background img

7 Tips for talking about drugs and alcohol with kids

It can be intimidating to talk with our kids about smoking, vaping, drinking or misusing prescription medications. Here are some ways to establish trust (and make it less awkward).

It’s hard enough to get a response from our kids when we ask how their day went, so the prospect of starting a conversation with them about tobacco, alcohol and drugs probably seems about as exciting as folding laundry. On the other hand, we know it’s important, and we want our kids to know they can come to us with questions about drinking, smoking or other drugs, so they’ll make healthy choices when we aren’t around.

Building that trust means starting early, and keeping those conversations going. The good news is you’re not alone, there are resources out there to help us get the ball rolling and stay on track.

Here are some tips to help start an ongoing discussion with kids about substance use:

  1. Plan ahead: Are you worried because a friend’s child got into trouble with drugs or alcohol? Do you want to give your child skills to say no to peer pressure before it happens? Understanding what you want to say ahead of time makes it more likely you’ll be satisfied with the outcome.
  2. Create time (and space) to talk: Choose a time and place where neither of you will be rushed, bothered nor distracted.
  3. Be honest: Establishing yourself as a resource means telling the truth about our own substance use. If our kids know we’re being honest with them, they’ll be more likely to return the favor. On the flipside, nothing can damage trust faster than your child finding out you lied to them.
  4. Take advantage of opportunities: Seeing a movie with characters who smoke, watching the local news cover a story about marijuana, driving home from a family gathering where a relative obviously had too much to drink— situations like these are a chance to talk about real-life consequences of substance use and reinforce the message you want your kids to understand.
  5. Lead by example: Our children notice when we have a glass of wine, a cigarette or use prescription medications. Our behavior around substances can reinforce, or undermine, the message we want them to understand about drinking, smoking or using other drugs.
  6. You ARE being heard: Whether it seems like you’re getting through to them or not, research shows kids really do care what their parents and caregivers think about substance use. They may roll their eyes, they may complain, just know you are making an impact.
  7. Keep lines of communication open: Check in with your kids. Ask about their friends, a new favorite band, their job, or what’s going on in their lives. Reminding them you’re genuinely interested in their lives makes it much more likely that they’ll come to you in times of need.

Hopefully this list will help you start having open, honest and ongoing conversations about substance use with your kids, and even more information and resources are available.

A great one is the Speak Now! Colorado website from the Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health. It has age-specific suggestions you can use to have fact-based conversations about how alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, vaping, prescription medications and other substances can affect your kids’ health.

There are also scenarios to help you figure out how to start the conversation, and plans to help your children resist pressure from peers to use substances like marijuana, alcohol and other drugs.

In partnership with Mile High Mamas. 

 

 

Caring adults can make a difference in the lives of foster youth

Think about the things all kids deserve. A loving family. A warm, safe home. Caring adults to support them in school and teach them life skills. The chance to play sports, play music, do art and dream big. Opportunities to thrive and be successful in the future.

It’s easy to take these things for granted. But the unfortunate reality is many youth in foster care– through no fault of their own, but as unintended victims of poverty, parental incarceration, abuse, mental illness and substance abuse – don’t always have the safe, supportive and loving environment all kids need.

At Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth (SAFY) of Colorado, we work 24/7, 365 days a year to strengthen families and communities. So when kids can’t be with their biological families, that’s where foster parents come in. Foster parents are what we call “agents of hope,” a mentoring bridge between youth and their biological or adoptive family, which secures a child’s future.

In Colorado, there are currently 5,700 foster youth who need caring foster parents to provide a stable, supportive home environment. And the ways in which people foster are as different as the kids we serve. Some foster placements are for a short time, while other times children are placed with a foster family for longer periods. Some foster parents choose to foster and eventually adopt. There is a critical need for foster families willing to care for sibling groups, teens, LGBTQ youth, and youth who need extra care for trauma or other special needs.

If you have a longing to make a difference for children and be that agent of hope for foster youth in Colorado, visit www.SAFY.org to learn more about the requirements and licensure process to become a foster parent.

And if now is not the right time for you to start fostering, there are many other ways you can support foster youth. Donating to SAFY means you help cover basic needs like clothing, school supplies and toiletries; everyday needs like child care costs, extracurricular activities and youth enrichment; and complex needs including therapies for trauma and mental health.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and for Colorado’s 5,700 foster youth, that village is needed now more than ever. We all have the opportunity to be that agent of hope.

 By Jenna Coleman, Colorado Executive Director, SAFY

 About SAFY

Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth (SAFY) of America is a national non-profit organization creating healthy youth and families through community-based solutions. Building upon our reputation as a leader in treatment foster care services, our comprehensive home- and community-based programs serve those with social service and behavioral health needs in seven states including Alabama, Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Nevada, Ohio and South Carolina. To learn more about our programs and services, call 800.532.7239 or visit www.SAFY.org.

 

 

Awkward is good when it comes to talking and trust

Parenting means having unexpected, uncomfortable, or awkward conversation that begin when kids are young. We think we have years before we have to talk about sex or drugs and we envision bringing it up at just the right time, acting as their sage advisors.

Then you’re out running errands with grandma and your 4-year-old shows off his reading skills by blurting out “Mama! That sign says ‘Head Shop! What’s a Head Shop? Do they sell people’s heads there?’”

Teachable Moments

These situations may be unexpected and uncomfortable, but they‘re an opportunity to establish yourself as a wise counselor to your kids. Some of the best teachable moments come out of everyday situations. This is the time to take advantage of our children’s natural curiosity. When your 4-year-old child notices someone smoking, you can say that some people choose to smoke, but it isn’t healthy as it can hurt your lungs and make it hard to breathe. It can also make your teeth yellow. This is a teachable moment; as a parent, you are letting your child know your point of view (smoking is unhealthy) and possible consequence (yellow teeth) in an age appropriate way. 

Another teachable moment is when we host a party where adults are drinking alcohol and we hear “why do grown-ups like beer and wine?” we can explain that alcohol is fine for adults to drink occasionally, but it can harm young peoples’ developing brains. If a guest enjoyed their adult drinks a little too much and our kids notice, we can explain that alcohol changes how our brains work, and drinking too much makes it harder to be safe, no matter what age someone is.

Facts, not fear

We want to protect our children, no matter their age, so the first instinct when kids ask about drugs or alcohol is usually to say, don’t do it or make  extreme statements that drugs or alcohol kill people. But if we want our kids to come to us as the main source for information, we need to be willing to talk it through, even if it can be uncomfortable or awkward.

This doesn’t mean we should minimize the risks of substance use, but talking about the benefits of not using tobacco, marijuana or alcohol is a better strategy than focusing on the extremes.

Pointing out that our brains and bodies work better when we don’t use these substances keeps things factual, and doesn’t require us to add drama to make an impact. Instead, you’re stressing the importance that you as a parent want your child to make choices that will lead to them being healthy.

We’ve only just begun…

Like every other topic, alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other drugs will come up again and again, and that’s a good thing. Every time your child asks a question, it’s an opportunity to solidify your credibility and establish yourself as a resource, someone your kid knows they can turn to for honest answers when they’re not sure who to believe.

Resources are available to help us have ongoing and honest conversations, like the Speak Now! Colorado website from the Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health. The website has information in English and Spanish on health effects of tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and other drugs, and includes proven tips for how to start the conversation and keep conversations going about substance use with our kids as they grow.

In partnership with Mile High Mamas.

Want your child to learn to code? CodeWizardsHQ is a win!

Technology: Love it or leave it? Personally, I’d prefer to just leave a lot of it but our kids are growing up in a tech-saturated world and my 12-year-old son Bode looooooves video games. I, however, do not love the time wasted with video games. So, how can we reach a comprise where I feel like his time online is well-spent at least some of the time? 

 CodeWizardsHQ Curriculum

Enter: CodeWizardsHQ which offers a structured and comprehensive multi-year online curriculum available for grades 3rd-12th. Their unique approach combines the benefits of teacher-led instruction and the ease and convenience of online classes. Students attend weekly online classes from the convenience of your home.  Classes are teacher-led, student-centered and project-based. Beginner to advanced experience levels are offered. As students progress course to course, they learn popular programming languages including; Scratch, HTML/CSS, JavaScript, Python, MySQL, and more.  

Bode learned more during his 3-week-long beginner Python class than he did after attending Scratch classes at our local library for 2+ years.  So, what’s the difference? He says CodeWizardsHQ is “interactive, fun and it does a great job building upon the principles of coding.” The courses are deliberate, well-orchestrated and with class sizes under 8 students, instructors are not overwhelmed on the live chats or video conferencing. 

Bode says, “I loved learning how to build my own games. My favorite project was when we designed a game so the fruit would come off and you would click the fruit before it would disappear. There was a scoring mechanism and it was cool to create something I would play in real life.” 

