Kids today are growing up in a pretty wacky world: electronic thingummies stuck in their ears, frankenfood in their lunch boxes, Rick Santorum hanging vulture-like over their puberty. All of which are good reasons to treat your child to a summer of innocent delights after school's out.
And what's cool is that you may not have to decimate the family budget to do it. (After all, one of my most powerful summertime memories is blowing grape soda out of my nose — a very low-cost pursuit.) A number of places listed in this guide offer scholarship/sliding scale/discount offerings, if you just remember to ask.
What you'll find here is a panoply of possibilities for rockers, chefs, princesses, magicians, farmers and all the blessed science nerds, of virtually all ages. And while we tried to salt the thing with the widest possible array of options, we know there are some we missed, and others (read: most religious and sports camps) for which we just didn't have space. If you know of a fine kidfest we didn't include, please e-mail email@example.com or post a comment on the online version of this story.
But wait! Before we cannonball in, we'd like to offer a small gift for the "left behind," the parents who go on working while the darling fruit of their loins indulges in water-balloon fights and s'mores. It's a reprise of last year's gift ... because we love it ... because nothing will ever top it ... and because you should listen to it once a year as summer approaches: "The Lanyard" by Billy Collins (tinyurl.com/56sopv).
And now, let the games begin ...
Academy District 20
Colorado Springs, 234-1374, asd20.org/sse
D-20's summer programs are designed for students in grades pre-K through 12. Beyond intervention and credit-recovery classes, there will be themed adventures, summer band, computer programming and outdoor education at School in the Woods. Detailed program descriptions will be available the week of April 2; register online starting April 12.
Academy of Children's Theatre (ACT)
Colorado Springs, 282-9101, aoct.net
Students from 4 to 19 can explore the elements of theatre through fun teaching, creative improvisations, and preparing and performing a production. Camp options include acting, musical theatre, stage makeup and stage combat, and advanced scene study.
All Star Adventures Skateboard Camps
Colorado Springs and elsewhere, 866/758-2267, allstartrips.com/skate.html
Certified instructors lead small groups in warm-ups and safety demos, followed by new skateboard skills and tricks. Those 4 and older can sign up for day camp at the Memorial Park Skateboard Park, and skateboarders 11 to 17 can head out for overnight camps in Denver and mountain locales.
Alleycat offers creative and educational day camps, classes and shows for ages 8 to 16. This summer's choices include "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "Seussical the Musical" workshop, "Grease" workshop, and Playwright, Direct, Produce.
Apprentice Chef, Intro to Cooking
Colorado Springs, 635-0200, bestcaterer.net
The folks at Picnic Basket Catering have cooked up this June 4-6 evening class for ages 14 to 17. Apprentices will cover knife skills, basic cooking techniques, bread-making and desserts.
Art & Acting in the Forest
Black Forest, 475-2444, csfineartscenter.org/education.asp
Instructors from Bemis School of Art and the FAC Theatre Company will work with children ages 6 to 11 at this day camp in the wild forest surrounding La Foret Conference and Retreat Center. Campers will experiment with artistic styles and techniques, exploring composition and design, and develop acting skills through theatre games, improvisation and mime.
Blue Mountain Ranch Youth Camp
Florissant, 719/748-3279, bluemountainranch.com
Since 1946 this residential camp for ages 7 to 16 has offered up the best of summer, with horseback riding, trout fishing, nature study, campouts, swimming, hiking, canoeing, ropes course, drama, arts and crafts and more.
Bold Earth Teen Adventures
Colorado and worldwide, 303/526-0806, boldearth.com
Bold Earth runs kayaking and climbing adventure camps in Colorado, and offers a broad range of programs in Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Campers must be 11 to 18. Scholarships are available.
Cal-Wood Education Center
Jamestown (northwest of Boulder), 303/449-0603, calwood.org
In their 30th year, Cal-Wood offers residential camps for ages 9 to 18, including Leadership Camp, Wildlands Skills Camp and Adventure in the Mountains, which teaches participants to fish using fly and reel, identify tracks and shoot a bow and arrow. Programs for various age groups: primitive skills, low and high ropes, shooting sports, forest ecology and leadership training.
Near Georgetown (30 miles west of Denver), 303/674-6400, mtevans.org/camp-comfort
Camp Comfort is a bereavement camp that offers a way for children ages 6 to 12 to explore feelings of grief and share memories of loved ones through activities led by licensed social workers. Of course, the camp also offers swimming, horseback riding, fishing, and arts and crafts. Scholarships are available.
Woodland Park, 687-2030, campelim.com
This Christian Bible camp for kids entering grades 3 to 12 offers a mixture of activities, including swimming, archery, hiking, nature studies and handcrafts, along with spiritual instruction.
Camp Invention Science Day Camp
Colorado Springs, 800/968-4332, campinvention.org
Led by local educators, the June 4-8 camp will immerse elementary schoolchildren in hands-on learning disguised as fun summer activities. Children will navigate an island in hand-crafted upcycled ships, become inventors, and explore connections between science, technology, engineering and innovation. Discounts are available.
