Summer is near, and that means your kids are prepared to spend the subsequent months lounging, playing video games and sleeping in. Not so fast. Here, we have 82 ways for them to stay busy and entertained.
Tiny Genius Takes Over the World.
School’s out. Let the learning begin.
1. This is the 35th year of the summer enrichment program at the Center for the Education and Study of the Gifted, Talented, Creative Learners at the University of Northern Colorado (unco.edu/SEP). And it’s pretty much a playground for gifted students. Surrounded by their intellectual peers, 5th through 10th graders learn more than just facts and figures. Fun, interesting, individualized classes allow students to go in-depth with subjects and focus on analysis.
2. Spend an afternoon in the Boulder Bookstore.
3. Fridays are open houses at the Sommers-Bausch Observatory on the CU campus (sbo.colorado.edu). Use telescopes, tripod-mounted binoculars and the world’s largest starwheel to check out the stars.
4. Can a little perspective cure teenage smugness? We think archeology has the potential to rock their worlds. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center (crowcanyon.org) offers summer camps for future archeologists. Head to Cortez to their sweeping 170-acre center, where middle and high schoolers can play in the dirt…with a purpose.
5. Think your kid could write the next Hunger Games or Harry Potter? Send them to the Summer Fantasy Writing Art and Gaming Camp (creative-writing-solutions.com) June 18th–22 and 25–29 at Twin Peaks Academy.
6. Math camp is probably not for everyone, but a camp that offers a mix of creative games, sports and technology education, including video game design, iPhone app development, Flash animation, programming, video editing, web design and robotics is something most kids could get into. iD Tech Camps (internaldrive.com) brings together tech-loving students from 7 to 17 for an education that will help them take over the world.
7. The Boulder County Parks and Open Space has constant events, including raptor talks and nature hikes at spots such as Walden Ponds and Betasso Reservoir. More info here: bouldercounty.org/news/pages/poshikesevents.aspx
8. The Northern Colorado Rocketry Club has a cool event at the end of May called MileHigh Mayhem. If you’re into model rockets, it’ll blow their little minds. ncrocketry.org
9. Visit the WOW! Children’s Museum March 27–30 and April 2 and 3 for the 2012 NanoDays, a nationwide festival of educational programs about nanoscale science and engineering and its potential impact on the future. Don’t know what nanoscale means? That’s a perfect reason to check it out.
10. The Dougherty Museum south of Longmont on 287 is only open in the summer. Take advantage, and check out this local collection of restored cars and equipment. It’ll be a great reality check for the little ones who are used to getting chauffeured in a Prius.
11. Chess can be cool! We promise. Especially when you see the youth chess camps offered by USA Chess (chesscamp.com) in Englewood. They have children’s chess camps in June as well as camps focused on video game creation. Campers use Game Maker software to create side-scrolling, platform game with running, jumping, falling, climbing, blasting and enemy stomping. See, we told you chess was cool.
12. Every summer, GB Henderson Foundation (gbhendersoneducation.org) brings high-achieving students to its Alexander Dawson campuses in Lafayette and Las Vegas for an educational experience set to supplement public school education. Basically, you can give your kiddo a Dawson-quality summer experience with programs like 2012’s Food: Feeding Ourselves and the World, in which students study food in historical, social, political and scientific aspects.
13-14. Tour the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. (esrl.noaa.gov/outreach/tours.html). The tour includes Science on a Sphere and the Space Weather Prediction Center. It’s free, but sign up because space is limited to about 20 to 30 people. At the National Institute of Standards and Technology daily tours show off the atomic clock and labs. If requested, the guide can do a cryogenic demonstration with liquid nitrogen. You can even meet James Burrus, YS’s editor at large and NIST staffer, doing tours at 10 am on Tuesdays and 1 p.m. on Thursdays; reservations are required. Contact Burrus at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a tour. There are security requirements for both NOAA and NIST tours.
The Wet, Wacky Adventures of Aqua Boy
The hose isn’t the only way to stay cool this summer
15.Don’t forget the Boulder County Duck Race. It’s a classic event for Boulder kids—when thousands of little rubber duckies float down Boulder Creek during the Boulder Creek Festival.
16. Play in the water feature on Pearl Street.
17. Colorado’s famed Water World (waterworldcolorado.com) is getting the state’s first hydromagnetic water coaster this summer. On the $4.5 million Mile High Flyer, water goes down hill and up hill, and you go with it.
