10 Extraordinary Adventures

Published on: March 17th, 2011

Actually, it IS Rocket Science…

No need to rocket to Houston or Cape Canaveral to get a far-out space camp experience: We’ve got a great one right here in Colorado. The Space Voyage Summer Academy takes kids from kindergarten through high school on the ride of a lifetime at astronaut camp.

The programs take kids through any number of space-related activities, challenges and games. The youngest Pathfinders get an overview of life in space. Each student becomes part of a shuttle crew to learn about manned space flight, space station construction, living and working in microgravity, mission patch design, space art, space history and economics and new technologies. As Cadets, slightly older kids get to delve more deeply into these kinds of space topics, and decide to specialize in complimentary activities, such as authoring a story or radio drama based on events aboard a space station, exploring computer generated art processes and learning how artistic skills are used to promote space, or learning to think like an inventor.

This stuff goes way beyond learning the names of the space shuttles or looking at photos of the moon. The Space Voyage Pavilion, where camp takes place, is nearly 5,800 square feet, with an environment that looks just like a space center. It includes 20 flight decks, a briefing area, a play hard area, an orbital construction pod grid, an art center, a space library, a camp store, 8 to 12 lab-pack activities each day, a video production set, an inventors’ workshop and a puppet theater. Kids learn to design and build space stations, study space art, launch air, water and mechanical rockets, and so much more. There’s even a space ice cream social. All in all, it’s one small step for kids, one giant leap for kid kind.

Space Voyage Academy, (Program Location) Summit Ridge Middle School
11809 West Coal Mine Ave., Littleton
303.985.3143, spacevoyage.com

Swords and Sorcery

Remember those choose-your-own adventure books we read as kids? Imagine if you could live one—complete with magic, swashbuckling, duels and puzzles to solve. That’s what the kids who go to Adventure Quest camp at Renaissance Adventures get to experience, complete with (foam) sword fighting, treasure maps, mythical adventures and magical bad guys. And all that play is structured as experiential learning, with a healthy dose of self-esteem boosting, team-building and creative problem solving skills served up along the way. In fact, when a camper embarks on one of these quests, he could face any one of many challenges—battling dragons, evil kings and wicked puzzles—which might also be ethical, moral, social, mental or physical, engaging the whole child.

Participants as young as 6 can morph into the heroes and heroines of a dynamic quest that changes every time based on how the campers respond to challenges, puzzles and other situations. Each child creates his or her own fantasy character to play act and then has the opportunity to band together with others to protect a village, find a hidden treasure or negotiate a peace treaty. Quests take place at outdoor sites in and around Boulder, Gunbarrel, Lyons and Longmont. Teens can participate in the Hero’s Academy, which includes more hands-on activities, such as leather crafting, overnight camping, strategic planning, high ropes courses or other adventure trips, and some basic wilderness skills.

Renaissance Adventures
(office) 2450 Central Ave., Suite P1, Boulder
303.786.9216, RenaissanceAdventures.com

Fly Through the Air with the Greatest of Ease

Pack a bag: We’re running away to the circus (without any threat of being forced to follow the elephants with a shovel).
At the Imagination Circus Arts Camp, any kid—regardless of skill level—can learn to be a circus performer and perform in a full circus show. The camps run for one week, during which campers are exposed to all kinds of circus acts. Each kid gets to pick an individual “major” and then prepares a specialized act to be part of the camp-wide finale show. In between, kids work on stage presence, theater and performing technique with group games and exercises.

And this isn’t just clowning around: Kids can choose from a huge array of circus apparatuses to learn to use, including single, double, triple and swinging trapezes; Spanish web, corde lisse and fabric slings; Chinese poles, unicycle, juggling; acro-stunting, mini-tramp, circus vault and a bunch of others we couldn’t even pronounce.

Frequent Flyers is an aerial dance theater company that specializes in the artistic and acrobatic moves you might see at a performance by Cirque du Soleil. Imagine your child twisting and tumbling gracefully through the air with all of the confidence of an experienced acrobat. In fact, if you frequently complain that your bundle of energy is climbing the curtains, he or she may be showing a natural knack for the fabric slings.

In camp settings, kids can experience the thrill of the fabric sling, low-flying trapeze, hoops, ropes and other swinging and flying apparatuses. These skills teach body awareness, spatial awareness, self-confidence and group dynamics, as well as an impressive and physically challenging skill. Older students can specialize with a class in trapeze, stilts and fabric slings.

Imagination Circus Arts, 1518 Clayton Way, Erie
303.548.9340, imaginationcircusarts.com

Frequent Flyers
PO Box 1979 Boulder
303.245.8272, frequentflyers.org

We Can Rebuild Him…We Have the Technology

Hey, it wouldn’t be so bad if your kid turned out to be the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, right? Encourage your budding computer engineer with a cool camp that lets her build robots, program his own video games, or make animated movies. The skills learned in this mental playground are useful in school and maybe even beyond.
Bits, Bytes and Beyond is for kids ages 6–7 who want to learn to build their own robots and use computers to make movies they can take home on CD. Slightly older kids can specialize in robots or movie making.