Camp Jam Power Chord Academy
Boulder, 800/513-0930, powerchordacademy.com
Vocalists, guitarists, bassists, drummers and keyboardists will work on everything from playing techniques to stage presence to music videos at Camp Jam, where the motto is "No Canoes, Lots of Rock." This overnight camp for musicians from 11 to 17 runs from July 22 to 28 at CU-Boulder.
Camp Timberline Sports and Mountain Adventure
At the base of Longs Peak (south of Estes Park), 970/484-8462, camptimberline.com
Camp Timberline is a Christian camp, with sessions for boys and girls ages 7 to 18. Sports and other activities include basketball, football, lacrosse, golf, volleyball, soccer, arts and crafts, and dance, as well as hiking and mountain adventure.
Camp Whiskers & Wags
Colorado Springs, 302-8739, hsppr.org
This is the second summer for day camp fun at the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region. From June through early August, kids entering grades 1 to 6 can enjoy week-long themed camps that foster respect for animals, encourage compassionate and responsible actions, cultivate knowledge and offer hands-on experiences with all kinds of critters.
Colorado Springs, 471-0910 ext. 104, catamountinstitute.org
Week-long science-and-nature camps for ages 6 to 16 focus on hiking, camping, rock climbing, water ecology, wilderness survival, teambuilding, leadership and green careers. Camps include Creepy Crawly Safari (ages 6 to 8), Outdoor Explorers (9 to 11), Adventure Camp (11-13), and two camps for ages 13 to 16: Extreme Adventure Camp and Backpack Beyond.
Challenger Learning Center of Colorado
Colorado Springs, 598-9755, clccs.org
The center offers a space-oriented educational environment where kids learn about rocketry and fly simulated space missions. This summer there are 10 programs for young people entering grades 1 to 12, including Robonauts, Toys in Space, Moonbase Crisis and Lego Robotics 1 and 2.
Cheley Colorado Camps
Estes Park, 303/377-3616 through May 15, then 970/586-4244, cheley.com
Since 1921, Cheley has offered four-week overnight camping sessions for ages 9 to 17. Activities include hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, campouts, rock and tech climbing, mountain biking, crafts, sports and whitewater rafting.
Chess Camp of Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs, 634-1144, rockymountainchess.com
Offering beginning, intermediate and advanced instruction and mini tournaments for ages 6 to 18. Campers can sign up for one or both sessions, June 18-22 and June 25-29.
Cheyenne Cañon Summer Camp
Colorado Springs, 385-6086, cheyennecanon.org
This July 16-20 day camp at Starsmore Discovery Center is titled "H2O, Go! Discover the Power of Water." Kids 8 to 12 will go wild and get wet as they learn how water influences every aspect of life in the Cañon. Campers will also perform water experiments, play games and create crafts.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Colorado Springs, 633-9925 ext. 127, tinyurl.com/cmzoo-2012
The zoo has a truly splendid lineup of summer camp opportunities for young people ages 4 to 14, from half-day to two weeks. Our favorite is the Noctural Night Club for kids 7 to 11: Campers will stay in the zoo two nights in a row, learning about nocturnal animalsand identifying constellations. Other camps include Animals Got Talent, Junior Zookeeper, Expedition Ecosystem and What's for Dinner?
Colorado Springs, 634-9099, climbcityrock.com
CityROCK offers indoor and outdoor camps for adventurous children ages 3 and up. Indoor Climbing Camp helps kids to learn climbing basics and expand their skills, and Outdoor Climbing Camp for kids ages 10 and older teaches them how to belay, top-rope, rappel and boulder. New this summer is the two-week Play Camp, with all of the activities that define summer camp.
Colorado College Summer Programs
Sign up for any or all of these nine, week-long camps from the CC Children's Center. Kids from 6 (first grade) to 12 will enjoy field trips, swimming, ice skating, reading, movies, games, sports, and arts and crafts.
• Gifted and Talented Program: 389-6146, tinyurl.com/cc-gifted
Children entering grades 1 to 6 participate in three weeks of courses and activities that challenge their intellectual and creative talents. The 2012 application deadline has passed, but call after April 15 to check for late application availability; 2013 registration begins in January.
• Whiz Bang Science: 389-6146, tinyurl.com/cc-whizbang
Featuring hands-on activities in science, the July 9-20 program gives kids entering grades 1 to 6 the chance to develop creative, critical thinking process skills through a variety of guided scientific investigations. This year's theme: "That's Life ... Science!"
Colorado Lions Camp
Woodland Park, 687-2087, coloradolionscamp.org
Colorado Lions Camp offers 10, one-week sessions for campers with all types of disabilities, ages 8 through senior adults. Activities include astronomy, mini-golf, ropes-course work, swimming, fishing, mountain biking, horseback riding, camping and hiking. Wheelchair accessible; sponsorships are available through the Lions Club of Colorado.
Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services
Colorado Springs, 385-5981, tinyurl.com/cs-summer2012
As always, our city offers a huge assortment of summer programs for kids, including swimming, league sports and day camp. Register online at springsgov.com/RecreationServices.
• Challenger British Soccer Camps
Fun-focused British coaches challenge players 3 to 16 to improve their skills with maximum participation and maximum touches on the ball.
