On a rainy Sunday in July, the Hikers began arriving at Camp Squanto, a 100-acre sleep-away retreat in southern New Hampshire. Parents drove them.

Made up of children entering grades four through six, the Trailblazers looked forward to summer days spent playing sports, doing arts and crafts projects and jumping off a floating dock into the cold waters of Swanzey Lake.

As many of the campers tried to settle down, the downpour grew more intense. Within hours, flash floods turned the roads around the camp into rivers of mud.

Campers, parents and staff members crowded into the dining hall. Many of them lay on the floor for the night, intermittently checking weather updates as the rain continued into the next day.

The next afternoon, the local Fire Department made an evacuation. Camp Squanto was closed.

“We had a lot of rain and things like that,” Jim Condap, the camp’s executive director, said in a phone interview. “But nothing of this magnitude. Never.”

The deluge that wiped out the session at Camp Squanto, a Christian youth camp that is part of Pilgrim Pines Camp and Retreat Center in Swanzey, NH, occurred during a summer of extreme weather events across the United States, many of which were fueled by climate change.

Flood damage at Camp Squanto in New Hampshire.Credit…Jim Condap

In addition to heavy rains and deadly heat waves, smoke from the nearly 900 wildfires in Canada darkened the sky in much of the country and made the air dangerous to breathe.

Campers continue to swim, play tetherball and sing around the fire as they take steps toward independence this summer, but they’ve also struggled against a fragile natural environment.

Parents who sent their kids for an enriching experience in the great outdoors — perhaps hoping to get some child-free time — received anxious messages from camp directors, with updates on the latest flood, influx of unhealthy air or burst of heat. The wild weather has come at a time when demand for summer camp is up, three years after the start of the pandemic.

It started with the smoke drifting down from Canada that set off air quality alerts in the Midwest and Northeast as camping season got underway.

At Tanglewood Nature Center in Elmira, NY, which runs a day camp for elementary school-aged children, the Air Quality Index hit 183 this month, an unhealthy level. The smoke forced the campers stay indoors, where they built paper mache volcanoes. Wildfire smoke also meant more indoor activities for campers at YMCA Camp Kon-O-Kwee Spencer in Fombell, Pa.

The storm that wreaked havoc on Camp Squanto, which dumped up to eight inches of rain across much of the Northeast, also disrupted Camp Killooleet in Hancock, Vt. Washed-out roads caused the cancellation of a three-day camping trip in the Green Mountains that was planned for 80 campers. Efforts to find an alternate location for an overnight trip were unsuccessful.

“A lot of places were wet,” said Kate Seeger, who runs the nearly century-old camp with her husband, Dean Spencer. “Friends said, ‘You’re welcome to come, but there’s no place to pitch a tent.’

At Windridge Tennis & Sports Campsin Roxbury, Vt., thunderstorms have kept the 110 children away from the red clay patios too often in recent weeks, said Nifer Hoehn, camp co-director.

“This summer has been extremely hot and humid for Vermont,” Ms. Hoehn said. “We had our kids inside more than normal, which we don’t love. When they are outside, because of that humidity, it is uncomfortable.”

Summer camps in the West and Southwest tried to hold steady through bouts of punishing heat. At Heart O’ the Hills, an overnight camp for girls 6 to 16 in Hunt, Texas, warm weather is a longtime concern. Since last month, a heat dome has kept temperatures above 100 degrees in many parts of the state.

“We have a giant cooler – we call it the Monster – where the girls can always access water,” said Cindy Janke, the camp office. “They always take a break between 2 and 4 to get out of the heat. At mealtime, we made them drink two glasses of water instead of one.”

Such precautions are not unknown at the decades-old camp in the Texas Hill Country. But this summer, the counselors are being extra careful.

“We’re higher because of the extreme heat,” Ms. Janke said. “There are more than 100 here. The girls are asked – and the senior staff are constantly checking to make sure – that they have a water bottle wherever they go.”

Camp directors have considerable experience in planning around weather events, said Tom Rosenberg, the president and chief executive of the American Camping Association, accrediting organization for summer camps. “That planning is getting stronger,” he said, “because we’ve been tested in ways we haven’t before.”

And the summer of 2023 taught campers to be resilient and adaptable.

“Part of the camp experience is about learning to take care of yourself,” Mr. Rosenberg said. “Part of that is teaching them how to have fun despite the weather. This generation of kids is growing up knowing that everyone brings a hat, water bottle and sunscreen to camp.”

In Phoenix, the temperature was above 110 degrees for 19 days straight, breaking a record. A two-hour drive away, yay Friendly Pines Campin Prescott, Arizona, the days were slightly cooler – in the upper 90s, topping out at 100.

For the 230 kids in the camp’s current session, those temperatures were a welcome relief, said Sayaka Pierson, Friendly Pines’ business director.

“They’re actually doing great because most of them come from Phoenix,” Ms. Pierson said. “Phoenix is ​​116, 120. They say, ‘This looks great.'”

Heat waves and related natural disasters have also affected campers outside the United States. The BBC reported that on Monday 1,200 children were evacuated from a summer camp in Loutraki, Greece, a seaside town west of Athens, when wildfire flames approached. Two other summer camps in Greece were evacuated due to the fires, which occurred during a period of strong days across southern Europe.

For many children, the weather-related disruptions were a setback. Silas Johnson, 9, was set to attend Camp Squanto this month — the first time he’ll spend a full week there. His mother, Sarah Cowan Johnson, was driving him from Rhode Island to New Hampshire when the storm hit. As they approached the camp, they hit a roadblock and were pushed away by police.

“There was a loud, vocal expression from the back seat,” Ms Cowan Johnson said.

Her son was looking forward to archery, swimming and kayaking, she added. He ended up at home for the week he would have spent at camp.

“He was reading ‘Calvin and Hobbes,'” Ms. Cowan Johnson said. “He did Parkour. He had to think of things to do.”

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