Homework: The Fun Kind

After each class period, they had a homework project that would supplement what they learned every day. It would take Bode between 5-30 minutes and they were enjoyable since they were in the format of a game. If he had questions, students get 24/7 access to course materials and recorded sessions to review course content. They also get 24-hour email support from instructors and also live 1×1 instructor help during our office hours. This support is included in course fees.


Progress Report

Does your child ever go to camp and school and you wonder what they’re doing all day? CodeWizardsHQ sent a daily progress report including their “grade” in the quizzes. 


Missing Class

Have to miss a class because, you know, life?  CodeWizardsHQ records every class as it is delivered. Shortly after the class is over, they make those recordings and the class slides available to the students in that class. These recordings and slides make it easy for students to have another look at the material or catch up on a missed class.

Keep Learning

At the end of each students are assigned a capstone project that incorporates all the skills learned during that course. Every student who successfully completes this capstone project receives a certificate of completion, recognizing the skills they’ve learned and the level of mastery they’ve achieved.

Before Bode’s Python class was complete, I was impressed to receive an email detailing next steps:

 

They have a structured, long-term coding program that prepares your child for academic and professional success. The program finalizes with a capstone project, internship or a la carte courses that give students real-world web development experience or preparation for exams to earn college credit. Their student’s portfolios stand out in college applications and give them a competitive edge.  

Whoa…an Internship?

After completing all of CodeWizardsHQ’s courses, students are eligible for a 6-month internship with a partner nonprofit organization. This internship will give students real-world web development experience, allowing them to build a portfolio and stand out on college applications. 

Testimonial from a Pro 

My husband owns a Denver-based web development firm and he has been really impressed with the skillset that my son is gaining.  “This place [CodeWizardsHQ] is the real deal. I like how they covered a wide range of topics and taught kids in an engaging way to get them excited and interested about an awesome field of work.”

Go to Code Wizards HQ for more information about their late-summer and (soon) fall courses. 

 

Free Family Support in the Denver area!

Do you ever wish kids came with a manual? Turns out, they kind of do! Family Tree SafeCare® works with parents and caregivers to provide them with information and skills they can use on a daily basis as their children grow.

Family Tree is a non-profit organization with a mission to help people overcome child abuse, domestic violence and homelessness to become safe, strong and self-reliant.  We have three pillars of excellence: Child & Youth Services, Domestic Violence Services and Housing & Family Stabilization Services.  Child & Youth Services includes programs that keep children safe from abuse and neglect and help stabilize families.

What is Family Tree SafeCare® Colorado and what is the cost? Who is eligible?

SafeCare Colorado is a free, voluntary, Parent Support Program for families with at least one child aged birth to five in the home. SafeCare® Colorado is designed to help reduce parental stress and empower parents/caregivers with new skills as well as building on existing skills they may have already. SafeCare® sessions focus on the following areas: home safety, health and parent child interactions.

Parents/caregivers with at least one child aged birth to five in the home are eligible. SafeCare is available in most Denver metro area counties. Please check this website for a state-wide list: http://coloradoofficeofearlychildhood.force.com

What might be discussed during those in-home visits? 

We know parenting can be both wonderful and stressful. Family Tree SafeCare® staff teach parents and caregivers tools that can make parenting easier and more enjoyable. Many parents have reported feeling more confident in their parenting after the support they received from the Family Tree SafeCare® program.

Family Tree SafeCare® supports and strengthens families by building on the existing skills parents and caregivers already have in the areas of: home safety, child health and parent-child interactions. Topics could include:

Home Safety:   This topic focuses on helping parents understand the importance of a safe home, the types of hazards commonly found in homes, ways to remove/reduce household hazards and the importance of supervision. The SafeCare® program can provide FREE child-proofing supplies to help make the home a safer place for the children.

Child Health:   This topic is designed to help parents/caregivers prepare for when their child is sick or injured; recognize when symptoms need emergency care, a doctor’s appointment or can be cared for at home; to use reference materials to make good health decisions and to keep good health records.  Parents will receive a Health Manual put together by Pediatricians to aid in making informed health decisions for their children. Parents may also receive free first aid supplies for their home.

Parent Child Interaction:   This topic is for parents/caregivers of children ages 18 months to 5 years of age. The goal is to help parents to plan and organize daily and play activities. Parents learn to positively interact with their children, enhance the parent-child relationship and prevent/reduce challenging child behavior.  This topic will teach parent s to use age-appropriate activities to reduce parental stress and to improve a child’s social competence, academic performance, psychological development and well-being.

Parent Infant Interaction: This topic is for parents of children aged 0-18 months.  The goals of this topic are to increase positive interactions with their infant that support development, enhance responsiveness to infant needs and signals and to learn about infant development and age-appropriate interactions.

If you or a family you know, has a child aged birth to five, and may be interested in receiving free, in home, parenting support please reach out to Family Tree SafeCare at www.thefamilytree.org/safecare-program or (720) 492-9086!

 

Congenital Heart Disease: A Denver mom shares her son’s story

Each time someone laces up their shoes or forms a team to participate in the Denver Heart & Stroke Walk, they are instrumental in making innovative breakthroughs. Every donation helps create new technologies like groundbreaking pediatric heart and stroke research that saves babies’ lives or the kind of research that helped create artificial heart valve, cholesterol drugs, stents, and the mechanical heart pump which helps extend the life of patients. Participants of this year’s American Heart Association’s Denver Heart & Stroke Walk on June 1 at Broncos Stadium will see their dollars at work when they meet cardiovascular disease survivors and their families…families like Lisa and Kaden.

====

I was like any other mom.  I was 17 weeks pregnant with my 3rd child and my pregnancy was pretty typical for me with lots of morning sickness.  We were at our second trimester ultrasound and things seemed to be just fine, until the doctor kept looking at one particular spot.  After several minutes, she told us she needed to run some of the data by another doctor.  Days later, she called us with the news no parent wants to hear: there was something wrong with our unborn baby’s heart.

Kaden had a genetic disorder called DiGeorge Syndrome which had caused a rare congenital heart defect called truncus arteriosus. In plain terms, in means that his pulmonary artery and his aorta never split during development, leaving a “trunk.” This meant that his body was not being supplied with the necessary oxygen it needed. Further tests showed his aortic valve was severely malformed and regurgitating blood into his left ventricle. This was putting a tremendous amount of stress on his heart and he was already in late-stage heart failure. When we asked what the next steps were, the medical team said they were unsure. Kaden would definitely need multiple open heart surgeries to repair the damage and make his heart function as it should, but would he survive until then? Working on a heart the size of a walnut is extremely risky and the severity of his defect was extreme. Plus, I was already at risk for preterm labor and if he was born too small, surgery might not be possible until he got bigger. By then, it may be too late. The doctors told us to prepare to lose him.

Tuesday afternoon, November 5, 2013, Kaden was born. He was 6 weeks premature, but at 5.6 pounds, was on the bigger side, which gave us hope. We were fortunate enough to be one of the first to give birth at Children’s Hospital that day and once he arrived, he was immediately taken to the CICU. The hours that followed were full of testing and they did affirm that his initial diagnosis was correct. Surgery was scheduled for the following Monday. The surgeon walked us through the procedure with us again and reiterated the risks—stressing how he was unsure of the outcome. Kaden was just too far in heart failure and would most likely be too weak to survive the surgery. However, he didn’t have a shot without it, so our decision was made for us.

The days leading up to his surgery were excruciating. Kaden had to be intubated a couple days after he was born, and I could no longer hold him. All I could do is sit by his tiny bed, hold his hand and stroke his hair as I sang to him. I tried to memorize every little detail about him—from his gray eyes, to the way he sucked on his intubation tube like a pacifier. I wanted to know him if I was going to lose him.

November 11th, we said goodbye to Kaden as they wheeled him down to the OR. Our entire family was in the room with us. As we said goodbye, the nurse sat him up. He reached out his little hand and looked directly into my eyes. Heart-wrenching is not a strong enough term to describe the feeling. The surgery took 9 hours; a group of our family and friends sat in a circle in the waiting room, praying and crying. For me, I just wanted the opportunity to have him have a story. I wanted his life to mean something. Even if it was only for a few short days.

The surgeon came in afterwards and said he was able to do most of the repair. The blood had been rerouted so that oxygen was flowing the correct way and the hole in the center of his heart was repaired. However, he was unable to repair the valve. Because he was so small, there were no valve replacements small enough to fit into his tiny heart and his heart was still struggling. Only time would tell. He needed to get bigger in order to receive a valve replacement that would help him survive.

Kaden showed us he lived up to the meaning of his name: young warrior. He fought with everything he had. He survived a dangerous sepsis infection and a life-threatening botched hernia repair. We were able to bring him home days before Christmas with the understanding that he was not out of the woods yet. Our job was to keep him healthy and get him to GROW!