• Elevating Youth Experiences, firstname.lastname@example.org, 385-6005
Cheerleading Camp (ages 7 to 13); City Tykes Cheerleading Camp (4 to 6); Brilliant Kids Elite Cheer (13 and younger); Young Stars Day Camp (6 to 13); June Bug 3-On-3 Basketball League (10 and younger); Jump City Basketball (8 to 15); Little Quarterbacks Camp (4 to 6); and First Down Football Camp (8 to 12).
• Skyhawks Summer Sports Camps, skyhawks.com
These camps focus on developing fundamental skills through small group activities in "a fun and positive environment." Camps are for beginners and experienced players and include kids 4 to 12 (varies by sport). Sports include: golf, baseball, volleyball, soccer, lacrosse, Capture the Flag, basketball, flag football, Mini-Hawk (basketball, baseball, soccer) and Multi-Sport (soccer, flag football).
• Young Stars Summer Day Camp, email@example.com, 385-6005
These neighborhood-based day camps for ages 6 to 13 offer sports — baseball, softball, basketball, soccer and field hockey — non-traditional games and field trips in a positive, safe atmosphere.
The Colorado Springs School Summer Camps
Colorado Springs, 475-9747, css.org
CSS offers a broad array of summer camps for kids entering grades K to 12, including Chess Camp, Sewing Camp, Art Camps, Video Game Creation Camp, Sports Camps and day camps with extended care availability.
Cooking Day Camp
Colorado Springs, 964-4443, thenewandseasonedcook.com
Ten week-long sessions for ages 9 to 17 include such themes as: Foods From the Mediterranean, Cake Creations and Small Bites, Yeast Breads, and Foods From China. The last day of each camp features a cooking competition.
Cottonwood Center for the Arts
Colorado Springs, 520-1899, cottonwoodcenterforthearts.com
Plans are in the works for weeklong classes — mornings, afternoons or all day — for ages 8 to 12 and 13 to 19. Activities will include watercolor, acrylics, stained glass, fused glass, jewelry making and clay. Watch the website for schedule updates, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Colorado Springs, 633-9880, counterpointschool.com
For kids ages 2 to 10, summertime at Counterpoint is filled with ice cream socials, swimming, art lessons in the park, science and nature studies, dance and movement, tumbling, field trips and storytelling — plus an end-of-the-season art auction.
Crow Canyon Archaeological Center
Cortez, 800/422-8975 ext. 146, crowcanyon.org/summercamps
Crow Canyon runs one-week camps for middle school and high school students, who work on excavations with archaeologists, study artifacts and participate in lively discussions. A three-week intensive field school is available for high school-age students. Full scholarships are available.
Deer Hill Expeditions
Colorado and other locations, 800/533-7221, deerhillexpeditions.com
Deer Hill organizes wilderness and cross-cultural service programs in the southwest U.S., Colorado and Costa Rica for teens who have completed grades 7 to 12. Programs cover wilderness skills, backpacking, camping, rafting, kayaking, rock climbing and mountain biking. Partial scholarships are available.
Eagle Lake Camps and Day Camps
Colorado Springs, 800/873-2453, eaglelakecamps.com
This Christian summer camp runs a variety of programs for ages 8 to 18, focused on Christ-centered love and commitment through friendships with counselors and outdoor experiences. There are also day camps at Glen Eyrie for kids ages 7 to 12, offering outdoor activities, field trips along the Front Range, sports, arts and crafts, plus Bible lessons and more.
Early Connections Learning Centers
Colorado Springs, 632-1754 ext. 1001, earlyconnections.org
All children up to age 14 are welcome in these literacy-based programs that include fun field trips and great activities. There are multiple locations across the city to help working families with summer childcare, as well as a sliding fee scale.
Earth Mountain Education Farm
Weston (25 miles west of Trinidad), 719/680-0215, earthmountainfarm.org
Offering day camp for kids 3 and older and three-day camps for ages 8 and up on a working, sustainable, off-grid farm. Earth Mountain promotes self-empowerment, social consciousness and stewardship. Children will live in tipi lodges, play environmental education games, test their skills on challenge courses and be part of daily farm activities, from cooking on the wood stove to natural building projects.
Easter Seals Colorado Rocky Mountain Village
Empire (40 miles west of Denver), 303/569-2333ext. 301, tinyurl.com/rmv2012
This fully accessible residential camp serves people ages 6 and up who have physical and developmental disabilities. Camp activities include horseback riding, swimming, arts and crafts, music, drama, sports, fishing and riding the zipline. Scholarships are available.
El Paso County Parks Nature Camps
Bear Creek Nature Center, Colorado Springs, 520-6387; Fountain Creek Nature Center, Fountain, 520-6745; Fox Run Park, Black Forest, 520-6745; elpasocountyparks.com
County Parks offers summer day camps June through early August for kids entering grades 1 to 8, including naturalist-led hikes, discovery time in the woods, hands-on activities, crafts, a T-shirt, camp photo, songs, games and more. There are special "Rites of Passage" activities for sixth-graders. Discounts and scholarships are available.
El Pueblo History Museum Summer Workshops
Pueblo, 719/583-0453 ext. 103, tinyurl.com/el-pueblo-summer
The museum will offer morning camp for ages 8 to 12, but plans for this summer's adventures aren't quite cooked, so call for program dates and activities.
