Sailing, climbing, and rowing camps for youth empowerment and adventure
If there’s one thing Colorado does very well, it’s summer fun for kids. The weather is perfect, the outdoors are in our backyard and adventures are endless. Here are a few rock and water options designed to get kids and teens outside, to learn new skills and life lessons and meet friends from the community, not just the classroom.
Sail for self-esteem
At the ABLE to Sail Youth Empowerment Camp, water and boats are catalysts for self-confidence. This longtime youth instructional course, based at Longmont’s Union Reservoir, is focused on teaching teens how to navigate water – and life. Boating skills include learning the parts of the boat and rigging, capsize recovery, boat handling, tacking, jibing and points of sail.
“Self-esteem is a skill, like sailing, which can be learned, and in teen culture today, we must be teaching,” says ABLE to Sail Executive Director Diane McKinney. She explains that sailing’s pesky “no-wind” time is the perfect time to empower youth by applying the metaphors of each sailing lesson to change negative mental chatter.
“For example, to turn a boat left, you steer right! They accept a complete change in how they think about steering in order to not crash,” she says. “The same is true with life–changing thoughts so they don’t crash their lives. We believe every kid is an ‘at-risk kid,’ until they know how to challenge their often-secret beliefs of not being enough.”
A LGBTQIA+ camp has been added to the organization’s Classic Camp option for youth starting at age 12.
What’s cooler in one of the nation’s most historic climbing meccas than an on-the-rocks camp made just for kids?
ABC Kids Outdoor Summer Camps are designed for children age 7 and above to experience climbing outside in an engaging, supportive and responsible way. Led by ABC’s AMGA-certified guides, campers explore bouldering and top roping on the various rock types in Eldorado Canyon, The Flatirons and Boulder Canyon.
New and beginner climbers build a foundation of physical, mental and social skills through climbing on sandstone and granite, along with rappelling and tyrolean traverse. The focus is on building confidence through body awareness, risk assessment, route reading and communication, according to Chase Retrosi, assistant gym director and outdoor programs coordinator, ABC Kids Climbing and Team ABC Boulder.
“Returning and experienced campers build upon their foundation of skill learning new techniques, movements and strategies while practicing
a balanced climbing ethos – understanding responsible gym to crag transitions and Leave No Trace ethics,” he says. “With a focus on fun and friends, this engaging and educational outdoor summer climbing camp is a memorable experience.”
Learn to row
Crew is an elegant yet demanding sport that rewards strength, grace, teamwork, humility and harmony on the water. Each summer Colorado Junior Crew (CJC), based out of the Boulder Reservoir, offers newcomers a chance to try it out.
The Learn to Row program consists of a 2-hour morning program over the course of two weeks. Picture sun-rising summer workouts in the fresh mountain air amid the backdrop of Boulder’s iconic Flatirons.
Teens are introduced to rowing form, technique and terminology. “The Learn to Row summer program is an encouraging and supportive atmosphere for teens to try the sport without committing to a full competition season,” says CJC’s Gena Welk. Building on summer work, athletes ages 13 to 18 then have the opportunity to join the crew team in the fall for practice three to five days per week and an invitation to row in competitive regattas.
By Julie Kailus, Raised in the Rockies