Kayak trips seem innocuous enough, but placid water can be as dangerous as rapids. Just ask one Denver seven-year-old who was on a kayak trip to Baja, Mexico, with his family when they spotted a pair of kayaks in obvious distress. After getting closer, they saw that one boat was submerged in water while it’s novice kayaker floated nearby. While the adults hurriedly brainstormed possible ways to get eveyrbody safely to shore, the boy already had a plan: He recommended a T-Rescue—a rescue maneuver that uses the upright kayak as leverage—and it got everyone, and their kayaks, back to land safely. The little rescuer had just spent a week at one of David Secunda’s Avid4 Adventure summer camps that take place across Colorado. “It was amazing to hear that this kid saved the day,” Secunda, the founder and president, says. “He was able to draw on his experience.”

Avid4 Adventure teaches children as young as three and up to age 18 recreational aptitude through activities like kayaking, mountain biking, rock climbing, survival skills, and more. Secunda’s wants kids to engage with the natural world around them at his camps, but to also focus on building confidence. “All of our instruction is age-based and follows a progression,” Secunda says. “Even a three-year-old on a climbing wall will get knowledge that will last a lifetime.”

At a time when American children spend an average of five to seven hours in front of screens per day, Avid4 Adventure gets them out from behind the computer and into Colorado’s wilderness. These human-powered sports give children a chance to realize their own power and capability. Beyond the skills of each activity, Secunda employs opportunities for kids to make decisions based on changes in their surroundings and allows for positive risk taking. “Kids need to be allowed to build their muscle for understanding and working in an environment,” Secunda says.

The majority of the camps, which run $395 per week, are localized day trips (Denver, Boulder, Golden, and Highlands Ranch), so that kids are able to head home and show their families what they’ve learned right away. Who knows, with the right education, your kid could even save someone’s life. We’ll work on cleaning their room later.

—Image courtesy of Avid4 Adventure