Black Hills Family 1_2023

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Text or Call 605.377.6400 Rapid City • Black Hills Area
LOCAL & ONLINE 605.343.8722 • 329 Main Street, Rapid City Get Ready for your Adventure at Kicks & Giggles! and Kids ^ BABY o Diaper bag Extra outfit Socks Sunhat Swaddle Burp rag Pacifier Teether toys Bath towel Kyte sleep bag POOL OR LAKE o Swimsuits o Sunhats o Baby lotion o Beach towel o Sun Jellies beach bag o Sunglasses TODDLER & KIDS o Mushi snack cup o Maileg mice toys o EZPZ sippy cup o Usborne books o Binoculars o Warmie PARENTS o Fanny pack o Backpack o Robe o Nursing cover Come shop your baby to size 7 list today! Pack Your Bag and Hit the Trails


Here’s our history in a nutshell: Black Hills Parent kicked off in 2012 and ran for a decade, offering high-quality, local content for parents and their families. We marched on through Covid, but in the Spring of 2022, we hit pause.

We started dreaming again last year and reimagined a publication that wrapped its arms around the whole community. If Covid taught us something — it was the deep importance of connection. Every person is part of family, especially in the sense that we are part of something bigger than ourselves.

So if you have a kid in elementary school or just sent your firstborn away to college, this is for you. And if you’re an aunt, an uncle, a grandparent, a cousin, the mentor to the neighbor boy down the street, a teacher who pours passionately into the lives of families or simply a friend who loves on others, you are very much part of a family, and this magazine is also for you.

So we’re back, as Black Hills FAMILY this time, and this is our hope — that the pages of this magazine spark conversation, highlight and honor the stories we share and explore the resilience, kindness and creativity we witness in families who make their home here.

I hope you get as excited as I do when you see this magazine in a rack, in your mailbox, at the doctor’s office. The people in these pages are your colleagues, your friends, your families. These are your people and I hope that gives you joy.

You’ll notice the colorful collection of photos to the right — this is us, our families, our journeys and stories unfolding right alongside yours. We’re honored to serve this community and we’re grateful for this team.

Black Hills Family has a great online presence — even more content, interviews, calendars and advertising features than we could cram into these pages, so be sure to check us out there too.

We love feedback. We love ideas. We’re doing life alongside you, so please feel free to connect with us.

Whatever way you are consuming the contents of this very first Black Hills Family, we hope you are encouraged, intrigued and better connected to this community and the people around you.

Blessings, Kayla

If you’re new to this magazine — welcome. If you’re an old friend — thank you for picking us up again as we celebrate this relaunch.
Stephen Ruth Me Dolsee Jesse John

Live life local, together. We’re your resource for everything local, from parenting tips and tricks to summer fun and expert insights. Connect with us online to stay up-todate with the latest and greatest in the beautiful Black Hills!

Check out our rundown of some of the best Black Hills stops in our Staycation Guide on page 30. If you’re still looking for some great ways to spend those summer days, head online and read all about some of our favorite hidden gems in the Black Hills.

Make your summer full of memories and activities — but not too full. Reduce the potential stress of having less structure with these tips.

Don’t break the bank. We gathered up some easy tricks to help you keep your budget on track this summer.


7 Healthcare Firsthand

Kids can get a taste of healthcare as a career at this camp.

16 A Total Change of Scenery

Joe and Mallorie Bailey are really living out the camp life.

24 A Ninja’s Approach to Learning and Life

Senseis at Code Ninjas are helping kids with STEAM concepts and life.

8 A Space for Active Families

Families can grow together at American Rebel Training Center. ON

20 Just Keep Digging

The Mammoth Site is encouraging families to dig together.



The Future of Soccer

The Sturgis Soccer Association is serving families all over western South Dakota.

28 Camp Run Down

Check out our directory of summer camps in the area.

30 Stay & Play

Our favorite free and inexpensive things to do in the Black Hills.

33 Calendar

Your guide to what’s going on in the Black Hills.

Finding Confidence &
Invention gives kids a chance to explore the wonders of STEAM.

No gift is greater than an education. To learn how to start saving today visit

Investors should consider the investment objectives, risks, and charges and expenses of the CollegeAccess 529 plan before investing. This and other important information is in the Plan Disclosure Statement, available at Read the Plan Disclosure Statement carefully before investing.