Falcon Sports Camps
Colorado Springs, 333-2116, goairforcefalcons.com
Held at the Air Force Academy, these camps welcome athletes ages 8 to 18 in training for baseball, basketball, cheerleading, football, golf, ice hockey, lacrosse and more. Boys and girls can commute to the Academy or stay on campus if they are 12 or older.
First Presbyterian Church Ascent Camps
Colorado Springs, 884-6126, first-pres.org/camps
First Presbyterian hosts a number of camps for kids entering grades K to 8. Programs include a music and drama camp, a primary day camp for grades K to 2, as well as overnight out-of-town camps for grades 3 to 8. Scholarships available.
Fountain Arts Center Camps and Classes
The center offers programs for ages 3 to adult, including Princess Dance Camp, Miss Manners Camp, Theater Camp and more. For dancers ages 3 to 18 there will be weekly ballet, hip-hop and jazz classes. Private guitar, voice and piano lessons are also available.
Fountain Valley School Summer Programs
Colorado Springs, 390-7035, fvs.edu/summerprograms
This private, college-prep high school offers an assortment of programs for young people 9 to 18 in June and July, including outdoor adventure at the school's Mountain Campus, soccer, tennis, philanthropy and horseback riding.
Girl Scouts of Colorado
Sky High Ranch (Woodland Park), Magic Sky Ranch (west of Fort Collins), Tomahawk Ranch (west of Denver), Lazy Acres (Rye), 877/404-5708, girlscoutsofcolorado.org
For 100 years Girl Scout camp has delivered summer fun and outdoor adventure at an affordable price. There are three- to 12-day residential camps in the mountains for ages 6 to 17, and you don't have to be a Girl Scout to participate. Discounts are available for new campers, and transportation is available to select overnight camp sessions.
Girls' Wilderness Program
Boulder, 303/938-9191, womenswilderness.org
These wilderness-based courses for girls and teens ages 8 to 18 include activities like rock climbing, backpacking, outdoor skills and expressive arts in a "girl-positive" program designed to build leadership skills, confidence and friendships. Four- to 12-day courses are offered as well as a day camp for girls ages 9 to 11. Full and partial scholarships are available.
The Goddard School
Colorado Springs, 495-4432, goddardschool.com
This private preschool near Powers Boulevard and Research Parkway offers summer camps for young children through age 8, featuring storytellers, magicians, musicians, special guests and field trips. School Readiness Camp, for ages 5 to 10, is a curriculum program designed to prepare children for kindergarten and first through third grades.
Golden Bell Camp & Conference Center
Divide, 687-9561, goldenbellccc.org
Golden Bell is a Christian camp and retreat center that offers a variety of overnight, coed camping experiences for kids grade 1 through high school. Camps are three to five days and include climbing, rappelling, hiking, whitewater rafting, swimming, zipline, disc golf, archery, challenge course, high-ropes course, basketball, volleyball, fishing, "funyaks," horseback riding, putt-putt golf and more.
Handprints Early Education Centers
Colorado Springs, 598-4083, hand-prints.org
This Christian day camp offers advanced education programs, Bible studies and elementary preparatory activities for children ages 1 to 12.
HillSprings Learning Center
Colorado Springs, 576-3840, hillsprings.org
This center offers multi-sensory instruction in reading, written language, study skills and math for those in grades 1 to 8 during a five-week program.
Hope Montessori Academy
Colorado Springs, 388-8818 and 573-5300;Monument, 488-8723; Falcon, 886-4900, montessorichild.com
These schools hold year-round programs with summer camp activities for ages 12 and younger. Summer camps include fun and educational field trips, swimming, sports clinics, gymnastics and daily activities with arts and crafts.
Denver, 303/393-7297, horizonadventures.com
Horizon Adventures is a camp for ages 13 to 18, focusing on personal growth through outdoor-based education. The camp provides technical know-how and training in climbing, rafting, rock climbing, hiking, biking, backpacking and general wilderness safety. Financial aid is available.
iD Tech and Gaming Camps
Fort Collins and Denver, 888/709-8324, tinyurl.com/iD-colo-camps
These coed day and residential camps for ages 7 to 18 are for beginners and advanced learners, and are held at CSU and DU. Campers can explore iPhone app development, Flash animation, video editing, programming, web design, robotics and more. The brand-new Gaming Academy, for teens only, provides an intensive experience in video game development. There are also Ultimate Gaming Weekends to keep techies occupied between week-long camps.
Imagination Celebration Camps
Colorado Springs, 387-9015, imaginationcelebration.org
Imagination Celebration offers summer day camps for kids entering grades 1 to 9 featuring a different theme each session. Check the website for details about its creative one-week programs.
JCC Ranch Camp
Black Forest, 303/316-6384 (winter), 303/648-3800 (from the end of May), ranchcamp.org
Residential one- and multi-week camps for kids entering grades 2 through 10 offer the true outdoor ranch experience: horseback riding, mountain biking, camping and backpacking, swimming, archery, arts and crafts, music and nature programming. The camp is a celebration of Jewish values (campers do not have to be Jewish), focusing on the essence of being a good person and taking better care of the world.
Junior Academy Children's Centers
Colorado Springs, 598-2095, jracademykids.com
Day camps for ages 5 to 15 include Zumba, Red Cross swimming lessons, ice skating, bowling and mini-golf, plus day trips to places like the Pioneers Museum, Olympic Training Center and Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. There is a focus on literacy-based enrichment, but also a lot of hands-on fun.