18-19. The Westminster Swim and Fitness Center (ci.westminster.co.us) has gone through a facelift, and the most kid-friendly feature is the addition of a very cool new “splash pad.” It may be a little cold to venture over to this outdoor water park now, but when the sun shines, come out to play.
20. Sure, most kids take swim lessons. It’s adolescent protocol. But how many get the opportunity to get their scuba on? Ocean First Divers (oceanfirstdivers.com) hosts Supplied Air Snorkeling for Youth for 5- to 7-year-olds, and Scuba Rangers, which introduces them to wrecks, navigation, buoyancy, underwater photography and environmental awareness in a heated pool. They host kids birthday parties, and nothing says “happy birthday” like under- water exploration.
21. Get standup paddle boarding classes for you and your kiddos out at The Rez (boc123.com).
22. Put your helicopter-parenting tendencies aside, and let your child embrace their inner adventurer with youth kayaking clinics and classes through Renaissance Adventure Guides (raguides.com/kids-camps). The local company offers two-, three- and five-day clinics and camps for young kayakers. Classes cover the basics and include all gear. Eventually, they will hit rivers like Boulder Creek, Clear Creek, St. Vrain and the South Platte River.
23-24. In June and July, Front Range Anglers (frontrangeanglers.com) and Thorne Nature Institute (thornenature.org) host kids fly-fishing camps. Not only will they learn the Zen touted by enthusiasts, but the campers will explore the Boulder Creek and St. Vrain watersheds as well as various lakes and streams throughout the area. They’ll study insects, fish and ecosystems while also learning about casting, knotting and the river.
25. A little free falling will make them stronger. Lafayette’s Bob L. Burger Recreation Center (cityoflafayette.com) is installing a 12-foot-tall climbing wall that hovers over the pool, adding more splash to this water wonderland. The stellar rec center has a lazy river, water slides and play areas. The climbing wall is expected to be up by March.
All-Star Exploration Squadron
Fighting nature deficient disorder in Boulder County kids
26-27. Hit the local farmer’s market (boulderfarmers.org, naturespointmarkets.com), let your kids hold the shopping bags, encourage them to ask questions of the vendors and teach them to find the pretty tomatoes and the ripest peaches.
28-30. One of the best ways to bond with your teen is a shared hobby. If you are into mountain biking or cycling, check out Boulder Indoor Cycling’s junior programs. Prefer running? The Boulder Track Club offers a youth club for those 14 and older. For a one-stop-shop, ship your kid off to Avid 4 Adventure’s multi-sport day camp, a two-week intensive day camp that covers, rock climbing, canoeing, bouldering, biking, orienteering and more.
31. Summer camp wouldn’t be summer camp unless there was convergence with nature. AO Camps (aocamps.com) offer the cure for the modern kid with camps that send them up into Eldorado Canyon and onto the hiking trails that weave through Colorado’s wilderness areas.
32. You want your child to embrace nature, but it’s not like they could handle a kid-versus-wild trek. The Wildlife Experience (thewildlifeexperience.org) has a new summer camp for future pioneers: Campers spend much of their time in the Backcountry Wilderness Area, a 13-square mile, pristine wildlife sanctuary, trying out horseback riding, archery, hayrides, wildlife tracking and identification, and basic survival skills.
33. Boulder County Fair is set for Aug. 1–5, and per usual, it’s expected to be packed full of family friendly entertainment and activities. While the 2012 schedule has not been announced, last’s year’s fair included Ballet on Horseback, story time and coloring station, pony rides, pet-a-bunny wagon and stick horse parades and rodeo.
34. YS’s editor spent a couple summers at Colorado Mountain Ranch (coloradomountainranch.com) as a child; she can still sing part of the camp song. The beautiful mountain location is anchored by the large, picturesque lodge, and offerings include classic camp activities: hiking, horseback riding, archery, crafts and sports. Your kid’ll come home singing.
35. The Denver Zoo (denverzoo.org) opens its Elephant Passage on this spring. The 10-acre space will serve as a conservation center for elephants, rhinos and tapirs.
36-37. Gardening is an ideal hobby for your child. Trust us. This will pay off.
