plans, refunds will be made up to 4 weeks prior to attendance, less a fee of $100 per week. We do not maintain formal wait lists (our experience has been that families generally do make alternative child care arrangements rather than utilizing wait lists), though we do our best to accommodate all families.
This was E’s first year at Field Camp and it was a huge success. By the second week he was already talking about what he would be doing the next summer at Field Camp! He made wonderful friends of all ages and stretched himself physically and emotionally. He came home tired, dirty, and sun-kissed. Who could ask for a better way to spend the summer!
Field camp is exactly as described: kids running amok in nature, playing games, swimming, singing songs, getting muddy, doing cartwheels and campy art projects, and generally being kids in a blissfully not-too-structured atmosphere. My 6 year old daughter loved it.
We just moved to town and sent our son for only 1 week, he loved it so much that he wanted us to send him all summer!
Next year, our son will return for his fifth year of Field Camp. It just doesn’t feel like summer without it. The quality of the counselors is outstanding, as is the focus on the outdoors, singing around a campfire, Elijah ball (a game invented at Field camp, that still bears the name of the camper who created it), playing in rivers, and respecting one another. Todd, the camp’s founder and director, throws his whole self into this camp, and it shows. He cares about the kids, our community and our planet. The kids learn and respect this. After two years at camp, our son spent the weekends taking us on hikes around Albemarle County, as he now knew his way to various swimming holes and beautiful hikes from his summer camp experience.
Our children went to Field Camp for the first time this year. Our daughter is 11 and our son just turned 7. They both loved it, can’t wait to go back next year, and requested this be their only camp next summer. My kiddos have very different personalities and it is nice to find a camp that they can both go to and both enjoy equally while often engaged in different activities.
Our daughter really loves being with you. You hit the nail on the head – you’re a life in the country childhood, and an old fashioned overnight camp, without the weeks away from home. She’s counting the summers until she can bring her cousin along, and hoping someday to be a counselor. The lunches are wonderful, your bus time, jokes, and songs are quoted through the year, and we can’t imagine a better summertime. Plus she’s learned to play black jack.
My favorite aspect is that Field Camp is outdoors, relatively unstructured yet supervised, and teaches and guides kids to find inspiration, challenge and adventure in the world around them and to work together.
All of the 2021 Staff noted below (with the number of years they have been at Field Camp) is included in one of the two photos above: Todd Barnett (22), Aidan Folger (9), Andy Goodstein (3), Henry Sours (12), Laurel Dent (7), Stewart Morris (12), Catherine Wilkerson (18), Oliver Armstrong (11), Thatcher Healy (10), Duncan Healy (10), Shep Trundle (3), Jabari Redmon (1), Caroline Grist (7), Katie Gayheart (1), Sam Gruber (1), Ethan Brewster (8), Jackson Sneathern (10), Kathryn Lenert (6), Jack Helmke (10), Sam Bowers (8), Fran Caruccio (7), Josef Bekiranov (8), Zoe Kershner (6), Annika Beenhakker (10), Jordan Kessler (1), Jenna Hauger (1), and Jack Intihar (2). The staff includes students attending UVa’s Medical School, Brown University, VCU, William and Mary, Virginia Tech, UVA, Charlottesville HS, Western Albemarle HS, Albemarle HS, Miller School, Saint Anne’s, and Tandem Friends.
The camp’s director since its founding has been its owner, Todd Barnett, who was the Founding Head of School at Field School of Charlottesville from 2007-2020. Todd has a B.A. in English and Government from the University of Virginia, and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Pennsylvania. Todd serves on the boards of Field School, Camp Albemarle, and the camp’s scholarship fund.
Field Camp is a day camp with an overnight every Thursday, founded in 2000. It is a real camp camp, featuring a dedicated and spirited staff of counselors, an excellent safety record, a very high camper retention rate, a sense of humor, our own camp songs, and a catalog of about 30 camp movies. Our camp motto is “be safe, do good, have fun, and help out.” Come join us this summer.
The Blue Ridge Field Camp Scholarship Foundation, a 501-c-3, provides substantial scholarship opportunities to make our camp available to all area youth. In cooperation with local social welfare organizations and school counselors, the Foundation identifies campers and provides full scholarships, with amounts provided matched by the camp. Its ambitious goal for this summer is to provide $20,000 to area youth to attend this camp. Please consider contributing to making this camp available to more deserving area youth.
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We do everything outside, passing the time of summer with both structured activities and down time for relaxation and friends. We make up and have made up many, many games, crafts, and activities over the years, so many that we don’t need any more, but always eager to try something new and fun.
