You're dying for summer. But admit it: Summer gets boring after a while. Maybe you'll take a family trip, maybe you'll hang with friends, or maybe you'll head to the same church camp you've been attending for years.
To make this hot season a little cooler, Beliefnet has updated its annual roster of choice outings with a spiritual flavor. Whether you want to become a Buddhist nun for a month, rebuild historic French churches, get intellectual about Islam, or explore secular humanism by the campfire...we've got the spiritual splash for this summer.
What Is It? About 90 people learn about Catholicism at this small summer camp in Bentley, Alberta, Canada. Each age group has one week at the camp, but the CITs (counselors in training) and counselors stay for the full six weeks. The camp is run by young people for young people.
Who's Going? Catholic kids between 9 and 13
Registration Click on the registration page and download the pdf or Adobe form; admission is first come, first served. Camp begins July 10, 2005 (July 3rd for counselors and CITs).
Cost It costs CAD$150 per camper per week for the first two campers of a family, and CAD$75 per camper per week beyond that.
Happy Camper Comment Peter Verhesen: "I found that even if I couldn't go to my peer group, I could go to God. I felt that if I've got God and my family, I was pretty well off. There's such an atmosphere here. As soon as you drive in, you can really feel the difference."
What Is It? A world-famous camp that brings together Israeli and Arab youth to promote peace and coexistence. There is also a delegation of American teens every summer. International campers are selected by their individual governments. There are two sessions this summer--June 20 to July 12 and July 18 to August 9.
Who's Going Muslim and Jewish youth from the Middle East, South and Central Asia, and America. The 2002 summer camp boasted more than 450 teen participants.
Registration The registration period is closed for the 2005 season, but the process begins early, so check the website now for details about next summer. Seeds of Peace also hosts a year-round program in Jerusalem.
Cost American delegates to the camp pay a $4000 tuition fee. Limited scholarship money is available.
What Is It? The first residential U.S. camp for atheists/agnostics/freethinkers, Camp Quest now has three locations and three sessions--one in Ohio (June 18-25), a second in the Smoky Mountains (June 5-12), near Knoxville, Tenn., and a third in Michigan (August TBA). You'll study science and the arts in a secular humanistic setting. Activities include archaeological digs, camping out, and fossil collection.
Who's Going? Campers are ages 8-17. The minimum age for staff members is 18.
Cost It's $650 for one camper and $600 for each additional sibling. Balance of all fees is due by May 20, 2005. Counselors aren't charged, but they don't get paid.
Happy Camper Comment Adam Butler, 1998 Counselor: "I could not be more pleased with my experience at Camp Quest '98. It provided the campers with the community they so desperately required while planting within them the seeds of tolerance, love, and reason."
What Is It? Grunt work in foreign lands: Restore pretty but decimated churches and camp with 12-20 other volunteers from different countries for three weeks.
Who's Going? Most of the programs are for people ages 18 and up, and programs in African countries are for ages 21 and over. However, VFP does list many volunteer trips for teens. Check them out here.
Registration Fax your form. Registration is rolling, and it only takes five days to sign up.
Cost It'll run you about $250-$500. Volunteers must provide their own transportation to and from the workcamp.
Happy Camper Comment Kara-Lynn Pekar: "It was great meeting people from all over the world who had the same spirit of adventure and desire for bettering mankind. It's truly an experience I'll always cherish!"
What Is It? Habitat for Humanity's summer programs for teens. 15-20 participants and adult leaders "blitz build" a Habitat house in two weeks. Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that builds affordable houses in cooperation with people who need housing.
Who Goes? Teens between the ages of 16 and 18 from across the U.S. Habitat for Humanity also offers projects for campus groups.
Registration Fill out this form to request an application. Registration for 2005 is closed, but you can plan ahead and get on the list for 2006.
Cost Participants are responsible for their transportation to and from the city of their "blitz build," plus a $450 program fee, which covers room, board and supplemental medical insurance during the program. There are a limited number of scholarships available.
What Is It? An emergency home repair ministry program. Youth groups and their accompanying adult leaders from across the country come to Central Appalachia to provide free home repairs for families in need. You'll spend one week repairing homes, studying Appalachian issues, and learning about Christian service.
Who's Going? Youth aged 14 and up, and their accompanying adult leaders. Volunteers come from across North America. ASP is a Christian ministry, open to all people.
Registration Sign up with your group. Applications for Summer 2006 will be due by November 1, 2005. Please register early to secure your group's spot.
Cost About $275 per person (includes room and board)
Happy Camper Comment 1997 Youth Volunteer: "I went for the first time in 1997 and it honestly blew me away... Before ASP, my youth leaders stressed the importance of humility and `doing it for God.' I think keeping that in my mind helped make ASP such an awesome experience for me and the family served."
When you choose a program, make sure to grill the program directors. Ask how many people each staff member is responsible for, who those staff members are, and what they do if you break the rules. Make sure to ask about any accreditations the camp might have.
Also, ask for phone numbers of past attendees--then you get the dirt firsthand.