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Day Camp: KSS Campus vs CATCH Locations

day camp kss blog 1

KSS Day Camp registration starts March 17th! Let's explore the similarities and differences between Day Camp on the KSS campus and Day Camp at our CATCH locations.

  • Summit Co. Only vs. Open to Everyone - CATCH locations are offered to Summit County residents only and are offered on a sliding fee scale, while the KSS campus is open to campers from all over. Every program is open for our camp scholarships though, and applications are due by April 15th.
  • Same Curriculum, Same Themes - Our Day Camp curriculum and themed activities are the same, no matter if your camper is at the KSS campus or at one of our Summer CATCH locations! Supplies for each day are set aside for every camp location to ensure that every camper is participating in the same activities each day this summer.
  • Same Staff, Same Training - Our staff is trained to work both KSS campus and CATCH locations and they often switch throughout the summer. This ensures that the programs are as similar as possible and that every camper gets to find their new favorite counselor!
  • Archery or Bicycles? - While our KSS campus day campers are out getting bullseyes on the archery range, our campers at CATCH locations are learning bicycle balance, gears, and safety skills.
  • Lunch Provided Free or for a Small Fee - Due to generous donations, lunches are provided free at our Summer CATCH locations. We can provide lunches at our KSS campus too, for a small fee.
  • Different Trails, So Many Outdoor Spaces - Since our CATCH locations and KSS Campus are scattered throughout Summit County, our campers explore different trails and outdoor spaces while at camp. Good thing there is no shortage of wilderness around us!

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Candle Chat: Sharing Our Goals and Fears

kss summer camp candle chat

Every night at camp, we end the day by coming together and having a Candle Chat. Counselors pose a question to campers and they pass around a candle that serves as a talking stick. Questions at Candle Chat can range from “Why did you come to camp?” to “What is your relationship to the outdoors?” and more. Candle Chats are a great time for campers to share their goals, fears, and accomplishments with each other without fear of being judged or ignored. To get a sense of what it’s like, here are our Candle Chat rules:

  • Challenge by Choice. Campers are encouraged and challenged to share if they want to, but none of our counselors will ever force a camper to share if they are uncomfortable.
  • Popcorn Style. Campers talk when they feel ready to and counselors do not call on them. Sometimes that means overlapping with each other, so it requires a lot of patience!
  • Talk to Speak, Don’t Talk to Talk. Counselors encourage campers to share once and share something meaningful. We ask that campers don’t share multiple times because it can take up time that could be used by another camper who hasn’t gone yet.
  • Safe Space. We ask all campers not to comment on or share what others have said in candle chat after candle chat ends. This discourages campers from sharing in the future!
  • Snaps. We ask all campers to react to what others are saying by snapping and refrain from verbally responding or any other sort of reaction.

Candle Chats are one of our oldest traditions at the Keystone Science School. They are an integral part of building community within each cohort and allow campers the chance to reflect on their camp experience. We can’t wait to start them back up this summer!

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Helpful Tips for Hiking in Summit County

hiking summit county co

Hiking is one of the best activities that Summit County has to offer during the Summer months. Not only is the mountain scenery pristine, but there are enough options to keep you hiking for years. Before you lace up your boots and hit the trail with your family or friends, read these tips to make the most of your outdoor adventure!

  • Sunscreen - One of the best parts of Colorado in the summertime is all the sunshine… but the high elevation means that it can cause sunburns quicker and deeper. Apply sunscreen at least every 2 hours while outside to prevent any painful burns.
  • Water, water, and more water - Summit County is known for high elevations and dry conditions: two factors that can cause major dehydration. Whenever you go out on a hike, especially if it’s a long one, be sure to pack at least 2 water bottles!
  • Bring a Rain Jacket - Weather in the mountains can change in an instant. The sun can be hidden behind a cloud lowering the temperature by 15 degrees or an afternoon rainstorm can surprise you around the next corner. Don’t be caught off guard - pack a raincoat in your day pack and enjoy all the spontaneous weather Summit County has to offer!
  • Practice Leave No Trace! - It’s important to maintain and respect our outdoor spaces. There are several principles of Leave No Trace, but the basics are: pick up any litter you see along the way, leave anything you find in nature where it is, hike on trail, and avoid interactions with wildlife.
  • Hike Early - In the summertime, thunderstorms tend to roll into Summit County around 2 pm. Particularly if you’re planning to hike above treeline, you’ll want to get out there early so you don’t get stuck anywhere when there’s lightning around! Plus it’ll help you avoid large crowds in the more popular areas.
  • Plan Ahead - Make sure to do research about the trail you’re headed out on (we recommend apps like AllTrails and Colorado Trail Explorer) and tell someone where you’re going if you plan on hiking alone.
  • GORP - Snacks are important for any activity. Our favorite is GORP - a.k.a. Good Old Raisins and Peanuts, but you can make any sort of homemade trail mix!

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Winter Activities for Teens in Summit County

teen winter tubing summit county

Keystone Science School works with teens across the country and throughout the year on our Overnight Camp, Discovery Expeditions, and Outdoor Education programs or as CAPs and even staff! So we know a thing or two about what fun is to be had in our backyard. Here’s a list of some of our favorite activities for teens in Summit County. The list includes things to do that are fun for the whole family or activities where you can drop them off for their own adventures.

