Best Summer Camps in Boulder: Where to Send The Kids for Summer

Summer in Boulder is a time for fun, sun, play, and long hours of leisure. And since Boulder has been named Smartest City more than once, these joyful warm weather shenanigans aren’t without a spicy dash of education, self-improvement, and helping the environment, too. The summer camps in Boulder have it all.

Since for Boulderite kids, school’s out for summer, Boulder’s parents and guardians have to find something cool to safely occupy them while the adults continue to go to work, and in Boulder (and the surrounding county, and the very close by mountainous environs), the panoply of summer camps is bar none. There are so many interesting, engaging, edutaining, and otherwise just plain hella fun camps, both day and overnight, to satisfy Boulder’s children and teens no matter what they’re into.

Here I’ve compiled a bunch of the most high quality, unusual, or otherwise cool and interesting camps Boulder boasts this summer of 2019. Now, this is a pretty long list, but it is far from complete. Have a favorite summer camp destination that didn’t make it here? Tell us about it in the comments.

Arts, Music and Performing Summer Camps

Sometimes, during the year, when you’re occupied with so much schoolwork, you don’t have the time or energy to put into the art practice that you need to for the art of your choice. This is where arts-centered camps can come in quite handy–it’s like a summer intensive course for your artistic endeavors. And for the very wee ones? It’s an important type of developmental play. Here are only a few of the neatest arts-themed camps Boulder has to offer:

Music

Boulder is home to all kinds of music festivals, as well as a robust live music nightlife (as you have seen if you’ve read our weekend pieces). Since it’s such a musical town, we’ve got lots of musical camps to share Boulder’s musicality to Boulder’s kids & teens. The School of Rock is here to unleash your inner rock star: the central practice within the Boulder School of Rock is the immense benefits musicians find when playing in groups.

Image Cred: School of Rock

Rock bands form in the School of Rock, and they say that no matter what your level of musicianship, you’ll improve. It’s a weekly camp, with awesome rock concerts every Friday!  Camp Oonie Koonie Cha is another musical camp for the little ones of Boulder (ages 4-9), and here’s why this camp is so very neato: it’s got this combination of paleontology and a musical world for the kids, which just sounds insanely fun. Campers will go on “digs” to learn about dinosaurs, salvage materials to make their own instruments, and then learn to play them! Theatrical play, science experiments, and xylophone concerts, oh my!

Visual arts

One only needs to walk down Pearl Street Mall to realize how much of a rich visual arts city Boulder is. Events like the Market, Creek Fest, Open Studios, and the multiple museums and galleries all over speak to the number of amazingly talented artists who are Boulderites. There are plenty of camps around town that focus on creating arts & crafts, including several options in some of the general day camps, like the Boulder Parks & Rec or YMCA ones.

Studio Arts is one of the longest running, most popular art camps in Boulder, and it’s easy to see why: it’s a pottery studio, where campers can go and get both messy and creative, which is really the best kind if you think about it, especially for the young. Living Arts is a fantastic arts-centered camp that at the same time takes place in idyllic outdoor settings so that the campers aren’t spending all their summer days indoors. Each year is a different theme, and 2019’s theme is “The Fantastical World of Magic,” which means campers will be making magic potions, rainbow dyes, all kinds of magical themes genres of hands-on arts. Sounds like a truly magical time.

Performing Arts

Like our bigger city cousin, Denver, we in Boulder County have some of the best performing arts companies in Colorado, arguably in the whole country. And so we’re all very lucky that we can take advantage of all these brilliant performing artists who are heading these summer camps, so we can get a taste of the glory ourselves. The Colorado Shakespeare Festival is one of the biggest, premier Shakespeare festivals in the country, and this summer there are programs for campers of all ages, to experience the Bard firsthand from some of the best practitioners you’re likely to find, and also get to experience Shakespeare under the stars.