Keystone Science School
Themed residential Discovery Camps for ages 4½ to 13 blend science with adventure in a traditional camp setting. This year's themes include dinosaurs, Colorado ecology, and astronomy. Expedition-based programs for ages 12 to 17 feature camping along wild rivers, learning about fire ecology and alpine weather and more, and there's also a counselor assistant program. Keystone's new Legacy Camp in late August is for children and teens dealing with losses in their immediate family.
KinderCare Learning Centers
Colorado Springs, 888/938-6226, kindercare.com/summercamp
KinderCare offers week-long summer camps for preschool, pre-kindergarten and school-aged children. There is a new theme every week, including sports, art and science. See the website for more information.
Lego Engineering & Mindstorms Robotics
Colorado Springs, 271-2120, youngbotbuilders.com
Week-long morning and afternoon camps for ages 8 to 13 will be located at various venues around town throughout the summer. Kids learn through building, problem solving, teamwork and creativity and experiment with gears, motors, pulleys and levers.
Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Summer Programs
Monument, 785-4224, lewispalmer.org, click on Community
MyPlace, for D-38 kids entering grades 1 to 6, runs 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (or fewer hours, if you like) and includes swimming, field trips, arts and crafts, and weekly themes. Learning Points is open to kids living in or outside the district who are entering grades K to 12 (adults, too). These short camps include drama, music, driver's ed, fine arts, film study, tie dye and more.
The Little Gym
Colorado Springs, 447-9153, tlgcoloradospringsco.com
The gym offers three-hour camps for children ages 3 to 10, including physical activities to build flexibility, strength and balance, as well as special events and arts and crafts.
Manitou Springs Aquatics
Manitou Springs, 685-9735, manitoupool.com
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 older.
Manitou Springs Public Library
Manitou Springs, 685-5206, manitousprings.colibraries.org
The library summer program will encourage children from preschool to fifth grade to build on their reading skills while competing and having fun. This summer's activities will include storytellers and guest speakers; call or check the website for updated information. Programs are free to visitors and Manitou Springs residents alike.
Manitou Springs Public Schools
Manitou Springs, 685-2024, mssd14.org
Growing Children, Growing Gardens is a literacy-based day camp in June for elementary-school kids (you don't have to live in the district to participate). Campers will spend their mornings journaling, working in the garden, poking bugs and making crafts. In June and July, the Manitou Springs Arts Academy will offer interdisciplinary arts programming for elementary- and middle-school-age students (open to all kids in the region) as a cooperative effort with the district. Check the website for more details and activities.
Marmalade at Smokebrush
Colorado Springs, 444-1012, smokebrush.org
Their Saturday afternoon Yoga for Kids program will continue through the summer. Featuring Shylee the Yoga Faerie, these "movement, music and magic" sessions are for kids 3 to 8. There may be more kid-friendly activities on offer, so watch the website.
Rockrimmon, 265-6284; Briargate, 494-2199; mathnasium.com
Brush up on those multiplication tables and unscramble algebra in summer math programs for students in grades pre-K through 12 — and even have fun doing it.
Millibo Art Theatre
Colorado Springs, 465-6321, themat.org
The MAT offers one- and two-week theatre camps for kids 4 through the teens. Themes include If You Give a Moose a Muffin, Outer Space Adventures, Seuss on the Loose, Circus Camp and Shakespeare in the Park. Professionals teach each small group of campers to bring stories and characters to life, fostering imaginative exploration and creative problem solving.
Mizel Museum Creative Journeys Camps
Denver, 303/749-5018, mizelmuseum.org
Affordable multicultural, one-week day camps for grades pre-K to 6 begin in June and are held in the museum's new permanent exhibit, "4,000 Year Road Trip: Gathering Sparks." Teaching artists will focus on visual arts, theater, photography, music, movement, storytelling, puppetry and more.
Mountain Park Environmental Center
Beulah (west of Pueblo), 719/485-4444, hikeandlearn.org
Camps for kids entering grades 3 to 9 include Adventure and Wonders of Nature day camps; Survival Camp; Mountain Adventure Camp; Camp Mission: Wolf; Backpack Camp; Mountain Pathways and Birds & the Bees (both for girls); and Mountain Man Discovery (for boys). Their Counselor-in-Training program is for kids entering grades 9 to 12, and Little Kids Camp is a day camp for children entering grades K to 2.
Nature & Raptor Center of Pueblo
Pueblo, 719/549.2414, natureandraptor.org
They call them "free range children's camps" because they all include plenty of unstructured outdoor time. Week-long day camps for kids age 4 through sixth grade include Knee-high Naturalists, Nature Players, Raptor Camp, and Fort and Shelter Building in the Wild. There is also a Girl Scout camp. Scholarships are available.
Operation Purple Camp
Nationwide, 800/260-0218, militaryfamily.org
The National Military Family Association offers a free, one-week camp for children (ages 7 to 17) of deployed, uniformed service members. The association also offers free, four-day family retreats year-round at national parks for military families whose service member has recently returned from deployment.