Growing Gardens (growinggardens.org) wants your teen to know the joy of farming: Cultiva is a youth-operated organic farm and market stand. Participants work the urban garden and the farmers’ market. They earn an hourly wage and learn hard work and responsibility. Or check out Cure Farm’s annual kids camp (cureorganicfarm.com) from June 4–Aug. 9. Not only will they learn about organic farming but—bonus!—they get to hang out with pigs, sheep, bees and hens.
38. Not a mountain kid? Rocky Mountain Kids Camp (rockymtndaycamp.com) offers a traditional multi-week summer camp experience without the trek up into the purple mountain’s majesty.
39. Open just last year, the Peak2Peak Mountain Academy (peak2peakmountainacademy.org) is a nonprofit dedicated to teaching outdoor and high-alpine skills, environmental ethics and sciences. While its youth academy series has taken kids through some awesome winter landscapes, its 2012 summer program has not been announced, but check the website for youth programs.
40. With classes named Icky Sticky Wacky Tacky, Magic Mountain Mystery and Insect-O-Mania, you know your little one is gonna love this. At Wild Bear Mountain Ecology Center, learning, fun and nature converge into summer camps that will help attendees appreciate the wild landscape out their back door…and get a little dirty.
Enter the Spotlight
Performance, art and entertainment
41. The theme for the 2012 summer theater camp with Boulder’s Red Ball Kids (redballkids.com) is journey. And while there is no actual traveling involved, it’s sure to be a trip. Red Ball Kids is a conservatory-style theater camp for ages 9-14 from June 11–22, and it’s expected to be clownish, silly, wacky and everything else a young thespian could ask for.
42. Show them Colorado’s killer music venue: Red Rocks is still announcing its 2012 summer line-up. Both you and your teen will likely approve of shows such as The Shins or Foster the People.
43. Young artists can keep creative this summer. with a little help from Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (bmoca.org). Its weeklong summer workshops begin June 4, and continue til August and cover topics like drawing fundamentals and airbrush painting. And on Saturdays beginning April 7 at the Boulder County Farmers’ Market, kids can take part in free, guided art activities on the front porch of the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art.
44. Check out KidzArt (kidzartboco.com), a Boulder-based company that focuses on art classes for kids and teens.
45-49. While young musicians likely want to check out the Greater Boulder Youth Orchestra (greaterboulderyo.org), Flatirons Strings Academy (fsamusic.org), the Rocky Mountain Center for Musical Arts, and the Boulder Youth Symphony (bysymphony.org), we suggest taking your little Bach to the Colorado Music Festival to experience the power and beauty of classical music. This summer, enjoy Disney in Concert and Cinderella.
50-51. Or maybe your kid prefers The Clash over Cats, Weezer over Wicked, DangerMouse over The Lion King. In that case, you’ll want to check out School of Rock (boulder.schoolofrock.com) in Boulder or Dog House Music (doghousemusic.com) in Lafayette, where your little angel can harness his or her inner rock god.
52. Kamp Kutandara (kutandara.com) is not your typical musical education, and that’s why we love it. With three sessions through June, Kamp Kutandara is a cross-cultural program allowing children to explore music, drumming, songs and games, and dance from Africa.
52-54. Get your kid prepped for a life on the stage at local repertory theater camps like Center Stage Theater Company (centerstagetheatercompany.org) and Boulder Dinner Theater Academy (bdtacademy.org), which will perform The Drowsy Chaperone for its 2012 season.
The Amazon Athlete
Sporty spots for little kickers
55-56. Can your kid bend it like Buddha? Pick a summer Sunday to take him or her to Solar Yoga’s kid yoga classes (solar-yoga.com). From 5 to 10, children are introduced to yoga in a playful atmosphere that gets them moving, bending and breathing while still being a kid. Or head to the mountains for the Eldorado Mountain Yoga Camp (eldoradoyoga.net) for one of its week-long camps for kids 5–15.
57. Watch the CU Buffs’ spring game on April 14.
58-59. Young man, there’s no need to feel down… The YMCA of Boulder Valley (ymcabv.org) is practically a one-stop shop for kid activity. From sports and skate camps to arts and Lego camps to nature camps, they’ve pretty much got you covered. Or try the Fun in the Sun Excursion Camp, a catch-all for summer kid activities. Or send them to Catch Camp, which is focused on multi-cultural awareness.
60-61. One of the coolest things about sports camps is that young athletes have an opportunity to get coaching from college coaches. At the Air Force Academy youth camps (goairforcefalcons.com), campers rub shoulders with intercollegiate coaches in sports like boxing, basketball and volleyball. CU offers summer camps for numerous sports, including football with coach Jon Embree.
