My times at summer camp parts of five summers in Alabama in the '80s were some of the most fun and formative I ever had.
I learned to shoot guns and arrows, ride horses, water ski and rappel. I tried in-the-field wilderness study. I also, sometimes less enthusiastically, slow-danced with girls, kept my bunk spotlessly clean, and held my own against a dozen other hyper-spaz children. Some were mutant hormone-endowed bullies who pioneered games like Tickle the Fat Kid 'Til He Can't Breathe and Super-Wedgie the Jerk Who Cost us Points on our Cabin Inspection for Not Making a Tight Bed.
Not just good times ... great times.
Speaking from experience, I think it's important to toss your kids into any Lord of the Flies-like environment. They'll be richer for it. Really, by sampling a wide assortment of what's out there, from arts and crafts to games and sports, they can hone in on hobbies to pursue later.
It's no 'Bama ... but Colorado offers a wealth of natural beauty that makes a terrific playground for summer campers. Below, we've compiled a listing of all the camps we know of in this region. (Minus sports camps there are a ton of those, and you can find a good list of them at thesportscorp.org.) If you know of a camp we missed, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wish you a wonderful summer. And, if I may impart one nugget of wisdom: When it's more than 2-on-1, you don't stand a chance. Run.
AAVE Teen Adventures
AAVE runs multiple adventure camps throughout the country, including in Colorado, as well as in Latin America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. Campers must be ages 12-18. Scholarships are available.
Academy of Children's Theatre
Multiple camps available for ages 6-18, where kids learn theatrical skills, including character development, movement, voice and improvisation.
Anderson Western Colorado
Gypsum (38 miles west of Vail)
Offering outdoor adventure camps for ages 7-17. Participate in whitewater rafting, horseback riding, wall climbing and more.
Arts Alive Camps
Arts Alive at the Fountain Arts Center offers sessions for ages 3-14. Programs include dance, drama and craft sessions. Performance opportunities also are available.
Artsports Gym Camp and
Artsports offers day and half-day camps for ages 4-12. Activities include trampoline and tumbling. Discounts are available.
Bear Creek Nature Center Camps
The Bear Creek Nature Center offers day camps for grades 1-5. Each camp fee covers naturalist-led hikes, puppet shows, storytelling, crafts, guest speakers, a T-shirt and camp photo, as well as much more.
Bemis Day Camp at La Foret
La Foret and Bemis School of Art offers a camp for ages 6-11. Campers will spend two hours on art and two hours on acting daily, as well as nature hikes and swimming.
Blue Mountain Ranch
Blue Mountain Ranch is a camp for boys and girls ages 7-16. Activities include horseback riding, hiking, fishing, crafts, drama, tennis, riflery and more.
Brazilian Capoeira Studio
Kids 4 and up can learn this Brazilian art form that combines martial arts with fluid dance movements.
Near Georgetown (32 miles west of Denver)
Licensed social workers run this weekend, overnight camp for children ages 6-12 who are grieving the death of a family member or friend. Activities include swimming, boating and fishing. Some scholarships are available.
A Christian Bible camp for students going into grades 3-12. Offering a mixture of activities, including swimming, archery, hiking, nature studies and handcrafts, with spiritual instruction.
Camp Invention Science Day Camp
The Camp Invention program is a weeklong day camp for children entering grades 1-6. Children will participate in five inventive modules each day, including exploring Mars, renovating a museum's sculpture garden, and rebuilding and cleaning up a polluted city.
Camp M! at Mizel Museum
The Mizel Museum offers various programs for all children ages 4-12, from Israel Explorers Pre-School Camp to the Bill Hanzlik/Denver Nuggets Basketball Camp. Campers can learn about art, geography, the Wild West and the world's cultures. Financial aid is available.
Camp Timberline Sports and
Tahosa Valley (10 miles south of Estes Park)
Camp Timberline is a Christian camp, with sessions for boys and girls ages 7-18. Sports and activities include basketball, dance, football, lacrosse and water skiing, as well as hiking, ziplining and rock climbing.
The Catamount Institute offers camps such as The Bug's Life Preschool Adventure Camp for ages 3-5, Creek Connection Water Ecology Camp for grades 6-8, Wild About Wilderness Camp for ages 4-6, and Peak Mountain Dyslexia Camp for students ages 11-17 with dyslexia.
Challenger Learning Center
A space-oriented learning environment where kids learn about space and rocketry and fly simulated space missions. Seven programs available for grades 1-12.
Cheley Colorado Camps
Cheley offers overnight camping sessions for girls and boys ages 9-17. Activities include hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, outcamping, rock climbing, mountain biking, crafts, sports and whitewater rafting.
