Growing Gardens. (Photo: Jack Affleck / Growing Gardens).

Summer is simply stunning in Colorado. There’s no better time to instill a love for the outdoors than at one of the state’s most active summer camps. After three seasons of sitting in a school desk, your kids will love the freedom these adventures afford. Here’s a guide to some of the best.

Rock Climbing
One of the hottest youth sports around, indoor climbing and its outdoor counterpart, rock climbing, are an ideal athletic endeavor for the summer. Luckily the Front Range is filled with opportunities for kids of all ages.

Boulder-based ABC Kids Climbing is already well known for its year-round indoor climbing instruction and youth teams for kids who want to compete. In the summer, ABC goes outside with five-day traditional climbing adventures that visit iconic crags, including the Flatirons, Eldorado Canyon and Boulder Creek. 

Likewise, Longmont Climbing Collective is known for its programming diversity. Is your child wild about animals? Obsessed with superheroes or intrigued by puzzles? Are they driven to train like an Olympian? The summer camps at LCC have programs to suit every interest. Each week of camp will focus on skills such as balance, coordination, strength, flexibility and focus.

Gardening & Farming 
With sustainability at the forefront of this generation, understanding the planet, revering nature and eating more ethically are important topics today. Check out these local gardening groups – and see what your kids can dig up this summer.

The organization behind the popular Peace Garden programs, Growing Gardens offers an outdoor summer camp on an urban farm. With education around food sources, organic gardening and the connection between biodiversity and community, campers age 5 to 11 will learn to garden, organically explore art and science and even make snacks from their harvests.

In Longmont, Sunflower Farm is staging its own on-the-farm summer sessions for preschool and school-age kids. Youngsters will grow as they explore the rural wonders of gardening, caring for animals and old-fashioned free playing on hay bales and tire swings.

It’s not the first outdoor activity that you think of in land-locked Colorado, but that’s what makes this sailing camp memorable. Dedicated to empowering youth through on-the-water adventures that provide a new way to navigate some of life’s toughest years, Able to Sail is offering a classic sailing summer program, as well as an LGBTQ-focused camp and a solo sailing session for those who are ready to build greater confidence by going it alone.

Adventure, Expeditions and Academic Activities
Gift your kids with an exhilarating summer experiencing the Rocky Mountains of Colorado through traditional overnight and day camps or the excitement and adventure of traveling expeditions! Keystone Science School offers a variety of adventure and traditional camp activities within a structured environment designed to allow each camper and participant understand their potential. No matter the program, campers and participants will create lifelong friendships, explore and learn about the natural world, and gain leadership and wilderness skills. Learn more at

Regularly lauded by parents as a top summer camp, Renaissance Adventures has been providing innovative outdoor experiences where “kids become the heroes” for over 20 years. Get ready: each camp session, designed for small groups, comes with a plot twist. Plus there’s plenty of mythic archetypes to choose from, epic team building and days filled with solving riddles, negotiating treaties and swashbuckling with foam swords.

By Julie Kailus for Raised in the Rockies