The next 6 months were the most stressful and dark of my life. I was fighting with oxygen tanks, feeding tubes, pumps, doctors visits, therapists, medications, hospital stays, etc. Not to mention my other two children were 7 and 3 at the time and needed their mother, too. The guilt, the pressure was sometimes too much to bear. I was recording every single ounce of food I put into Kaden’s body. He wasn’t a baby and I wasn’t a mom—he was my patient and I was a nurse. Happy moments were few and far between. It caused tension in my marriage. We struggled to hold together the pieces of our family we had left. Meanwhile, Kaden was barely hanging on. He was constantly sweating. Everything he did took the effort of a marathon runner. He wasn’t able to breastfeed, so I was pumping round the clock to ensure he got the best nutrition possible. His breathing was so fast. His skin was grayish and spotty. Finally, at 6 months, his body quit and he went into massive heart failure. The doctors told us he needed his heart valve replacement. However, his heart still wasn’t quite big enough. We were devastated.

As they pumped his little body with medications to help him hang on, his surgeon read about a procedure where the aorta is carved out in order to get a valve to fit. It was a VERY high-risk surgery: there would be high amounts of blood loss and it would require him to be on bypass for much longer, but it was his only shot. We told him to go for it.

May 8th, 2014, Kaden went through a 13 hour-long open-heart surgery. It was grueling—one of the hardest our heart surgeon has ever done in his multiple years. When it was over, his surgeon came in. For the first time, we saw him smile. He told us, “I think we got a perfect fit!” Kaden had a mechanical valve that would keep his heart going, hopefully, for 10 years. After a month in the hospital for recovery, we came home with new hope.

Over the next few months, we saw our little boy change. He had more energy. His skin was a glowing peachy pink. He began to show his little personality. Slowly, we got rid of the oxygen tanks and the list of medications slimed down. At his first birthday, he took a bite of his birthday cake. By Thanksgiving, he ate some of everything off the table. We stopped using the feeding tube a few months later.

Today, he is 5 years old. He still has developmental delays and sees OT, PT, and speech on a weekly basis. However, he looks like any of his preschool classmates. He is a clown and will go to any length to make you smile. He loves snuggles and playtime. He is a good eater (sometimes too good!) He swims and dances and loves Mickey Mouse more than anything. He is healthy and thriving. He is proud of the multiple scars on his chest that tell his story of survival. When you ask him about it, he’ll tell you, “I had a sick heart.” But it is just one thing of many that has made him the strong little boy you see.

Go to  www.denverheartwalk.org to learn more about the Denver Heart  & Stroke Walk on June 1. 

2019 Denver Summer Activity Guide (150+ ideas!)

Warmer weather is here! As the sun lingers in the sky longer before settling behind the mountains, how should we fill the time? What activities are sure to be a hit?

Well, with the help of our readers (yes, that’s you!) Mile High Mamas has compiled a list of fun activities in the Denver area this summer.  All of these places and activities in one handy list!?  Awesome!

Need an idea for an inside activity? It’s here!
Need a new outside activity to try? It’s here!

See something that isn’t on the list? Let us know, and we’ll add it! Be sure to bookmark this page and check back often. It’s your Summer 2019 Guide to Fun in Denver. 

Don’t miss 2019 Summer Vacation in Colorado: 75+ ideas for families. Also, scroll to the bottom of this article for our recommendations for Denver’s best hikes, splash parks, waterfalls and more. 

Indoor Activities

Get in out of the sun (or rain) and have an indoor adventure!

  • American Paintball Coliseum – The coliseum is comprised of indoor and outdoor paintball fields. The indoor fields are split into two arenas, one with giant inflatable obstacles, the other with heaps of corrugated plastic tubing. The paint is water-soluble, and remnants of matches make floors sticky.
  • Apex CenterApex Center (Arvada)–Perfect for a hot weather day, this recreation and entertainment center houses two ice rinks, an awesome indoor aquatic play area, climbing wall, gyms, indoor track, a FREE indoor playground and more.
  • Arvada Center for the Arts & Humanities – Whether you play on Squiggles, an Interactive Sculpture Park, or go inside to see a children’s play or class, there’s plenty to do at the Arvada Center. 
  • Boondocks Fun Center – Boondocks Fun Center in Northglenn is an 8-acre indoor-outdoor fun facility. Indoors you’ll find a futuristic laser-tag arena, a dual-seat Max Flight Simulator and a broad sweep of arcade games that run from Dance Dance Revolution (hilarious to watch) to a Panzer tank simulator. From tiny tots to older teens, there’s a game appropriate for every player.
  • Brown Palace – The Brown Palace is a luxury hotel in Denver, and it’s considered to be a national treasure. Take advantage of one of the free tours, which are held every week.
  • Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave (Golden) – The Buffalo Bill Museum’s exhibits include memorabilia from Buffalo Bill’s life and Wild West shows, Indian artifacts, antique firearms and more. The spectacular views overlooking Denver are a bonus.
  • Butterfly Pavilion – This small and cozy museum still boasts a lot of bang for the buck. When have you last held a tarantula? Or better yet, stood in a tropical enclosure while tons of butterflies flitted around you? Definitely worth the jump up Highway 36.
  • Celestial Seasonings – Head up to Boulder to explore “the world’s most advanced tea production plant.” (Children must be 5 years or older to go on the factory portion of the tour.) Enjoy the artwork and free tea samples!
  • Cherry Creek Mall – The children’s Play Area is located on the lower level in front of Macy’s. Children can enjoy a “Play Park” theme area complete with a fountain, slide, wagon, rowboat and much more.
  • Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus – This museum is the perfect place to explore and learn! From crawling around in the nature tunnels to building something in the workshop, there’s something for every child to enjoy. Joy Park, a 30,000 sq ft outdoor experience is filled with outdoor activities designed to captivate children’s imaginations, including zip-lining, climbing, spelunking, splashing, digging and messy all-in-play. Coming Soon: Adventure Forest. The museum is free to the public on the first Tuesday evening of the month.
  • Climbing Walls – Are you or your kids climbing the walls? Take them to climb the walls…for real! Check out the climbing walls at Dick’s Sporting Goods or REI!
  • Colorado Model Railroad Museum: Examine intricate model railroad layouts, a wooden caboose from the Colorado and Southern Railroad and more than 1,000 railroad artifacts. See actual trains come and go on nearby tracks.
  • Colorado Railroad Museum (Golden)–Lose track of time year-round at this 15-acre railyard featuring over 100 engines, cabooses and coaches, a garden railway, renowned library and roundhouse restoration facility with working turntable.
  • Colorado State Capitol building – Home of the Colorado Legislature and Governor. Give the kids a great history lesson and cross the street to Civic Center Park for a picnic.
  • Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Museum – Housed in Sports Authority Field At Mile High Stadium, the museum honors the legacies of The Mile High City’s greatest sports heroes, and features the Gallery of Legends, a “Great Moments in Colorado Sports” exhibit and a section celebrating the achievements of girls and women in Colorado Sports.

    (Dart Warz)

  • Dart Warz (Centennial)–Want an ultra cool alternative to paintball or airsoft? Look no further than Dart Warz.
  • Denver Art Museum – Visit the Denver Art Museum this summer where kids receive FREE general admission every day! There is plenty to do during #SummerofPlay2019 at the DAM including family-friendly artmaking in the galleries and in the Paint Studio (opening June 1).
  • Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys – This museum “provides educational and cultural services to the greater Rocky Mountain region through the preservation, exhibition, collection and interpretation of the visual arts using miniatures, dolls and toys.”
  • Denver Museum of Nature & Science– DMNS is one of the premier natural history and science museums in the western United States with Exhibitions, IMAX and planetarium shows, activities, and so much more. Current exhibition: Our Senses: Creating Your Reality.
  • Downtown Aquarium. So maybe we actually have a rainy day here and there this summer? Perfect! Head to the Aquarium and see the fish! Plus, they still have the tigers from when this museum was more about following the path of water around the world. AND you now have lots of extra kid-friendly activities, like touching some of the aquatics on display, or eating lunch surrounded by real fish tanks.
  • Family Sports Center. This 150,000 square foot facility in Centennial is full of attractions including ice skating, laser tag, eXerGame Zone, inflatables, climbing wall, bumper cars, an outdoor 18-hole miniature golf course, food concessions and a restaurant.
  • Fat Cats Fun Bowling – Once home to a skatepark, this well-kept, cavernous building now houses a state-of-the-art, 29-lane bowling alley. Clean and hopping, this alley offers bowlers and bystanders, from tykes to teenagers, a friendly place to party.
  • Defy Gravity’s (Thornton) new park features over 35 trampolines, including the famous angled wall trampolines, launching decks, Ninja Obstacle Course, Extreme Dodgeball, Trapeze, Battle Beams and so much more in a 36,000 square foot facility.
  • The Denver Firefighters Museum (downtown) – The Museum offers not only outstanding exhibits on the history of fire fighting in Denver focusing on the Denver Fire Department, but innovative and exciting hands-on activities that allow visitors to interact with the traditional exhibits.

