Getting campy: Local summer camps — some still with availability — stay flexible in COVID-19 era
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Local parents are all too familiar with the rush of summer camp registration that occurs each spring in Steamboat Springs — but this year, that rush was much larger than normal.
With the news that Steamboat’s City Camp had filled up within 30 seconds of registration being open, coupled with the fact that Steamboat Resort is not hosting camps this summer due to construction at the base, parents were left scrambling for spaces at other local camps.
In February, Steamboat resident Lara Frankovitch had an idea to create a website that would compile all of Steamboat’s camps into one list. Frankovitch, who has an elementary school-aged child, knew there was a need for this kind of information.
“I spent a ton of time Googling and compiling information for different camps in Steamboat,” she said. “I figured that other parents were out there doing the same, so I wanted to create a resource where people could easily find the information they need.”
Frankovitch reported that feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with people contacting her through the website suggesting additional camps to add to her list.
This summer, more than ever, Steamboat parents are searching for camp options, and the city’s camp wasn’t the only one to fill up quickly.
BookTrails, which has been operating for a decade, was 100% full within four hours of opening its registration. Its popular overnight camps filled up within 13 minutes, and now there is a waitlist of 170 children.
Emily Osterman, founder and executive director of BookTrails, attributes this to both COVID-19 and positive growth over the past decade.
“We started with just 30 kids in our first summer, and we have grown to serve 210,” Osterman said. “The interest level this summer is much higher; I think it’s a mixture of parents wanting to have their kids in social activities this summer after COVID and also word of mouth from positive experiences within our camp.”
BookTrails, which typically hosts 15 campers in each camp, will allow 12 this year but is awaiting guidance to see if they can add more, which they hope to find out in the next few weeks.
Yampatika is nearly at capacity as well. It will host two camps each week for the duration of the summer — one for 5- and 6-year-olds and one for 7- and 8-year-olds — but currently only one 7- and 8-year-old camp has remaining availability.
Yampatika Executive Director Joe Haines said these are the age groups where they see the most demand. And while Haines said that camps didn’t fill up immediately — within two weeks of registration opening — they were at 70% to 80% capacity.
Because of extensive waitlists, Yampatika is also waiting to see if they can add a few additional campers to each camp. Those camps are currently capped at 10 children.
For every camp that is full, however, many others still have spaces. Steamboat Creates’ Young at Art Camps hosts 22 camps throughout the summer for different age groups and featuring different themes and activities. Currently, 10 out of the 22 camps have waitlists, but the rest still have availability, with themes like Disney Dance Party, Paint Your Heart Out, Nature Art Adventures and Let’s Make a Comic Book.
Steamboat Creates Program Director Sylvie Piquet said registration this year has been much higher than in prior years.
“We reached over 100 registrations within the first day of opening registration,” Piquet said. “In 2019 and 2020, we had just over 200 registrations total, but this year, we are already at 326.”
Like other camps that are considering adding more spaces, Piquet said Steamboat Creates has already opened more spots in most of the camps, increasing capacity to 15 children in the 4- to 6-year-old age group and 20 children in the older age groups.
“With the county health levels improving, we increased enrollment from capacities that were set last summer to slightly higher,” Piquet said. “Now that we have last summer under our belt with the COVID measures going smoothly, we feel confident increasing camp capacities while staying within the social distancing capacity for our space.”
Other camps have decided to tweak their programming to create more options and availability for families.
Elevation Dance Studio, which has been offering summer camp options for the past decade, also has many spots available. Owner Renee Fleischer said, this year, they reformatted the summer program to tailor more to parent’s needs, with more hours and options.
Charlotte Harriman, owner of Steamboat Kids Play Garden, said all of their summer camp offerings are designed with flexibility with the whole family in mind. With options for both indoor and outdoor camps, which range from ages 2 to 10, Harriman said many of her families appreciate the fact that they can do one drop-off and pick-up children of various ages.
Harriman said she is capping the outdoor camps at 20 children, and while interest has been earlier than in past years, there is still availability.
At the Steamboat Tennis and Pickleball Center, camps are filling up, but many also still have spots. Executive Director Loretta Conway expects they will be full by next month, as they have been in previous years.
The tennis camps, designed for various age groups, are actually typical sports and rec camps, Conway said. Campers not only play tennis and pickleball but also other field sports, plus arts and crafts, water play and have a pizza party each Thursday.
This year, the tennis and pickleball camps will have a 6 to 1 ratio of campers to staffers, while that ratio was kept to 4 to 1 last year. There will also be scholarships available to help keep costs down.
Seeing a need for more child care in the summer months, Kasey O’Halloran, owner of Little Lambs Daycare in Phippsburg, started a new camp this summer called Little Rams.
“I have three kiddos myself,” she said, “and I saw the need for more camps when I had families asking me if their older children could come to Little Lambs for the summer.”
O’Halloran created Little Rams, which will host outdoor camps for children going into kindergarten through fourth grade. Campers will explore the outdoors with different field trips every day. And while their base camp is in Yampa, O’Halloran is offering daily pick-ups and drop-offs in Stagecoach, Oak Creek and Phippsburg.
Anyone can sign up for Little Rams, even those living outside of South Routt.
“Our main goal is to make sure that kids have a safe and loving place to go this summer,” O’Halloran said.
Sophie Dingle is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today. She can be reached through the editor.
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Steamboat Creates is still accepting applications from teams that would like to compete in the snow sculpture contest at the 2022 Winter Carnival.