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Only 2 hours away from the Steel City and featuring all the outdoor activities that kids love, River Mountain is the best summer camp for active Pittsburgh kids.

Pittsburgh has a ton of great adventure opportunities for young people. From biking to hiking to rock climbing, Pittsburgh has great options for kids and parents to get outside and be active.

If your child enjoys a certain outdoor activity in Pittsburgh (or you think he or she would!), I thought it would be fun to match up four “in town activities” with our River Mountain summer camp programs. Hopefully this is a helpful resource for all the Pittsburgh parents out there.

Pittsburgh camp kid mountain biking

Pittsburgh -- Mountain Biking

Pittsburgh has a fantastic network of biking and mountain biking trails. A few of these include Frick Park, The Three Rivers Heritage Trail, and the Steel Valley Trail. 

Bike PGH does an awesome job providing info, resources, and maps. I found this link to particularly helpful - https://www.bikepgh.org/resources/maps-guides-more/map-routes/.

River Mountain -- Mountain Biking

At River Mountain summer camps, we have awesome mountain biking trips for all skill levels! These include trips to two parks near our retreat site.

1. Allegrippis Trails at Raystown Lake

“Designed by mountain bikers and built by the International Mountain Bicycling Association, the Allegrippis Trails at Raystown Lake is a premier single-track mountain biking trail system located in the Eastern United States.”

The trail system includes 36 miles of single track trails for all skill levels from beginners to experts. One of the coolest things about Allegrippis is it also features 2 acre practice area!

2. Shawnee State Park

Shawnee SP has 11 miles of easy and intermediate trails. This is the perfect location for younger riders looking to learn the ropes in a safe and comfortable environment.

pittsburgh camp kids rock climbing

Pittsburgh -- Rock Climbing

Pittsburgh is lucky to have several premier indoor climbing facilities. These include The Climbing Wall and Ascend Climbing.

“The Climbing Wall provides great options for kids and young adults to learn climbing in a safe and supportive atmosphere.”  When you check out their website, make sure you click on ‘Youth’ to see all of their session options for kids.

ASCEND Pittsburgh is a “bouldering-centric, indoor climbing gym with over 10,000 sq. feet of Walltopia-built climbing walls.” They also have plenty of youth options as well.

River Mountain -- Rock Climbing

River Mountain has taken a unique, and you might even say historic approach, to our version of rock climbing. In our Mennonite-constructed barn, originally built 1860, we completely transformed one side of the barn into a state-of-the-art climbing wall. It’s not every day you can say you went rock climbing in a barn!

In addition to our indoor climbing wall, we’re lucky to have several safe and easy boulders near our retreat property that provide a fun and welcoming bouldering experience. This is a great introduction to climbing for young climbers - it’s low to the ground and there’s no need for ropes and other equipment.

pittsburgh camp kid hiking

Pittsburgh -- Hiking

Pittsburgh has tons of beautiful parks and scenic areas which can all count as “hiking trails”, so this one was a little tougher. I thought this article from Visit Pittsburgh does a nice job of breaking down five family friendly trails, including mileage, easy to read maps, and sightseeing info - https://www.visitpittsburgh.com/blog/5-easy-pittsburgh-area-hikes/.

River Mountain -- Hiking

Man o’ man, where to start! Our hiking programming takes our young guests through and across some of the most beautiful ridges and valleys in the entire Appalachian Mountains (yes, I’m totally biased). Whether it’s a day trip on the Mid State Trail (The Keystone Trail Association’s ‘Trail of the Year') to overnight hikes in Buchanan State Forest, our hiking and backpacking options are truly endless. If I had to pick a favorite trail, it would have to be Sweet Root Run on the east side of Tussey Mountain. Waterfalls, cool river crossings, boulder fields to climb through, and a small cave on the way out. It’s a heck of a 4 hour hike that keeps kids engaged from start to finish!

pittsburgh camp kids yoga

Pittsburgh -- Yoga

Yoga keeps young people active and research shows it helps young brains with increased memory and better regulation of emotions. As the popularity of children’s yoga continues to explode, Pittsburgh has plenty of options for families. Several of those options are detailed in this article from Kidsburgh (warning - the article is a few years old, but I checked all the links and everything is in working order!).

River Mountain -- Yoga

Every morning at River Mountain, each cabin group begins the day with a short yoga and meditation session with their guide. It’s good for young bodies to stretch after waking up, and it’s good to block everything out for a few minutes and be completely 110% in the present. On some mornings, we combine this with the Japanese act of “Forest Bathing” (or as they call it 'Shinrin-yoku' or 森林浴). Sounds a little crazy, I know, but really it’s just being super quiet in the woods and listening and identifying the sounds of the forest. Birds, bugs, creaking trees, the wind, whatever sound comes across our path. Quite a contrast to the constant noise of modern life, and kids LOVE it!

I thought I would end this blog with an article from Pittsburgh Parent about the Top 10 Reasons to Send Your Kid to Summer Camp. If you’re on the fence about whether or not to send your child away for a week, maybe this will spur you to make the leap!

As always, if you have any questions about River Mountain and our summer camps, email or call me anytime. Happy to help.

Ryan Tyrrell - 864.363.1087- rtyrrell@rivermountain.org

Field Trips at River Mountain

By Ryan | February 11, 2020

River Mountain’s school programs teach screen time management and digital citizenship to help students flourish in school and at home.

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The Benefits of Camp

By Ryan | February 6, 2020

There’s a lot of great research about the benefits of camp experiences for young people. Over the past 12 months, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several of those researchers, including our own team member Pete Allison from Penn State, and I’m grateful for their work establishing a greater understanding of camps’ impacts on child development.

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By Meghan | February 3, 2020

Every element of River Mountain Retreat is intentionally designed to add to the restorative experience of our guests. One key aspect of this is in the design of our cabins and wellness retreat facilities.

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By Ryan | January 17, 2020

Conveniently near Arlington County, Montgomery County, and Fairfax County families, River Mountain summer camps are ideal for DC parents’ busy schedules.

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A Decade of Technology

By Meghan | December 31, 2019

Looking back on the past decade of technology – rapid developments, rapid adoption and rapid optimization. It all happened so fast.

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Reconnecting Over the Holidays

By Meghan | December 20, 2019

As a parent, the holidays are hectic. Parties, presents, and of course, the kids being off from school. With all of the running the season brings, it’s easy to forget that this is a time of year where we can pause, exhale, and find joy in what surrounds us.

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The Benefits (and Accessibility) of Nature

By Ryan | November 23, 2019

A lot has been written in recent years about the “benefits of nature” — fantastic books like Florence Williams’ The Nature Fix and ground breaking research like the work being done by Utah professor David Strayer.

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Design and Development – A Restorative Relationship with Nature

By Ryan | November 6, 2019

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By Brandon | October 31, 2019

A River Mountain Digital Wellness Retreat is, by design, an escape from the modern, digital world.

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A Bathtub of Stars

By Ryan | October 25, 2019

Our first trip to the River Mountain site was in late January 2019. It was the perfect winter day in the mountains — beautiful blue skies and fresh snow on the ground. I don’t remember our group’s exact, initial reaction as we drove down the gravel driveway, but I do remember…

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