Outer Edge Performance
Larkspur and Denver area, 303/458-1909, outeredgeperformance.com
These adventure-based camps are designed for young people ages 6 to 15. Activities include rock climbing, mountain biking and whitewater rafting. A 10-day coed camp for ages 11 to 15 features a high and low ropes course, mountain ascents and Leave No Trace environmental education.
Peace Camp 2012
Sponsored by the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission, Peace Camp immerses kids from 6 to 13 in the basics of peace, justice and sustainability. The July 16-20 day camp lets children choose projects focusing on Peace With Self, Peace With Neighbors, Peace With the Earth, Peace With the World and Becoming Peace Builders. The last evening is an overnight campout. Youths from 14 to 18 can join the Counselors-in-Training team, learning to mentor the younger ones.
Pikes Peak Library District
Colorado Springs, 531-6333 ext. 1403 or 2403, teen programs ext. 1318, ppld.org
There will be programs for babies to 18-year-olds, including the annual reading game for younger readers, magic shows, animal visitors, crafts programs, games and performers. "Own the Night" is this summer's teen theme, and there will be movie nights, a skate night at Skate City, and other nocturnal activities involving zombies, the paranormal, murder mysteries and more.
Pikes Peak Urban Gardens
During two (maybe three) storytelling programs for kids 3 to 7, local children's authors Sally Burr and Gail Ross of EverAfter Stories will read a story, then lead a short nature hike that will make the story come alive. Afterwards, the kids will supplement their lunch with fresh veggies picked right from the garden. Visit the website for more information, and register online after April 30. On Saturday mornings starting in June, take your children down to Harlan Wolfe Ranch, 907 W. Cheyenne Road, where you can wander through the organic vegetable garden, nibbling and tasting as you go.
Pine Creek Theatre Summer Academy
Colorado Springs, 234-8477, pinecreektheatre.org
This is a four-day camp in July teaching all things stage, with courses on improvisation, auditioning, tap dancing, ballet for musical theater, and script analysis. The camp is aimed at students entering grades 6 to 8 and 9 to 12.
Colorado Springs, Briargate, 268-0664; Cottonwood Creek, 260-8181; Springs Ranch, 442-1992, primroseschools.com
These private schools offer week-long themed camps for kids pre-K to 12, including the Great Outdoors, Music and Dance, Underwater Exploration, Sports and Summer Olympics, and Inventions and Robotics.
Pueblo Zoo Summer Camps
Pueblo, 719/561-1452 ext. 100, pueblozoo.org
This summer's four, week-long zoo camps for kids entering grades 1 to 4 have themes ranging from Meet Me at the Zoo to Become a Myth Buster. These day camps feature crafts, games and visits with the animals.
Rocky Mountain Field Institute
Colorado Springs, 471-7736, rmfi.org
Weekend workday adventures in Garden of the Gods, along Fountain Creek and on Pikes Peak are open to those 16 and older, or 13 and older if accompanied by a parent volunteer. Participants will restore damaged and overused land, repair trails, and bring some of the Peak's wetlands back to life. See the website or call for more information on these programs and others that may become available.
Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp
Divide, 687-9506, rmmc.org
This Mennonite overnight camp is open to those entering grades 3 to 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.
Rocky Mountain Outward Bound School
Throughout the summer, Outward Bound offers 7- to 30-day programs for ages 12 to adult. Adventures include mountain and canyon backpacking, mountaineering, canyoneering, whitewater rafting and rock climbing.
Sanborn Western Camps
Florissant, 748-3341, sanbornwesterncamps.com
Since 1948, Sanborn has emphasized personal growth, independence and adventure in the high peaks of Colorado. Dates run from June through August, in 15-day camps for children entering grades 2 to 5, or month-long camps for those entering grades 3 to 10.
Sangre de Cristo Arts Center Summer Camps
Pueblo, 719/295-7200, sangredecristoarts.org
This summer's Once Upon a Time in Art summer camps for those entering grades 1 to 12 are week-long sessions — attend one or all seven, half- or full-day — featuring theater, movement, music, and visual arts, including pottery and photography. There will also be one-day sampler camps during the week of July 4. The themes, integrated with Buell Children's Museum's celebration of the Brothers Grimm, include Lords, Ladies and Dragons; A Week in the Woods; Bugs, Frogs and Slimy Things; and Critter Kingdom. Scholarships are available.
Sky High Hope Camp
Bellvue (eight miles northwest of Fort Collins), 303/861-1754, skyhighhope.org
Sky High is a free camp for kids with cancer, ages 8 to 18, and their siblings (if space is available). Activities at the July 8-14 camp include nature study, arts and crafts, skits and music, canoeing, fishing, rafting, archery, rock climbing and a ropes course.
Sky Ranch Ute Trail
Powderhorn, 970-641-0717, skyranch.org
This Christian camp offers outdoor adventures for families and middle- and high-school groups in the Rocky Mountains. Family activities include horseback riding, kayaking, a high-ropes course, and day and night programs. Backpacking camps for youth groups feature multi-day back-country trips.
St. Luke's Children's Center
Colorado Springs, 598-7821, saintlukes-cs.org
St. Luke's offers summer camp activities for kids from 5 to 12, including sports, vacation Bible school, field trips, library visits and cooking classes.
