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Our Favorite Summer Gear for Exploring Summit County

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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

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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

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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 Discovery Camp and Adventures, 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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