Great Family Adventures: Great Smoky Mountains Institute's 'Smoky Mountains Family Camp'

Yes, we know: The family vacation is a much-parodied event, and perhaps rightfully so. But fumbles, foibles, and hassles aside, families keep taking them for the same good reason: They’re priceless sources of memories.

    Photo: Courtesy of Great Smoky Mountains Institute

HIGHLIGHTS: If you get nostalgic for summer camp, join your kids for this fun-filled experience. It plays out in the middle of Great Smoky Mountains National Park—a place so significant that it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Over each of the camp’s six days, you choose from a slew of activities geared for ages six and up (though children as young as four have attended): high-country hikes, educational nature walks (look for birds and salamanders), cycling outings, treasure hunts, arts and crafts, and swims in the Little River. After dark, there are themed mealtimes (you may find yourself dressed as a pirate), astronomy lessons, dancing and sing-along entertainment, and an optional overnight backpacking trip. If you’ve been trying to get your family to unplug, this is the place to do it: the whole of Walker Valley is devoid of cell-phone reception.

OUTFITTER: The Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont provides experiential programs to teach environmental stewardship and instill appreciation of the national park.

ITINERARY: Stays in and around Tremont, Tennessee.

DATES: Starts July 8, though Tremont’s other family adventure weekends start on February 8 and July 1.

PRICE: $1,500 for a family of four, plus $330 for each additional person, including all meals, dormitory accommodations, and camp programs. Register by February 22 to get $100 off.

INFO:, (865) 448-6709.

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