Our most dedicated campers tend to be the ones who start the youngest. Our youngest are well taken care of by both by counselors and older kids, and usually become fiercely loyal to Field Camp. They then have a home camp for ten years, and sometimes longer. Their favorite down-time activity is probably searching for critters in our creek. Private swimming lessons are available for an additional cost.
Blue Ridge Swim Club
We are lucky to own and have the historic Blue Ridge Swim Club grounds in Ivy (1275 Owensville Road) all to ourselves as our base for camp, featuring the 100-plus-years-old spring-fed Blue Ridge Pool listed in the National Register of Historic Places. We spend many afternoons cooling off and playing in the shady and massive pool, which remains 15 degrees cooler than every other area pool throughout the summer. The fields are great for soccer, croquet, Elijahball, and whatever other game we just thought up. We sometimes escape the weather in our timber frame pavilion, and build forts and rafts from the giant bamboo field near the Pool. The grounds are a genuine kid nirvana.
Camp Albemarle is the base camp for our Leadership School, and, because all the campers have always loved the place, we go over to the CCC-built facilities in Free Union on Thursdays and do our overnight. The site features a long stretch of Moormans River swimming/tubing, historic cabins, a big play pavilion, a huge field for capture the flag, and a just-perfect log lodge with a kitchen and big front porch. We make s’mores over the fire, sing our camp songs, play chess, and generally wear ourselves out playing all sorts of games. We have the facility available during the rest of the week and sometimes use it for activities during inclement weather.
The Camp Day
The camp day begins Monday through Wednesday at 9 a.m. at Blue Ridge Swim Club and Field Camp (1275 Owensville Road) and ends in the same place at 4 p.m. For Thursday and Friday, we start and end our days at Camp Albemarle (1675 4-H Way in Free Union). On Thursdays, many campers stay overnight, so the shuttle bus does not run on Thursday afternoon or Friday morning. Regular activities including readaloud stories, safety instruction, outdoors instruction, ethics, games and sports, and arts and crafts. We eat each day at noon. Campers should be prepared to swim (sunscreen, swimsuit, towel) if they are interested in doing so on each day of camp. We will take care of kids in aftercare up through 4:30 p.m. at camp. Note that Leadership Schools (and sometimes though less often for the Adventure Weeks) generally meet at Camp Albemarle or in other locations in information provided (we typically wait until the weekend before the beginning of a camp week to clarify this as weather and river conditions can dictate our destinations).
We provide a free daily shuttle to and from Charlottesville. The shuttle bus operates from the front parking lot at Azalea Park (304 Old Lynchburg Road) in Charlottesville, picking up Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8:15 through 8:30, and dropping off on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 4:15 to 4:30. Note that the shuttle does NOT run on Thursday afternoons or Friday mornings due to the overnights.
Field Trip Days
Campers should bring: backpack, snack, swimwear, sunscreen and a towel. If we’re hiking, wear closed-toe shoes which you don’t mind getting wet as we often splash through streams. Also, try not to pack too heavily for the hikes (bags for lunch, for example, rather than a plastic cooler). Please try to be prompt in arriving on these days.
Policies and Procedures
Field Camp offers a variety of outdoors recreational and educational programs for boys and girls ages 6-15, with a strong teaching staff, attention to healthy bodies and minds, regular outdoors field trips, and beautiful base campgrounds along the Moormans River. Established in 2000, Field Camp has provided thousands of Charlottesville-area children with adventures, friendships, and wonderful memories of summer.
Official Information and Contacts
Field Camp of Charlottesville, LLC, can be contacted at (434) 242-6894 or at FldCamp@aol.com. Its postal address is PO Box 112, Ivy, VA, 22945, and its website address is www.fieldcamp.net. Its director is in charge of all administrative, financial, policy and programming decisions. All counselors answer directly to the camp director, and any questions, concerns or suggestions should be addressed to the camp director.
Blue Ridge Field Camp is the premier outdoors summer camp opportunity for young people in the Charlottesville area. Our program aims at getting young people out into the outdoors, to develop an appreciation for the wilderness and camping, and to encourage the positive ethical behaviors associated with camping— responsibility, respect, trust, fairness, and work. With respect to our program, our goals are to give children the opportunity to (1) build confidence, (2) develop a sense of responsibility, (3) make friends with a variety of others, older and younger, (4) learn “hard” outdoors skills and awareness, and (5) develop “soft” self-awareness, ethics, and leadership identities. We constantly evaluate the program through discussions with campers, staff, and parents, and make changes as necessary. A formal evaluation is conducted with campers on selected weeks, and with the other parties (parents, staff, director) after the end of each camp season.