Before investing, you should consider whether your state of residency, or your intended beneficiary’s state of residency, offers a state tax deduction or any other state benefits such as financial aid, scholarship funds, and protection from creditors that are only available for investments in that state’s 529 savings program.

The CollegeAccess 529 Plan is issued by the South Dakota Higher Education Savings Trust. The Program Manager and Underwriter for the CollegeAccess 529 Plan is VP Distributors, LLC, One Financial Plaza, Hartford, CT 06103, 800-243-4361.

Certain of the investment management firms that manage underlying mutual Funds in the Program, including Virtus Investment Advisers, Inc., are affiliated with the Program Manager.

Only South Dakota residents and Account Owners who designate a South Dakota resident as Beneficiary can invest directly in the CollegeAccess 529 Plan. Certain Portfolios are not available to those who invest directly. Residents of states other than South Dakota can invest in the CollegeAccess 529 Plan only through a financial professional. Additional fees apply for investments made through a financial professional. Please see the Plan Disclosure Statement for details. State taxes may apply for residents of states other than South Dakota.

Notice: CollegeAccess 529 Plan accounts are not insured by any state, and neither the principal deposited nor any investment return is guaranteed by any state.

Give your child the freedom to dream with CollegeAccess 529


West River Health Science Center (WRHSC) is excited to bring healthcare summer camps once again to the Black Hills community! Students going into 6th grade through graduating high school seniors will have opportunities to explore healthcare careers and the nursing field through our summer camps offered in both Spearfish and Rapid City. Find out more at BHSU. edu/WRHSC.

Middle School Healthcare Career Exploration: Students will explore a variety of healthcare careers through hands-on activities with working professionals. Some careers featured will be Respiratory Care, Pharmacy, Medicine, Nursing, and emergency care.

Give Nursing a Shot!: Students will learn about the field of nursing from expert faculty at the SDSU College of Nursing. They’ll learn basic nursing skills,

perform experiments in foundational nursing topics like nutrition, and tour a regional healthcare facility. WRHSC is a partnership between Black Hills State University, South Dakota State University College of Nursing, Monument Health, and the West River Area Health Education Center to offer nursing education in the Black Hills area. WRHSC is also fortunate to partner with Black Hills Surgical Hospital for these camps.

In Their Own Words: Favorite Camp Activities

“The choking maneuver because it is really important”

“Lung capacity because we got to feel lungs and understand them”

“They were all awesome”


Summer break is for new experiences. And with these unique camps, kids get the opportunity to experience a career in healthcare firsthand.

“We want to keep good American values through the use of physical education. We want to encourage physical movement because that is where our core memories are made.” — Casey Machon



Joe Harrison and Casey Machon are on a mission: to make sure the American Rebel Family Training Center serves the entire family.

Joe Harrison and Casey Machon, partners and co-owners of American Rebel Family Training Center (FTC), opened their doors in the fall of 2022. They combined their respective athletic backgrounds to create a space for athletic development specifically for families, children and women.

Harrison, a retired gymnastics coach, has three decades of experience in martial arts. Machon was a Division 1 collegiate athlete and has had a lifelong involvement in sports. Recently relocated from Florida, the couple turned a dream into reality by opening American Rebel FTC.

“We knew from the get-go we wanted to be a family training center,” Harrison said. “Typically, centers focus on kids with the

parents sitting there and waiting or vice versa. When families come here, kids can be in their class while parents are able to get their workout in on the other side of the facility.”

As the facility continues to grow, they hope to provide adult classes simultaneously. Currently, kickboxing classes for the whole family are available in the evenings. Children as young as 8 can join their parents or a supervising adult. Harrison said their hope for the center is that families will have a safe and welcoming place to exercise and try new activities.

In addition to being active as individuals, families benefit by engaging in physical activities together.



The “American” stands for freedom while “Rebel” signifies a desire to go against the mainstream.

“When we grew up, if we made a mistake we didn’t have to worry about it being plastered all over social media,” Harrison said. “Now children are worried about making mistakes on a political or technological scale. Our facility is designed for you to be free to come in and be who you are without shame or judgment.”

“Being active together helps the family structure to bond,” Harrison said. “It provides a space for a family to get to know one another and discover themselves with each other. We want to encourage people to take part in any and all activities for families and growing children.”

