When school lets out, the learning continues throughout Boulder County and beyond with summer camps offering enriching programs for kids and teens. The field trips, fun themes and even some slime in the name of science are what makes summer camp so fun, but the thoughtful programming at regional schools also allows for lots of learning and skill-building, which complements the educational process.
At Flagstaff Academy in Longmont, for instance, campers can harvest fruits and veggies at an on-site greenhouse and garden. Over at Shining Mountain Waldorf School, kids can learn cirque skills like juggling and acrobatics. At Bixby School, also in Boulder, open-ended play allows for guided activities based on kids’ interests, whether that’s covering a table with paper and letting campers go wild with paint or letting kids run around outside with bubble wands.
Bixby School also has an on-site swimming pool. And at Friends School, camps are broken up by interest — covering science, art and architecture, sports and games.
Summer camps come with a whole slate of benefits, allowing children to develop and hone social skills, enjoy the great outdoors, learn new skills and try new sports. By the end of the summer, there’s a good chance your camper will have picked up a new hobby, whether that’s an interest in etymology after some bug-hunting sessions or unicycling or cake decorating.
Plus, much of the activities take place in the great outdoors.
Outdoor play is the cornerstone of early child camp programs at Shining Mountain Waldorf School, says the school’s pedagogical director Lori Kran, PhD,
“Playing and time in nature is fundamental to a young child’s social, emotional, intellectual and physical health and wellbeing,” Kran says.
Located next to the foothills of North Boulder, children are free to explore, discover and find joy in playing with friends on the
12-acre campus that has a creek running through for water play, she says.
Shining Mountain Waldorf School also has circus camps covering the fundamentals for rising first through fifth graders and an advanced circus for those in sixth grade and up.
“Circus arts tap into a student’s athletics skills, showpersonship, and creative theatrical skills,” Kran says. “This unique offering provides a balanced — no pun intended! — opportunity for all skill levels to learn something new about themselves.”
In lower and middle school athletic camps, programs are designed to improve teamwork, leadership and dedication while building connections with friends, Kran says. And in Handwork and Crafting (called handwork in Waldorf), the projects strengthen concentration and hand-eye coordination.
“Handwork can also help enhance math skills through counting rows and stitches, measuring out patterns, and creating three-dimensional items,” she says. Children learn to correct their mistakes, value hard work and develop patience.”
At Flagstaff Academy, campers are grouped by age and the academy offers several camps. Younger campers in grades K-4 are taken on three to four field trips per week, with walking trips to Dairy Queen for a tour of the shop and sundae-building, plus outings to adventure parks, trampoline centers and more.
“When not on field trips, we have on-site activities such as bike and scooter days, water play at the school, science, cooking, arts and crafts, harvesting fruits and veggies in our on-site green house and garden,” says Jeanna Peppler, the summer camp director. Flagstaff also brings in vendors like Crackpots pottery studio.
Older teen campers receive season passes to Elitch Gardens Amusement and Water Parks as part of their summer camp registrations. When not at the theme park, the camp takes its teen campers to area pools, skating rinks, and trampoline and adventure parks.
“Our summer camp keeps the campers extremely busy and engaged,” Peppler says. “In all of the feedback I have received from families and campers over the years, the predominant theme is that they love that no two days are the same and we don’t just stay on-site because it’s easier. If we are on site, we jump from activity to activity, and off site we are using our brains and bodies all day.”
Flagstaff also offers week-long specialty camps in conjunction with traditional summer camps. Past examples include “The Art of Cooking,” “Minecraft Co-Op,” “Epic Science,” “Lego Mindstorms,” and “Cake Decorating.” Each summer has a theme at Flagstaff, too. This year’s is all about exploration; last year’s was magic, and the camp brought in magicians to perform.
Bixby School offers both a preschool and elementary aged day camp, serving campers aged 2 and a half through rising 6th graders.
“Some unique benefits include we offer a chef-prepared lunch every day, we have a swimming pool onsite, and there are weekly field trips scheduled for our Elementary Aged Day Camp,” says Hannah Wickenheiser, director of auxiliary programs and student support team member. “Our campus also sits on 3-acres which provides ample space for our campers to spend most of their day outside”
In 2023, Bixby School will consistently offer a field trip every week of camp and five days of swimming for our elementary-aged campers.
“Personally, my favorite program is when we make s’mores in our solar oven,” Wickenheiser says. “It’s so fun to see the campers engage in this project and the rewards are delicious.”
Friends School also offers popular summer camps, with programs for students ages 3 to 14. The programs span from a preschool backyard camp to classes in theater, cooking, science, art, sports and more.
For example, as part of the science program, there’s a camp on “explosions, slime and experiments” with hands-on experiments that foam, steam and explode. Other camps include yoga, jewelry making, soccer, mini golf, basketball, flag football, bugs and butterflies, exploring ancient worlds and many more.
- Shining Mountain Waldorf School’s Summer Camps: shiningmountainwaldorf.org/programs/summer-camps
- Flagstaff Academy’s Summer Camps: flagstaffacademy.org/apps/pages/summer-camps
- Bixby School’s Summer Camps: bixbyschool.org/programs/summer-camp
- Friends School’s Summer Programs: friendsschoolboulder.org/programs/ summer-programs
By Brittany Anas, Raised in the Rockies