Chess Camp of Colorado Springs
Offering beginning, intermediate and advanced instruction and mini tournaments for ages 6-18.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
633-9925 ext. 127, cmzoo.org
The zoo runs camps for ages 5-15. Learn about animals and nature through arts, games, hands-on activities and interaction with the zoo animals.
Child Nursery Centers
632-1754 ext. 10, cscnc.org
Offering summer programs for ages 6-14. Activities include storybook journey, field trips and more.
Colorado Lions Camp
The Colorado Lions Camp offers 10 one-week sessions for campers who are blind, deaf and/or developmentally disabled, ages 8 and up. Activities include astronomy, swimming, fishing, horseback riding, camping and hiking. Sponsorships are available through the Lions Club of Colorado.
The conservatory is holding musicianship and performance classes for children ages 14-19 in collaboration with the Central City Opera Festival. Studies include drama, musical theater and opera.
Colorado Springs Parks &
385-6005 (day camps), 385-6001 (sports camps), springsgov.com
The city's Parks & Recreation Department offers a variety of summer camps for ages 3-15 that feature many different sports and activities.
The Colorado Springs School
CSS offers summer camps for ages 4-18. Activities include athletics, college test prep, language classes, music camps, culinary arts and an acting intensive.
Colorado Youth Program
Mountain Summer Camp
Held in the mountains of western Boulder County, Colorado Youth Program's 10-day coed camps are for boys and girls ages 11-17. Enjoy whitewater rafting, banding birds, fishing, volunteering to help the environment and more. Scholarships are available.
Colvig Silver Camps
Colvig offers residential programs for grades 2-11. Activities include wilderness hikes, rock climbing and alpine backpacking to develop leadership skills, responsibility and teamwork. Some scholarships are available.
Lauren Stuart, Ph.D., offers cooking day camps for children ages 10-14. Topics include meal planning, nutrition and preparing well-balanced meals.
Coronado High School Camps
Offering soccer, basketball, volleyball, football, softball and wrestling for ages 7-17.
This young child's cultural center, located less than a mile from downtown, offers arts, science and nature studies, dance and movement, tumbling, puppet making and storytelling for ages 2-10.
Crow Canyon Archaeological Center
Campers in grades 6-12 will get a hands-on introduction to archaeology from a team of professional scientists.
Deer Hill Expeditions
Colorado and other locations
Deer Hill Expeditions organizes wilderness and service programs in the southwest United States, Colorado and Costa Rica, for teens in grades 7-12. Programs cover wilderness skills, backpacking, camping, rafting, kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing and mountain biking. Partial scholarships are available.
Eagle Lake Camps
This Christian Bible camp runs a variety of summer programs for ages 8-18, focused on Christ-centered love and commitment, through counselor relationships and outdoor experiences.
Earth Mountain Education Farm
Weston (25 miles west of Trinidad)
Offering three- to five-day camps for ages 9 and up on a working, sustainable, off-grid farm. Promoting self-empowerment, social consciousness and stewardship.
East United Methodist Church
The "Love Club" is a preschool program for toddlers ages 2-5 that offers a semi-structured Christian program that focuses on forming relationships with other children.
Easter Seals Colorado
Rocky Mountain Village
Empire (40 miles west of Denver)
This residential camp serves people ages 6 and up who live with physical and developmental disabilities. Camp activities include horseback riding, swimming, arts and crafts, music and riding the zipline. Scholarships are available.
Explorers Club Sunshine
For ages 6-12, Explorers Club offers activities such as swimming, field trips and educational activities.
Falcon Sports Camps
Held at the Air Force Academy, Falcon Sports Camps welcome athletes ages 8-18 in training for wrestling, basketball, lacrosse and football, among other activities. Boys and girls can commute to the academy or stay on the grounds if they are 12 or older.
First Presbyterian Church:
First Presbyterian Church hosts many camps for grades K-8. Programs include a music and drama camp, sports camp and art camp. Overnight out-of-town camps for grades 3-8 also are offered. Scholarships available.
Fountain Creek Nature Camp
Fountain Creek Nature Camp and Fox Run Park offer day camps for grades 1-5. Enrollment at each camp includes all materials, snacks, a T-shirt or hat and camp photo, daily hikes, hands-on activities, crafts, songs, games and more. Scholarships are available and military and other discounts are also available.
FunQuest Summer Day Camp
at Colorado College
FunQuest is a day camp for children ages 6-12. Campers enjoy active games and sports, arts activities, field trips and more. Colorado College makes available its pool, ice rink and dining hall, among other facilities.
