Seven Super-Cool Summer Camps

The beauty of day camps? Sleeping in a bed.
The beauty of day camps? Sleeping in a bed. Guian Bolisay at Flickr

Summers aren’t what they used to be. Back in the day, we wiled away the days with otter pops and slip-n-slides, drinking from the hose and doing anything within biking distance as long as we were home before the shadows disappeared into the warm, hazy nights. These days are different. Kids these days have plans.

What sort of plans? Therein lies the rub, right? How does a modern parent responsibly fill his or her kid’s summer schedule without breaking the bank or boring their babies? Here are seven sublime selections for a super summer, camp-wise, to fill the warm weeks with wonder.

Denver Leaps and Bounds
Dream Big Summer Camp for Girls
Leaps and Bounds Denver
3333 Holly Street
June 24 to July 3, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Denver author Chelsea Harris leads Denver Leaps and Bounds in providing this summer camp just for girls ages four to ten. The summer enrichment experience is great for building sisterhood between young girls and includes dance, arts, tutoring, field trips and tons more. Snacks are provided, but campers will need to bring their own lunches and enthusiasm to build both community and a serious sense of fun. Check out the Denver Leaps and Bounds website for more information and registration details.

Teen Studio Camp: Poetry and the Self
Boulder Writing Studio
777 Pearl Street, Suite 211, Boulder
June 8 to 12, 1 to 4 p.m.
Amanda Auerbach is a writer and teacher from the University of Iowa, and her new collection, What Need Have We for Such as We, is forthcoming from C&R Press later this year. Teens thirteen and up can join her for a weeklong workshop focusing on poems that are occasions for self-exploration, self-expression and self-making. Students will read and discuss contemporary poets such as Lucie Brock-Broido, Denis Johnson, Dorothea Lasky, Ocean Vuong and Ada Limon. If you have an aspiring poet in your house, this might be a perfect — and life-changing — way to spend a week in June.

Summer in the Parks
Denver Parks and Recreation
Various parks around Denver
June 10 to August 2 (before- and after-camp care available), 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
$450 plus a $45 field-trip fee
Denver’s park system is one of the best in the nation, and kids can take full advantage of that this summer, as six parks around the city host days of traditional summer-camp fun, from arts and crafts to games and sports to aquatics, field trips and special events — all with qualified and licensed child-care providers. Want your kid to have an experience something like you had as a kid but still come home every afternoon? Here’s your chance. See the Denver Parks and Recreation website for specifics and registration information.

Adventure Quest
Renaissance Adventures
Denver Waldorf School
2100 South Pennsylvania Street
Weeks starting June 3 and ending August 16, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Starts at $399 per week (discounts available, including a $100 “New Quester” discount for first-time adventurers)
Do your kids dream of getting that letter from Hogwarts? Do they play fantasy video games or talk with their friends about Dungeons & Dragons? These weeklong fantasy adventures are right up their (Diagon) alley. They’re also more than just a whole lot of fun, for kids from seven to seventeen to get out and jump-start their imaginations, medieval-style. This is live-action role playing with an educational edge honed by hundreds of successful there-and-back-agains since 1995. It’s an award-winning experiential camp that puts kids right in the roles they’ve always imagined: being the hero of their own mythic story.

Lighthouse Young Writers Summer Camp
Lighthouse Writers Workshop
1515 Race Street
Half-Day and Full-day options available
$200 to $375
Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop does amazing work with up-and-coming adult writers year-round, but summer gives them the opportunity to open the creative doors for the younger set. Options for workshops vary from genre-specific half-day programs to more extensive full-day experiences, each designed to foster creativity, self-expression, and a true love of the written word. And each one is led by published and award-winning writers, each one eager to support the next generation of literati. Consult the Lighthouse website for details, a full listing of available genres by date, and registration information.

Junior Firefighters Summer Camp
Denver Firefighters Museum
1326 Tremont Place
July 8 to 12, noon to 4 p.m.
 (ages five to seven)
July 15 to 19, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  (ages eight to twelve)
$60 to $65
It’s worth remembering that some of our earliest heroes — real heroes, not the ones usually seen on movie screens or in comic books — were men and women in uniform. And that definitely includes firefighters, who arguably have the coolest trucks and awesome Dalmatians to ride around in them. (That’s actually a thing, right?) This summer camp invites kids to come down to the museum for fire safety, firefighter history, the fire service, and a whole lot of fun. Register and get more information at the museum website.

Mad Science Camp
Various locations in Denver metro
Half-day (9 a.m. to noon) and full-day (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
$199 to $299
A lot of STEM-related camps cater to middle school and high school students, but Mad Science Camp is for the elementary set. Locations vary, from downtown Denver to Golden, Broomfield, Littleton and several others, so there’s bound to be a place nearby — and with topics like rockets, electronics, NASA, forensics and more? There’s also a subject that's sure to tickle the imagination of your little Einsteins. Study up on the website for more info.

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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen