Summer camp selection 101 & 102

It’s that time of year again… where we try to decide what awesome, exciting adventures our kids get to go on this summer. Whether they’re hanging out at home, heading out free-range, or they’re heading to camp, our great state has endless options. But, if you’re thinking about camp, here are some thoughts to help you get started.

Be thorough 

There are so many summer camp opportunities out there that you can literally find one for everything, even underwater basket weaving (well maybe). The point is that there are: film camps, music camps, math camps, engineering camps, technology camps, art camps, adventure camps, you name it, so really think about what your child’s main interests are and do a thorough search before you make up your mind.  Choosing a camp that is engaging is obviously the priority but balancing it out with some activities and interests that they haven’t had the opportunity to engage in can be really rewarding and open new doors for your child.

Empower your child!

Obviously, you want to choose a camp that isn’t right fit for your child. Recognize though that the right fit doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be any challenges. In fact, find one that presents some challenges. Summer camp should help your child to get out of their comfort zone and experience many new things. Overcoming some challenges at summer camp, like being away from home, eating unusual foods, trying new activities will be difficult, but then, it will go from difficult to empowering!

Don’t send them to camp with their friends

Don’t pick summer camps based solely on your child’s best friends. Going with friends can be fun, but it often minimizes some of the best experiences at camp and minimizes the sense of independence they get from camp. Summer camp is a time to foster and forge new friendships and for kids to discover who they are by themselves; it makes them independent. When you send your child with their bestie, they often don’t branch out to others at camp. Camp can be an invaluable resource for helping your child to widen their circle of friends and also to develop a grander sense of the unique offerings of people who are new and different, including people of different races, cultures, and religious backgrounds. The more experiences your child gets with new people, the more compassionate they will be in accepting people who are different than them. Of course a camp with your bestie can be great too especially if your child is extremely shy.


Do some soul searching and talking with your child about their thoughts about camp and the types of camps they might be interested in including, day camps, overnight camps, week(s) long camps. If your child wants to do a week long camp that requires they stay overnight away from home, assess whether or not your child has been comfortable going away with a friend, or spending the night away from their home. Summer camp probably shouldn’t be the trial run on whether your child is capable of sleeping away from home. 

Consider a camp in nature

While your child might not have the nature bug, spending time in the great outdoors can be life changing for a child. Camps give children safe spaces to play outdoors, a safe place to explore, a chance to reconnect with nature over technology. Wilderness camps or even social camps that take place in nature have inspired a number of children turned activists to get involved in protecting these precious resources.

Do your research

Once you have found a few camps that you think would be a great fit. Find out more information about the qualifications of the staff. It is great that there are energetic teens on staff, but there also needs to be qualified adults who designed the curriculum and oversee the quality of the instruction and leadership. Call and ask for references from past campers’ parents to get the scoop!

Here are some websites that will help you get started on you and your child’s summer camp exploration: (a good news story on last year’s camps available in Colorado)

Campanizer blog

Finally, when you find one you are very interested in, sign up quickly and early. A lot of camps fill up in a short amount of time, and you don’t want to do all that decision-making and then have to go back to the drawing board. Better yet, make a list of your top three, and you will be sure to get your child into one of them!

STEAM Activities to do from home

Maker Bolder just celebrated STEAMFest 2020 where we had an AMAZING time with our awesome exhibitors. Now that our home state (Colorado) and many other states have closed schools, you might be searching for fun things to do at home with a STEAM emphasis.

Behold our list of all things STEAM that can be done from home!

*Parents, please preview items for younger audiences. Some sources are from YouTube.

SCIENCE & SPACE San Diego Zoo Virtual Tour at the San Diego Zoo.
Polar Bears Polar Bears and the Tundra
NOVA Science Gross Science, Science Education at Home
Mystery Science School Closure Lesson Plans
Yellowstone National Park Virtual Field Trips:  Mud Volcano, Mammoth Hot Springs, and so much more.  Tour Yellowstone National Park!
Mars Rover Explore the surface of Mars on the Curiosity Rover.
Space Tours Experience Space
Science Videos The Kid Should See This – Science
Animal Cameras Live Cams at the San Diego Zoo