Movement and education programs significantly impact the executive functions of the brain, improving the working memory, cognitive flexibility and inhibitory control (self-control). Physical activity is also proven to improve academic abilities, allowing individuals the ability to think more clearly while increasing discipline, confidence and self-respect.

American Rebel FTC is also unique in that it caters to women as well as being a traumainformed care facility.

“Most martial arts are about 90 percent male dominated,” Harrison said. “We wanted to lean more toward family, women and children and partake in continued education to become informed about pre and post trauma.”

Education is offered through the National Institute of Behavioral Medicine to provide understanding for individuals who have experienced trauma or who are looking to prevent it. Being involved in activities such as martial arts helps to release trauma. Physical movement has a profound effect on the nervous system of the body. This impact can extend far beyond the activity itself.

“We want to give back to society and create an environment where people can come into themselves,” Machon said. “Not just here in the

physical aspect, but bleeding into other parts of your life. Whether that is being able to stand up for yourself in a toxic work environment or giving kids the confidence to make mistakes and providing them an opportunity to learn.”

Harrison said he’s excited for the community to have something new to try.

“I want people to be here because they want to be here,” he said. “I want to be open to the fact that not everything may resonate with someone. It’s important for people to have the freedom to try different things out.”

Machon echoed that sentiment. “We are so excited to be in Rapid City and offer what we do to the people here,” she said.

Harrison wants everyone to feel comfortable coming to American Rebel FTC.

“We did not come here to change South Dakota,” he said. “We just want to be a part of it.”

American Rebel FTC offers classes for kids as young as 18 months through their Mommy & Me Class, designed to encourage children to walk, move up and down, discover letters and numbers and begin to embrace their vocabulary. Toddler classes encourage bodily awareness and function, while classes for ages 6-12 help further agility, mental awareness and speed through martial arts and gymnastics based classes. Open all day six days a week, there are options for every member of the family to enjoy. Check out the full schedule on their website at and visit them at 544 Century Rd, Suite 101, in Rapid City.

“It was completely worth all the time and investment taking my kids there because they were able to apply those skills outside of camp in other areas of their life.”
— Angela Mordhorst



Black Hills families who send their kids to Camp Invention usually discover that their kids look forward to this special camp year after year. One mom lets us in on the reason why.

Angela Mordhorst now has an aquarium in her home with crawdads and goldfish thanks to Camp Invention – but that’s OK because it’s feeding her children’s passion for science.

Camp Invention will be held June 12-16 this year at the University Center in Rapid City. The week-long program allows children to explore science through the lens of innovation and invention and includes four unique modules to explore each day. Each year the theme and modules change so campers can come back year after year for a new experience.

When Mordhorst signed up Liam, 10 and Wyatt, 8, for the first time in 2020, she anticipated a hands-on sciencebased camp to extend what they already learned in school.


An excellent experience

“It exceeded my expectations,” said Mordhorst, who has sent the boys three years in a row. “They were not only busy telling me all the fun activities they had done, and are going to do, but they were inspired to conduct at-home experiments, research how to enhance their current experiments at camp and eager to go in the mornings.”

One of the activities included creating a sustainable living environment for a bionic fish, which eventually led to the aquarium at home.

“That activity really sticks out to me because the boys really enjoyed that,” she said. “Not my favorite pets of the house, but the boys (and their dad) were quite excited.”

Camp Invention Director Nicole Renner said the program started in Rapid City in 2013 but has been established in other locations for more than three decades. Renner is a chemistry and physical science teacher at Stevens High school and has two sons who attend camp.

Freedom to explore

“Although this is an educational program, our campers have so much fun they don’t even realize they’re learning,” Renner said. “During the week campers will enjoy different modules that incorporate STEM concepts but also important skills like critical thinking, problem solving and the importance of persistence and embracing failure – all while building confidence.”

This year, the camp will offer a new program called Wonder that includes four new modules. In Mimicbot, campers will explore biomimicry and genetics as they

Camp Invention encourages kids to pair knowledge with creativity, which gives them the freedom to explore and take ownership of their projects.

develop their own one-of-a-kind robot. Catching Air has campers design and build their own skatepark. In Invention Celebration, kiddos will step into the role of an event planner and engineer a prototype to help them with planning their grand celebration. In the final module, Pop-Up Venture, campers will create their own pop-up business and learn about being an entrepreneur as they apply for a business license and manage expenses for their pop-up business.

Campers are always encouraged to pair knowledge with creativity.

