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.)
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.
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.
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.
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)
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:
- Campership apps are due March 1
- We announce on April 1, and ask that families send in their acceptance by May 1
- 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%
- 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.
- 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!
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