PPCC’s Teen College Summer Camp teaches everything from baking to game design.

Local summer programs make learning an adventure

Summer break may mean time off from school for thankful kiddos across Colorado, but that free time doesn’t have to translate into a complete absence of learning while they’re out. Through unique summer enrichment camps, parents can help their offspring keep their brains moving full speed ahead. We don’t mean traditional summer camps with tents, canoeing, s’mores and archery (although those are awesome).

We’re talking about experiences tailored to a variety of interests beyond the usual focus on living it up in the great outdoors, such as STEM, drama, art and education. Campers get to focus on activities that further their deeper interests and, in some cases, future aspirations. Even better, this journey occurs in a setting that is completely unlike their regular school day, making it far more fun than work.

Have a child who spends every waking minute regaling you with loud renditions of the latest songs they love via impromptu living room karaoke? Or maybe your kid loves telling you wildly animated stories about the latest playground gossip, complete with voices and props. Local theater camps offer these budding thespians an opportunity to channel all that energy into expanded learning on acting, singing, dancing and other fun activities. The camps are usually run by local theaters and actors. Such is the case with local favorite Millibo Art Theatre, which runs a variety of acting camps for all ages from June through August. Parents can find everything from fun, story-focused activities for their littles, to serious Shakespearean drama for their teens.

Remember the days when space camp was a thing? Well, it’s still a thing. Today’s space campers are building robots, coordinating mock space missions and learning how to use a variety of new technologies to prepare themselves to become future star seekers. The Challenger Learning Center even has intricate LEGO kits complete with space missions as part of their Aerospace Adventure Camp that’s offered at three different elementary schools throughout the month of June.

Sheridan Kalletta, the entrepreneurship & workforce marketing coordinator at Pikes Peak Community College, says that the ability to explore new opportunities is important in helping young people figure out their futures. Kalletta oversees the college’s Teen College Summer Camp, which offers adults-in-progress two-dozen engaging sessions covering subjects like coding, video game design, cybersecurity, culinary arts and STEM, all in week-long half- or full-day courses.

The program boasts on its website that it’s a “super early inside track to college,” and with courses like Battle Royale: Make Your First Fortnite-Style Video Game and Next-level Baking, campers will be in for one heck of a good time as they figure out what they want for their future. Kalletta says the program’s variety allows teens to explore their dreams and find out if college is the right direction for their future.

“We think it’s a great fit and a way for teens to gain some knowledge,” she says. “That’s what makes the program unique. Middle school students haven’t yet cemented their goals and this lets them have fun and sample cool careers as they head into their high school years.”

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