Keystone Science School: A Unique Summer Camp for Everyone

While I feel as though this summer has flown by, the months and weeks leading up to Spider Monkey Camp at Keystone Science School for J (age 8) and P (age 6) seemed to crawl terribly slow. I had fears of someone breaking an arm or getting sick (we battled Strep Throat the week before) and missing out on this incredible opportunity for a camp dedicated to science AND the outdoors. I am pretty sure I was just as excited as they were!

The boys chose the second session of Spider Monkey camp because of the opportunity to zipline at the end AND study primates throughout the week. I took the opportunity to peek in on most of the days just so I could see first-hand on what they were doing and didn’t have to take my kids’ word for it! Big thanks to KSS for letting me do that! Note: KSS’s specialty day camps are held completely off-site. While we did one day of their regular on-site Stellar Day Camp just to check that out, most kids will never even step foot on campus during the week (unless they do the overnight – see below!)

The schedule allowed for a day of indoor climbing for them all to get their bearings, two days of outdoor climbing, and then two field trip days (one to the Denver Zoo and another to the Easter Seals zip lines.)

Keystone Science School: A Unique Summer Camp for Everyone

Keystone Science School: A Unique Summer Camp for Everyone

Keystone Science School: A Unique Summer Camp for Everyone

Keystone Science School: A Unique Summer Camp for Everyone

While the scheduled parts were really great, I also appreciated the fact that the kids had time when they weren’t climbing to just play outside. I heard numerous times over the week that kids are outside as much as humanly possible…..which is good for everyone!

There was lots of lanyard making both in the vans while they traveled and outside when they weren’t climbing. They also built forts, made “chipmunk villages” (see building of them below) and just had free play. It’s so easy to over-schedule our kids, and refreshing to see when even the camps give kids outdoor breaks.

They also came home filthy each day – which is a sure sign of a good time.

Keystone Science School: A Unique Summer Camp for Everyone

Keystone Science School: A Unique Summer Camp for Everyone

Keystone Science School: A Unique Summer Camp for Everyone

The boys also had the opportunity to do a one night stay on Wednesday during the week. This meant that they went right back to the KSS campus after their Spider Monkey day and got to participate in a talent show, dinner, outdoor games, and a movie to fall asleep to.

Keystone Science School: A Unique Summer Camp for Everyone

Plus they even got fruit juice popsicles, so I’m told! While my boys were happy to stay the night (gone are the days when they cry and cry for me), there were some other kids that had a hard time. The counselors and staff are trained specifically to help kids deal with homesickness and told me it was very, very rare for any of them to not make it through the night. That’s reassuring for this mama too.

Keystone Science School: A Unique Summer Camp for Everyone

What We Loved:

I say “we” because some of these positives are kid-specific and some are parent-specific. But, I can say the kids and I walked away in agreement that the camp is great!

  • Very professional staff that knows how to handle the kids and different situations that arise
  • Very organized and smooth-running, which I really, really appreciate. I have been to camps that seem like a bit of a junk show and it is always a huge turn-off for me.
  • Their goal is to keep kids engaged, learning and outside!
  • The retention rate on campers and then campers coming back as counselors is super high, which speaks highly of the camp.
  • They have a very wide variety of camps for kids of all ages and all abilities.
  • Snacks were healthy and provided energy (not empty calories/sugar).
  • There was an option for lunch to be provided by KSS for $6/day – totally worth it in my opinion.
  • They learned lots of games, songs, positive and caring life lessons and felt comfortable, safe and secure.
  • The camp is well-established and also respected and integrated into the local community

What Other Camps Are Options at Keystone Science School?

They offer a wide range of camps for kids in kindergarten through high school. I loved this flow chart to help make a decision about what the best camp for YOUR child is! (Click on the image to view larger)

Keystone Science School: A Unique Summer Camp for Everyone

 

But, I Can’t Afford Summer Camp!

I got to really sit down and talk with a bunch of the staff about all the different ways that KSS works to get kids outside, active and in their camps. This isn’t just for the “rich kids”, but they are truly reaching all demographics and continually working to expand to new groups of kids.

