Middle School Archaeology Camp

  • In the field
    In the field
  • Explore Mesa Verde National Park
    Explore Mesa Verde National Park
  • In the lab
    In the lab
  • What was life like in A.D. 700?
    What was life like in A.D. 700?
  • The Crow Canyon campus
    The Crow Canyon campus
  • In the field
    In the field

June 16–22, 2019

Brush away the dirt to uncover ancient pottery—and be the first person to touch that artifact in nearly a thousand years. Work with archaeologists in the field and in the lab. Every summer at Crow Canyon, middle school students join our research team in southwestern Colorado, helping to discover the history of the ancestral Pueblo Indians (Anasazi) of the Mesa Verde region.

At this academic/science camp, middle school students learn excavation and lab techniques, then work with our archaeologists. You’ll dig at a real archaeological site where ancestral Pueblo people lived nearly a 1,000 years ago. You’ll also wash, catalog, and analyze ancient artifacts in the lab.

At archaeology camp you’ll also learn about American Indian cultures, past and present. Explore the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Find out what it’s like to weave on a loom, throw a wooden spear with an atlatl, and make fire with a bow drill.

In 2015 USA Today named our archaeology summer camps one of the 10 best adventure camps for kids.

Educational Focus

  • Introduction to archaeology and Pueblo Indian history
  • Science, math, and critical thinking

Students must have completed sixth, seventh, or eighth grade and be 12 years old by program date.

About this Program

  1. Staff
  2. Accommodations
  3. Getting Here
  4. For Parents
  5. Details
  6. Scholarships

Cara McCain Cara McCain (B.A., Anthropology/Archaeology, Brigham Young University) started working as an educator for Crow Canyon in 2016. Cara loves traveling and has lived and worked in the Middle East and Asia. She loves being able to combine her formal education experience with her love of archaeology. She likes experimenting with ancient technologies, especially weaving and basket weaving. When not at work, Cara enjoys visiting historically and culturally relevant places, doing genetic genealogy research, and jewelrymaking.


Kari SchleherKari Schleher (Ph.D., Anthropology, University of New Mexico) is Crow Canyon’s laboratory manager. She teaches artifact analysis to students and adults in Crow Canyon programs. Her specialty is the analysis and interpretation of Pueblo pottery; she is particularly interested in production technology and what pottery can tell us about connections between different groups of people who lived in the past. Kari enjoys traveling, especially to learn about cultures around the world, and she has worked on archaeological projects all over the American Southwest and in Peru. In her spare time, she likes to hike and make jewelry.

Meet all of our archaeologists and educators.

Camp participants share accommodations in comfortable cabins, which are new in 2016. The cabins have been designed to be energy efficient and to blend well with the landscape. Chaperons stay in separate rooms in the cabins and provide supervision. The cabins are coed, but individual rooms are not; your child’s roommates will be other camp participants of the same sex.

  • All rooms are equipped with bunk beds; camp participants must bring their own bedding and towels. Bathrooms (with showers) are located down the hall.
  • Food and drinks (except for water) are not permitted in the rooms at any time.
  • Camp participants must keep their rooms neat at all times, with gear properly stowed, so that the housekeeper can sweep the floors daily.

Laundry facilities are not available on campus. Your child should bring enough clothing to last one week.

Three delicious meals are served each day. On-campus meals are served cafeteria-style in the lodge; off-campus meals are served picnic-style. We provide a salad bar with campus lunch and dinner. Fresh fruit, lemonade, and iced tea are available all day. In addition, camp participants may purchase juice, spring water, and soda from the vending machine behind the lodge. Important: Please contact us before your child’s program if he or she has special dietary needs. We are able to accommodate most special diets, but some may require your child to bring supplemental foods.

Crow Canyon’s 170-acre campus, located just outside the town of Cortez, features a large meadow, pinyon- and juniper-covered hillsides, and spectacular views of Mesa Verde and the La Plata Mountains. A short nature trail winds through the woods. Buildings on campus include the lodge, where camp participants take their meals; the cabins, where students are housed; and the Gates Archaeology Laboratory, which houses classrooms, offices, and a small gift shop in addition to the lab. Two learning centers—one a life-size replica of a seventh-century pithouse, the other of a twelfth-century pueblo—allow students to “experience” life in the ancient past.

