2021 is the Year of Connection for KSS

2021 kss year of connection 2 2020 day campers learning the web of life

By Ellen Reid, Executive Director

In the quiet moments that I carved out for myself in 2020 (while few and far between), I took time to reflect, hoping to learn from the chaos and upheaval surrounding me. Most of the time, my mind wandered to thoughts of which way to go on the trail or how happy my puppy seemed.

Recently, though, I had the realization that I really missed people. Being around people, laughing with them, listening to their stories, learning from them. It’s probably a realization most of you had months ago and my introverted self was slow to come around. Sure, I’ve participated in my share of Zoom calls attempting to remain connected to work peers, family, and friends. But nothing can replace in-person time together.

We are inherently social beings and being connected is good for us. In 2014, Dr. Emma Seppala, the Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, noted that “strong social connection leads to a 50% increased chance of longevity, strengthens your immune system, helps you recover from disease faster, reduces anxiety and depression…Social connectedness generates a positive feedback loop of social, emotional, and physical well-being.”

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What are the best kid-friendly activities in Summit County?

summit co kid friendly acitivities

Summit County has so many activities for families and kids that it can be hard to keep track. We are lucky to live in an abundant outdoor playground with mountains, rivers, lakes, and world-class ski resorts in our backyard. Whether you are on vacation with your family, a recent transplant with young kiddos, or have been a local for life, you can always find something new and fun to do! We asked our staff to help make a list of the best kid-friendly activities in Summit County, Colorado.

Winter Kid-Friendly Activities in Summit County

(Early Spring, Winter, Late Fall)
  • Kidtopia, Keystone
  • Sledding at Rainbow Park, Silverthorne
  • Sledding at Carter Park, Breckenridge
  • Tubing hill, Frisco
  • Silverthorne First Fridays
  • Dillon Ice Castles
  • See Isak Heartstone, Breckenridge
  • Dog Sledding at Good Times Adventures
  • Pond Hockey and Ice Skating at Keystone Pond
  • Skiing and Snowboarding
  • Keystone Science School Weekend Programs

Non-Winter Kid-Friendly Activities in Summit County

(Late Spring, Summer, Early Fall)
  • Horsebackriding, Keystone Stables
  • Music at Dillon Amphitheatre
  • Fishing at North Pond
  • Playground at Rainbow Park
  • Shooting Bows at the Archery Range
  • KSS Summer Day & Overnight Camp!
  • Silverthorne First Fridays
  • Hiking Trails
  • Alpine Slide, Breckenridge
  • National Repertory Orchestra Concerts for Kids
  • See Isak Heartstone, Breckenridge
  • Alpine Coaster, Copper
  • Alpine Slide, Breckenridge
  • Canoeing, Kayaking, and Stand Up Paddleboarding on Lake Dillon
  • Rock Climbing
  • Beach, Frisco

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5 Tried and True Kid-Friendly Trail Activities

trail activities

Keystone Science School works with campers and students of all ages. Whether it’s with our summer camp or school-based outdoor education programs, we are always hiking with children. Hiking outside is an amazing opportunity to explore the outdoors and push physical boundaries. We have found that sometimes our campers and students need their minds diverted from hiking and the physical challenge. That’s when we may facilitate a small game or activity to help distract from the physical challenge. Here’s a short list of some of our favorite trail games. These games all require little to no materials and can help young hikers make it to whatever destination is on the adventure agenda of the day.

  • Wanda - Next time you’re hiking, grab a clothespin/binder clip/carabiner to play Wandering Wanda! We’ll call that clothespin, “Wanda.” One person stealthily passes Wanda off to someone else without them noticing. Wanda must be clipped to an article of clothing. Once Wanda is found, repeat & see who can be the sneakiest when passing Wanda around!
  • Camouflage - One person, “the caller” stands still, and closes their eyes for 30 seconds while everyone else hides where they can still see “the caller.” At the end of 30 seconds, “the caller” names people they find without moving. Repeat for 20 seconds and 10 seconds making individual rounds. Within each round, the hiding people are to get closer and closer to “the caller,” without being found. The goal is to tag or get as close as possible to “the caller” by the last round.
  • Nature Art - Creating art outside with kids helps them connect with their natural surroundings in a unique way. Next time you go outside, bring paper & drawing utensils. Find a spot to sit comfortably, & draw anything you hear or see. If you forget paper & pencils, make a sculpture with things you find on the ground.
  • Look for Bugs in a Stream - Ever wondered what bugs live in local streams? Take a trip & see what you find! Many aquatic insects live attached to rocks on stream beds. Grab some rocks from the stream, flip them over, and use a magnifying glass to observe the insects you find. Can you identify the insects you find?
  • Meet a Tree - Start by blocking someone’s vision with a blindfold or ask them to close their eyes. Safely guide them to a tree. Using observation skills, examine the tree with no sense of vision. Does the tree smell, how does it feel, can you feel branches, leaves, or needles? Safely guide them away from the tree and have them open their eyes. Try & find the same tree with restored vision.

