A Discovery Camp group at the summit of Quandary Peak in summer 2023

Three Elements that make a Challenge Hike


While away from their everyday lives at Keystone Science School’s summer camp, kids get the chance to step out of their comfort zones, gain independence, and learn about themselves. Challenge Hikes are one of many ways that campers and students can learn these lessons. Simply put, a hike is just a long walk. Sometimes for pleasure, sometimes for being social, and sometimes for exercise. Our Challenge Hikes combine all three of these elements into one influential experience for campers.

The first and most apparent element of a Challenge Hike is the physical challenge of walking itself. We believe that campers are almost always capable of much more than they think they are. It is our job on a Challenge Hike to help campers show themselves how much they are capable of, and to provide support for campers so that they can reach their potential. In their typical routines, most kids do not get the opportunity to push their limits and learn how strong they really are. Our Challenge Hikes are chosen to be appropriate difficulties for kids of all abilities. For some, stepping onto the trail is an achievement, while others may be ready to scale alpine peaks. Rather than focusing on the destination as an achievement, we focus on the personal accomplishments of each camper, and the destinations become an extra treat.

The second element of a Challenge Hike is the social dynamic of the group while on trail. Campers are in groups for all of our hikes, which gives them the opportunity to encourage each other and work together. The group sticks together and moves as a unit so that they can overcome obstacles and not only feel personal accomplishment, but group achievement also. Campers learn that their own pace may differ from the pace of the group and that they must practice self-control to keep the group together by maintaining a pace that the group can sustain for the duration of the Challenge Hike. If group members are struggling, the group must accommodate, and encourage each other in order to keep the group moving. Campers learn that uplifting and inspiring each other is an important part of a group Challenge Hike. When a group rallies together, they can achieve more than any one member could on their own.

The last element of a Challenge Hike is the enjoyment of the beautiful natural environment. As with most Keystone Science School activities, Challenge Hikes are a great setting for naturalizing and environmental education lessons. Our hikes take place in beautiful places and give campers the opportunity to explore and interact with nature. Whether it is a mountain vista, a wildlife encounter, or a cascading stream, there is always something to enjoy while on trail in Summit County.

Join us on our next Discovery Camp Challenge Hike for a positive relationship building experience through a physical challenge in a beautiful natural environment!