KSS has a Campership program, sponsored by Alpine Bank, First Bank and Breckenridge Grand Vacation.

Here’s a little bit about how Campership works:

  1. Campership apps are due March 1
  2. We announce on April 1, and ask that families send in their acceptance by May 1
  3. The amount changes based on W-2, what program they want to attend, and if they have received funding before. We would love to give full scholarship to everyone, but the average is about 50-75%
  4. Recipients tend to be local families who are struggling to make ends meet or are going through a tough time at home. That said, it’s not JUST for local kids and everyone is encouraged to apply. This year we were able to grant full scholarship to two Sudanese boys who moved to America with their parents to seek refuge.
  5. This year we gave out 57 campership awards.

Is It Worth It (Even if you Don’t Live in Colorado)??

Bottom line? Yes. The boys had an amazing week and are already begging to go back. Like I mentioned before, I peeked in a TON and was incredibly impressed on so many different levels.

We do get outside with our kids a lot….but sometimes they need to experience the outdoors AWAY from us too. This was the perfect opportunity.

Keystone Science School sells out FAST. Be sure to register early!

Finally, summer not a great time for you?? They have a wide range of off-season camps available also. Check out their Harvest Camp!!!

Keystone Science School: A Unique Summer Camp for Everyone

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Keystone Science School: A Unique Summer Camp for Everyone

 

© 2017, Tales of a Mountain Mama. All rights reserved. Republication, in part or entirety, requires a link back to this original post and permission from the author.

Women Gearing Up for Summer + Giveaway

We are in the height of the summer…..and heat! Honestly, not my favorite time of the year. I would much rather be cold than hot….and I despise applying (and reapplying) sunscreen on myself and my kids.

This summer I rounded up my favorite go-to styles and products that have helped me stay cool, get out AND limit having to wear sunscreen. They also include some that I think are great for keeping the bugs away. If you don’t know, I am also 34 weeks pregnant with Baby #5 and very much over maternity clothing. So, in most of these, I just sized up and wear them comfortably now. This round we are featuring styles form Columbia, White Sierra, Mountain Khakis, Pistil, Purple Rain & Craghoppers.

Women Gearing Up for Summer

I also am always ALWAYS on the lookout for great outdoor clothing for women, so please do comment with your favorites too so I can add them! There is no way I could cover all the great gear that is out there in one post (but I love you giving me your suggestions!) Plus, I am not wearing many pants/shorts these days, so need your suggestions!

And before I get going, here’s a coupon for White Sierra! Use code MAMA33 for 33% everything on their site!: https://www.whitesierra.com/

Also, I’m going to save you all from a billion photos of myself. Be sure to check out the descriptions of each item, though, where I go into more detail on how they fit, etc.

 

Favorite sun/wicking shirts:

Women Gearing Up for Summer

  1. Columbia Trail Strike Shirt: $100 I really like this one because it has a bit of stretch in it AND a zippered pocket in the front that I can throw even my bigger iPhone 7 into. Lightweight, perfect for dunking in the river and wearing wet, and easy to roll up the sleeves if you prefer that.
  2. White Sierra Gobi Desert Shirt $40: This one is pretty similar to Columbia’s Trail Strike in that it has UPF 30, is very lightweight and comfortable and has roll up sleeves. There are no pockets on it, but it’s also a much better price-point too!
  3. Columbia PFG Zero Long Sleeve Shirt &
  4. Short Sleeve version $40: I really, really love this one and wear it all the time (in both versions). It has the Columbia Omni-Freeze ZERO technology to keep you cooler, and I swear by it. I stay cooler in these than any other shirt I own (including the two above). It’s also super soft, washes really well (which says a lot for those light colors) and keeps me comfortable. Also available for men and kids!
  5. White Sierra Odor Free Striped Tee $30: While this one doesn’t have sun protection in it necessarily, it is great for wicking and staying comfortable while playing outside, adventuring and looking cute too. I love that it’s just a bit longer for more coverage and it’s stretchy for ease of movement.