Crow Canyon is located amidst majestic mountains, mesas, and canyons about 4 miles northwest of the town of Cortez in southwestern Colorado. We are 15 miles west of the entrance to Mesa Verde National Park and 40 miles northeast of the Four Corners Monument, where the states of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico meet.

Driving to Crow Canyon
Major highways link Cortez to cities in all directions. We are 50 miles west of Durango, Colorado; 400 miles southwest of Denver, Colorado; 250 miles northwest of Albuquerque, New Mexico; 400 miles northeast of Phoenix, Arizona; and 350 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Traveling by Air
The Cortez Municipal Airport, located about 15 minutes from campus, is served by Boutique Airlines (via Denver and Phoenix). The Durango–La Plata County Airport, located about 80 minutes from campus, is served by United Express (via Denver) and American Airlines (via Phoenix and Dallas-Fort Worth). Crow Canyon will provide shuttle transportation to and from both airports at no extra charge to students attending our camps. A Crow Canyon staff member will meet your child upon arrival at the airport and transport him or her to our campus.

Arrival and Departure
The campus opens at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, the day of arrival.Your child should arrive between 2:00 and 5:00 p.m. Chaperons will assist camp participants in locating their rooms and getting settled in. Dinner will be served at 5:30 p.m., and an orientation and introduction program will be held at 6:30 p.m.

Departure day is Saturday. A self-serve breakfast will be available at 7:30 a.m. Camp participants must be packed and out of their rooms no later than 8:30 a.m. and should plan to leave campus by 11:00 a.m.

Dear parents,

More than 30 years ago, Crow Canyon was founded on the idea that schoolchildren could play a hands-on role in archaeology. In the words of longtime Crow Canyon board member Dr. Stuart Struever: “It has a huge impact on youngsters that someone respects them enough to let them have a trowel in their hand … to do real research in which they could actually contribute to the scientific mission.”

In other words, this is no ordinary summer camp.

  • We design our programs not only for budding archaeologists but also for any student who is curious about the world, about people and cultures, and about the connections between past and present. Many of our alumni go on to careers in archaeology, anthropology, museum studies, and related fields. Others excel in completely different pursuits.
  • While at Crow Canyon, teens absorb unforgettable lessons about history, other cultures, and their own place in the world.
  • When your teen returns home, you might notice a few changes, such as a confidence level that’s boosted by taking on new challenges and learning in whole new ways. Teens want to learn, and they want to make a difference. Here they accomplish both. The experience can be life changing.

We work at Crow Canyon because we love archaeology and kids! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.


The educators of Crow Canyon

What to Expect

Gear List

Getting You & Your Gear to Crow Canyon

Staying in Touch

Archaeological Ethics

Terms, Conditions, and Cancellation Policy

Safety & Medical Information

Suggested Readings

The Crow Canyon Archaeological Center's programs and admission practices are open to applicants of any race, color, nationality, ethnic origin, gender, or sexual orientation.

Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California CST 2059347-50

When awarding scholarships, preference is given to students who would not otherwise be able to attend. Full and partial scholarships are awarded on the basis of the information you provide on the scholarship application, your essay, the teacher recommendation, and school transcript. You will be notified regarding scholarship status within 10 days of receiving all application materials.

You must register and pay the $400 deposit before applying for a scholarship.

Scholarship Application

Teacher Recommendation

How To Reserve Middle School Archaeology Camp

Tuition & Registration

$1,500 (member*)
$1,625 (nonmember)
Deposit: $400

*If you are interested in becoming a Crow Canyon member, please contact our Sales & Enrollment specialists

Scholarship Deadline Feb. 15, 2019

Registration Deadline: May 2, 2019

800.422.8975, ext. 455
M–F, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Mountain Time)
[email protected]

Special Offers!

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For information on all of the special offers and discounts, check here

"This camp made me think that I want to be an archaeologist or maybe even a dendrochronologist. I am really glad that I got to go to Crow Canyon."
Lexy, Middle School Archaeology Camp

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