Renaissance Adventures summer camp: all it’s ‘Krakened’ up to be & then some

Usually if a Kraken is about to gobble you up, you’re pretty much a goner. Everybody knows there is little defense against a giant octopus-type tentacle-covered thing with a big mouth.

Not even a five-foot swasher helps.

It’s pretty hopeless. Unless you’re lucky enough to see a troll lurking nearby and you happen to know troll blood is explosive (from previous experience with trolls, of course). And—this is a big AND—you’re clever enough to convince the troll to, well, explode right then and there on your behalf.

Then, maybe you have a chance.

Fortunately for Adventure Quest Leader Katt’s group of six enthusiastic Questers, through their deft negotiations and strategic thinking, this particular troll did their bidding that brilliant June-in-Boulder morning and the entire group—even the troll—lived to solve another quest.

And so it goes, quest after quest, summer after summer, for Renaissance Adventures Director Mark Hoge’s merry band of Quest Leaders and Questers.

Questing Camp Rooted in Experiential Education

Hoge kicked-off his first summer of questing in 1995. Since then, thousands of lucky children ages 6-16 have banded together in teams of six or so to be heroes and adventurers in mythic quests each summer and in year-round events.

Now, Renaissance Adventures is a mainstay of Boulder summer camps—voted Best of the West by readers of local online publication Yellow Scene—and a leader in the growing enthusiasm for educationally focused Live Action Role Playing, aka LARPing.

Solidly rooted in experiential education, well-crafted edu-LARPs are noted for teaching problem-solving, reasoning, teamwork, decision-making, as well as empowering children to take on seeming insurmountable challenges and find win-win solutions.

“Children have comparatively little power and responsibility in a world of adults telling them what they can and can’t do. This leads many children to feel disempowered. Through triumphing against challenges, working in teams, making decisions and discovering the consequences of decisions, the children discover their self-worth and self-empowerment,” said Hoge.

A Good Match for Boulder’s Outdoor & Creative Ethos

Parents love that the quests are good for their child’s development and boosts learning and physical activity—especially here in Boulder where the Quest activities complement our penchant for exploring the mountains and developing the realms of imagination and creativity.

But for the kids, good-for-you is not top-of-mind. The kids love to swashbuckle with foes, solve riddles and dilemmas, explore unknown lands, and romp through mountain meadows and over craggy rocks acquiring mythic powers, brokering peace, and making things right for humanity and nature.

Through guided storytelling, Quest Leaders put forward a basic plot or dilemma, which Questers work together to solve respectfully and non-violently—and have a great deal of fun in the process. The resulting quest is a co-creation of Quest leaders and Questers.

Inspiring Good Choices & Peaceful Resolution

But, how can play with swords—fondly called swashers—develop a predisposition toward peaceful resolution?

“Kids are drawn to that which gives them power. By teaching safety rules and developing the skills of fencing, children learn control, safety and respect. Then, through the quests, they learn about the responsible use of power and put it into practice,” emphasized Hoge.

Quest Leaders are instrumental in helping Questers experience the consequences of their choices.

“Our staff is carefully selected and goes through around 100 hours of training to develop non-authoritative leadership styles and conflict resolution skills that don’t rely on punishment. It’s more about inspiring the individual to choose the right action,” said Hoge.

Quest Leaders often are former Questers, but also come from a variety of backgrounds. Today’s Quest Leaders include Vannassa, a former researcher, and Angie, a Quest-Leader-to-be and painter of contemporary abstracts. Vannassa noted Questers not only learn team work and problem-solving skills, their math skills also get a workout.

“We spend a lot of time budgeting time and currency. The Questers earn coins and the last day we go shopping at a Quest fair for trinkets and potions. They love this, even though it is 100% imaginary,” Vannassa said.

Each week over 100 children and teens are questing in groups of six throughout Boulder, Longmont, and Littleton, Colorado, as well as Bellingham, Washington.

Co-ed groups are available for kids as young as six and teens up to 16. There is also a Pegasus group geared toward girls, an overnight quest held at CalWood Education Center in Jamestown, family quests, home quests and birthday quests.

For more information, visit

Photo courtesy of Renaissance Adventures

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