Vail: A learning playground |

Vail: A learning playground

Shauna Farnell
Daily Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
Daily staff report/Kristin Anderson

Vail, Colorado -It’s commonly understood that Vail is a playground for children of all ages, but from Vail to Beaver Creek, Avon to Edwards, local organizations offer a thick rainbow of activities for young people that spans the entire summer.


When it comes to team sports, look no further than the Vail Recreation District. From volleyball and lacrosse to baseball, ice hockey and soccer, the Rec District offers several three- to seven-day camps with university coaches and other bona fide instructors for young children as well as high schoolers. Camps range in price between $75 and $170, depending on the duration. For information about each, visit

There are also camps for aspiring ninjas, gymnasts and golfers. Martial arts classes and camps for all ages (including adults) and skill levels are offered through the Vail Academy of Martial Arts. For more information, visit or call 970-949-8121. Gymnastics camps are five days long and not all about tumbling but also incorporate hiking, nature center and park visits and cost $150 for the full-day package or $125 for half day. Call 970-479-2287.

The Youth Foundation’s First Tee of Eagle County has a myriad of programs aimed at jumpstarting an interest in golf at a young age, from birdie level instruction to a players league to week-long girls-only sessions, all costing around $60. For more info, visit or call 970-763-7004.

On Tuesdays between 10 a.m. and noon, young skateboarders can hone their skills with the Rec District’s skateboard clinics atop the Lionshead parking structure for $25 ($20 for Vail residents) and Wednesdays (July 7 and 21, Aug. 4 and 25) present a chance for children ages 8 and older to put their wheels to the test in local mountain bike races

Day camps

For a taste of several sports, not to mention swimming, rafting, arts and crafts, educational activities and trips to fun parks, the Vail Rec District offers one-day to 10-day camps from June through Aug. 20, including an Extreme Camp on Fridays. Camps are available for young children (starting at 30 months) and high schoolers. Children can go to camp for a day to 10 days. Prices are discounted for Eagle County students. For more info, visit

Don’t get the wrong idea with the town of Avon’s Munch Bunch. The program is available from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursday’s through July 15 for children between 3 and 5, offering treasure hunts and outdoor games with Thursdays at the Avon Recreation Center swimming pool. The cost is $66 per child. Call 970-748-4060 for more info. For truly athletic children, Avon is also hosting an IronKids event on July 11, a triathlon (running, swimming and biking) for children between 6 and 15. The Westin plays host. For more info, visit

Wilderness adventure

Children get a taste for the backcountry with SOS Outreach’s seven-day wilderness camping trips. Hiking, rock climbing, camping and backpacking will make an early outdoor extraordinaire out of those who are young and hardy. SOS also offers condensed versions of the wilderness trips involving an overnight camp and hike up one of Colorado’s notorious 14,000-foot mountains. Visit for more information or call 970-926-9292.

Creative learning and outdoor education

From shadow capturing to sensory science and art projects, children between 2 and 12 can stop by the Imagination Station in Vail’s Lionshead to expand their minds in colorful fashion. The station is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and cost is $5 per child. A $10, three-hour drop-off program is also available. Call 970-479-2292.

With so much natural beauty around, children have the opportunity to appreciate it and even become experts about it through Gore Range Natural Science School’s day camps and summer programs, which focus on everything from birds and butterflies to forest creatures to survival techniques. Day camps start around $290. Hiking, camping and adventure abound in the Science School’s overnight programs (July 5-9 for seventh and eighth graders and July 19-23 for fifth and sixth graders, prices start around $375) and parents are invited to learn about trees, insects, water and night creatures in parent-child excusions Friday mornings throughout July for $35 for each child-parent pair or $120 for all four programs. For more information about Gore Range Science School youth programs, call 970-827-9725 or visit

Growing is something that green things do to, and children between 5 and 10 can learn all about it from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Wednesdays at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens in Vail. Plant education gets down to digging in the dirt for a $5 donation.


Young music lovers can hit new high notes, both learning and teaching through the Bravo! Music Festival youth programs. The festivals instrument petting zoo can be found at farmers markets all over town throughout the summer, presenting hands-on tutorials of all instruments in the orchestra while junior and senior high school students can volunteer in the zoo as well as usher during summer concerts through Bravo!’s Junior Guild. For more information, call 970-827-4302.


Watch out, Hollywood. Beaver Creek Children’s Theatre Company offers four-day workshops for children between 5 and 12, coaching them in singing skills, creating characters and gaining stage confidence. The sessions run from July 6-9, 19-22 and Aug. 2-5 from 9 a.m. to noon. The costs per four-day session is $185. For more information, visit or call 970-926-5855.


Of course, hiking around the valley’s many beautiful trails with your children comes at the delicious price of free. Take the kids to the top of the mountain in Vail, where kids ride the gondola free (three kids per paying adult) throughout the summer. At Eagle’s Nest at the top of the mountain, learn about the animals and trees around you at the free Gore Range Natural Science Discover Center. Other free activities include the Dino Dig, Bocce Ball, horseshoes and slackline, but Adventure Ridge also offers pony rides, a climbing wall, a giant bungee trampoline and disc golf. Chairlift rides at Beaver Creek are also free for children ages 5-12 throughout the summer. Stop by the Beaver Creek Hiking Center for a brochure of the Hike-ology program, steering you onto three different hiking loops that enlighten hikers on Colorado wildlife, plants and flowers.

Making true waves for children 6 and older, the Vail Library’s Splash into Reading series offers animal visits, demonstrations, performers, musicians, and magicians every Tuesday from 1 to 3 p.m. (except for July 6) through Aug. 10. See the lineup at or call 970-479-2179 for more information. The Vail Library also offers toddler story time at 10 a.m. and preschool story time at 11 a.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

For rainy days or just afternoons when being indoors sounds cozy, the Avon Library offers story time for toddlers at 10 a.m. and older babies at 11 a.m. on Wednesdays (10 a.m. on Thursdays for younger babies), for preschoolers at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and bilingual story time for younger babies on Friday at 10 a.m. and older babies at 11 a.m. on Friday. Avon Library also shows free children’s movies – “The Water Horse,” “Little Mermaid” and other animated favorites – at 1 p.m. on Fridays. Call 970-949-6797 for more info. Both libraries present a teen reading celebration at 3:30 p.m. on July 29 with prize giveaways for summer teen readers.

Last but not least, for an evening in a swanky movie theater setting, the Vail Valley Foundation is offering free family movies at the Vilar Performing Arts Center on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m., beginning June 30 with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.Visit for more information or call 888-920-2787.

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