Frequent Flyers Productions is Boulder’s eminent aerial dance company, having brought the innovative art to our fair city for more than two decades. Not only does FFP have their world-famous aerial dance festival each summer, but they do summer camps to let you experience the magic of flight. But if ballet is more your style, go North to the summer intensives at Longmont Dance Academy. You may be put off by their teeny little space next to the train tracks, but make no mistake: during the year, the LDT gives their students a rigorously professional training, and they’re not messing around with their high quality of dance instruction. Summers, they bring in instructors of different styles of dance and movement, to give you a taste of what they do, have fun, and make you want to sign up with them all year. If you come to the LDT this summer, say hello to me–I’ll be teaching stage combat to the older campers and having a blast!

STEM

Lots of the general day camps in Boulder have STEM (and even STEAM) components to them, but here are some specifics that are popular and super edutaining for your favorite budding scientists and engineers: CU Science Discovery and CU’s iD Tech camps have an incredibly robust STEM summer program going, including robotics, engineering, coding, rocket science, and more, for kids who want science over their summer, and even for high school students who need actual classes to take during break. These programs come equipped with some extended care hours, too, which makes it perfect for Boulder families who are busy. Play-Well TEKnologies is another engineering and computerized summer camp that teaches its lessons using LEGO centered activities. Now that sounds like fun!


Image Credit: CU Science Discovery

Another venerable science centered summer camp experience that has inspired and enriched Boulder kids’ summers for many years (I myself have fond memories of this series of camps), you could do no worse than the Thorne Nature Experience. Campers learn about nature as they’re immersed in it, and there are multiple different aspects of biological and geological sciences to choose from, and the campers get to to spend these long summer days outside and up in Boulder’s amazing natural environment.

Sports

Again, lots of Boulder’s camps have everything you’ll want sports-wise: City of Boulder, YMCA, CU Boulder’s myriad sports camps, all the hiking aspects of the mountain day camps, etc. There’s also camps for all sports you can think of, that I haven’t mentioned below: soccer, golf, tennis, sailing, etc. But here’s a few favorite sports camps that Boulder enjoys: For all things bicycling (as well as all kinds of other adventurous activities), Avid Adventure has your back. And for something a little closer to home, which also teaches you about bicycle maintenance, repair, and community building, you’ve got Community Cycles.

Boulder’s got a wide array of camps for martial arts of various kinds, like the enriching activities offered by Boulder Karate, teaching campers about respect, discipline, and self-defense, as well as healthy competition. And for those swashbuckling fans out there, we’ve got Northern Colorado Fencing, for all abilities. Of course, Boulder wouldn’t be Boulder without the mountains, and what better mountain based sport could there be than climbing up them? The Boulder Rock Club will train campers in all kinds of rock climbing techniques from basic bouldering to big bad belayed climbs. If your climbing is aspirational to join the Ninja Warrior Challenge, you can go up North to the Longmont Climbing Collective, for their Climbing Ninja camp.

Other

Again, the above list doesn’t even scratch the Boulder summer camp surface. Here’s a brief list of some more ideas that defy categories, from the famous Boulder Public Library’s summer reading program, to a safe and fun place for campers with special needs, to learning how a farm works, to cooking those amazing farmed ingredients, to LARPing, or creating a whole fantasy world. In no particular order:

Summer Reading program

Summer Fantasy Writing & Gaming Camp

Renaissance Adventures

Adam’s Camp

Cure Organic Farm

Food Lab

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Jennifer Zukowski

Jennifer Zukowski

Jenn Zuko is adjunct faculty at DU, MSU Denver, and Regis University. She teaches courses in writing; literature; visual, performing, and martial arts; body language and stage combat. She is the author of Stage Combat: Fisticuffs, Stunts, and Swordplay for Theatre and Film, and “I Do My Own Stunts”. She can be seen performing on stage and in classrooms in the Boulder/Denver area, and online at Daily Cross-Swords, YourBoulder, and Writers’ HQ. She tweets at @bonzuko.
Jennifer Zukowski

Jennifer Zukowski

Jenn Zuko is adjunct faculty at DU, MSU Denver, and Regis University. She teaches courses in writing; literature; visual, performing, and martial arts; body language and stage combat. She is the author of Stage Combat: Fisticuffs, Stunts, and Swordplay for Theatre and Film, and “I Do My Own Stunts”. She can be seen performing on stage and in classrooms in the Boulder/Denver area, and online at Daily Cross-Swords, YourBoulder, and Writers’ HQ. She tweets at @bonzuko.

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