Throughout this past summer, more than 500 Club members headed to Gates Camp for an unforgettable week-long adventure in the great outdoors. Each week, 70 kids, ages 8 through 13, experienced rock climbing, canoeing, hiking, archery and more at our residential camp located near the Indian Peaks Wilderness area west of Boulder.

Thanks to our generous donors, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver is one of the few Boys & Girls Clubs organizations in the nation that operates an affordable summer camp experience for kids who might not experience the great outdoors otherwise. But what most kids don’t realize is that their time at Gates Camp isn’t just a fun camping trip; it’s an experience that helps develop their social and emotional skills.

When Club members head to Gates Camp for the first time, many are nervous. For an entire week, they are leaving behind their family and home in exchange for adventure. The excitement that comes with exploration and new experiences compels kids to open up and get out of their comfort zone.

Sharing cabin space with other campers leads to new friendships and Gates Camp counselors design obstacle courses and challenges that require kids to work together and rely on each other to succeed. Often without realizing it, campers are improving their communications skills and becoming more comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings. Kids end up setting positive goals and showing empathy for others as they work together to achieve those goals.

As they start their new school year, campers will tell their classmates stories about the fish they caught, the targets their arrows struck and the songs they sang under the stars. They will move forward in life with a greater appreciation for the world around them and having made personal growth as human beings.