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Mission Moment: What’s it Like Seeing Snow for the First Time?

Snow is spectacular. That’s one thing most folks seem able to agree on. But seeing it for the first time ever, that’s beyond special. At Keystone Science School, we are beyond humbled to introduce at least a handful of students from around the state and country to snow for the first time each school year.

From September to May, KSS transforms into an outdoor learning center for K-12 schools seeking science-based field trips. Our outdoor education instructors lead students on hikes and tours of the area as they teach lessons from one of our curriculum areas: aquatic ecology, forest ecology, geology, watersheds & water management, snow & avalanche science, and winter ecology & adaptations. Whether schools visit us in the fall, winter, or spring, chances are they may encounter some snow.

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The Intentionality of KSS Activities

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Keystone Science School Summer Camp programs are full of fun games and activities but every activity is full of meaning and purpose towards a larger objective of helping youth develop more independence and confidence. Some of our most “campy” traditions are viewed by campers as simply fun activities but to our staff and parents these traditions are important aspects of the curriculum and social emotional learning that happens during each camp session. Please read about just a few of the summer camp activities to learn how each are intentionally designed to engage campers for long-term outcomes.

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What You Can Learn as a Camp Counselor

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Being a summer camp counselor can be an amazing experience. It might be one of the most challenging jobs you undertake, but it can also be one of the most rewarding. There are long hours, tons of laughter, and so many life-changing moments. The life-changing moments aren’t just for the participating summer campers but also for each KSS staff member and counselor. KSS strives for each counselor to enjoy their own life-changing moments and opportunities for life-long learning. 

Review the KSS Employment page for a list of available positions and other perks and benefits. Here’s a list of skills you can gain from being a summer camp counselor. Build your resume and gain valuable life skills!

Teambuilding Skills

Camp Counselors work with a large group of coworkers and campers, so teambuilding comes naturally. Learn how to work alongside and communicate with others to achieve a common goal. As a counselor, you will lead various activities for campers that inspire collaboration and group problem-solving. Knowing how to effectively work with others is a skill that will follow you through all future endeavors.

Risk Management

As a counselor, you are responsible for the safety and well-being of your campers. You will learn how to identify and minimize risk, as well as critical evaluation and decision-making skills. These essential critical thinking and problem-solving skills are great for your resume and show a dedication to details and safety.


Camp Counselors have to be quick on their feet and able to adapt to changes at the last minute. Counselors come up with engaging activities and games on the spot and resiliency is a key quality for anyone working at summer camp.

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How to Prepare for a KSS Adventure Program?

Preparing for a KSS Adventure Program can sometimes feel like a challenge but it’s our goal to set every camper and family up for success. Each Adventure is designed to inspire the novice adventurer to learn more and a seasoned adventurer to gain more skills. Similar to every new experience, the more one prepares the easier an experience may be, but there is never a need for an expert-level training plan. See some of the outlined steps to help your camper better prepare for their KSS Adventure.

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Physical Preparation

Pre-program Conditioning - Outdoor Adventures can be hard work, so it is important to prepare your body. In the time before your trip, go on long walks and hikes while carrying a backpack. Slowly increase the weight of your backpack and the difficulty of the trails you hike on. If you don’t have access to hiking trails, a treadmill or walks around the neighborhood will do the trick too! Make sure to wear the shoes you plan on hiking in to break them in and avoid blisters. Every bit of practice helps you build muscle and feel confident in your hiking skills.

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Leave No Trace Seven Principles

The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics created the Leave No Trace 7 principles to be a framework of responsible recreation for people who spend time outdoors. These principles describe minimal impact practices based on scientific research, and in collaboration with land managers, and outdoor educators. Keystone Science School uses the Leave No Trace 7 Principles to teach participants in outdoor education and all summer camp programs about environmental stewardship and the role we play in minimizing human impacts. Learn how you can practice these principles when spending time outdoors!

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Plan Ahead and Prepare

This principle highlights the importance of preparation when spending time outdoors. Research the weather in the area you are going, and be prepared for weather to change quickly, especially in Mountain terrain. Pack the appropriate gear like warm layers, rain gear, water, food, a first aid kit and a communication device. Make sure to bring a map and let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back.

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