School’s Out, Camp’s In: Vail Valley camps for everyone

Heather Hower
Vail Lifestyle Magazine
photo - Walking Mountains Science Center

Walking Mountains Science Center

Family time is lovely: The camaraderie, the laughter, the bonding… then after a couple of days come the quibbles and bickering, and it’s time for a break. Vail has break-time covered with a variety of camp options for every age group and predilection.

Western Eagle County Recreation Metro District (WECMRD) is a must-do for locals, what with its swim team, adventure camps, skateboarding and various sports camps. But why should locals get to have all the fun? WECMRD offers drop-in camps all summer long at its facilities in Edwards, Eagle and Gypsum.

WECMRD helps fill a niche for teens with its Teen FURY Camp held in June, July and August for kids ages 12 to 18. FURY camp is a sports performance and fitness camp that is designed to help jumpstart a teen’s summer by getting their game to the next level. Tips, tricks, techniques and fun. Younger kids, ages 5 to 12, can jump in to Ninja camp — a play on the adrenaline-inducing American Ninja Warrior. Kids can tackle WECMRD’s Ninja course, testing their skills and getting their own adrenaline rush. Who knows, it could even be a stepping stone before they hit national TV.

Not to be outdone by its neighbor to the west, Vail Recreation District (VRD) has a slew of camps. Its sports camps are renowned, with families planning vacations around the offerings. Football, volleyball, basketball, lacrosse, golf, gymnastics, tennis, skateboarding… VRD brings in top-notch sports camp facilitators that can elevate the kids’ games.

“Not only are sports camps a constructive and healthy way for kids to spend time off in the summer, sports camps give participants the skill foundation for success in their chosen sport while being led by professional coaches who mix in valuable life lessons in a fun environment,” says Joel Rabinowitz, VRD sports manager, who has been with the rec district for 23 years. “I enjoy seeing kids learning and improving their skills in activities they are passionate about.”

photo - Fossil Posse in Wolcott CO

Fossil Posse

For a less-physical, more-mental and completely jaw-dropping experience, the Fossil Posse in Wolcott is a must. The paleo-explorers camp is a step back in time — into the Jurassic and Cretaceous eras, where kids can dig up fossils, hold millions of year old fossils and be immersed in history — all while learning, technology-free.

“It’s the most unique camp around, it focuses on prehistoric Eagle County, on the greatest animals to ever walk the planet. We know for a fact they lived here,” says Billy Doran, explorer, camp founder and fossil fanatic. “Kids get to experience that, they get to hold fossils, they get to learn things in a way that’s unique and easy to understand.”
Kids get dirty, dig in the dirt, get the wow factor, and learn about science hands-on. Children ages 6 and older are welcome to come to camp… but why should kids get to have all the fun? Enter the Fossil Posse Adventure Tour, fossil camp for people 12 and older.

Families join Fossil Posse and Timberline Tours for a guided raft tour where they go back in time to prehistoric Eagle County — they get to see dinosaur sites, footprints, bones and fossils, some as much as 150 million years old.

Just seeing the footprints brings the animals to life, Doran says, and the wonderment on the participants’ faces never gets old. “There are so many things to see. We meet at base camp in Wolcott for an hour then do an explorative talk about dinosaurs, get kids in the fossil pit…” Doran says. Then they hit a mellow stretch of river, floating back into history while actually getting to hold fossils and teeth and claws. There’s nothing like time spent on the river to connect you to the world around you.

photo - Alpine Arts Center kids Edwards

Alpine Arts Center

Artists will want to meander to Edwards’ Alpine Arts Center, a creative art studio that provides instruction in all mediums for kids, and adults, of all ages and ability levels.

Owner, director and teacher Lauren Merrill founded the studio eight years ago to give the community a place to create art. That’s exactly what takes place every day in the spacious, bright studio — not that students spend all day inside.

“Our camps are great because they expose children of all ages to all different art mediums,” Merrill says. “We do as many projects as we can outdoors in nature so the kids will be going in and outside.”

Camps range from beginner-just-for-fun for kids as young as three to practices that help develop the fundamentals to build on art skills for tweens, teens and families. The teen and tween camps (finally! Something for teens to get excited about) do more in-depth projects — and start in the afternoon since not many teens rise and shine.

“They can be a complete beginner or more advanced; we have projects that can be geared to different levels,” Merrill says. “All camps have all materials provided so everybody can just show up, it’s easy if you live here or if you’re coming from out of town.”

The clay camp is the most popular — who wouldn’t want to hand-build and use the pottery wheel? It’s so freeing — but every camp has a loyal following. Alpine Arts offers a punch pass the entire family can share, so everyone can get their art on.

photo Beaver Creek Kids’ Camp

Beaver Creek Kids’ Camp

While many adults love the pampering found at Beaver Creek Resort, kids want something entirely different: Action. Adventure. Dirt. Teamwork. All that — and more — is easily found at Beaver Creek Kids’ Camps.

Campers can go just one day, but once they get the taste of adventure, they may want to spend the week mining for gold, horseback riding, standup paddleboarding, rock climbing, rafting… or just daydreaming.

There’s camp — and then there are camps in the Rocky Mountains. Kids as young as three can learn new skills and meet new friends. Teens and tweens can get in on the action too — now it’s just a matter of deciding which camp to check out.


Support Local Journalism