Monterey Bay Aquarium live cams

Panda Cam at Zoo Atlanta

6 Animal Cams at Houston Zoo

Georgia Aquarium has Jellyfish, Beluga Whales, and more

TECHNOLOGY Manufacturing How It’s Made
Tech How-Tos The Kid Should See This – Technology
Twenty Thousand Hertz Podcast all about the stories and history of famous sounds. (parents pre-listen for younger audiences).
Geek Girl Diaries Geek Girl Diaries
ENGINEERING  Adam Hart-Davis What Romans Did for Us, What the Ancients Did for Us
Modern Marvels Watch here
Engineer Girl Cool Links list
University of Colorado Boulder Engineering Teach Engineering STEM Curriculum for K-12
National Science Foundation Big list of Engineering Classroom Resources.
ARTS Coloring for Calm Coloring pages from 113 Museums! (Complete with all kinds of anatomy!)
Livestream Classic Concerts Met Opera to Berlin Philharmonic
Virtual Art Museums Travel to Paris, France to see amazing works of art at The Louvre.

List of 12 museums to virtually visit.

Google Arts & Culture offers exquisite views of art, cultural sites, and more.

Drawing with an Author Illustrator LUNCH DOODLE with Mo Willems
At-Home Art Lessons Cassie Stephens Art Blog
Let’s Make Art Take a look at this huge list of free digital downloads watercolor painting guides.
MAKING Animation Videos The Kid Should See This – Animation
Built By Kids Blog with lots of ideas for building.
Mythbusters Jr. Watch full episodes here.
Competition Shows for Makers Lego Masters, no description needed.

Making It with Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman.

Nailed It  and Kids Baking Championship for some baking inspiration.

MISC. Wow in the World NPR produced podcast covering all of the wonders of the world around us.
Open Culture FREE educational resources for K-12 students
Scholastic Remote Learning Resources by grade level.
Children’s Museum Stroll Walk through the Boston Children’s Museum thanks to Google Maps, explore all 3 floors!
The Great Wall of China This Virtual Tour of the Great Wall of China is beautiful and makes history come to life.
Schoolhouse Rock Watch classic episodes here.
Brain Pop Access Request access to BrainPop for free.
Typing Practice Sharpen those typing skills.
STEM Resources 239 Cool Sites about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math


>> Send us more to update this list at gabi at makerbolder dot com


**Some of this list was sourced from Mrs. Fahrney’s list that can be found here.

Breaking up the Boredom in 2020

Spring fever is definitely a legitimate affliction.. and now that we’re social distancing… or maybe straight up quarantined, spring fever could be in high gear at your house. I know it is at ours, and our schools are closed for two and a half more weeks. Fortunately, there are cures. The first course of action is getting outside every possible second that you and your kids can. When the week starts, I check the weather forecasts to determine the days that we can get outside. Secondly, I plan, plan for when can’t and plan for when we can!


Scavenger hunts are always a lot of fun! Check out all these lists on Pinterest. We also made a Scavenger Hunt list for you earlier this year. The lists include hunts around town, at the park, and even around your home. They will keep kids entertained and busy! The best part is that regardless of whether the weather is a lion or a lamb, you have a fun way to spend time together.

Battle Time

Nerf wars are the best (at least they are for my family). The mega guns and bullets are ideal because they are easy to load, and the bullets don’t do damage to anyone or anything indoors and outdoors. Also, you can play it rain or shine depending on the weather. Our favorite game is called “Three” (very creative). We give each other three lives. When you lose all three lives you are out of the game and have to wait for the start of the next. When we couldn’t run through the house or get outdoors, we would set up action figures 10 feet away and have target practice. We’d have Nerf Olympics and see who could hit the most targets in the shortest amount of time. You could even do it outdoors and have a course where you run and jump and then have to stop, crouch and hit your targets.

Speaking of a “course,” if you can get outside, build a fun ninja warrior course! They are all the rage and springing up in almost every city. Longmont has Warrior Playground, Lafayette has Ninja Nation, and right here in Boulder, we have Superhuman Academy. These are great ways to get out the pent up energy when rain is in the forecast. But, when you and the kids can get outside, it’s a wonderful family project to build your own course in your own backyard. You can use things that most homes already have like 2’ by 4’s, those soccer cones you have from when you coached, hula hoops, ropes and even your swing set. Or you and your kids can get on your engineering hats and come up with a course that may take some time build, but that will keep you all busy and having fun for years to come! Here are a few sites to help you get started: Ninja Warrior Blueprints, Remodelaholic, and

Game Time

Hide-n-seek is probably a no brainer, but it is so fun that it has to be mentioned. There are some fun variations for when you have to be indoors. Try playing in the dark with flashlights down in the basement. Get together all the squirt guns and play hide-n-go seek outside when the weather permits.


