Cheley Colorado Camps
3960 Fish Creek Rd., Estes Park
Known for being particularly terrific for kids who are into horseback riding, Cheley Colorado Camps are spread out on three different sites in scenic Estes Park Valley, which is a mix of spectacular mountain peaks and pine forests threaded with hundreds of miles of trails. Land O' Peaks Ranch is about 70 miles northwest of Denver, and it houses 6 girls units and 6 boys units, broken up by age, from 9 to 11 years old. On a ranch a dozen miles away, you'll find Girls' Trail's End (for 12-17 years old) and Boys' Trail's End (same age). Campers can sign up for half or full season. In addition, Cheley hosts a number of specialty camps: five-day family camp, an eight-day camp for burn survivors, a five-day program in the Colorado Rockies for high schoolers who have an Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard parent, and a fall/spring outdoor education experience.
1365 Forest Park Circle Ste. 201, Lafayette
Adventure meets community service at Global Works, where they take high school students on trips around the globe that have various do-good missions (earthquake relief in Nepal, environmental conservation projects in Puerto Rico, public health work in Nicaragua). The trips fall into three buckets: language immersions (Spanish, French, Mandarin); global action (i.e. surfing, snorkeling, and trekking adventures); and enrichment (for a meaningful experience centered around a single interest, e.g., marine biology, medicine, soccer).
High Mountain Institute
531 County Rd. 5A, Leadville
HMI offers a variety of semester-long programs that combine academics and wilderness exploration for high school and college students. The summer term is based out of Leadville, Colorado and includes expeditions into the region that emphasize the importance of place, examine environmental ethics, teach wilderness travel skills (how to read a map, cook over a one-burner stove, camp in style), and require students to be both leaders and good team members. It's an experience that tends to stay with students well after summer is over.
910 Jackson St., Golden
Outward Bound is an organization that values learning by doing. Their reach and range of classes and expeditions is extensive—in the U.S. alone (it's an international network), about 35,000 students are enrolled in programs each year, whether classroom- or wilderness-based. Their expeditions are for middle school, high school, college students, adults, and families. The classic Outward Bound wilderness expedition lasts for 15 days and brings students out into the wild where they partake in any number of exciting (yet challenging) activities from canyoneering to rock climbing, dog sledding, and river rafting. The trip locations are varied: Alaska, Appalachian Mountains, Outer Banks, Colorado Rockies, and so on. It's another summer experience that sticks.
Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School & Camp
40755 County Rd. 36, Steamboat Springs
Like many summer camps, Perry-Mansfield is set in a picturesque location (an enormous, rural campus in Steamboat Springs, Colorado) and houses students in old-school log cabins. But instead of focusing on sports and outdoor activities, Perry-Mansfield is all about the performing arts, with rigorous training programs in acting, singing, and dance. It was actually founded by Portia Mansfield and Charlotte Perry, both independent women and pioneers of modern dance, who bought the property for a song back in the early 1900s and built their dance studio there. Their adventurous, creative spirit is very much alive at the school today, as students seamlessly move between horseback riding and tap classes. Get ready for magnificent performances on parents weekend and pickup day.
2845 Wilderness Pl., Boulder
Women's Wilderness provides outdoor experiences and wilderness adventures for girls in the Rocky Mountains and Desert Southwest. While the quality of the outdoor experiences they offer is amazing (your girl will come back with all kinds of newfound skills), the real takeaway here is the leadership, self-sufficiency, and confidence they foster in young women. There are two amazing programs for high school age girls—a week-long backpacking trip in Colorado and Wyoming, and a weekend-long rock climbing camp in southern Wyoming—and a camping/light backpacking program for middle schoolers. Side note: Their camps for grown-ups are pretty sweet, too.
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