Family Summer Camp at its Finest — Ted Turner Reserves
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Family Summer Camp at its Finest

by Deann McBride

Marshmallows roasting on an open fire
Lakeside mud between your toes
Sing-along songs, out of tune, with guitar
A spider in your bunk that you named Joe

Ahh, summer camp! The words evoke memories of long glorious days paddling on breezy lakes, learning new skills like fire building, archery, crafts, and building memorable relationships.

There were some drawbacks though, drafty rock hard bunks shared with creepy crawlies, randomly selected cabin mates, food and showers that were…well, let’s just say questionable.

With so many camps canceled this year, it’s time to take the summer camping experience to a new level. Why not make it a family affair filled with spontaneous giggles, hands-on history and nature lessons, and relationship-building with those we love the most. At Vermejo, we’ve got the best parts of summer camp mixed with the luxury of a world-class family resort on more spectacular rewilded land than you’ll find in most national parks.



The Best of Family Camp at Vermejo

At Vermejo, there are endless experiences to enjoy as a family and as individuals.  You’ll want to plan an itinerary with your Reserve Ambassador that provides the perfect balance. Schedule plenty of meaningful family activities and be sure to let the kids set off on some parent-free adventures, while you enjoy a little adults-only time. Perhaps a soothing spa treatment, a cooking class, a round of shotgun shooting, or a Taste of New Mexico wine or whiskey tasting suits your fancy.

Junior Trackers Program

The Junior Trackers Program has such exciting adventures planned for the littles, we’re sure the grown-ups will want to come along, at least some of the time.

girl looking at fishing fly

It’s a Bug’s Life, Kids Fishing Tour

The Bug’s Life workshop lets kids look at water bugs (aquatic insects to the scientists) up-close, learn about their hatches and life-cycles. Your guide will explain how fish eat different bugs in different seasons. Kids can choose a fly for their fishing rod based on their new buggy knowledge and find out if it looks tasty to the fish. Then they can reel one in to study in a net. Sometimes the best part is setting the fish free to search out more bugs in the water

Boy (Logan Reidy) pointing to coyote track, Vermejo Park Ranch, New Mexico, USA.  – Sean Fitzgerald

Junior Trackers Adventure 

Kids can head out on Junior Trackers Adventure scavenger hunt, searching with their expert guide for sounds, smells, and tracks that lead to elk, deer, pronghorn, birds, bison, bears, and more. Along the way they collect samples of plants, flowers, seeds, and pinecones as they learn about the different plant and animal life on Vermejo.

Junior Horsemanship Workshop

Horses are such magnificent creatures! Sometimes it’s exciting just to pet them. The Junior Horsemanship Workshop is totally tailored to kids’ comfort and skill level.  Start by meeting a friendly steed and learning all about safety around horses while brushing and grooming and feeding your new pal. Next, climb aboard for a loop around the arena with your wrangler leading you and chatting with you and the pony along the way. If time and skill-levels permit, students may progress to an arena riding lesson or even a short trail ride.


Nature Crafts or Barn Crafts

Camp just wouldn’t be camp without crafts. At Vermejo, we like a little nature mixed in with everything we do, so we use flowers, plants, leaves, twigs, and rocks to make lots of crafty things and we do it outside in nature as long as the weather cooperates. Sometimes craft time even includes a little nature walk to collect supplies.

Youngsters love spending time down at the barn where they can say hello to the horses and the barn cats. Here, we make DIY treats to feed the horses, create our own pool-noodle stick ponies, or get crafty with old horseshoes. We love this creative way to re-use things we’d usually have to throw away, turning them into treasures instead.



Geocaching is fun for the whole family. Grab one of our handheld GPS locators, or use the one on your phone. Collect Vermejo gold coins as you navigate your way to historic sights and points of interest using GPS coordinates. You’ll visit old mines, ruins, cemeteries and learn about the people who once lived on this land. At each point there is a box that holds the coins, a short description of the sight, and a booklet for you to record your name date and thoughts to add to the story of the place. Then, keep the treasures you’ve collected or turn them in for credit at the Company Store.


The Vermejo Survivor Challenge

A little competition always livens up a party. Don’t miss this chance to prove your survival skills by paddling back and forth across a lake to collect supplies, then building a fire, shooting an arrow, and cooking a marshmallow in a race to win the glory of being named the Vermejo Survivor Champions.


History, Wildlife, and Saving the Planet

You’re a part of the history at Vermejo as soon as you’ve settled into your comfy room. All of the accommodations at Headquarters are housed in the original stone structures built by William Bartlett and his family and crew in the early 1900s. Be sure to get a tour of Casa Grande the 25,000 square foot mansion where Bartlett lived and loved to host guests, just like we do today.


Then it’s time to go out and explore. Go on the Riverbank Restoration Tour to see how we’re restoring riparian areas to make healthy habitats for fish and wildlife like beavers. Along the way you’ll learn about how Ted Turner is working to save endangered species on all of his property. Ask to see the Castle Rock Bison and Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout that are thriving because of that work.


Another option is to head down south and see the remnants of the Koehler Mining Camp, or the Catskill Charcoal Kilns and Cemetery where there were thriving settlements just a few decades ago. You’ll learn about the people who lived there, and why they left. No matter what tour you choose, a guide who is an expert at telling stories and spotting wildlife and makes the adventure come alive.

Family Camp Activities

While touring makes travel intentional and educational, activities make it fun.


Archery and other shooting sports


Archery is another summer camp mainstay and at Vermejo, you sharpen your skills while wandering through a course on a forested hillside shooting at 3D targets shaped like elk, pronghorn, and other creatures, uphill, downhill and around trees and bushes to make it more challenging.


Insider Tip: Ask about our new Archery Tag and we’ll get a game together for you.


Of course, as long as the parents come along, kids over 8 years old can learn about shooting safety and try their hand at our shotgun and rifle ranges. Shooting enthusiasts might want to schedule a day for our Vermejo Master Marksman Challenge, where you shoot all of our ranges in one day and earn a prize.


Hiking, Mountain Biking, and Disc Golf


There is so much hiking to do on Vermejo that it needs its own story. There are trails that are great for the whole family, even the little ones who might ride on your back, or more challenging routes where teens and grown-ups might get a little competitive or just enjoy the view and peaceful rejuvenation in nature.   Our High-Country Mountain Bike Ride is one of Vermejo’s Top 5 Must-Do Activities, and a beautiful way to spend a day with older kids.

Families with younger kids might like to borrow right-sized bikes for the whole family and just ride around the Headquarters roads and paths.


Lawn Games, Movies Under the Stars, and Campfire S’mores and Sing-a-longs

At the end of a busy day, you may want to wind down with a cocktail while the kids play games on the huge green lawn before you gather around the table to share stories and of course a gourmet meal made from fresh locally sourced ingredients.  Then, if everyone’s not too tired, it might be time to spread out on the lawn to watch a movie on our big screen with popcorn and treats, or sit around the campfire singing songs, telling stories and of course, roasting marshmallows for s’ mores.

After a family camp experience at Vermejo, you may never want to go anywhere else for summer camp again.