62. There is one guaranteed way to keep your kid active this summer: Send him or her to the gym. Lakeshore Athletic Club (lsac-flatiron.com) in Broomfield has, what it calls, Kidshore. Here, kids can hit the pool, summit the climbing wall, play games and sports.
63-64. This is very East Coast of us: Try lacrosse. The sport is becoming increasingly popular outside of the ivy League, and Boulder Valley Lacrosse (boulderlacrosse.org) is a good source for information. There are also lacrosse leagues through YMCA (tinyurl.com/6qolssn) and i9 Sports (i9sports.com).
Revenge of the Mutant Fighters
65. There is a moment in almost every kid’s life when they turn to you and say, “I want to slay a dragon.” It’s totally natural, really. And at that moment, all you need to do is call Renaissance Adventures (renaissanceadventures.com). The local organization offers half- and full-day programs in which kids become the hero in a mythic quest that includes challenge, riddles, maps and play.
66. Take a hot-air-balloon ride during the Erie Town Fair on May 19.
67. Grab a B-Cycle and cruise the Boulder Creek Path.
68. Kids & Critters Camp at Longmont Humane Society (longmonthumane.org) could be the best display of cuteness ever. Kids and dogs together are adorable—but truth be told there is more to this camp than cute-appeal. Children learn about dog body language, animal safety and small mammal handling. Plus, they get to play with kittens!
69. Longmont Electric Aircraft Flyers (leafrc.com) club offers junior membership to those 18 and under.
70. More or less monthly, the CU Wizards (colorado.edu/physics/Web/wizards/cuwizards.html) program offers a free show that entertains and informs children about the wonders of science. Topics include water, immunity, Marie Curie and speed.
71. World travel is something everyone should experience before they turn 18. Alexander Dawson School is making it a little easier. Dawson Global Adventures (dawsonschool.org/dga) is a new travel program for 8th to 12th graders, sending students to Ecuador, Japan or Botswana this summer. Dawson sends its own students around the world for experiential and global education opportunities, and this is the first year non-Dawson students can take advantage of the school’s expertise.
72. Could we possibly do a kid-focused issue and not mention Casa Bonita? Obviously not. If you haven’t been to this Denver establishment since you were a kid, take your little guys to see cliff divers and play games.
73. Longmont’s Crackpots (ecrackpots.com) offers summer camps to boost the creative juices and increase the number of dishes and knick knacks you own.
The Cookie Monster
Delicious explorations for young foodies
74-75. You don’t become a foodie mecca by just appealing to adults. Kids in Boulder County have culinary chops (literally). Take for example, Stir It up Cooking School (stiritupcooking.com), which offers camps and classes for kids aged 5 to 16. Participants get to dive in, learn techniques and recipes, and then eat! Or check out Westminster’s Young Chefs Academy (youngchefsacademy.com) for various kids cooking classes.
76. Kim and Jake’s Cakes and Glacier have teamed up to make cake ice cream (a distant cousin of ice cream cake). Visit Glacier Ice Cream on Baseline and Foothills to try the latest flavor.
77. Step away from the Hershey’s and elevate their pure little palates. Piece, Love and Chocolate is the perfect local spot to teach your kiddo about high-quality, artisan sweets. Partially hydrogenated oils and high-fructose syrup not included. Instead, enjoy a passionfruit truffle or a chocolate peanut butter cookie.
78. Check out kidsmealdeals.com to find discounts at local restaurants and shops.
79. Not every local festival will appeal to children. But at the Lafayette Peach Festival in mid August, there are enough sweet, peachy treats to keep any kid happy for at least a couple hours.
80. Cook a kid-friendly meal with recipes from local Door to Door Organics Kitchen: recipes.doortodoororganics.com
81. Lesson No. 1 in becoming a foodie: know where your food is coming from. Ollin Farms (ollinfarms.com) is there for you. This summer, their camp will focus on the connection of the land to the community, exploring traditional Native American farming practices and the role of food in shaping their culture.
82. On July 29, hit up the Mommy and Me Princess Tea Party during the Rocky Mountain Tea Festival (boulderteahouse.com) in the tent right near the Dushanbe Teahouse. There are two seatings, and feel free to bring dad was well!