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Guidelines to Expect for 2021 Summer Camp

covid policies kss

At Keystone Science School, we are getting excited about our Summer of Connection! As we prepare, many of our families are asking about what covid guidelines to expect for this summer.

The health and wellbeing of our campers is our number one priority, and as such, it will be the guiding factor behind our COVID Policies and Procedures. We want to ensure that we are able to provide an amazing experience to all our campers. Please note that all implemented risk management strategies do not put the risk to zero but we feel the implemented strategies are the best chance of reducing and mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

We want Keystone Science School to continue operations and provide camp for the duration of summer to all of our campers. The following are a couple of things to expect when attending summer camp this year at KSS:

Documentation of negative COVID-19 PCR test prior to all Overnight programs

Each camper must provide documentation of a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours (3 days) of attending camp. It is the family’s responsibility to acquire the test within this 3 day time period prior to camp, and produce the results. Campers will not be admitted without a negative test result, and will not be admitted if the test was taken more than 3 days before the start of programming. We require families to self-isolate between the time of testing and the start of their session to reduce the chance of exposure.

Mandatory Facial Coverings

Current local and state guidelines require campers and students to wear facial coverings at all times both indoors and outdoors during programming with the exception of eating and sleeping. Though state guidelines may change in the coming months, we anticipate our campers and students to continue this practice. This means that our overnight campers will need to bring facial coverings for each day of programming. 

Physical Distancing

Current guidelines require all participants to maintain 6ft distancing from one another throughout programming both indoors and outdoors. KSS has built up an amazing variety of activities that promotes physical distancing while maintaining the fun of camp.


We will be assigning each camper to a small group of 8-10 campers called a “Camp Cohort”. These camp cohorts will participate in the majority of activities together. KSS will still host activities and shared experiences with other cohorts but this mixing will be limited to the outdoors and when physical distancing is guaranteed to be maintained. Camp cohorts will be based on the sleeping accommodations of each camper.


Please review the COVID-19 Policies and Procedures page to learn more about how camp will look like with these guidelines. You may also call (970)469-2098 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any specific questions. We are looking forward to a happy and healthy summer of Connection!

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Our Favorite Summer Gear for Exploring Summit County


Summer in Keystone, Colorado brings long days filled with sunshine and an endless list of backcountry trails ready to explore. Before you set off on your next summer adventure, take a look at this list from the KSS staff of our favorite summer gear and apparel for getting into the mountains or just spending time in the sun at 9,000ft.

  • Sun Hoodie - A sun hoodie with a high UPF helps protect me from the sun for long days on the river or high in the alpine. The lightweight fabric keeps me cool, dry, and protected!
  • Patagonia Houdini Jacket - A great breathable layer for during windy or cool days. I wear it mountain biking and hiking almost every day.
  • REI Day Pack - The mesh hardback keeps the structure upright and together and keeps sweat away from the pack. It has a built-in rainfly to keep my camera gear dry in those surprise rainstorms!
  • Garmin inReach Mini - Always having the ability to communicate in case of an emergency gives me and my loved ones peace of mind. It’s super small and easy to use, so I take this thing everywhere I go now.
  • Sawyer Mini Water Filter - I love the lightweight bags because you can fill them up and then go lay in the soft grass to filter the water instead of being all hunched over the streambed with a pump. I also prefer these over tablets when the water is more questionable.
  • Chacos – Hands down the best sandals on the planet. I’m in my chacos all day every day. Having a sandal that straps down to my foot lets me adventure or relax all in one.
  • Locking Travel Mug – I love coffee any month of the year and I love my travel mug that locks so that I can easily throw a hot cup of coffee in my backpack. There’s really nothing better than a hot coffee on top of a mountain.
  • Hammock - I love being able to carry around a light-weight hammock for relaxation. Sitting in the hammock on a warm summer day, reading a book, or taking a nap is one of the best ways to pass the time.
  • Canon 80D Camera - It gives me a mission when getting out into the backcountry, and lets me stop and appreciate the subtle details of the outdoors.
  • Mountain Bike - I have a new Trek Fuel Ex - my first carbon bike. I will spend most of my free time (when I’m not with my new baby) taking it for a ride!
  • My Bike – It’s the best mode of transportation in the summer. I personally love running routine errands on my bike because I can get the best parking spot and exercise at the same time.

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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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