“I think children really enjoy this camp because of the freedom they get to explore, create, and invent,” Renner explained. “Most of our campers are even more excited about sharing their inventions, patents, and copyrights with their peers and taking ownership of their ideas.”

Mordhorst said that was one of the best aspects of the program – instilling confidence in the students to pursue their ideas. At the end of the week, students have the opportunity to present their final project in front of the class. It had a profound effect on one of her sons, who has dyslexia.

“Throughout the week, the kids were allowed to try something, make mistakes and regroup and rethink,” Mordhorst said. “This was encouraged daily. Science isn’t a first time success deal, and most life situations aren’t either. By the time Liam was ready to present, he had the confidence and courage to talk in front of his classmates. It was incredible to see. He’s had minimal self-confidence in the past, but Camp Invention was so encouraging that he wasn’t scared at all.”

A summer staple

Renner said she’s been involved with the camp for five years and she’s not going anywhere. It’s a thrill to think of some of the ideas that have come out of this camp.

“One year campers were challenged to build a marble run that could achieve different objectives,” she added. “Some kids decided to team up and build one of the largest structures I’ve ever seen. My favorite memory is watching these kids try to get it out of the building and into their cars to take home.”

Mordhorst said it’s a summer staple for their family.

“I wanted to give my kids the opportunity to continue learning and challenging them to think in ways other camps don’t. They still got to be active with games and breaks, they were able to socialize and meet new friends who were like minded as well as connect with old friends from school, but most importantly to me was the educational push that broadened their minds,” she said.


Kids entering grades K - 6 can register at https:// moreinfo.aspx?event=38941

Volunteer Parent volunteers receive a significant discount on registration for their child.

Leadership program If your child has aged out of the program, they can still join us as a Leadership Intern. Interns receive a small stipend and a certificate for completing 40 hours volunteer service from National Inventors Hall of Fame.



Camps give us a chance to get away from the noise of everyday life. Joe and Mallorie Bailey are working to create a camp experience at Black Hills Retreat Center that does just that.

Story: Stephen Simpson

What’s the real value of camp? Why do we pack and prepare our little (and not-so little ones) for those overnight summer adventures? Why is it that when our little pookies return at the end of the week, they seem somehow different? More grown up, maybe? More confident?

Joe and Mallorie Bailey might have some insight to these questions. The couple has been managing Black Hills Retreat Center for the past four years. This secluded camp is located near Lead and Deadwood and is surrounded by pine forests that seem to be taken out of the pages of a fairy tale. And in these enchanting woods, the wonder of the camp experience happens every year for both kids and grownups.

The importance of camp, according to Joe, is the way it sticks out in our lives. “Camp removes us from our normal,” he said. “All people, but especially teenagers, get caught in the mundane, everyday-life things — school, sports, homework, video games, social media.”

Black Hills Retreat Center has a motto: relax, explore, grow. “That’s what we want our campers to experience,” Joe said. “Yeah, camp is high energy and exciting, but we also

want everyone who stays here to be able to slow down and grow closer with God.”

Camp Life

For the Baileys, camp has become a part of their family legacy. “We’ve just always loved what camp has to offer. It’s a total change of scenery. You’re able to get away and make new friends and build new relationships,” Mallorie said.

Joe and Mallorie met each other growing up in Indiana while going to church. Throughout middle school and high school, Joe and Mallorie attended church camps together. They fell in love with the camp experience — and eventually with each other. When they decided to get married, they chose (what else) a church camp in Indiana as their venue. “That was a fun precursor to where we are today,” Mallorie said.

Joe is a bi-vocational youth pastor at Lead Assembly of God, and he has a background in construction. Mallorie has experience working on the administrative side of businesses and nonprofits. So when the opportunity to manage a camp came along, the couple’s experiences and skill sets seemed like a perfect match.

The couple built a house and live next door


Picky eaters signing up for camp need not worry about their meals. The team at Black Hills Retreat Center has a secret weapon: their chef. “Tom Dusing was the Executive Chef at Mount Rushmore for decades. He retired and joined our team in 2020. He’s just a gem of a human, and he just really knows how to cook delicious food that appeals to a big crowd,” Mallorie said.