Women Gearing Up for Summer

Favorite Bug-Free Shirts:

Women Gearing Up for Summer + Giveaway

  1. White Sierra Bug-Free Henley: This one doesn’t work super awesome pregnant, but it seems to be fairly effective at keeping bugs at bay, which I really appreciate! I look forward to wearing it more when I am baby-bump free!
  2. Craghoppers Astrid Cardigan (find on Amazon here): I wear this one a ton too. While I have had a mosquito bite me through it, I think it general it does keep the bugs away much more than without it. I like that I can just throw it on over whatever I am wearing and have a little more coverage from the elements in general.
  3. White Sierra Bug Free Trail Hoody: Just a little more protection with a hood and long sleeves for when the bugs are swarming at dusk and dawn!
  4. Bug Free Multifunctional Headwear: Ok, so this isn’t a shirt, but can be used in SO many ways and is the perfect addition to camping when you don’t want to do your hair anyway….

 

Favorite bottoms/dresses:

Women Gearing Up for Summer

  1. Columbia All Who Wander Skirt (or buy here on Amazon): This one is super soft and stretchy. It does tend to cling a bit and is more of a pencil skirt. But, I like that I have full range of motion in it and can layer it under other tunics, dresses and shirts.
  2. Mountain Khakis Solitude Maxi: I’m all about the Maxi dresses right now. I get compliments on this one all the time. It’s comfy and wears well. My only gripe? It requires a bra that crosses in the back. Even sizing up, I don’t feel like it’s too long (and I am on the short side!)
  3. Mountain Khakis Go Time Dress: SUPER comfortable and soft – this one is like wearing a long tee shirt all the time. I often layer it over the Wander skirt just because I prefer a little extra length right now.
  4. PFG Reel Beauty Maxi II Dress: This is the other one I wear a couple times a week.  Omni-Wick technology, SPF 15 and a super comfortable feel. I think I’ll get it in another color next year too.
  5. Nuu-Muu Ruu: While this post is all about women, I have to say that my 3 year old daughter wears her Nuu-Muu dresses literally almost every day. They’re perfect for wicking, staying comfortable and cool and layering up. I see them more of a long tunic than an actual dress, but you can do just about everything in them (I always pair them with shorts or leggings).
  6. Purple Rain Skirt: This one remains my favorite outdoor skirt. I had Mandy from Purple Rain make me a custom one that’s just a few inches longer, and I love the extra coverage while maintaining freedom of movement. It also has the best quick-dry AND big pockets for carrying what I need!

Women Gearing Up for Summer

Hats:

Women Gearing Up for Summer

  1. Columbia Global Adventure Sun Hat: So this one is the only one I have pictured that is more of woven than the others, but it still has a wicking band and I have folded it up and beat it up and it’s going strong. The only thing to note is that it does come in sizes, and apparently I have more of a larger head than smaller (so should have sized up!)
  2. Pistil Highland Hat: Super comfortable, lightweight and wicking! The brim isn’t too super huge, but I feel like it gives adequate coverage. You can seriously do anything to this hat and it won’t mess it up!
  3. Pistil Tish: If you prefer more of a cap style, this one is cute and comes in a couple of colors. The holes do allow a bit more airflow, but on really hot days, I do still get hot in it. I also get tons of compliments on it when I wear it.
  4. Pistil Mina: I LOVE this one. Very similar to the highland, but a wider brim. I call it my “Aussie” hat because I feel like it’s straight from the Outback. Very comfortable for wearing all day long!
  5. Sunday Afternoons Quest Hat: I have had this one for years actually and still wear it often. Breathes well, floats well and has that under chin strap that is breakaway for safety.
  6. Mountain Khakis Bison Patch Trucker Hat: Totally a favorite MKs hat. Kids steal it from me constantly and it’s the perfect Wyoming hat…..which draws a lot of attention, which is not always welcome! Like all MKs hats, very comfy and breathes well!

Women Gearing Up for Summer

GIVEAWAY!