Gifted and Talented Program
at Colorado College
Children in grades 1-6 participate in courses and activities that challenge their intellectual and creative talents. 2008 registration is closed; 2009 registration begins in mid-January.
Girl Scouts Wagon Wheel Council
Offering day and residential camps for ages 5-17, including a Harry Potter camp. Activities include art, sports, theater, science, camping and more. Scholarships are available.
Girls' Wilderness Program
Wilderness-based courses for girls ages 12-18. Activities include rock climbing, backpacking, outdoor skills and expressive arts in a program designed to build leadership skills, confidence and friendships. Four 12-day courses available.
Glen Eyrie Eagles Nest Day Camp
The Eagles Nest Day Camp is a Christian camp for ages 7-12. Activities include ziplining, canoeing, crafts and field trips.
Golden Bell Camp and Conference Center
Owned by the Colorado District Church of the Nazarene, Golden Bell Camp offers programs for boys and girls grades 1-12. Campers can choose from a wide variety of sports camps, arts camps and outdoor camps. Scholarships are available.
Graner offers piano labs, beginners' rock band classes, jazz and improv classes. Ages will vary based on ability.
Great Starts Sports Camps
Great Starts offers a variety of sports camps for children ages 4-15. Sports include basketball, cheerleading, tennis, strength training and more.
Handprints Early Learning Centers, Inc.
This Christian day camp offers advanced education programs, Bible studies and elementary preparatory activities for children between 2 and 11 years old. Multiple locations around town, with varying age limitations.
Hillsprings Learning Center
Hillsprings Learning Center offers remedial reading, written language, study skills and math classes for grades K-8 during a five-week program.
Hope Montessori Academy
Colorado Springs, 388-8818 and 573-5300
Monument, 488-8723, montessorichild.com
Offering year-round programs with summer camp activities for ages 12 and under in Colorado Springs and 14 and under in Monument. Summer camps include field trips, sports clinics and daily activities with arts and crafts.
Horizon Adventures is a camp for ages 12-18, focusing on personal growth through an outdoor-based education. The camps provide technical know-how and training in climbing, rafting, rock climbing, hiking, biking, backpacking and general wilderness safety. Financial aid is available.
iD Tech Camps at Colorado College
888/709-TECH (8324), internaldrive.com
iD Tech Camp provides various summer technology camps for beginners to advanced learners, ages 7-17. Campers create video games, design Web sites, produce digital movies, build robots, learn programming and more. Limited tuition assistance available.
Imagination Celebration Summer Camps
Imagination Celebration offers summer day camps for grades 1-8, featuring a different theme each session. Activities include art, drama, photography and science.
Joseph's Montessori & Pre-School
Offering weekly field trips, library reading programs, computers, foreign languages and arts and crafts for ages 2-11.
Junior Academy Children's Centers
Offering day camps for ages 5-15. Activities include taekwondo, swimming lessons, ice skating, bowling, mini-golf, day trips to places like Santa's Workshop, and educational enrichment activities.
KinderCare Learning Centers
KinderCare offers six programs for children through age 12, with a theme this year of "Gold Medal Adventure."
Manitou Art Theater
Participate in an original outdoor performance of Shakespeare. Instruction includes scenes, monologues, games and exercises. Open to grades 6-8.
Manitou Springs Aquatics
Learn to swim or perfect your stroke at the Manitou Pool. Both private and public summer swimming lessons will be offered for ages 3 and up.
Manitou Springs Arts Academy
This integrated arts camp provides programs for students entering grades K-6. Sessions include dance, drama, music and visual arts. Scholarships are available.
Operation Purple Camp
Offering a free, one-week camp open to children of deployed, uniformed service members, ages 7-16. Schedule to come in late March.
Outdoor Adventure Camp
Adventure-based camps designed for youth and teens. Activities include rock climbing, rappelling, rafting, peak ascents, mountain biking, horseback riding, ropes course and more.
512/731-7596, 719/748-3080, owa.com
For ages 9-18, offering activities such as rock climbing, mountain biking, fly fishing and backpacking expeditions.
Outward Bound Wilderness
Golden and nationwide
Outward Bound Wilderness, part of the international Outward Bound nonprofit organization, offers more than 500 adventure-based wilderness courses in the United States for ages 12 and up. Sessions range in length from four days to three months, and include rock climbing, sea kayaking, backpacking, mountaineering, sailing and canoeing. Scholarship information is available on the Web site.
Parks and Recreation
These centers offer programs and day camps for various age ranges.
Reduced fees are available at most locations.