    Denver Puppet Theater

  • The Denver Puppet Theater – The Denver Puppet Theater has been ranked “the best children’s theater in Colorado” by The Denver Post and “the best kids’ outing” by 5280 Magazine. The shows are designed for kids 3 and up.
  • FTW | Lucky Strike. Smack in the middle of Downtown Denver you can find a Pac-Man game screen a screen square footage that’s bigger than a bedroom, an upscale bowling alley and 100 other arcade, pinball, and carnival style games that light up and lure kids of all ages.
  • GameWorks – Located at the Shops at Northfield Stapleton, features 165 games, a two-story Laser Tag arena modeled after League of Legends and The Guardians genres of gaming, a top of the line eSports center, and more.
  • Great Play (Parker, Cherry Creek)–This unique gym for kids 6 months-10 years old makes it fun while developing motor skills, sport skills, fitness and coordination in their patented Interactive Arena.
  • Hammonds Candy Factory Tour (Denver) – Hammond’s complimentary candy factory tours are fun and educational for candy lovers of all ages. Hundreds of thousands of people from across the globe have seen how our famous, handcrafted candy canes, ribbon candy, and lollipops are pulled, twisted, and shaped by hand. No reservations are required for small groups.
  • History Colorado Center–This $110 million experiential museum makes Colorado history fun and has exciting new workshops and exhibits. Explore the connections and continuities with the new special exhibit “Play Ball: A Celebration of America’s Game.”
  • iFly Denver. This indoor flight facility in Lonetree offers free-fall adventures, with room for parties, meetings & lessons. Flight school is the most rewarding way for kids ages 4-16 to experience the power of flight.
  • Jumpstreet Indoor Trampoline Park (Littleton, Lakewood, Greenwood Village) – Wall-to-wall trampolines provide fun, indoor exercise and a perfect outlet for inclement weather days.
  • Jungle Quest (Littleton). Exciting Indoor Ziplines, Huge Safari Swing, 20-foot High Rock Climbing Wall, Swinging Cargo Net, Burma Bridges, Treehouse and Slides and Jungle Caves –for Kids 5 and up.
  • Koelbel Library – This library in Littleton is great because it has a great used book store and cafe! You can check out books and then read them over coffee, apple juice and cookies.
  • Littleton Museum. Located on 39 acres, this free museum consists of two living history farms (one from the 1860’s and one from the 1890’s), a small lake, a collections center, and a main exhibition and administration building.
  • Lollipop Park (Centennial)–This indoor children’s amusement park is located inside the Family Sports Center and offers a carousel, bounce castles, train ride, small Ferris wheel, teacup ride and more.
  • The Longmont Museum has hands-on education programs for all ages, an outdoor concert/performance series each summer and a gift shop featuring local history books, souvenirs, and exhibit-related materials.
  • Lyons Pinball Arcade – When it’s too hot to be outside, duck in for classic pinball and ’80s arcade games. Stop next door for a family-friendly lunch at Oscar Blues or the Colorado Cherry Company for the best pies and ciders around.

    (Mid-air Adventures)

  • Mid-air Adventures. Mid-Air Adventures offers a safe, active and unique experience for guests of all ages. Our 12,000 sq. ft. facility offers giant swings, zip lines, 20’ climbing wall, rope bridges, slides and a toddler area.
  • Molly Brown House Museum – Learn about the life and times of “Unsinkable” Molly Brown in her restored Victorian home in Denver, Colorado. This is one of the most visited historic sites in the state of Colorado, and one of only a handful of sites nationally dedicated to the interpretation of a woman’s story. Admission to the Molly Brown House Museum is by guided tour only.
  • Money Museum. The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City-Denver Branch’s Money Museum offers an opportunity to learn about the Federal Reserve Bank. And, best of all, it’s free! Walk-ins are welcome and groups can make advance reservations. On your way out, don’t forget to get your bag of shredded money.
  • Mizel Museum. Rooted in Jewish values that have universal relevance, the Mizel Museum is a gem tucked away in a residential area in Denver’s Hilltop neighborhood. Kids will love their interactive road map as they journey along the 4,000 Year Road Trip: Gathering Sparks. They’ll learn about art, artifacts and digital media that narrates and illuminates Jewish history and culture.
  • Monkey Bizness (Centennial, Denver, Lone Tree) -You’ll find interactive inflatables, play structures, climbing walls, and games of all shapes and sizes. There is a separate section just for toddlers with their own play equipment.
  • Museo de las Americas – The diversity of Latin American art and culture is the focus of this museum in Denver.
  • Museum of Contemporary Art – This museum is an ever-changing group of works. Experience culture in the making. This museum is good for older kids: pre-teens or teens…and above!
  •  National Center for Atmospheric Research. Learn about global warming, the 21st century’s hottest topic, at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder. See a hailstone the size of a softball, watch as a miniature tornado is whipped up in front of your eyes, and get an up close look at how lightning is created.
  • Punch Bowl Social. Social is the name of the game at this Baker kitchen and funhouse with bowling, a vintage arcade, table games and karaoke that’s family friendly by day and party central after dark.
  • Pump It Up – Pump It Up is “the inflatable party zone,” with different obstacle courses, slides and jump-as-much-as-you-can fun! It’s not just a place for parties! Check out the website for the “pop-in playtimes” at a location near you!

    Toy Library

  • Smiley Library. The lower level of the Smiley Library has a toy library where you can actually check out toys to take home with you. 
  • StoryTime – Get in out of the heat and enjoy a StoryTime at your local library including Denver Public Library, Jefferson County Public Library, Boulder Public Library, and the Adams County (Rangeview) Public Library. Be sure to check out the Summer Reading Programs, too!
  • United States Mint Tour (downtown) – Discover how our currency is made and take home a souvenir – FREE. Reservations are required for the 45-minute tours that are run every 90 minutes. Book early; these fill up several weeks in advance. 
  • VoiceBox. This is not your average karaoke lounge. Yes, there’s a full bar for the adults and a great and highly-rated food menu that kids love…but that’s just the beginning of the fun. 
  • The Wild Game Entertainment Experience (Longmont and Evergreen) – Get competitive and interactive with over 50 video and prize games, bowling, live bands, sporting events and more. 

Wizard's Chest

  • Wings Over the Rockies Aircraft & Space Museum – This museum is located in the former Lowry AFB on the east side of Denver, in a World War II-era Hangar. “Cockpit demo days” are the second Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to 2 pm.
  • Wizard’s Chest – Need some magic in your life? Take the kids to Wizard’s Chest in Cherry Creek. Check their calendar for upcoming events.

Outdoor Activities 

Explore the great outdoors! Enjoy the sun (but don’t forget the sunscreen) and see what outdoor adventures you can find!

  • Aspen Grove – They have summer movie nights with fun vendors/goodies for the kids. They also have “A Paris Street Market” on first Saturdays. Check out their website for a complete listing of events.
  • Belleview Park – Belleview park has a stream that is great for wading or catching crawfish, a train to ride, and a children’s farm with a petting zoo.
  • Berry Patch Farms – Berry Patch Farms opens in June for the season. It’s a pick-your-own fruit place! It’s free to get in, and you only pay for what you pick. Luckily, they don’t weigh you when you get there and when you leave, because it’s hard to resist eating strawberries and raspberries right off the vine. The kids love wandering around in the yard with the chickens, turkeys, and pot-bellied pig, and picking out wonderful fresh produce in the farmhouse for supper.
  • Bluff Lake Nature Center – This urban wildlife refuge and “outdoor classroom” is located on the eastern edge of Stapleton, and is open from sunrise to sunset. Be sure to check out their calendar for different events through the summer or venture out there any day of the week to find some quiet time away from the city!
  • Carson Nature Center – The South Platte Park and Carson Nature Center in Littleton has hands-on activities focused on Colorado wildlife. Biking and hiking trails and close proximity to Aspen Grove shopping center located in Littleton.
  • Centennial Center Park – This 11-acre park includes an awesome playground, water features, picnic facilities, the historical timeline of the Cherry Creek Basin and am amphitheater. Adjacent to the Centennial Civic Center.