  • Snowshoeing - There are so many great hiking and snowshoeing trails across Summit County. Check out the KSS Blog on some of Summit County snowshoe hiking trails to learn more.
  • Cross-Country Skiing - There are so many cross country ski trails and many of them can be accessed within walking distance of any home rental or main street location. Rent skis for the week and your teen can have a new adventure every day. To learn more about Summit County cross-country trails check out this blog.
  • Ice Skating - Keystone Resort has one of the largest zamboni-groomed ponds in the country. This is a great location for any teen. They have a warming hut with TVs, video games, and skate rentals. Teens can rent ice skates or bring their own. For those in Breckenridge, you can go to the Stephan A Ice Rink which has public skating and skate rentals. If they have their own ice skates there are ponds in Silverthorne and Frisco that can be accessed free of charge.
  • Tubing (County Wide) - There are several tubing hills at each Resort or Frisco Adventure Park. Teens can schedule their time slot and have fun sliding down the hill with a rope tow system. This is a perfect outdoor activity for any teen that might not want to ski.
  • Movie Theaters (Dillon or Breckenridge) - Skyline Cinema is centrally located in Dillon and is Summit County’s largest movie theater. There is always a collection of the newest movies. If you’re in Breckenridge you can check out the Speakeasy Movie Theater which shows both blockbuster movies and small independent movies.
  • Ice Castles - Dillon is home to world-famous ice castles. You can purchase a ticket and let them explore the ice castles. If your teen is always taking pictures with their phone, they will be sure to get their fill of unique pictures to share with their friends at home.
  • Escape Rooms - Breckenridge and Frisco each have Escape Rooms and is a great way to engage any teen. Schedule your time and see if they are up to the challenge!
  • Community Events - Summit County is full of community events all winter long whether it’s outdoor concerts, ski/snowboard competitions, and public art. Check out the events calendar in the Summit Daily (local newspaper) and see what’s happening in Summit County during your stay.

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Family Friendly Snowshoe Hikes in Summit County

summit co snowshoe hikes

Dillon & Keystone Snowshoe Trails

  • Oro Grande Trail – This hike starts in Dillon and is relatively flat and overlooks the Dillon Reservoir and the 10-Mile Range. This is one of our favorites of the amazing views of the entire hike. It’s also south facing so even on some of the colder days it can feel like a warm hike. It does experience some foot traffic so if the conditions are right, the trail might be packed down and you wouldn’t even need snowshoes. This is an out-and-back so you can hike until you’re ready to turn around. Once you turn around and return to Dillon you will then be treated with amazing views of the Gore Range.
  • Old Dillon Reservoir – This is a short 1.7-mile hike with great views of the Gore Range from the top. The trailhead is located on the west side of the Dillon Dam. Once you leave the trailhead you’ll have a short uphill hike before making it to some of the more breathtaking views of Summit County. At the top will be a small reservoir that supplies parts of Summit County with their drinking water. You can walk around the reservoir or simply run around and head back to the car.
  • Dillon Nature Preserve – Park at the trailhead for the Dillon Nature Preserve and you’ll find a wide network of trails you can do a short out and back hike or you can create some longer loop hikes of over 5 miles. The majority of trails have amazing views across the Dillon Reservoir of the 10-Mile and Gore Ranges. You can even walk on a plowed road along the Reservoir which is a great option for those families pushing a stroller.

Frisco Snowshoe Trails

  • Rainbow Lake Trail – This trail can be accessed from multiple points throughout Frisco with the most common being from 2nd Street, known as Zach’s Stop. This trail meanders uphill, through the woods, and eventually makes it to a small lake and great scenic vista of Peak 1. This is a great snowshoe hike for any family.
  • Meadow Creek Trail – This is a great 3-mile snowshoe through a dense forest. The trail goes along the frozen Meadow Creek before eventually connecting to the Lily Pad Lake Trail. After about another mile you will come to Lily Pad lake which provides great views of Buffalo Mountain.

Silverthorne Snowshoe Trails

  • Mesa Cortina Trail – This is a trail traveling above the hillside of Silverthorne. There are lots of options for a short out and back or to make it a loop hike by connecting some of the trails near the Buffalo Cabin Trail. Cell service isn’t great in this valley so be sure to have a map
  • Lily Pad Lake Trail – Lilly Pad lake trail is about 3.3 miles out-and-back snowshoe hike. It leaves from the top of Ryan Gulch road. The trail goes through a dense forest before you make it to Lily Pad Lake. Please note that this is a heavily trafficked trail and parking is often a challenge. The Summit Stage (Summit County-operated free buss) does drop off at a bus station close to the trailhead.
  • Rock Creek Trail – This trail is north of Silverthorne and a perfect snowshoe hike for a family. It’s an out-and-back so you can hike until you're tired and simply turn around. The hike leaves the trailhead and goes strat up before it levels off for the duration of the snowshoe hike. On clear days you can get amazing views of Keller Mountain and the Gore Range.

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