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Congressional Camp


Congressional Camp is everything Washington’s fast-paced, inside-the-Beltway culture is not: bucolic, relaxed and enduring. Thousands of children between the ages of 3 and 14 have run, swum, ridden horseback, karate-kicked, rope-swung and shot arrows through its 40 acres in Falls Church, near Lake Barcroft, over its 72 summers of operation. That included 1,950 campers last summer, according to camp director Dan O’Neil.

“It reminds me of old-style day camps out in the woods,” says Dominion Hills resident Alison Landsberg, whose son and daughter have attended three years of “Congo Camp” (the nickname used by campers, parents and staff). “It’s this pastoral environment right there in the suburbs.”

Day camps include traditional activities like games, crafts and swimming, while specialty camps explore topics such as scrapbooking, chemistry and five different kinds of LEGO camps, as well as mobile apps design and digital art. Prices vary from $375 per week for day camp to $1,600 for a week of travel to the Grand Canyon. Other travel camps have included day trips to water parks, museums and theaters; and overnights to New York City and Deep Creek, Md.

The only drawback? Registration can be brutal for the uninitiated. Year-round students and returning campers get a priority sign-up, after which open registration begins online at 8 p.m. on Jan. 24. “Last year, at 8 p.m., we had 800 people in the system waiting to sign up,” O’Neil says. Mark your calendars.

3229 Sleepy Hollow Road, Falls Church, 703-533-0931, www.congocamp.org