In the Roaring Into Robots camp, students build and program the coolest robots available. Robots—and their pint-sized kid masters—learn to react to intruders, move objects to different locations, sting an intruder with a robot tail, or beat an opponent at LEGO® Sumo. This is a great introduction to the logic behind the programming languages that are the basis for everything we do on computers.

The Making a Movie camp uses LEGOs, digital cameras, stop-motion animation software and video-editing software to create movies with the kids’ own backgrounds, characters, scenery and stories. Capture kids’ imagination and creativity and teach them patience and perseverance with this camp.

If your kid is more into video games, take that obsession to perhaps a more productive level with the Game Creation classes. These camps use the Game Maker software to teach kids to program their very own video games—which, in turn, teaches creativity, logic, critical thinking and game design. As an extra bonus, kids can take these new skills home, as the software is an inexpensive Internet download, ensuring hours more creative fun.

Sure, there’s no section on robot-building on the SATs (yet), but this kind of science-based play can translate into real-world skills for your junior engineer. Nurture your little nerdling and who knows? Playtime could pay big dividends someday in the future.

Bits, Bytes & Bots
637-B S. Broadway #248, Boulder
303.494.2687, bitsbytesbots.com

I’ll Take Adventures of a Lifetime for $1,000

Fossils, wolves, cool rocks, rivers, tide pools, horses—what are things kids absolutely love, Alex? Imagine giving your child the experience of a lifetime: excavating dinosaur bones in Wyoming, tracking wolves in Yellowstone, whitewater rafting, climbing the Rockies or learning about marine ecology in the Pacific Northwest. They could have it all with a summer camp from the CU Science Discovery Summer Wilderness Camps.

Students completing fourth and fifth grades can go on the Wolf and Wilderness exploration, learning about wolves at a peaceful wolf sanctuary near Westcliff before heading to the Great Sand Dunes National Park to climb up and slide down the tallest sand dune in North America.

Kids finishing seventh through ninth grades can experience Yellowstone National Park in a totally unique way on the Yellowstone Wolf Trek. Students will learn about the successful reintroduction of wolves to the area, spot elk, bison, wolves and bears, and take a backcountry horseback ride. In addition to visiting the best-known sites, including Old Faithful, students also have the opportunity to go river rafting and lake kayaking in the shadow of the Grand Tetons.

Send kids completing seventh through 10th grade on a grand Gates of Lodore River Odyssey. Students visit the famed dinosaur quarry at Dinosaur National Monument, hike up a box canyon and spend four glorious days rafting down the Green River through the park’s paleontological, archeological and geological wonder.

For a truly incredible journey, kids finishing eighth through 10th grade can spend 12 days on a Pacific Northwest Natural Science Trek. They’ll spend their days circumnavigating the Olympic Peninsula, learning about the marine and costal rainforest ecosystems, and examining mountain ecology at Mount Rainier National Park.
What are extremely jealous parents, Alex?

CU Science Discovery,
3400 Marine Street, Boulder
colorado.edu/sciencediscovery/camps/index.html

Life Savers

If your child is always “rescuing” bugs from tremulous situations or constantly pulling out a junior stethoscope to check on Fido, then Camp Muddy Paws might be for them. The Humane Society of Boulder Valley puts on this two-week summer camp in which campers focus on making a difference in the day-to-day lives of shelter animals— including dogs, cats and small mammals.

Kids start by deciding what track they’d like to take. Junior Animal Trainers and Junior Veterinarians might get hands-on experience working with shelter animals and a better understanding of how these critters behave and live. Animal Fun Time Experts create toys and games for the animals in the shelter and learn the importance of keeping pets engaged. Junior Promoters learn hands-on ways to help get shelter animals adopted, creating digital photographs and videos for actual use on the animal adoption pages of the HSBV website. But best of all, kids earn a sense of real accomplishment, knowing they’ve truly made a difference in the lives of shelter animals in their community.

Humane Society of Boulder Valley
2323 55th St., Boulder
303.442.4030, hsbv.boulderhumane.org

If You Send Them, They Will Learn

Your young athletes are serious about sports; he really wants to make the team, and she can’t wait for the next season to start. From baseball to wrestling, cheerleading to lacrosse, fencing, tennis or golf, every young athlete will receive instruction by the Air Force Academy’s head coaching staff at the academy’s summer sports camps. Kids from 8 to 18 can sign up for overnight or day camps in their favorite sports and learn from some of the very best in the business.

These camps will help athletes advance to the next level with intensive instruction in form, technique, strategy and skills. There are sessions in most sports to teach the fundamentals and those to engage more experienced players. Camps for boys include baseball, basketball, lacrosse and wrestling. Girls camps include softball, basketball, cheerleading and lacrosse. And all campers can enjoy co-ed classes in tennis, fencing, soccer, golf, non-contact football, volleyball, ice hockey, gymnastics and strength training.

