Sports to science, art to chess, keep the kids busy this summer

As instructor Deb Bailey watches, “Sgt.” Kinisha Nostrant-Hill, 13, ties Christopher McKenney’s arm before checking his veins during a blood-drawing exercise at Mesa State College’s M*A*S*H Camp for middle school students who are interested in health careers. About 50 children are enrolled in the camp, which continues through the week at the college. WITH VIDEO

Scott Foster, left, and Avery Kuper, both 11, balance the ball on their heads during a drill at the Mesa State College soccer camp. Both boys are from Grand Junction.



Here is where you can get information on the wide variety of summer camps offered in the Grand Valley:

• Mesa State College’s camps, including registration forms, go to

• Western Colorado Community College’s summer camps, including registration forms, go to

• Camps at Grand Valley Community Theatre, call owner Terri Schafer at 216-9627 or instructor Connie Foutz Monroe at 970-361-5867.

• The Art Center camps, call 243-7337 ext. 2.

• City of Fruita camps, call 858-0360.

• Camps offered through the city of Grand Junction’s Parks and Recreation Department, call 254-3866 or 254-3841 para habla en Espanol, go to for a downloadable copy of the camps brochure.

If you are offering a summer camp for youth that’s not featured in this story, please post information about the camp on the Out & About Facebook wall,

Hey, youth: There is no reason to get sucked into the grasp of a comfortable piece of living room furniture for months on end.

It’s summer break. “Get off the couch,” said Emily Wright, Grand Junction recreation supervisor.

The variety of summer camps offered in Mesa County will give youths of all ages summer entertainment options that involve socialization and fun, while simultaneously helping children learn more about specific areas of interest.

There are sports, art, music and cooking camps.

There are chess, horseback riding, exercise science and dissection camps, too.

And nowhere is the wide world of summer camp offerings more visible than at Mesa State College.

In addition to the slew of sports camps commonly offered for individuals and teams, there are a number of less-than-traditional camps for youth with other passions.

For example, teenagers intrigued with sports performance or sports medicine can participate in the college’s Performance Enhancement through Applied Knowledge (P.E.A.K.) camp new this year and running July 25–28 at the Monfort Family Human Performance Lab.

“The laboratory we have here is really state of the art,” said Bill Sands, lab director. “(This camp) is a good opportunity for kids to get turned on to science through human performance.”

Sands said campers will learn about human performance with hands-on exercises and minimal classroom instruction. Campers will be “in class” from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for P.E.A.K.‘s four days. Lunch is included.

“If it moves, we can study it,” Sands said. “We hope to have (campers) do a quick little project that’s of interest to them while we are teaching them about biomechanics, physics of motion and the sciences that accompany movement.”

Another camp offering plenty of hands-on experience is the college’s Mesa Academy Summer Health Camp (M*A*S*H), a popular option for middle school-aged students for the past six years. The camp is designed to introduce students to health careers.

There are three levels to M*A*S*H, which goes from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 20–24 on the college campus, so it is designed as a progressive camp for people to jump to a new level each summer and learn different skills.

The cost of the camp, $75, is kept relatively low through funding from sponsors.

During the five-day camp, participants learn everything from cardiopulmonary resuscitation, CPR, to diagnostic procedures to how to draw blood. It is a great way to get certified in CPR, learn first aid and explore forensic investigation, said Renae Phillips, camp administrator and professional staff assistant in the college’s department of health sciences.

“I love doing this camp,” Phillips said. “We don’t sit for long periods of time. We do outdoor, fun things.”

However, not all college camps focus on health care or science. The college also hosts music camps, resumé building camps, auto mechanics camp and more.

One of the “more” camps is Chef Camp in June, depending on how many youths register. Western Colorado Community College instructor Jon St. Peter, who has taught culinary arts for nearly 10 years, will work with campers on basic cooking methods such as grilling, searing, sauteing and pan frying. St. Peter plans to introduce students to a range of ingredients and flavor combinations.

The camp sessions, which will be divided by age if necessary, culminate with campers catering a party for invited guests. But don’t think the camp is only for “seasoned” chefs.

“We run the gamut,” St. Peter said. “We have students who don’t know anything (to those who) have experience.”

The Chef Camps were offered for the first time last year, and St. Peter is looking forward to more community interest in cooking from its younger members.

Although most of the college’s camps are for middle school- or high school-age youth, there are options for younger campers.

Dance instructor Connie Foutz Monroe plans a movement class for boys ages 5–8. The camp — 9 a.m. to noon June 6–10 at Grand Valley Community Theatre, 448 Main St. — will culminate with a performance of the classic children’s tale, “Where the Wild Things Are.”

Another haven for creative children during the summer months is The Art Center, 1803 N. Seventh St.

The Art Center typically hosts about 450 children every summer for one of its many weekly camps that begin Monday, June 6, and extend through mid-August.

Children ages 5–12 can learn how to make pottery, draw, paint, print-making and more. The most popular camp includes building things out of Legos, said Cheryl McNab, The Art Center’s executive director.

Each weekly camp is limited to 45 children split into age divisions, and those students rotate between instructors.

On the final day of each camp, “we have an art show,” she said.

Two teen art camps are scheduled for June 20–24 and July 11–15.

Grand Junction isn’t the only community in the summer art spirit.

The city of Fruita plans four, week-long art camps with different themes for children ages 5–13 at the Fruita Civic Center. Each camp costs $55 per camper per week and some scholarships are available.

If art, medicine, biomechanics, dance or cooking aren’t in a child’s wheelhouse, don’t give up on summer camp yet.

The city of Grand Junction has a slew of camps for all ages that simply enable youth to get outdoors with other people their age. This year, the city will offer a chess camp and horseback riding camps in addition to all its sports camps.

People can pick up English/Spanish brochures with information on all sports camps at the Parks and Recreation Department offices, 1340 Gunnison Ave. Scholarships are available for those needing financial assistance.

The city even partners with Colorado National Monument for several “Monument Explorers” camps for $15 per session.

“They key is structure,” Wright said of all of the city’s summer camps. “Our goal is to provide care that’s emotionally and physically supportive.”


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