    Chautauqua Dining Hall

  • Chautauqua Park – The Kids’ Park at Chautauqua in Boulder is another favorite spot. It has a slide built into the side of the mountain, a fun play house, a ranger’s station, great hikes, epic dining at the Dining Hall and the best view around!
  • Chatfield State Park – This is the perfect park for boating, swimming, hiking, bicycling or riding horses. Chatfield Reservoir has many different types of activities to beat summer boredom.
  • Cherry Creek State Park – This park is great for hiking, swimming, or skipping rocks! One mile south of I-225 on Parker Road at Lehigh (a light). You can walk down by the Reservoir to skip stones and picnic at covered tables. If you’re a boater, there’s ramp access. Follow the wetlands trail (foot path only) to see some of the shyer wildlife, or use the longer paved trails that run as long at 6 miles, great for bikes. There is a walk-in entrance (free!) at the corner of Quincy and Parker.
  • City Park – Denver’s largest park has a lot to boast about. The Denver Zoo to the north (check-out the new tiger exhibit), Denver Museum of Nature & Science to the east, several playgrounds in the middle – including a large lake with paddle boats shaped like ducks! Not to mention City Park Jazz all summer long. What’s not to love?
  • Civic Green Park in Highlands Ranch – Next to the Highlands Ranch Library, this park has fun interactive fountains, a wading stream, a playground and lots of great events, free yoga classes, and concerts all summer. The park is next to the Highlands Ranch Library, which has lots of great story times and kids’ activities.
  • Clear Creek Valley Park

    Clear Creek Valley Park. The 81-acre Clear Creek Valley Park is now open in Federal Heights with trails, fields, destination playground, water feature zip line, fishing pond & more!

  • Clement Park (Littleton)–Clement Park is set on a 60-acre lake with a 1.4-mile walking path around it, tennis course, baseball fields, batting cages, multi-purpose fields, horseshoe pits and three separate playgrounds
  • Colorado Rockies Game – Maybe they will recapture the magic of the 2007 season this year? Um, who cares. It’s all about the experience. The big, beautiful field, the crack of the ball, the COTTON CANDY. Get seats on the 3rd base side to avoid the intense afternoon sun. And yes, the line of purple chairs are exactly a mile high.
  • Confluence Park – Even though we are in a dry climate, we still have plenty of water. Head down to Confluence Park and watch the kayakers strut their stuff (on the river that is) and play along the shore to keep cool. Even better, bring a picnic lunch. On Saturday nights, check out the amazing energy of the drummers, fire dancers and jugglers.
  • Cure Organic Farm – Volunteer at this farm in Boulder. The farm has set volunteer hours each week, and they are seasonally based. It’s totally kid friendly (the owner has kids) and super fun! You and your kids can help, play and learn.
  • Dad Clark Park – This park in Highlands Ranch has a playground, picnic area, basketball court and a separate off-leash dog area.
  • Delaney Historic Farm – Show your kids a working farm, not that far from the city at 170 S Chambers Road in Aurora. They have guided tours, and there are also beekeeping tours.
  • Denver Botanic Gardens – Make your very own “photo day” outing by packing the camera gear and head over to the gardens with your budding photographer(s) in tow. Share some cinematic love through the viewfinder. Not only are the flowers amazing, so is the company. Two locations in Denver and at Chatfield.
  • Denver Municipal Band – Check out the band at a variety of local parks this summer. Bring the blanket and picnic and let the kids run around.
  • Denver Skatepark – We are really lucky in Denver. A variety of crazy fun things to do – even a very large and intricate skate park right near Millennium Bridge. But go early, when its cooler and it is the best time to bring little ones… before the professionals, I mean hipsters, take over the skate tricks. Feel free to bring scooters if your kids are not proficient on boards yet.
  • Denver Zoo – The summer wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Zoo! It’s the perfect place for you and your own little monkeys to check out the other animals. 
  • Dinosaur Ridge and Dakota Hogback – See some dinos – or what’s left of them anyway. Dinosaur Ridge features famous Jurassic dinosaur bones, such as Stegosaurus and Apatosaurus, discovered in 1877, and Cretaceous dinosaur footprints. The  Dinosaur Ridge Discovery Center near Red Rocks is free to the public.

    Eldorado Pool

  • Eldorado Canyon State Park – Located just five miles southwest of Boulder and 30 miles from Denver, this park is like a hidden treasure. It’s a great place for hiking, climbing and picnicking. Cool down at Eldorado Swimming Pool, an outdoor pool that is fed directly from the artisan spring and has been a popular resort since its opening in 1905.
  • Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park – Elitch Gardens is Denver’s own 70-acre amusement and water park located downtown! Check out the rides, shows and attractions and dive-in movies. New this year: Meow Wolf’s Kaleidoscape!
  • Farmer’s Market – Check out this link to find a local farmer’s market in your area.
  • Film on the Rocks – There is always at least one beloved kid film in this series at Red Rocks. The kids will love climbing the stairs and a special night out under the stars.
  • First Fridays Art Walk in Denver – On the first Friday of every month, you’ll get a chance to experience the work of artists from around the world and next door. Over 30 galleries on Santa Fe in Denver participate in this event!
  • Four Mile Historic Park – This park is just four miles from downtown Denver and features Denver’s oldest standing structure. This park is great for school-age kids and beyond. For a unique peek into Colorado’s frontier past, check it out.
  • FlatIron Crossing – Looking for a giant sandbox? Check out the play area in front of the FlatIron Crossing while you shop.
  • Harlow Park and Pool -This outdoor park and pool at Belleview and Federal has a fun baby pool and slides and is rarely busy.
  • High Line Canal – This trail is a great for hiking, biking, jogging and horseback riding. There so much to see and much of it is shady.
  • Hudson Gardens (Littleton) – The Hudson Gardens’ 30 acres non-profit botanical gardens are located along the bank of the South Platte River. Admission is free every day.
  • Lair o’ the Bear Park – Open Space – This favorite park is near Evergreen. There’s a small hike that is good for kids but also a great picnic area and a spot to fish. Three things to love!
  • Louisville Community Park is a park that has it all. There is a grassy area for the kids to run free in, spray grounds to cool off in the summer, a large sandbox, playground and even a dog park with swim beach to watch the pooches play.
  • Letterboxing – This hobby will get you out and about all over the Denver Metro! Letterboxing like a treasure hunt, but instead of hunting for buried treasure, you solve puzzles and decipher clues that lead to hidden boxes containing carvings. Collect these stamps and/or hide some of your own.
  • Lakeside Amusement Park – Lakeside isn’t your typical amusement park, and that’s why we like it. The art-deco signs and original architecture are showing their age, but the place has character. The kiddie rides are old school and you can bring your own picnic.
  • Lion’s Park in Golden – Not only is there a great playground with a huge sandbox, picnic area and Farmer’s Market, the kids love to watch the kayakers on the Clear Creek Whitewater Park.
  • Majestic View Nature Center (Arvada)–Majestic View Nature Center and Community Park has more than majestic views–The 3,000- square foot Nature Center features hands-on nature and environmental displays, wildlife exhibits, a kid’s area, classrooms and meeting space.
  • Morrison Nature Center at Star K Ranch (Aurora). Star K Ranch “regulars” include mule deer, painted turtles, snapping turtles, red-tailed hawks, American kestrels, western meadowlarks, great horned owls, and blue jays. Costumes, blocks, puppets, kids’ books, and live animal exhibits make Morrison Nature Center a great place for kids.
  • Matthew Winters Park – This is the perfect gentle hike for young kids, and it’s close to Red Rocks. There is very little shade so be sure to go in the morning or evening on hot days.
  • Mother Cabrini Shrine – No matter your religious views, it can be spiritually uplifting to climb to the top and take in the breathtaking view of the city (no strollers).
  • Nottingham Park – This park in Westminster is awesome! The ground beneath the massive play structure is spongy, and there is equipment for all ages of kids. There are picnic tables under awnings, the perfect place for a shaded picnic. And, there’s a stream to explore.
  • Pearl Street Mall, Boulder – The Pearl Street Mall in Boulder is always a happenin‘ place. Stroll along the pedestrian mall, checking out the street performers, shops, spray fountain, shaded areas and great views.
  • Plains Conservation Center – Discover your local prairie. This conservation center is “an outdoor education facility and state-designated natural area consisting of two sites totaling approximately 8,894 acres.”
  • Platte Valley Trolley Ride – Experience a piece of history on this open-air trolley ride that takes you past REI, Confluence Park, the Children’s Museum and Invesco Field.
  • Red Rocks – We have one of the best concert venues in the whole country right in our back yard. Check out the schedule to see what concerts you may want to attend, or try to get up the hill to see a movie under the stars via Film on the Rocks. For a killer workout, brave the stairs or hike the Amphitheater Loop while rewarding yourself with fudge at the Trading Post.
  • Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge (Commerce City)–Located 10 minutes from downtown Denver, this 17,000-acre refuge is one of the largest urban wildlife refuges in the United States. It consists of open lakes, wetlands, prairie grasslands, and woodlands and an excellent hands-on visitor’s center.
  • Sensory Park – This park was built in cooperation with Children’s Hospital and is 100% accessible to children of all ages and abilities. It’s tucked away from view, nestled between Church Ranch Blvd and Olde Wadsworth Blvd, just down the embankment from the SuperTarget in the Walnut Creek shopping area.
  • Sixteenth Street Mall – This 16-block-long pedestrian and transit mall in Downtown Denver is home to numerous cafes and retail merchants. Stroll along or take the free shuttle!
  • Stapleton’s Central Park – Stapleton was smart when they named this park after the famous New York park. Because it’s HUGE. It’s GINORMOUS. And the play area has some of the coolest equipment around!
  • Tiny Town & Railroad – Tiny Town is just west of Denver, about ½ mile from the intersection of 285 and South Turkey Creek. It’s a tiny town! And, there’s a train you can ride! They also have an awesome playground. The oldest kid-size village in the United States that will remind just how big you really are.
  • Washington Park – “Wash Park” is a great place to rent a paddleboat, play on one of the playgrounds, or pack a picnic. Don’t forget to stop by Bonnie Brae Ice Cream for a scoop (or two) of ice cream.
  • Westlands Park – This park in Greenwood Village has been ranked as one of the best parks in the metro area. The playgrounds include areas for kids of all ages and abilities. There is also an in-line hockey rink, playing fields, natural water sculpture and more.
  • White Ranch Park – This is a great spot to walk your dog and hike with the family, just off Highway 93 with East and West access that both offer gorgeous city views.
  • The Wild Animal Sanctuary – The Wild Animal Sanctuary is a 720 acre refuge for more than 350 Lions, Tigers, Bears, Wolves and other large carnivores…

