Large Group Activities
Evening and Afternoon Rec are times for the whole camp to come together to play games, dance, and do all sorts of fun things.
Popular large group activities include folk dancing, waterfront games, cabin relays, staff-e-mon, and more!
Other full group activities include campfire, flag raising/lowering, thought ceremony, trail day, etc.
Choice - Free Time
Campers choose from a variety of offerings led by the staff and counselors. From games like Four-Square, roof ball, and basketball, to activities like storytelling, skit creation, swimming, nd art making, choice is the time that campers get to pick what they want to do.
The camp store is typically open during choice for campers to get snacks, drinks, candy, and merchandise.
These are the traditional activities we think of when we think of summer camp: archery, swimming, arts and crafts etc. Campers attend activities each day with their cabin group and have the chance to try every program area by the end of the week.
See the full list of program areas below!
Our target ranges are located on acreage just up the road but separate from main Camp.
Campers first learn proper archery safety and terminology before taking turns on the range. Campers have the chance to develop accuracy and practice our core value of commitment by continuing to try try again!
Archery is often a favorite class. Campers who strike a bull’s-eye or accomplish other noteworthy achievements become members of the famed VBYC Archery Club, one of our esteemed Camp traditions.
*For Little Bears, the instructor will focus on hand eye coordination and explanation of dominant eye. Campers will use sling shots and compostable pellets to practice aiming at the targets.
Instructor certification: National Archery Association Level 1 – review of class and safety on site during staff training.
Canoeing & Kayaking
The Canoeing & Kayaking classes begin with an instructional period where campers learn basic canoeing/kayaking strokes, how to steer their vessel, skills for working with their partner, and guidelines for keeping the boat level and stable, all with an emphasis on safety.
When ready, campers take to the lake! They boat as a group- floating near cattails, paddling to the sandbar, discovering the creek, or exploring the middle of the lake. Canoeing and kayaking are always Camp favorites.
Campers must be at least a “B” (moderate-level) swimmer to participate. If a camper doesn’t qualify they may choose another class for that period or will be paired with a staff or counselor in a boat together. Canoes & Kayaks are always in visual contact of the waterfront director, who is on shore, with whistles and walkie talkies. VBYC uses one rescue motorboat and a rescue rowboat/kayak for emergencies.
Instructor certification: Lifeguard and Boater Safety Certified
Support staff are trained as Aquatic Observers by the Waterfront Director during staff training in June.
This class is an opportunity for cabins to use group problem solving through cooperation, and can really bring campers together. As with all VBYC classes, safety is the first priority. This course can be both physically challenging and a test of will. The challenges are not intended to be solved by individuals. Instead, it is necessary for campers to rely on one another to successfully complete each challenge. Campers often surprise themselves when they complete this course.
At the beginning of the class, campers learn a series of “calls” and procedures. During the class, campers learn about obstacles including blocks of wood, imaginary rivers to cross, a 10′ climbing wall, a grid of climbing rope, suspended cable walk (4′ high), and many other challenges.
Instructor training: Trained by Great Lakes Adventures (8 staff each season are certified to teach this class)
Riflery focuses primarily on gun safety. Our rifle range is located on acreage just up the road but separate from main Camp. Many camps no longer teach this course. VBYC chooses to keep riflery because it provides campers the opportunity to promote the seriousness of the safe use of guns.
Campers shoot from a covered pavilion with a wooden floor, and use .22-caliber rifles to shoot at bull’s-eye targets that hang from a sand mound. The campers are approximately 25 ft. from the target and are not allowed to step off of the covered pavilion. Campers are in the prone position (lying down) during contact with the rifles.
Some campers are not comfortable shooting a rifle, which is okay. No campers are ever forced to shoot. Campers observing still learn a lot about gun safety. With that being said, we find that most campers think riflery is an awesome class. Campers constantly impress us by demonstrating attention, respect, and care while at the range.
If a camper absolutely does not want to shoot during riflery, they can join another activity for that hour.
Instructor training: Trained by certified instructor, class and safety protocols reviewed on site during staff training by local law enforcement gun range specialist.
Song & Dance
Campers & Staff sing a lot at Camp. Many songs have been sung at summer camps for generations and some songs are special and unique to VBYC. It’s a great time to learn songs out of our song book and revisit other songs.
Folk dancing is also an important tradition at VBYC. Campers can learn older dances and also create new dances that may become new VBYC traditions
Swimming and Boating
All campers have their swim level assessed at the beginning of the week, and campers are assigned to a swimming area with appropriate depth for their ability. These are called A, B and C water currently.
The waterfront is open during activity time as well as choice time in the afternoon.
We offer open swim during choice, and kayaking and canoeing during activity time.
Instructor certifications: American Red Cross Lifeguard Certification (or equivalent)
Waterfront Director: WSI (Water Safety Instructor) Certification, LG Cert. & Boater Safety
Nature class encourages campers to understand and interact with the natural environment. Our hope is that every campers develops a higher appreciation of their impact on the natural world.
Everywhere you go at camp there is sure to be a critter. From bugs, snakes, and frogs, to butterflies, birds, and even the occasional deer. While critter spotting, campers learn ways to be respectful to the plants and animals we share camp with. We set the expectation of staying on paths when we’re going from activity to activity for this very reason.
Arts and crafts time comes loaded with ideas for unique ways to help campers express their artistic side. From traditional camp crafts such as lanyards and friendship bracelets, to creating drawings, paintings, and candles in the sand; who knows what each day will bring?
The Craft House is a favorite place for campers to meet up for choice time too. The outdoor porch allows for drawing nature by observation and is a great place to soak up some quiet time and a nice breeze.
Drama allows us to explore emotions through play via theater games like improv activities and our beautiful puppet theater. Occasionally, the Drama instructor will also create a special class during a session or two where there is a more elaborate theater production like a camp play or musical number. Campers love taking trips to the costume corner and putting together skits to share.
See our Typical Day page to learn more about activities at camp!
From exploring the waters of Great Bear Lake to putting on skits with costume corner gear, we have a wide variety of activities sure to give every camper new and exciting experiences. Every camper has the opportunity to try every program area during the week as well as choice time options.