Deerfield Hills Community Center, 385-5996
Hillside Community Center, 385-7900
Meadows Park Community Center, 385-7940
Sand Creek Family Center, 579-4946
West Center for Intergenerational Learning, 385-7920
Sponsored by the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission, Peace Camp is for ages 6-12. Goals include teaching children to use nonviolent solutions, community building, environmental awareness and multiculturalism through arts, activities and games. There is also a counselor-in-training program for ages 13 and 14.
Pikes Peak Library District
531-6333 ext. 1403 or 2403, ppld.org
PPLD offers various programs for infants to 18-year-olds. Activities include summer reading, games, plays and more.
For incoming college freshmen, Quantum U focuses on achieving success in college via activities like personal development workshops and outdoors adventures.
Renaissance offers naturalist field-school programs for ages 5-13. Learn about everything from art in the wild and critter camouflage to endangered species and more.
The ROCK Climbing Center
The ROCK promotes fitness and fun with indoor and outdoor rock climbing and adventure camps for ages 6-16.
Rocky Mountain Dinosaur
Learn about rocks and minerals, dinosaurs and mammals at the Dinosaur Resource Center. Activities include tours, labs and films. All ages welcome.
Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp
This Mennonite overnight camp is open to those in grades 3-12. Family camps also are available. Activities include nature study, arts and crafts, hiking and volleyball, to be enjoyed while encouraging holistic Christian growth. Scholarships are available.
Sanborn Western Camps
Since 1948, Sanborn Western Camps has emphasized personal growth and adventure in the high peaks of Colorado. Dates run from June through August, in 15-day camps for children in grades 1-4, or month-long camps for those in grades 3-10.
School District 11 Summer School
D-11 offers K-8 literacy classes and credit-recovery courses for high school students.
Sky High Hope
Bellvue (8 miles northwest of Fort Collins)
Sky High is a free camp for kids with cancer, ages 8-18, and their siblings, if space is available. Activities include canoeing, fishing, rock climbing and more.
Sky Ranch at Ute Trail
Powderhorn (90 miles west of Salida)
This Christian family adventure camp runs backpacking and kayaking trips.
St. Luke's Children's Center
St. Luke's features themed activities for ages 5-10, including sports, vacation Bible school, magic and ocean education.
The Sunshine House Summer Camp
For infants through age 12, this is a summer day camp that includes field trips, arts and crafts, and more.
Held at Colorado College, SuperCamp is a coed, residential, academic summer camp for grades 6-12. Campers will acquire test-taking, multi-tasking and organizational skills, as well as life skills like communication, creative thinking and goal-setting.
Team Spirit Cheerleading
Team Spirit offers cheerleading classes for ages 3-19. Sessions will include pom dance, baton and tumbling. Students will perform in local parades and at Security Service Field. A competition team is available. Financial aid is available.
Village Seven Presbyterian
Village Seven offers day camps for children grades 1-8. Programs include soccer camp and basketball camp. A summer storytime for ages 3-8 (with parent) also is available.
Whiz Bang Program at
Featuring hands-on activities in science, Whiz Bang gives students in grades 1-6 the opportunity to develop skills in a variety of scientific investigations.
Youth Zone at the Pikes Peak
This program connects youth in El Paso and Teller counties, ages 14-21, with local employers for summer jobs and volunteer opportunities.
YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region
Summer Day Camps
The YMCA offers weeklong sessions featuring various themes for ages preschool to 15. Call each location for more information. Financial aid is available.
Briargate YMCA Day Camps, 4025 Family Place
Downtown YMCA Day Camps, 207 N. Nevada Ave.
Fountain Valley YMCA Day Camps, Lorraine Community Center, 301 E. Iowa Ave., Fountain
Garden Ranch YMCA Day Camps, 2380 Montebello Drive West
Southeast YMCA Day Camps, 2190 Jet Wing Drive
Tri-Lakes YMCA Day Camps, 1832 Woodmoor Drive, #201, Monument
YMCA: Camp Jackson
Camp Jackson focuses on building strong relationships through outdoor leadership skills. Some activities offered are shooting sports, horsemanship, canoeing, rock climbing and creative arts. Base Camp is for ages 7-12 and Extreme & Leadership Camps for ages 12-17.
YMCA: Camp Shady Brook
Camp Shady Brook provides overnight coed camps for ages 6-17. Enjoy activities such as horseback riding, art camp, climbing, archery and swimming. Scholarships are available.
YMCA of the Rockies:
Camp Chief Ouray
Granby (northwest of Denver)
970/887-2152 ext. 4172, ymcarockies.org
Camp Chief Ouray offers traditional camping experiences for ages 7-18. Activities include sports, crafts, swimming, campout, riflery and canoeing. Older campers can choose to go on mountain bike trips or all-day hikes in the mountains.