The summer camp alternative

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Summer break is just a few weeks away, when parents find themselves looking for ways to fill their kids’ open calendars. Summer calendars for camps and day camps are plentiful at recreation centers, local churches and nonprofit organizations throughout the south metro area.

But the days of the average summer camp are over. Yes families can still find places for a kid to ride his or her first horse, learn how to build a fire and pull in their first fish. But today’s families have options that include art and theater experiences, lessons in farming and ranching and camps that take their kids on a journey to outer space.

In Castle Rock, the Colorado Agricultural Leadership Foundation launches its first summer day camp with Camp CALF for children entering fourth and sixth grades. The week-long day camp give kids a chance to see how a working ranch thrives with a program built on the CALF philosophy to encourage people to get connected to agriculture.

Children who participate in Camp CALF will spend each day on a different agricultural theme, divided into “flocks” with daily chores to care for their assigned species of livestock on the ranch. Camp CALF includes team-building and creative problem-solving activities, based on the day’s theme.

Professional presentations throughout the week include visits from Hawk Quest and the Colorado Division of Wildlife, which will join the campers at CALF’s home on the Lowell Ranch, a 133-acre ranch along on Plum Creek south of Castle Rock.

Families seeking a more refined camping experience can visit the Parker Arts, Culture and Events Center, which has a summer calendar packed with art, science and technology camps that open new doors for young curiosity seekers.

Kids from 6 to 12 years old can try Mysteries of Space Camp, which takes kids on a virtual space mission to distant planets; Lift Off! Camp, where kids can enjoy some high flying fun with a rocket program, spacecraft construction and launching lessons. The younger set will tackle their favorite construction projects with LEGO pre-engineering camp.

The Parker Arts and Cultural Center stays true to its cultural mission with Summer Theater Camp, a week of drama for kids up to 18 years old. Theatrical campers will learn acting, stage crew and audition skills at theater camps for kids of varying age and experience. Campers will rehearse each afternoon for a final play at the end of the week.

The Castle Rock recreation center unveiled its 2011 summer calendar with RockRec camps that include art adventures, Gross and Gooey Science and Kids Kitchen, which takes kids around the world with food.

The staff at the Denver Zoo will join RockRec with a lesson on “Remarkable Reptiles” and daily animal activities that culminate in a trip to the zoo.

RockRec campers will also enjoy Space is the Place, with United Launch Alliance Rocket Works on site to teach kids how to build a paper rocket. Space is the Place will include a visit to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

Find out more

Camp CALF is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, June 6 – 10 and June 20 – 24. The cost is $250 for the week, due at time of registration. For more information visit www.thecalf.org or call Lisa Denton, camp director, at 720-273-7547.

The Parker Arts, Culture and Events Center has multiple summer programs from early June through the end of July. Program costs range from $50 to $400, with resident discounts available. More information is available at www.PACEcenteronline.org.

The Castle Rock recreation center has a summer camp calendar with day camps from early June through late July. A week-long camp is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday and costs range from $150 for residents to $225 for non-residents. For more information visit www.crgov.com.

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