Summer Camps Have Gone to the Dogs

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Camp Gone to the Dogs is scheduled for July and September at The Mountaineer Inn in Stowe, Vermont. The 55-room hotel sits on eight grassy acres. Next to the property, an additional 20 acres (8 hectares) is used for activities. About 100 people attend each camp.

Another larger camp was held in June at Marlboro College in Marlboro, Vermont, with 200 people and 30 trainers.

Camp Gone to the Dogs charges U.S. $850 to $1,300 (depending on which sessions you attend) and includes room, food, and activities. (Website: www.camp-gone-tothe-dogs.com; Telephone: 802-387-5673)

Dog Scouts of America

Dog Scout Camp in St. Helen, Michigan, is not just a camp. It styles itself as a learning adventure.

Like the boy and girl scout organizations, dogs can earn merit badges in a number of activities and take a test to become scouts. A leadership training program shows owners how to start dog scout troops in their local areas.

"We're trying to make people and their dogs more active in their communities," said Lonnie Olson, a veteran dog trainer, "and help them to spread responsible dog ownership by being a good example wherever they go."

Camps are limited to 30 people, and the atmosphere is one of camaraderie, Olson said, not competition.

There are four main activities at Dog Scout Camp: agility classes, backpacking, operant conditioning (a form of behavior training), and water safety. Some of the extra curricular activities include search and rescue, first aid for dogs, as well as lectures on wolf behavior, doggie massage, and canine nutrition. There's even a class on how to teach your dog to paint.

Located on 80 wooded acres (32 hectares), the camp has a pond, fenced agility training area, gift shop, library, dining hall, and main lodge with classrooms. A unique feature is a sand lot, where dogs can dig big holes (and not get into trouble.)

A rustic bunkhouse on the grounds has private and shared rooms. Showers are in the same building as the bedrooms. If you want to sleep under the stars, you can pitch a tent on the property, or there's a nearby motel that accepts dogs.

All three sessions scheduled for Dog Scout Camp this summer are full and there's a waiting list. The registration fee is U.S. $750. Additional family members are U.S. $300. (Website: www.dogscouts.com; Telephone: 989-389-2000)

Camp Winnaribbun

As a dog show handler, Lory Kohlmoos has traveled throughout the country. But no place captured her heart like Lake Tahoe, Nevada.

Wanting to share her love of this mountain community with others, Kohlmoos started Camp Winnaribun (pronounced: win-a-ribbon) in 1995. The secluded 33-acre (13-hectare) lake-front property is fully fenced with a private beach and dock.

"I found that in traveling, dogs are not very welcomed," said Kohlmoos, whose border collies have won national show titles. "You're always apologizing for having them with you. So this is a place where we can rejoice in dogs."

The tranquil environment allows people to take a break from their hectic everyday lives. There are no phones or televisions. Because the property is located next to a 500-acre (202-hectare) golf course, Kohlmoos said campers could walk the Lake's sandy shoreline for miles without seeing a soul.

The focus here is on retreat and leisure but there are still plenty of things to do, including shepherding, lure coursing, tracking, and canoeing. A naturalist leads off-leash nature walks and there are swimming lessons for dogs that hate water. At night, Kohlmoos said, campers sit around a roaring fire, telling tall tales, roasting marshmallows and gazing at the stars.

The accommodations aren't fancy. Log cabins with bunk beds house two to five people and their dogs. The shower facility is centrally located. Guests must bring their own sleeping bags, linens, and towels. For those who desire more privacy, offsite accommodations are available.

Camps for Camp Winnaribbun are scheduled for August and September. The cost is U.S. $950 per person and includes activities, meals, and rooms. Camp size ranges from 30 to 80 people. (Website: www.campw.com; Telephone: 775-348-8412)

Competitive Edge Sports Camp

At Competitive Edge Sports Camp, dogs scale ramps, burst through tunnels, and traverse see-saws. This agility training camp in New York State is for serious canine competitors.

About 40 people of all skill levels attend, says Director Dana Crevling, who started the program four years ago. Classes are kept small (10 students to one instructor) and cover fundamentals, sequencing skills, intricate handling, problem solving, and game strategy.

The camp's philosophy, Crevling said, is to help teams reach their full potential through fun, humane and effective teaching techniques.

"There's nothing like having a whole week to hang out with people that are just as addicted to the sport as you are," said Crevling.

At night, there are wine-tasting socials and lectures on acupuncture and chiropractic care for canine athletes.

Competitive Edge is held at a private boarding school in Cornwall on the Hudson, New York. The 85-acre (34-hectare) campus is nestled in the mountains overlooking the Hudson River. The campus has a dining room with views of the river, modern auditorium, laundry facility, and tennis courts.

Campers stay in dormitories with community bathrooms. Rooms are shared and have bunk beds. One session will be held this year in June. The cost is U.S. $900 to $1,250 and includes classes, activities, lodging, and meals. (Website: www.dogsofcourse.com; Telephone: 508-529-3568)

The Dog's Camp

No couch potatoes are allowed at The Dog's Camp in Weaverville, North Carolina. This place is devoted to canine athletes and their owners.

Started in 1999 by trainer Catherine Mills, the doggie sports camp offers flyball, freestyle, tracking, herding, lure coursing, agility, and obedience. About 65 people of all levels attend, from beginners who want to learn a sport to advanced students looking to polish their skills.

But it's not all work and no play. There are fun things to do, too. An award-winning photographer shares secrets on capturing perfect pictures and a doggy talent scout gives canine acting lessons. Classes on animal massage and communication are also held. At night lectures are given on animal health and behavior.

Puppies are welcome, says Mills, and there are classes designed just for them.

"Puppies at 7 to 8 weeks of age have adult brain waves," she explained. "They are ready to learn and we teach them how to learn the right way." Mills added that positive motivation techniques are used to make learning fun.

Activities are held on a 600-acre (243-hectare) working farm with seemingly endless grassy fields. A renovated tobacco barn on the property serves as a banquet hall for lunches. Owners don't have to rough it at this camp. They stay with their furry friends at a nearby Holiday Inn.

One camp will be held in September. The cost is U.S. $975 (includes breakfast, lunch, and Friday night banquet as well as classes.) Lodging is U.S. $59 per night. (Website: www.thedogscamp.com; Telephone: 828 -649-3691)

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