Water Fun:

Whether they’re indoor or outdoor, these fun water parks and spraygrounds are sure to help you beat the heat!

The following is a sampling of water fun. Be sure to check out our extensive guide to Guide to Denver’s Splash Pads and Spray Fountains, divided by geographic area. 

  • The Apex Center Pool – The Apex Center in Arvada features a 23,000 square foot indoor water fun area, complete with water slides, zero-depth pool, and family hot tub.
  • Argo Park & Pool – Located in north Denver, this pool has a beach entrance for the little kids!
  • Bear Creek Lake – Bear Creek Lake near Morrison almost feels like a real beach! Pack a picnic lunch and spend a day at the beach without leaving Colorado. Explore the extensive network of hiking and horse trails.
  • Brighton Oasis Family Water Park. This family-friendly water park features a large tube slide and a body flume slide, a lazy river with zero depth entry and a wave generator, a tot pool with zero-depth entry and interactive play features as well as a water basketball area.
  • Eldorado Swimming Pool– The surroundings are gorgeous in this historic swimming pool at the base of Eldorado State Park outside of Boulder. The pool is fed directly from the artesian spring.
  • Great Plains Park (Spray park & Playground) – East of Tower on the south side of Jewell, it feels a little like you’ve driven past civilization, but trust us it’s there! The spray park runs from 10 am to 8 pm, and the park itself is open 8 am to sunset. Unlike some parks we’ve been to, there IS a potty. The playground has the smaller scale toddler side and a big-kid side. There is access from Jewell, and also walking access from the neighborhood just south of there.
  • Harlow Park and Pool – This outdoor park and pool at Belleview and Federal has a fun baby pool and slides and is rarely very busy!
  • Lake Arbor Center & Outdoor Pool – This pool in Arvada is a great place to cool off in the summer heat! Play on the water slides, or the zero-depth pool or the pool geysers! Bring a picnic lunch and play at the adjacent park & playground.
  • Pirates Cove Aquatic Center – Small kids can have a blast at this water park without getting rundown by teens. The aquatic center offers a leisure pool with a large play structure, a 25-meter, 6-lane pool, a 35-foot slide tower with three slides and a lazy river.
  • Southlands Spray Park – This big spray park is right in front of the theater, with benches and grassy areas for picnicking. A very popular spot, especially on “Free Movie” days.
  • Splash at Fossil Trace in Golden is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day and is the largest water park in Jefferson County. Come and enjoy the waterslides, fountains, and “beach” area. There is something fun for kids of all ages, from 1 to 100.
  • Stapleton Town Center Fountains – How much better does it get than to sip an iced coffee and dangle your toes while your kids splash happily in the side-by-side fountains in the Stapleton Town Center on 29th Ave. and Roslyn. One is sunken with wide, gentle stones and mere inches of water — great for wee ones. The other rises like a pyramid of slabs that invite ascension to the top and vigorous splashing in the moat below. Go on Sunday mornings when there is a fun farmers market across the street from the fountains.
  • Water WorldSunset Swimming Pool – This outdoor pool in Longmont is great for kids. What’s not to love about a great big curvy slide!
  • Water World – Sometimes we can forget what a gem we have in this awesome water park just a hop and a skip up I-25 to 88th and Pecos. Featuring nearly 50 attractions for the entire family, Water World is one of the country’s premier family water parks and has something for the littlest toddler to the largest teenager and everyone in between. AND you can STILL bring picnic lunches. Score!
  • Westminster Promenade Fountains – A favorite free activity is to run through the fountains at the Westminster Promenade. It’s a sure way to beat the heat!

(At the time of publication, the above links and information were correct.  If you find something that needs to be changed, let us know!)

Other Great Resources:

Denver’s best new playgrounds for 2019

Family travel: Top 8 Family Vacations

Guide to Denver’s Splash Parks and Spray Fountains

Best Hikes for Kids in the Denver area

Where to pull of I-70 when you’re stuck in traffic (fun activities and restaurants)

10 Beautiful Places in Colorado You Didn’t Know About

Borrow a Colorado State Parks Pass from Your Library

Yurt Village at Snow Mountain Ranch is Star-lit Fun

Cool Off This Summer at Colorado’s Best Beaches

A Local’s Guide to Gunnison’s Magical Summers

Best Denver-area Parks for Beginner Trail Runners (and hikers)

10 of Colorado’s most scenic waterfall hikes

Avid4 Adventure offers the ultimate summer camp adventures

I am frequently asked about my recommendations for the best outdoor summer camp in the Denver area and without hesitation, I always respond Avid4 Adventure because they do a fantastic job empowering Pre-K – 11th graders to develop a life-long passion for the outdoors. Summer Day Camps are offered in Boulder, Lafayette, Superior, Golden, Highlands Ranch, Washington Park, Stapleton, Greenwood Village, Castle Rock and Colorado Springs, Colorado. 

Hadley and Bode attended Avid4 Adventure summer camps for several years and learned to kayak, canoe, stand-up paddleboard, rock climb, bike, hike and thrive in the outdoors. During our latest camp, I was a bit worried my kids would take a been-there, done-that attitude but their experience could not have been farther from the truth; Avid4 Adventure does a fantastic job expanding each year. They also have Overnight Camp, a sleep away camp with two location at Mt. Evans in Evergreen and Windy Peak, a beautiful location near Bailey, Colorado. They also offer all-new backcountry overnight camp experiences that offer smaller group sizes and authentic adventures called Expeditions – be sure the check them out!

What you need to know:

  • Avid4 Adventure isn’t just a camp or a school program, it’s an authentic outdoor experience that teaches kids the skills and confidence to climb, bike, paddle, hike and thrive outdoors. Founder Dave Secunda calls it an “empowering experience meant to inspire a lifetime of outdoor participation.”
  • Their counselors aren’t just teenagers on summer break–they live and breathe the outdoors.All are age 18+, certified in First Aid and CPR (at minimum) and highly adept at teaching the time-tested curriculum. Most importantly, they’re great with kids and are inspiring role models.
  • Avid4 Adventure offers camps that build upon one another and are open to kids of all skill and ability levels. Many participants are first-timers in each sport.The curriculum and inclusive environment gives them the confidence to try new sports within their comfort level.
  • One year, my kids did Survival camp. Last year, we did our second round of Adventure Camp where every day is a different adventure—mastering mountain biking, climbing a local crag, hiking a trail, paddling a canoe or kayak. Campers take skills learned one year and then add to them the next, creating a virtuous cycle that teaches not only outdoor skills but also good communication and self-awareness.
  • Not only did we receive a “report card” at the end with all the things they learned or are still working on, the counselors took pictures every day so parents could follow vicariously at home through a private photo gallery.
  • Avid4 Adventure is American Camp Association accredited and partners include outdoor industry leaders such as Black Diamond, Specialized Bikes, Clif Kid, Leave no Trace and many more. 

Register

Avid4 Adventure is an immersive experience that makes a deep imprint on kids, leaving them with lasting skills and new reserves of confidence they can use in all aspects of their lives. Summer 2019 Day and Overnight camps run from May – August. Learn more and sign up at www.avid4.com. 