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Best Cross Country Ski Trails in Summit County

kss summit county cross county ski

This Winter we're on the hunt for cross country ski trails that are quiet, snowy, tree-lined, narrow, and away from the crowds, where a pup can explore and where we can only hear the sound of our breathing and the swish of the skis. That’s a perfect cross country ski trail. We asked our staff about their favorite cross country ski trails in Summit County, Colorado. Here are their answers.

  • Frisco - Early Season - Keep Your Boots On! I will be the first to say that skiing is the bee's knees, yet this time of year, the chance of rocks with shallow snow has me reaching for my hiking boots. Call me protective of my ski bases. A pair of traction devices provide ample purchase to scale the Mt Royal trail from Frisco and often you will not need gaiters to keep the snow out of your boots. Taking a headlamp and braving the night time temps will make the glow of Summit worth it.
  • Breckenridge - Boreas Pass - Cheap views! Upon leaving the parking lot you find dramatic views with almost no effort. The trail also has a mellow grade so it’s not too strenuous when you’re looking for good views and a little exercise.
  • Breckenridge - Sally Barber Road - I really love cross country skiing up Sally Barber Road in Breckenridge because the light incline makes for a nice workout, the view at the top is lovely, and the ski back down is hilarious on skinny cross country skis!
  • Breckenridge - Resort - At Breckenridge Ski Resort, you can’t beat some good old Whale’s Tail laps on a clear day with soft snow.
  • Keystone - Keystone Gulch - This is always a fan favorite because Keystone Resort grooms the road every week to help support their access needs to North Peak and the Outback. It’s a mellow uphill grade which makes for an easy return to the car. You could also warm up with hot chocolate if you ski all the way to Keystone Resort's outpost about 2.5 miles from the trailhead.
  • Keystone - Peru Creek Road - Peru Creek Road has many options for different activities and varying skill levels. XC skiing on the road takes you on a fairly flat, wide trail through a forest winter wonderland. Walking with snowshoes or traction devices is also possible. There are also many excellent backcountry ski lines accessed from Peru Creek Road in low-risk avalanche conditions including Cadillac, a Summit County classic winter ski line.

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Our Favorite Winter Gear for Exploring the Cold and Snowy Colorado Mountains

best winter gear kss 1

The calm stillness in the forests, the apparent animal tracks on the snow, and the glittering pillows and blankets of fresh powder make Wintertime one of the best times to get out and explore the Colorado mountains--As long as you have the right winter gear to keep you warm, comfortable, and thriving. Keystone Science School has over 40 years of experience leading groups into the Winter backcountry. We recently polled the KSS staff to find out their favorite pieces of winter gear, and here are their answers.

  • Melanzana Micro Grid Hoodie - It's such a versatile layer. I can use it skiing, hiking, or hanging out. It's super comfortable and I feel like it's the local garb of Summit County too.
  • Patagonia R1 Half-Zip - Breathable, warm layer. Perfect for skinning up the mountain, followed by a walk around town with a latte. It also zips up to your nose and has a great hood that can fit under a helmet.
  • Heated Gloves - I know, I know, it’s a totally unnecessary thing, but when standing outside watching my kids at Nordic or waiting in line for something, etc. – these keep me warm! I can enjoy being outside longer without frozen fingers.
  • Camo Muck Boots - Hands down my favorite piece of winter gear!
  • Small Foam Pad - Same size as the back of your backpack so you can slide it against the frame. Eat lunch comfortably in the snow and don’t lose all your heat. Cut up an old sleeping pad. It makes taking a break in the snow 100x better. It can also be used in emergency situations.
  • Puffy Pants - They are an essential that I didn’t know I needed until I got them. They are amazing and so comfy. Full-zip so you can put them on with equipment on your feet. They are also great when you are chillin' on the couch in your shorts and need to go outside for something, just throw them on and stay warm in the coldest temps.
  • Full-Zip Snow Pants with Suspenders - Temperatures can have dramatic swings throughout a day in the mountains and it’s been my favorite way to make sure I don’t overheat when I unzip all the way to my waist. Going full zip? Make sure you have suspenders so your pants don’t fall down!
  • Sunglasses with Multiple Lenses - Visibility is so variable in the mountains. Bright sunny days can literally be blinding requiring dark lenses and nothing beats yellow lenses on those overcast days. Live your life in high def!
  • The Extra Layer - I’ve never regretted bringing an extra mid-layer, and I have been saved by it many times.
  • Lightweight Neck Gaiter - I prefer it to be merino wool or polyester because it’s stretchy, dries quickly, and provides a bit of warmth but not too much warmth while working fairly hard cross country skiing or backcountry skiing. You can pull the gaiter up over the back of your hat and keep it just under your sunglasses or goggles when the weather comes in and breathe through it which is my favorite function. It also provides UV protection when it’s super sunny without being hot. It’s a must-have for outdoor adventures in the winter and I use it year-round too!

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