The Field Camp program emphasizes outdoors education and recreation. Our Thursdays and Fridays are held at Camp Albemarle , where we stay for an overnight which includes swimming, read-aloud essays, a campfire, and group songs. We also regularly give attention to our behavior, asking that all follow the Field Camp motto, to “be safe, do good, have fun, and help out.” Discussions of safety and ethics issues comprise a major element of our program. Our program also includes twice-weekly instruction in earth and natural sciences and outdoors safety, leadership and trust exercises, organized games, leave-no-trace principles, and readaloud stories.
The Camp Day
The day begins as early as 8:20 for those campers riding the free shuttle, and as early as 8:30 for those coming directly to camp. The day ends at 4, although any camper can remain at camp until 4:30. Counselors arrive at camp by 8:30 a.m. , and will not depart until the last camper has been picked up. If a camper has not been picked up by 4:35, we will call their parents or emergency contacts on their application and remain at camp until a ride has been secured. Children arriving late must have their parents check them in with the director.
Our registration form serves as a contractual agreement, emergency medical release form, transportation permission form, and also indicates who is permitted to pick up each camper. Parents are responsible for keeping this information up to date and for informing the camp of any changes.
Counselors are responsible for the successful operation of the camp and for the maintenance of a safe and healthy camp atmosphere. The staff determines rules and expectations. Campers are expected to treat peers and adults with respect and courtesy. They are expected to be responsible for the consequences of their own behavior, insofar as they are capable. They are expected to treat the camp’s property and the property of each other accordingly. Parents are expected to assist and support the staff in maintaining a healthy climate. Staff members shall not use any form of physical, verbal or emotional punishment. Such behavior will not be tolerated and if it should occur, disciplinary action will be taken. Campers enrolled at Field Camp shall not engage in aggressive or abusive treatment of other campers or staff, use foul language towards others, or verbally insult or berate other campers, or destroy or vandalize camp property or the property of other campers.
Staff will initially deal with behavior by reinforcing desired behavior and by verbally reminding campers, when necessary, of appropriate conduct. If inappropriate behavior persists, counselors will speak with the camper privately to determine the child’s motives and explain the reasons for the undesirability of the behavior. Parents will also be informed. If difficulties still cannot be resolved, the counselor will confer with the director, leading to a possible conference between the director, parents, child and counselor. Field Camp does NOT endorse corporal punishment or any other physical or intimidating methods of discipline. In the case of extreme, dangerous, or chronic behavior problems, campers will be sent home from camp. This decision lies with the director in consultation with the counselors. Parents must pick up the camper, followed by a discussion between the parents and the director before the camper is allowed to return. In the exceptional case in which a camper persistently fails to meet behavioral expectations, physically harms or threatens the safety of others, or continually disrupts camp despite efforts to alleviate the behavior, a recommendation for expulsion may be necessary. Responsibility for deciding to expel a camper lies with the director. Counselors are encouraged to discuss age-appropriate topics only both with the campers and when within earshot of the campers. Among those topics that they need to be sensitive about in the company of campers would be smoking, drugs, tattoos, body piercing, sexuality, dating, cults, religion, ghost or horror stories, divorce, or the personal lives of staff. If these issues arise among campers, staffers should discourage further discussion of the topic and report the matter to the Camp Director.
Blue Ridge Swim Club and Field Camp Field Camp’s home is at 1275 Owensville Road. The property provides a well-maintained facility consisting of a pavilion, a bathhouse, water, electricity, and buildings and grounds maintenance. Groups staying overnight are not to exceed 100 persons. Neither alcoholic beverages or alcohol are allowed at the camp. Field Camp conducts an annual fire equipment exam with the local fire department, and a water safety test as part of its opening procedures in April. Camp Albemarle Field Camp rents the Camp Albemarle (CA) facility through CA’s Board of Directors for many of our overnights. Camp Albemarle provides a well-maintained facility consisting of a lodge, 4 cabins and 2 bath houses, water, electricity, and buildings and grounds maintenance. All 4 cabins are equipped with smoke detectors. The lodge capacity shall not exceed 99 people, and groups staying overnight are not to exceed 80 persons, 20 per cabin. Neither alcoholic beverages nor alcohol are allowed at the camp while Field Camp is renting the facility. Camp Albemarle conducts an annual fire equipment exam with the local fire department, and a water safety test as part of its opening procedures in April. Field Camp annually secures a copy of each of these tests.