A Hive of Frightened Bees

The last few days have been tough for Colorado. Deep wounds resurfaced yesterday as yet another shooter targeted our beloved state. We are the birthplace of horror. Columbine. Then Aurora. The list keeps growing. 

Parents were stunned into silence. Half a million kids did not attend school because of this new threat. This was unlike any joyous snow day with sledding, snowmen and hot chocolate. Instead, fear, shock and the inability to truly process what this new world means for our families when the enemy is not attacking from outside our borders, but from within. Just as we start to heal, we relapse. 

What is to blame? Mental illness? Too many guns?  The debate rages on.  And yet still no answers. It is as if we’re in a bad dream when an immediate threat lurks and we are paralyzed to inaction. 

On February 19, 2018 in the immediate aftermath of the Parkland shooting, there was a threat written on the walls of one of the bathrooms at Arvada West High School. It shook everyone to the core and manifested all those feelings of fear and panic that so many young students have experienced in this era of school shootings.

Chris Maunu, the school’s choir director, recently shared on his Facebook page that one of his students, Taylor Huntley, wrote a poem in response.  “When she shared it with the choir, it brought the ensemble to tears.” He went on to say that these incredibly emotional words found their way into the hands of composer Andrea Ramsey. “She recognized the real pain, fear and dissolution in Taylor’s words and this powerful composition ensued.”

A Hope for Change
By Taylor Huntley

There is an ache in my chest
from the emotions that swarm
Like a hive of frightened bees.
There are tears in my eyes,
As an imitation for the drops 
Of blood shed, in hatred.
My head is stuffed with cotton,
With thoughts I cannot comprehend
So instead, I try, to ignore.
I need to protect my family,
I need to protect my friends,
I need to protect my heart.

They say I am safe.
But they cannot guarantee.
They cannot dig the hurt,
The hatred in their souls.
Of those that wish to hurt
For revenge we cannot know.
No matter what we do, 
No matter what is said,
They always find a way.
They are blind towards the future,
The past, and the present.
I hope one day, we will change.

 Arvada West’s Company West will be performing the World Premiere of “A Hive of Frightened Bees” May 10–11 2019. 

Taylor says that it was her English teacher who gave her class an opportunity to express their emotions. “I decided to write my feelings in a poem. Before having this English teacher, I absolutely despised poetry. I did not find it very appealing, but throughout the year and up to this point, I found love towards it. This poem is actually the first real poem I have ever written. It was the perfect way for me to write down what I was feeling.”

Thank you to Taylor and Andrea for bringing this beauty into the world.

We hope one day, we will change. 

2019 Denver Summer Camp Guide

Summer camp season is upon us!  To help you navigate the many wonderful camps in Denver, we have compiled a Colorado Summer Camp Guide for 2019.  In addition to this directory, we will be featuring a variety of Denver camps over the next few months that give a more in-depth glimpse of camp life so keep checking in.  Also, don’t procrastinate–many spots are filling up quickly! 

Camp Categories

Arts Camps (music, dance, etc.)

Academic Camps

Outdoor Camps

General Camps

Sports Camps

======

Featured Summer Camps

Avid4 Adventure

This summer, experience the power of authentic outdoor adventure. Avid4 Adventure summer camps teach pre-K – 12th graders of all levels to climb, paddle, bike, hike and thrive in the outdoors. With help from our time-tested curriculum and experienced instructors (all 21+ and certified in First Aid and CPR), we give campers solid outdoors skills and character-shaping confidence they can use at camp and beyond, launching them into a lifetime of empowering adventure. We transport kids to nearby crags, trails and bodies of water to adventure in authentic settings and discover local recreation areas they (and you) can keep coming back to.

Our camps teach kids to assess their environment and approach risks intelligently, building a foundation of confident, sound judgment they can use in the outdoors—and throughout their lives. Camps run weekly from May – August. Learn more and sign up at Avid4.com, call 800-977-9873 or email info@avid4.com.

Keystone Science School

 Keystone Science School hosts a wide variety of programs including overnight, adventure, and day camps which all combine Science, Adventure, & FUN! Our flagship program is our traditional overnight camp known as Discovery Camp. Every Discovery Camp session includes a backpacking overnight, challenge hike, team-building activities, and traditional songs by the campfire. 

Campers can also choose from two Adventure based programs known as Keystone Voyagers or Keystone Mountain Adventures. As a Keystone Voyager, campers mountain bike, rock climb, day hike, or whitewater raft before finishing their night around the campfire. Keystone Mountain Adventures is our wildest adventure program where campers spend the majority of their time in the backcountry while backpacking and exploring National Parks around the mountain west.

Our Day Camp programs are all based in Keystone, Colorado and each week-long session has it’s own programmatic theme. We incorporate creative activities, team-building, and investigative learning into each day. keystonescienceschool.org

 

 Camp Comfort – A Grief Camp for Children Ages 6- 12

 Camp Comfort is a weekend camp offered twice each summer that addresses the special needs of children ages 6 – 12 who have experienced the death of someone they love. Children learn ways to cope with their grief through workshops and activities – building skills that may help them now and throughout their lives. Grief workshops are balanced with recreational activities, such as swimming, zip lining, horseback riding, and fishing. Founded in 1995, Mount Evans Home Health Care & Hospice’s groundbreaking bereavement camp has helped more than 1,500 Colorado children find a path through their grief. Our hope is that through our curated program of emotional discovery led by licensed social workers and highly trained counselors, children will learn coping skills while also preserving positive memories of their loved one. Scholarships are available.Learn more at www.campcomfort.org

Flour Power Kids Cooking Studios

Summer is the perfect time to stir up some fun.  At Flour Power Kids Cooking Studios we provide amazing experiences in the kitchen.  Bring your camper (ages 5-12) over and you’ll pick up a newly self-confident child who will beg to cook dinner for you!  Children will create their own snacks and lunch and we’ll supply everything that they will need for an amazing week filled with newly developed life-long skills including math, science, reading and chemistry!

Our full-day, week long camps include all supplies, copies of camp recipes, snacks and lunches!  Each week we offer a fun-filled theme (Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, Kitchen Superheroes, Happiness is Homemade, Cake My Day, Hawaii Five Oh, Iron Chef, Christmas in July, Cooks & Books, and Chopped) that encourage the development of life skills. Flourpowerstudios.com/highlandsranch

Gold Crown Foundation Sports and STEAM (Stem + the Arts) Camps

 The Gold Crown Foundation is about “preparing kids for the game of life,” on and off the court, and in and outside of the classroom. The Camp Lineup allows your child to build their confidence, while staying active and engaged. Sports camps include the Denver Nuggets Hanzlik Hoop Camp or Volleyball Skills Camp for boys and girls entering 2nd – 10th grade. Camp emphasis is on skills improvement and development.  STEAM Camps include the Language of Letters (draw and design your own fonts), Camp YouTube (create original content for your own channel), Video Game Console Camp (develop the secrets to game development) or Drone Camp (learn how to build and fly your own drone). These camps are open to boys and girls, ages 12 – 18. Camps are held at the Gold Crown Field House or the Clubhouse at Edgewater in June and July. We will see your child this summer! Contact/registration information: 303-233-6776; camps@goldcrownfoundation.comgoldcrownfoundation.com.

Pedalheads Bike Camps

Pedalheads offers learn-to-ride bike programs in over 45 cities across Canada and the USA. In Colorado, you can find us having fun in five locations! Our program is renowned for helping kids ages 3-12 get off training wheels and safely ride on the road. Our program includes:

  • a progression of six instructional levels for you to choose from,
  • three-hour half-day camps,
  • seven-hour all-day camps,
  • private lessons, and
  • before and after care options.

 Kids get lots of time on their bikes learning and playing games, navigating obstacle courses, and challenging themselves with a variety of activities in a safe environment. We use only positive reinforcement to promote kids’ health, well-being, and development; as a result, kids who experience our program report feeling “braver and gooder at biking” and say they like us more than candy, school, and story time.

