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In a lousy economy, one of the first things cut from the family budget is summer camp. Taken cumulatively, those cuts have forced some Colorado camps to shut down, and left others struggling to keep their canoes afloat.

The Colorado Youth Program, a Boulder-based nonprofit that ran teen adventure camps, posted a letter on its website on Feb. 22, saying, "Times have been tough since the 2008 recession and our operations have been under significant pressure." It went on to announce that CYP, which had offered scholarships and sliding-scale tuition so everybody got to play, had dissolved its organization after 18 summers.

Even Outward Bound's respected U.S. operation has been forced to decentralize, leaving each school responsible for its own fundraising. After pleas for donations, the Rocky Mountain Outward Bound School is offering more than a dozen camps this summer.

But while there's been worry at some of those camps in our annual listings (starting here), we've found exuberance among organizers, especially those at smaller-scale operations. In the Pikes Peak region, we've actually seen an uptick in spring-break camps, and the return of perennial summer favorites, including a truly lush array of offerings from Colorado Springs Parks & Rec.

For a city that spends so much energy bemoaning its cuts and belt-tightening, it's a pretty cool thing to know we can still afford to play.

  • In a lousy economy, one of the first things cut from the family budget is summer camp.

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