I’ve been wanting to take my family to the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park for a long, long time. So when they invited us up to stay last weekend, and check out their facilities — especially the Craft & Design center — I jumped at the chance.
We arrived Friday afternoon, explored a little, and had dinner in the Aspen Dining Room, where food is served cafeteria-style just like I used to have at summer camp. Honestly, this might have been one of the highlights for the kids — picking their own food from the buffet and getting to serve themselves as much as they wanted. We had to have a little talk about moderation after that first dinner…
After a dip in the pool, everyone headed to bed for the night.
After breakfast the next morning, we began with a short hike that took us into Rocky Mountain National Park. On our way back, as the kids were bickering and getting hot and cranky, one of them hissed, “Shhhhh!” and we all stopped to watch a deer slowly make her way through the meadow, having a little breakfast.
After lunch, we headed over to the Craft & Design Center. There are crafts and art projects for every age imaginable (not mere popsicle stick crafts, mind you. These are much more). There are rows of unpainted ceramics for painting, bins of beads for jewelry-making (pony beads for younger kids, smaller seed beads and other specialty beads for older kids and adults). There is leatherwork and tie dye and silk screening and glass fusing and even basket making.
Many families come to the YMCA of the Rockies for family reunions, and I think tie dyed shirts would be such a fun activity for the entire group to do together…and you’d end up with matching shirts for the occasion.
You could drop into the Craft & Design Center and paint or tie dye for an hour if you’d like. But you could also start a more involved project like a glass fusing or silk screening piece, and spend an afternoon there. You could even start a project one day, and come back for part of each day you’re there to work on it.
Prices for each project vary — I can tell you with the pottery painting that we paid less than I would have at a painting place near my house, and the tie dyeing was very reasonable. My son dyed a baseball cap for $9, and there were plenty of projects for under $10 for kids to make. And I saw more intricate leatherwork belts, and silk screen projects, and glass fusing pieces for around $40. So there’s a wide range.
After our crafting, we headed back to the room. The kids and my husband headed out to play Gaga Ball (have you heard of it? We never had, but now we’re finding all sorts of people who love it.) It’s kind of like Dodge Ball, but played in an octagon-shaped ring. They met kids from all over the country and had a great time, while I stayed behind and read my book on the balcony of our room (amen and hallelujah!).
After dinner, we watched a bluegrass band (The Steel Pennies) play for a bit, and then the younger kids headed to bed while I took the older kids to an astronomy talk, complete with telescope for stargazing.
And then…Sunday it was time to head home. We packed up, played a bit more and took one last dip in the pool, stopped by the Rustic Cafe for some fudge (they’re known for it…definitely give it a try!) and hit the road home, happy and exhausted from our fun weekend.
Between the activities the camp offers, and nearby Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, we could easily have kept ourselves occupied for a week. And the camp is open year-round, with ice skating and other winter activities (and the Craft & Design Center, and indoor pool are open), so we may try to go back this fall.
For more information on their facilities, you can check out the YMCA of the Rockies online here.