Kent Denver School

At Kent Denver School, we think summer should be exciting, engaging and fun! We offer more than 80 outstanding camps in the visual and performing arts, athletics, academics and technology for students ages 3–18. Our 200-acre campus and modern learning spaces provide amazing opportunities for your child to explore, learn, create, play and grow. Summer 2019 highlights include:
• Theater productions including Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Legally Blonde, Newsies, and Wimpy Kid
• More than 40 arts classes where students will learn to sew, paint, draw, sculpt, sing, dance, bake, improvise, etc.
• Dynamic sports camps including basketball, golf, field hockey, football, lacrosse, soccer, tennis, volleyball, speed/conditioning and a new multi-sport camp for ages 7-10.
• Tech-focused classes such as coding for robotics, drones and apps, plus exciting new STEAM offerings from Eurekus!
• Academic offerings like “So You Want to Be a Doctor,” creative writing, college essays, middle and high school transition, and experimental research.
For more information, go to kentdenver.org/about/summer
 

CodeWizardsHQ 

CodeWizardsHQ offers a structured and comprehensive multi-year online curriculum available for grades 3rd-12th. Their unique approach combines the benefits of teacher-led instruction and the ease and convenience of online classes. Students attend weekly online classes from the convenience of your home.  Classes are teacher-led, student-centered and project-based. Beginner to advanced experience levels welcome. As students progress course to course, they learn popular programming languages including; Scratch, HTML/CSS, JavaScript, Python, MySQL, and more. They have a structured, long-term coding program that prepares your child for academic and professional success. The program finalizes with a capstone project, internship or a la carte courses that give students real-world web development experience or preparation for exams to earn college credit. Their student’s portfolios stand out in college applications and give them a competitive edge.  For more information find us at www.codewizardshq.com/summer-program

Lake Dillon Theatre Company

LDTC’s Youth Workshops provide theatre-based education programs to Summit County’s youth. While students gain knowledge and skills in the performance arts through theatre, music, and dance classes, the program’s ultimate focus is to broaden perspectives, build confidence, and bolster community ties through shared experiences. The classes culminate into performances free to the public.

The Lake Dillon Youth Theatre Workshops are a safe and encouraging environment for any child with an interest in performing arts. We not only take pride in developing creative passions but we allow children to work together, think outside the box, and most importantly, have fun!

If you have any questions or would like any more information about our Youth Theatre Workshops, please contact our Director of Education, Colt Neidhardt by calling 970.513.1151 Ext. 106 or email Colt@lakedillontheatre.org

Super Stars Reading Camp

Super Stars Reading Camp is an intensive 5-week reading program focusing on supporting students with learning disabilities (i.e. dyslexia). Monday through Thursday, our campers receive one hour of Orton-Gillingham based reading intervention from a highly trained instructor. Campers then spend one hour in a small group working on developing their writing and math skills. The campers round out their day working with student volunteers to practice oral reading, play math and literacy games, and build lasting relationships with their peers. Fridays are “fun days” for the campers, where they participate in activities such as team games, scavenger hunts, complete art projects, or even Reader’s Theater. Fridays also provide the opportunity for parents to meet and participate in informational workshops put on by our directors and a variety of speakers.  Come join us at one of our three convenient locations in Denver, Littleton/Lakewood, or Louisville/Boulder and watch your child grow! everychildreading.net/superstar-summer-camp

 MOTH Contemporary Circus Center

 MOTH Contemporary Circus Center is located in the RiNo Arts District in downtown Denver, Colorado. MOTH CCC is collaborative environment where students of all levels can train in a safe and supportive environment. Our fun-filled camps include crafts, games, acting, face-painting and of course circus skills! Including: trampoline, acrobatics, tightwire, aerial arts, Chinese pole, clowning, and juggling. 
Circus Camp– ages 6-9 – June 3rd – June 14th
Circus Camp – ages 9-13 – June 17th – June 28th
Try Me Mini Circus – ages 4-6 – July 1st – 3rd
Adaptice Circus- Adams Camp Collaboration– July 8th – July 12th
All Levels Performance Camp– July 15th – July 26th
Advanced Performance Camp – July 29th – August 9th
MOTH CCC adheres to a strict set of safety procedures to insure students stay healthy and follow proper progressions to avoid injury.

Play-Well TEKnologies

Dream it, build it, wreck it, repeat in these LEGO-inspired engineering summer camps! Your kid will engineer interesting projects, engage in critical thinking, work collaboratively and learn STEM concepts through playing with LEGO. Play-Well staff have backgrounds in engineering, astrophysics, mathematics, education and more. Their love of LEGO® and STEM create a unique and vibrant learning environment. The kids have an absolute blast playing with LEGO® while also exploring new ideas, gaining knowledge and making friends.
 
Each Play-Well camp includes over 20,000 LEGO pieces! Kids can choose from different themes like Star Wars, Minecraft, Harry Potter, Robotics and Stop Motion. Campers ages 5 – 12 get to travel into their favorite worlds where they can build with LEGO like never before. Play-Well has camps all over the Denver area as well as many other cities in Colorado including Fort Collins, Boulder, Colorado Springs and more. play-well.org

JCC Denver

Summer is the perfect time to make new discoveries, embark on thrilling adventures, and meet lifelong friends. With a dash of summer fun and a hearty mix of excitement-fueled summer camps, it’s also the perfect time to #getcAMPED! For summer 2019, we’re turning up the dial on summer camp in order to give your child the best camp experience yet with JCC Camps! No matter which camp experience you choose for your child (Camp Shai, Ranch Camp, Tennis Camp, Wolf Theatre Academy, etc.), JCC Camps will support and encourage your camper all summer long with affordable camp programs. Children and families of all ages, backgrounds, and interests are welcome here at the J, so what are you waiting for? Suit up, dive in, and #getcAMPED for the best summer ever with the JCC Denver. jccdenver.org

Iliff Adventure Day Camp

Post-Kindergarten Adventure Summer Camp is designed to provide experiences for everyone to build lasting relationships that encourage healthy development, positive risk-taking and a sense of belonging and security. Campers spend their days with professionally trained counselors who focus entirely on the success of the children, encouraging them to explore and play, swim, participate in sports, and experience activities in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and music). In addition, campers explore all that Denver offers in privately- owned school buses.  Enrollment forms and Weekly Themes (Post kindergarten-Age 12) available online or by calling the center. Ask any camper and they will tell you….it all adds up to a super fun summer. iliffpreschool.com

Talk to the Camera 

Do you want your kids to get creative, have a BLAST and keep learning this summer? At Talk to the Camera, our award-winning summer camps spark imaginations through moviemaking and YouTube-style video creation. Your kids become storytellers and content creators in a hands-on collaborative environment. And you’ll enjoy the benefits of improved social skills like public speaking, active listening, and eye contact. Your child’s self- confidence will soar in these engaging and lively summer camps. They’ll even walk the red carpet to see their movies on the BIG screen at our end of summer Red Carpet Screening! *You’ll enjoy your kid’s videos and movies for a lifetime! We offer week long summer camps, Monday thru Friday, in half-day and full-day formats. Our camps are located at several Denver-Metro area locations including Evergreen, Greenwood Village, Highlands Ranch, Lone Tree, Denver, Parker, and more. For kids ages 3-13. Find out more www.talktothecamera.com.

Lifetree Day Camps

Where kids experience fun, faith, and friendship! At Lifetree Day Camps, kids ages 6-11 engage in a huge variety of unique experiences that help them grow in their faith and make new friends. Kids can come for just one week of camp, or any combination of 7 weeks, Monday-Friday. It’s your total summer solution – each week has a new theme and every day is different! With 10 locations in Colorado, there’s a camp near you. Fill your child’s summer weekdays with creative, heart-changing, laughter-inducing fun! Camps fill quickly, so register today with a small deposit at lifetreedaycamps.com.

 Digitstars Make-a-Movie Workshop

Kids unleash their creativity and bring their stories to life in a stop motion animation or live action filmmaking program! They write, act, direct, film, and edit their own films in a fun and exciting week! We watch and analyze film clips to learn techniques, and take outside breaks in a nearby playground. Moviemaking integrates art with technology and demands storytelling skills that can feed into success in school and beyond. Week-long camps (M-F, 9 am-3 pm, with extended care available) are offered in June, July, and August for grades 1-8. Programs include Claymation and live action moviemaking using green screen technology. The production process is hands-on, kid-driven, and collaborative. Our enthusiastic and trained instructors are professional filmmakers with film degrees and class size is limited so save your spot as soon as possible! digistarsworkshop.com

YMCA of Boulder Valley Summer Camps

YMCA of Boulder Valley Summer Camps foster curiosity, celebrate friendship and encourage children to expand their idea of what’s possible. Our campers explore nature, swim and create, try new activities, develop new interests, unplug from technology and gain independence while making friendships that last a lifetime. YMCA of Boulder Valley Summer Day Camps include traditional camps — YMCA Camp S’more Fun and the nature-based YMCA Camp Elks — as well as Y World of Sports Camps, Y Riders Cycling Camps, STEAMrollers Camps, teen leadership camp and field trip-focused teen camps. Our day camps are located throughout the community in Boulder, Lafayette, Louisville, Superior and Longmont. YMCA Camp Santa Maria in Bailey offers an incredible resident camp experience in the heart of the Rockies. This overnight camp provides children with opportunities to try archery, paddleboard and kayak, hike and explore, swim, build gnome homes and find a community around our campfire. 

 

Coming soon:

Engineering for Kids