Stars Gymnastics Summer Day Camp
Colorado Springs, 598-6863, starsngv.com
Stars Gymnastics leads camps for kids ages 5 to 12 featuring tumbling and gymnastics, plus field trips, swimming, games, and arts and crafts projects.
Summer Flute Workshop
Colorado Springs, 246-8306, northspringsflutestudio.com
From June 25-29, Nancy Andrew and Teri Rose will lead "low-pressure," participation-oriented activities at a location to be determined. From 9 a.m. to noon, it's students grades 8-12; from 1:30 to 4:30, adult amateurs. No auditions required.
The Sunshine House Summer Camp
Colorado Springs, 573-6910, sunshinehouse.com
For kids pre-K to 12, this is a summer day camp with weekly themes, including field trips, arts and crafts, and more.
Sunshine Learning Center Explorers Club
Colorado Springs, 598-7852, sunshinelearningcentercs.com
The Explorers Club offers swimming, field trips and educational activities for children kindergarten to 12.
Colorado Springs, 531-5867, trampolineworld.co
Trampoline World offers full-day camps for kids 5 to 12 at all ability levels, including beginners. Campers will be cross-trained for power tumbling and trampoline and thoroughly challenged through esteem-building activities. Also on offer is a coach-in-training program for ages 13 to 15.
University of Colorado Colorado Springs
• UCCS Family Development Center Summer Camp, 255-3483, uccs.edu/fdc
For kids 6 to 11, the Center offers daily field trips to such destinations as Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and Fountain Creek Nature Center, as well as pleasure reading, art, science, cooking and computers. Financial aid is available.
• UCCS Pre-collegiate Development Program,255-3039 or 255-3299, uccs.edu/pcdp/index.html
This program, which includes summer learning, is designed to build study skills and an academic foundation for middle- and high school-students who will be first-generation college students. Participants must meet the program's criteria.
• Center for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education, 255-3595, uccs.edu/~pipes/index.html
Proceeding from the belief that "nerd is the new cool," the STEM center offers three weekly (half- and full-day) camps. STEM by Me, with a new theme each week, is for students entering grades 3 to 5. Jumpstart STEM, for students entering grades 6 to 8 and 9 to 12, will work in the university's labs to solve an Olympic mystery. FLITE campers (same grade levels as Jumpstart) will dig deeper, experimenting with wearable electronics, rockets, microbiology and more.
There will be a wide range of athletic and recreation camps for upper elementary through high school students. Watch the website for program and registration details.
Urban League Youth Program
The NULITES program helps middle school and high school students prepare for college, work and life, and meets every other Tuesday evening from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. While you're there, ask about the Urban League's "I am Empowered" campaign.
Venetucci Farm Summer Programs for Kids
Colorado Springs, 389-1251 ext. 112, ppcf.org/Summer-Programs-For-Kids
Venetucci Farm offers two, week-long day programs for girls and boys entering grades 3 to 7, filled with farm experiences like collecting eggs, feeding chickens, grooming a horse, slopping pigs, exploring wetlands, planting seeds, watering and weeding, and maybe even harvesting tasty garden snacks. Children learn about both the domestic and wild animals that make Venetucci Farm their home.
Village Seven Presbyterian Church Camp
Colorado Springs, 574-6700 ext. 21, v7pc.org
Village Seven offers free Summer StoryTime for ages 3 to 8. There are also soccer (ages 3 to 12) and basketball (ages 6 to 12) day camps, and vacation Bible school.
Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado
Statewide, 303/715-1010, voc.org
VOC projects and programs get kids 8 and older involved in caring for and preserving the state's natural places. Youth opportunities run from the family-friendly variety to Youth Stewardship With a Team (SWAT) projects and the ongoing Cairn Youth Program for high school students. Check the website for this year's projects for kids and adults.
Wizard Camp 2012
Castle Rock, 303/660-6799, amazingshows.com
These Monday-through-Thursday morning camps for ages 7 to 16 foster development of self-confidence, dexterity, stage presence, creativity and self-motivation. Taught by two professional magicians, the program focuses on magic, illusion and mentalism. Each camp ends with an on-stage recital.
Woodward at Copper Summer Camps
Copper Mountain, 866/677-1691, woodwardatcopper.com
Snowboard, skateboard and ski camps (residential and day camps) for kids 8 and up. This is Colorado's only summer on-snow terrain park and includes an indoor training facility with artificial snowflex jumps, jib lines, skate bowls and mini-ramps, foam pits, spring floor, tumble trak, spotting belts, and Olympic fly-bed trampolines. Also on offer: Go-Karts, bungee jump, and much more.
YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region
The YMCA offers day camps featuring various themes for children ages 5 to 12. Visit the website or contact locations for more information. Financial aid is available.
• Briargate YMCA, 4025 Family Place, 282-9622
• Downtown YMCA, 207 N. Nevada Ave., 473-9622
• Garden Ranch YMCA, 2380 Montebello Drive West, 593-9622
• Meridian Ranch Recreation Center, 10301 Angeles Road, Falcon, 495-7119
• Southeast YMCA, 2190 Jet Wing Drive, 622-9622
• Tri-Lakes Family Center, 17250 Jackson Creek Parkway, Monument, 481-8728
YMCA Camp Shady Brook
Deckers, 719/329-7266, campshadybrook.org
Camp Shady Brook provides overnight camps for ages 6 to 17. Campers can enjoy a variety of activities such as horseback riding, art camp, archery and swimming. Scholarships are available.