Women Gearing Up for Summer + Giveaway Women Gearing Up for Summer + Giveaway

Today we get to give some gear away to THREE lucky winners. Here’s what’s up for grabs:

  1. $75 gift card to Mountain Khakis
  2. Pistil Highland Hat (photo above)
  3. Pistil Mina Hat (photo below)

Women Gearing Up for Summer

As usual, please use the widget below to enter to win. The winners will be emailed and announced on this post in the widget. Have questions? Please don’t hesitate to contact me at mountainmamatales(at)gmail(dot)com so I can help!  This giveaway is open to the U.S. and Canada.

Also, don’t forget this coupon code for White Sierra! Use code MAMA33 for 33% everything on their site!: https://www.whitesierra.com/

Gear up Women for Summer Giveaway

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Women Gearing Up for Summer + Giveaway

© 2017, Tales of a Mountain Mama. All rights reserved. Republication, in part or entirety, requires a link back to this original post and permission from the author.

Happy Baby Carrier for Comfortable Summer Baby Wearing

There is literally not a day that goes by that I do not have a baby on my back. M still refuses to walk, even at 17 months, and with a herd of kids, it’s much easier for me to throw her on my back and have hands free to wrangle the other three.

I am eternally grateful that this pregnancy has allowed me to continue carrying her, even if it’s for shorter time periods now. I wear the waist strap above my bump and we get along just fine.

This summer I have had the opportunity to work with BabyCubby.com and check out a Happy Baby Carrier ($148). It’s a carrier I had caught wind of every once in a while, but hadn’t heard too much feedback about. I am so glad I did!

Happy Baby Carrier for Comfortable Summer Baby Wearing

What makes the Happy Baby Carrier Special:

  • SUPER lightweight linen makes it ideal for wearing in hot weather
  • Despite it being lightweight, the structure is still there making it easy to get on and off
  • It comes with a hood (many lightweight carriers do not)
  • It can be used for newborns (without an insert) up until 45 pounds

After three months of wearing it and using it consistently, here’s my final thoughts. I look forward to getting the new baby in it this fall too – I think it will be great for a newborn. And I’ll update this post when I do!

Happy Baby Carrier for Comfortable Summer Baby Wearing

What I love:

  • The linen is very durable, soft (and softer with use) and breathable
  • There is a hood/sun cover <– truly, I think any carrier without this is worthless, in my opinion
  • It’s fully adjustable – plenty of room even to wear very pregnant.
  • The sternum strap (for back carry)/back strap (for front carry) is adjustable on a “rail” which means it’s super easy to move.
  • The straps have really good structure opposed to floppy ones that are hard to get on for a back carry
  • It’s SO compact
  • It’s classy and nice enough to wear to church….or out on a hike
  • It’s very easy to get a good, deep seat for optimal comfort for baby

Happy Baby Carrier for Comfortable Summer Baby Wearing

Happy Baby Carrier for Comfortable Summer Baby Wearing

What I am not so crazy about:

  • I have only worn this carrier pregnant, but I sort of suspect that when I am NOT, the waist strap may feel a little thin and dig in…..will update this review when I know better!
  • I LOVE that there is a hood…but to use it, you have to thread the top of the hood strap through a loop on the carrier strap. It’s not something I find I can do on my own. I would prefer just a snap on the strap to easily get it attached. **See photo above for visual explanation!**

I do want to note that while this carrier will be great for our newborn coming in a few (eeek!) weeks and for a baby 6+ months, I anticipate having a few “gap months” when baby wants their legs out of the carrier, but they aren’t big enough to straddle the panel. My kids tend to be smaller, so that gap time is longer, but some people never struggle with it – it totally depends on the kid!

 

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Happy Baby Carrier for Comfortable Summer Baby Wearing

Baby Cubby generously provided us this gear in order to facilitate this review.  However, as always, the opinions expressed here are completely and honestly our own.

© 2017, Tales of a Mountain Mama. All rights reserved. Republication, in part or entirety, requires a link back to this original post and permission from the author.

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