If you remember, we talked about geocaching earlier this year. What a fun family activity to do when you have the opportunity to get outside! Drive to a local park or recreation area where there are a number of caches and let your kids loose to treasure hunt. Before you go out, consider making some treasures to exchange or add to the boxes: a friendship bracelet, a piece of art, a homemade key chain or have them gather up all those little toys that you accidentally step on or that get stuck in the vacuum. 

Snack Time

When your kiddos are trapped inside, get your kids involved in planning and prepping snacks and meals. Have them help you with the grocery list and take them shopping. Make each of them responsible for finding 10 items on the list and see who can get done first (no running)! Teach them proper food preparation. For those competitors in your family, you can also have a snack-making Top Chef contest. Each member of the family can give points for favorite snacks. Total up the scores after a week or two. 

The good news about Spring Fever is, at worst it will last for a couple more months. At best, we may be able to get outdoors most every day of the week. Should the prior be our reality, add a few of these ideas to your rotation of medicines to cure your family’s ailments, then do a Spring Fever dance, and hopefully soon we will be fully recovered. 

Meet a Maker: Sorin with Mile High Astronomy

Meet our friend Sorin! Sorin is the brains and eyes behind Mile High Astronomy. We’ve partnered on some REALLY awesome events together and hope you’ve been lucky enough to join us. BUT, if you haven’t – come see Mile High Astronomy at STEAMFest 2020 and check out the latest Smartphone enabled telescopes, and build your own constellation projectors.

What do you do with your awesome self?

I share the wonders and beauty of the universe with others!

How did you get started? Who or what influenced you?

When I was a kid, my parents bought me a small red telescope for my birthday one year. That was my first introduction to astronomy, being able to see the Moon up close. Many years later, a trip to Mauna Kea, Hawaii, home to some of the world’s largest professional observatories, reignited that passion. Since then, I have been involved with astronomy outreach and non profits for the last 9 years. In 2017, I turned my passion for sharing the universe with others into a business, Mile High Astronomy!

What was one bit of information you wished you know before you started?

Probably that a good telescope costs a lot less than you think. I wish I’d started sooner!

Where do you see yourself and your making going in the next 3 to 5 years?

I see developing our own line of astronomical products! Astronomy is one of those fields where people are constantly inventing and innovating. We are just now starting to see telescopes that integrate with smart phones to make discovering the night sky easier than ever. The future of astronomy is a hotbed for experimenting and innovating.

What do you wish you could make or do, but don’t know how to (yet)?

We don’t know manufacturing yet, but we plan to learn! STEAM and the maker movement have opened up so many doors to building new products, and made it much more affordable to try out new ideas. I’m looking forward to making our own contributions to the astronomy equipment space in the years to come.

What’s your favorite part about the STEAM movement?

The great thing about STEAM is the emphasis on learning by doing, being willing to experiment, and to take a special delight in failing! One of the biggest aspects of learning is understanding that it’s not just OK to fail, it’s awesome! We learn so much more when something doesn’t work how we expected it to, and we take those lessons and build on them. STEAM is about not being afraid to try something new!

What part of STEAM Fest are you most excited for?

The hands on experiences!

What will you be demo’ing hacking, playing with at your STEAM Fest booth?

We will be showing off some of the latest Smartphone enabled telescopes, and have a station for attendees to build their own constellation projectors!

What’s the most amazing, unusual (craziest) thing anyone has ever told you about what you do?

It’s the WOW moments when someone sees the Moon, the Rings of Saturn, or the bands on Jupiter through a telescope for the first time!

What’s your advice to young peeps interested in learning more about STEAM?

To borrow a slogan, Just do it! There are so many resources available, and so many people who will be happy to help and encourage you. Never be afraid to fail when you try something new. Every great artist, engineer, and scientist who we celebrate for their amazing successes achieved those successes by experimenting and learning from thousands of failures that eventually lead them to something new and amazing.

Looking forward to Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest 2020! Get your tickets >> [maxbutton id=”5″ ]