Campers can commute every day or, if they’re at least 12, board in the cadet dormitories on the Air Force Academy campus. Boarders get three meals a day in the campus cafeteria and participate in supervised evening activities such as ice skating, basketball, volleyball, movies, games in the arcade gallery and more. And everyone gets the advantage of working with some of the most highly respected coaches in
their sports.

Air Force Academy
Colorado Springs
719.333.2116, goairforcefalcons.com/camps/2009-sports-camps.html

Under the Sea

Forget boring old swimming lessons. This year, why not send your kid to scuba camp? Not only will it be an adventure they’ll talk about long after their wet suits have dried out, but it could lead to much more exciting family vacations.
Ocean First Divers offers a range of classes for kids of all ages. Tadpoles ages 5 to 7 can have an underwater experience with supplied air snorkeling (SASY)—a whole new way to play under water. Kids learn to snorkel with scuba equipment, giving them the best of both worlds and the easiest way to play.

For kids 8 to 9 years old, the PADI Bubblemaker program is a perfect introduction to the world of breathing underwater. Students get the opportunity to learn all about pool diving with a PADI-certified instructor. And for real adventurers, the PADI Seal Team is an action-packed way to learn about diving and participate in exciting AquaMissions. Students learn the basics of safe diving and then participate in specialty dives, like wreck, navigation, buoyancy, underwater photography, environmental awareness and more. It’s probably the most excitement you can possibly have in a swimming pool—safely, that is.

Be sure to also take advantage of PADI’s Discover Scuba program for everyone ages 10 and up (that includes you, mom and dad). During the program, students learn basic concepts and scuba skills that can later be applied to a full PADI Open Water Diver Certification, which will let you take those new skills out to explore the more than 70 percent of our planet that is
under water.

Ocean First Divers
3015 Bluff Street, Boulder
303.444.PADI (7234), oceanfirstdivers.com

We Said No Green M&Ms!

Would you like to turn your clean-cut, “please and thank you” teen into a sulky, headphone-sporting rocker who wears too much black eyeliner? OK, maybe not, but if your kid dreams of wailing on an ax (or drum set, or microphone) on stage, then a rock and roll camp could be for him.

School of Rock offers camps from June to August for kids 7-18—whether they are beginners or advanced rockers. Campers may choose between performance camp or recording/engineering camp. At performance camp, little rockers learn, as the companys says, “the art of being in a rock band.” That includes performance techniques and instrument workshops. For those looking to create sweet, sweet music behind the scenes, the engineering/recording camp teaches kids how to record and produce songs.

At School of Rock, you pick: Timbaland or Katy Perry?

Dog House Music offers a similar program for campers 11–17 and a half-day junior rocker camp for kids 6–10. In the junior rocker camp, kids are introduced to new instruments, ear training and simple song writing, all with a rock and roll flair.
Older campers get an intensive week of lessons on their instruments with musician instructors, song writing direction and rehearsal time with their band culminating in a live show at a local all-ages venue. Kids get to take home an MP3 recording of their live performance. And Dog House is happy to accept not just guitars, basses, keyboards and drums—but any instrument your kid can pick up from an electric violin to a ukulele. Once they’ve been through the basics, Dog House also offers spring and fall intensive programs for bands who want to keep on rocking.

Oh, and just in case mom or dad gets bitten by the rockstar bug, Dog House hosts Adult Fantasy Rock Band Camp.

School of Rock
3280 28th St., Boulder
303.532.1201, schoolofrockboulder.com
Dog House Music
525 Courtney Way, Lafayette
303.664.1600, doghousemusic.com

All the World’s a Stage

When she was 6, she performed the entire libretto of HMS Pinafore with the help of her stuffed animal collection. And if you hear him reaching for the high notes in Jean Valjean’s solos in the shower one more time, you might turn off the hot water heater—just to help him out, of course. Give your little drama queen (or king) a real opportunity to shine with a performing arts summer camp.

The Boulder Dinner Theater brings Broadway to Boulder all year long, but in the summer, they offer an intensive drama camp for budding stars entering sixth through twelfth grades. In each three-week camp, kids spend time focusing on singing, dancing and acting—making them truly a triple threat—in preparation for a full show in front of a live audience. Students also learn the basics of producing their performance from beginning to end including lighting, sound, set design and stage management. This summer, campers will have the opportunity to put on the seminal classic CATS on the exact same set the professional adult performers will be using. Imagine your very own Rum Tum Tugger prowling across the stage, or your little Grizabella belting out Memory in a single spotlight at the edge of the stage. It might be enough to turn anyone into a stage parent.

Younger cast members can join the BDT Academy through the Boulder Parks and Recreation Department. Together, they offer a nine-week drama camp for kids 6–12. Each week of the camp is different, with kids using their own imaginations to adapt familiar stories. Kids write the script, make the sets and costumes and rehearse and perform their own plays in a beautiful park setting.

Boulder Dinner Theater
5501 Arapahoe Ave.
303.449.6000, bouldersdinnertheatre.com

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