About us

About Us

Our sleep-away adventure camps offer kids unparalleled outdoor experiences in some of the most beautiful locations in Thailand.

At our Khao Yai camp, fun-filled days will be spent cycling, rock-climbing, zip-lining, hiking, swimming, canoeing and playing in the sun. Campers ages 7 to 15 will learn how to navigate the wilderness, preserve the environment, work in teams, stretch their personal limits, and take home invaluable new skills. It is just a three-hour drive from Bangkok but the natural setting feels worlds away from the hectic bustle of the city. The camp runs from Monday to Friday offering five days of adventure, and a lifetime of memories.

At our Chiang Mai camp, kids ages 12-16 will go caving, white-water rafting, kayaking and mountain biking as we journey down the Mae Teng river.

Our story

Camp Sun Bear began four summers ago as Thailand Summer Camps. We recently changed names as we plan to offer camps year-round. Why Sun Bear? As an outdoor-education camp, we love local wildlife, and the sun bear is indigenous to the forested hills of Khao Yai. This unusual little animal has a beautiful golden crescent on its chest, and the inset dark circle is said to look like the rising sun, which won the world’s smallest bear its beautiful name. The sun bear does not hibernate and they love to climb, explore, and stay active, just like us.



(The short story)

Camp Sun Bear was founded by Merritt Gurley—an American expat who grew up in Thailand—and her husband Jago Gazendam, who moved from Amsterdam to teach P.E. at NIST International School in Bangkok back in 2008.

(The long story)

Merritt moved to Thailand with her parents in 1989, and lived in Chiang Mai for one year before moving to Bangkok. She attended CMIS, ISB, RIS, and NIST, so she knows all the ins and outs of being an international-school kid living in Thailand. She loved growing up in a big city but missed the outdoors, especially on school breaks.

Merritt spent two magical weeks at a rustic summer camp in Thailand in 1993 but when her sister Kat, who is 10 years younger than her, tried to find the same camp in 2010 they were disappointed to discover that it had shut down. They looked for alternatives but it seemed that every other program was hosted by either a school or a hotel, which just wasn’t what Kat had in mind. She wanted to go to the kind of camp she’d seen in TV shows, where she could explore the wilderness, meet kids from other schools and roast marshmallows by a campfire (yes, even in this heat—that’s how much Kat loves s’mores).

That year, Merritt met Jago, who was a P.E. teacher at NIST at the time. Jago had been on multiple field trips to the Wild Lodge, an eco-education facility run by The Wild Planet, which had been running international school field trips for more than 25 years, but over summer their facilities were usually empty. Merritt and Jago decided to team up with the adventure experts at the Wild Planet, to launch their own summer camp, giving Bangkok kids an escape from city life and a character-building experience of Thailand’s natural beauty.

As it turns out, Bangkok kids are not the only ones looking for summer camp fun; we’ve had kids join from all over the world—America, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia are among the 15 countries that have been represented so far at our camp—and now our fourth year running we are excited to be launching all new programs at new facilities and hope to share this special experience of Thailand’s natural beauty with an even bigger and more diverse group of adventurers.


All programs are supervised by a highly experienced team of Thai and expatriate staff, all of whom are medically trained. Our activities provider, The Wild Planet, was independently assessed in 2018 and is BS 8848 compliant, which means they meet the rigorous standards required by the British Standard for “organising and managing visits, fieldwork, expeditions and adventurous activities outside the UK.” You can read more about it here: http://www.thewildplanet.com/safety/

The Wild Planet staff have been certified by at least one and, in some cases, all of the following first aid training courses: Emergency First Response (EFR) Primary and Secondary Care, React Right Primary and Secondary Care, Wilderness Medical Associates (WMA) Wilderness First Responder.

Comprehensive evacuation plans are in place for all locations and local clinics and hospitals are informed in advance of events in their area. First aid kits are carried on all activities. The Wild Planet Code of Practice is available on request and risk assessments can be provided for all activities, along with copies of local licensing and insurances.