YMCA of the Rockies: Camp Chief Ouray
Granby, 970/887-2648, campchiefouray.org
Camp Chief Ouray offers traditional camping experiences for young people ages 7 to 17. Activities include horseback riding, canoeing, arts and crafts, swimming, campouts, archery and ropes courses. Teen wilderness adventure programs include outdoor challenges like backpacking, whitewater rafting and mountain biking. Scholarships and flexible payment plans are available.
Pueblo YMCA's Camp Jackson
Rye, 719/543-5151, campjackson.com
Located in the foothills of Greenhorn Mountain, Camp Jackson offers traditional and high-adventure camps for 7- to 17-year-olds. Activities include hiking, horseback riding, rock climbing, shooting sports, canoeing, camping and whitewater rafting. Financial assistance is available.
Spring Break Camps
The number and variety of spring break activities for kids seem to be expanding every year. Adventures for spring 2012 range from snowshoeing to baking yeast bread to panning for gold. They're coming up soon, so register ASAP.
Camp Whiskers & Wags
Colorado Springs, 302-8739, hsppr.org
Each one-day camp, March 27-29, has its own theme: Shelter Pals, Animal Friends and Humane Heroes. There will be games, crafts, and hands-on time with animals large and small for kids in grades 1 to 6. Participants in the March 31 Critter Careers day for 11- and 12-year-olds will explore careers that involve working with animals, tour the shelter, watch a surgery and meet guest speakers.
The Cañon Rocks
North Cheyenne Cañon Park, 385-6086, cheyennecanon.org
This camp, from March 26-30 will focus on the geology of Cheyenne Cañon and Colorado Springs. Campers will hunt for fossils, discover life hidden in layers of the Cañon's walls, make simple tools, pan for gold, hike and enjoy games and lots of hands-on activities. For ages 7 to 12; kids can attend all-day, half-day and individual days.
Catamount Institute Snow & Ice Camp
This is a week of science-based frozen adventure. Learn how animals adapt to cold climates, climb CityRock's indoor "ice" walls, study glaciers and avalanches, master winter emergency survival skills, learn about mountaineering and ice climbing from the pros, and end the session with a snowshoeing trip to Pikes Peak. From March 26-30, for explorers 11 to 14.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Colorado Springs, 633-9925 ext. 127,cmzoo.org/exploreLearn/kidsTeens
This spring's camp, Home Is Where the Habitat Is, features a different theme each day — forest, mountain, savannah, prairie and desert. Campers 6 to 10 can attend the whole week or single days, March 26-30. There will be hands-on lessons with each theme, crafts, up-close-and-personal time with the animals, a snack and a T-shirt.
El Paso County Parks Nature Camps
Fountain Creek Nature Center, Fountain, 520-6745, elpasocountyparks.com
Fountain Creek's spring break day camp runs March 26-30 for kids in grades 1 to 6. There will be hikes and other outdoor adventures, songs, crafts and snacks, and campers will receive a free T-shirt and group photo. Contact Nancy Bernard at 520-6745 or e-mail email@example.com.
El Pueblo History Museum Spring Break
Pueblo, 719/583-0453, tinyurl.com/el-pueblo-spring
During the March 27-30 workshop, children 8 to 12 will explore Earth, Wind, Fire and Water. Campers will discuss geology, handle early rock tools, examine mineral samples, build volcanoes, make paper bird kites and Japanese carp wind socks, do water experiments, and make soap-powered boats and giant bubble wands.
Nature & Raptor Center of Pueblo
Pueblo, 719/549-2414, natureandraptor.org
Get your kids out of the classroom and into the wilds with two hands-on day camps: River Camp on March 29 and Raptor Camp on the 30th. Naturalists in grades 3 to 8 will conduct experiments with Arkansas River water, and learn about birds of prey and help care for sick, injured and orphaned raptors. Attend one day or both.
Picnic Basket Culinary Arts Program
Colorado Springs, 635-0200, bestcaterer.net
Junior chefs ages 8 to 13 in this March 26-28 afternoon class will create an entrée and dessert for four each day, and make Chicken Parmesan, crispy wontons and cheddar mashers. Come for any or all classes; pay a little more and bring a friend; attend all three and get a gift bag on the last day.
Rotary Science Camp 2012
Three days, three great destinations. From March 26 to 28, kids in grades 2 through 5 can expand their minds at the Steelworks Museum (the Science of Steel), Weisbrod Aircraft Museum (the Science of Flight) and the Nature & Raptor Center (the Science of the Arkansas River).
Spring Break Baking Class
Colorado Springs, 964-4443,thenewandseasonedcook.com
Budding bakers from 9 to 17 will learn to make yeast breads during this March 26-30 program. Campers will prepare a basic yeast dough for pizza, flavored breads, focaccia and more, and use what they have learned in a cooking competition at the end of the week.
Spring Break Madness Art Camp
Pueblo, 719/295-7200, sangredecristoarts.org
Sangre de Cristo Arts & Conference Center will offer half- and full-day sessions March 26-30 for campers entering grades 1 to 12. Activities include visual arts, theater, dance, music, cooking, storytelling and more.