Mallorie has some advice for any parents who are feeling nervous letting their kids stay overnight at a camp for the first time: “We reassure nervous parents that we take every possible precaution. All of our leaders are background checked. We always make sure there’s enough supervision. Getting to know your kid’s camp leader goes a long way in knowing that your kid will have a good experience while they are away at camp.”

to the camp with their two girls, Macie (6) and Madeleine (1). And the two adventurous Bailey girls love it. Their parents report that Macie makes new friends every year and that she's excited anytime she gets to participate in any of the incredible camp activities that are offered at Black Hills Retreat Center — and there are a lot of activities to choose from.

No One’s Getting Bored

If there’s one thing you’ll never experience at Black Hills Retreat Center, it’s boredom. The 60 acres houses a whole host of activities. A climbing wall, zipline, low ropes course and an archery range all offer campers a chance to hone their outdoor adventure skills. The camp also has water slides, kayaks, paddle boats, disc golf, volleyball, gaga ball and a whole lot more.

“We’ve also got a small hiking trail on-site, and we’re surrounded by National Forest, so if you want to really hike, you’re able to go practically as long as you’d like,” Mallorie added.

One of the most popular ways to spend a hot summer afternoon at Black Hills Retreat Center is the floating water park. “That’s been really popular with the teenagers,” Mallorie said. “It’s got a slide, a climbing structure, a trampoline and blob.”

Endless Possibilities

The camp is owned by the Assembly of God Church, so it’s primarily utilized for church camps. Kids as young as third grade can take part in overnight camps that give students the chance to unplug and focus on what’s really important. And throughout the year, men’s

and women’s retreats are organized for adults. Grown-ups aren’t immune to the need to unplug.

Other organizations use Black Hills Retreat Center to host their camp, too. “The Girl Scouts have held their overnighters here,” Mallorie shared. “Camp Friendship is another camp that we’ve had here.” Camp Friendship reaches out to families with special needs in the Black Hills and serves them by providing an adaptive camp experience.

Camp is an Opportunity

Joe and Mallorie work with their team to create a wonderful camp experience for anyone staying at Black Hills Retreat Center. “It’s just a privilege on what we get to do,” Mallorie said. “It’s hard work, yes, but it’s the most beautiful place in the world. We just want to be a blessing to churches and other organizations — that’s the desire of our hearts. And we’re excited for the future.”

Black Hills Retreat Center

12145 Paha Sapa Road, Deadwood, SD 57732 For more information, visit Or call 605.578.9965

Camp is an opportunity for people to get away and to step out of routine. It’s necessary, every once in a while, to remove ourselves from the chatter and enjoy the peace of nature and the presence of some new friends.


Black Hills Families can get their hands dirty by taking part in family digs at the Mammoth Site. Real discoveries are being made at this remarkable research facility located in Hot Springs.

Mammoth Site staff have noticed something in recent years – when it comes to letting their kids dig in the dirt, adults want in on the fun.

It was the birth of a new idea that will roll out this summer: a Family Dig Program designed to include parents, friends and family members in simulated dig beds.

“We got a lot of feedback on the Jr. Paleontology program that parents and grandparents wanted to get in the dirt with the kids too, so we thought this would be a great way to do it,” said Claire Scarborough, public relations coordinator for the site.

“Even if you’ve already visited the site, it’s worth a return trip because they continue to discover new things,” Scarborough said.

The site was originally discovered

Photos: Jesse Brown Nelson

The Mammoth Site is committed to getting the next generation of scientists excited about exploration and discovery. Paleontology is a great way to introduce kids to science.

in 1974 when heavy equipment operator George Hanson was leveling ground for a Hot Springs housing development planned by landowner Phil Anderson. Hanson discovered a 7-foot long tusk alongside other bones. Later digging unearthed half a dozen more mammoths and Anderson halted his housing project in favor of more exploration. By the end of 1975, Anderson’s 14-acres of land became part of the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, SD, Inc., a 501 (c)(3) Non-Profit Organization.

It is currently the world’s largest mammoth research facility. More than 60 mammoths, including 58 Columbian and 3 woollies, have been unearthed. Additionally, nearly 90 other Late Ice Age animals have been discovered.

Scientists took a test sample of the soil

21 EXPLORE OPEN DAILY May 15 – Aug 15 8:00am – 8:00pm Aug 16 – Aug 31 8:00 am – 6:00 pm Sept 1 – Oct 31 9:00am – 5:00pm Nov 1 – Feb 28 9:00am – 3:30pm Mar 1 – May 15 9:00am – 5:00pm

Junior Paleontology Program


• Kids: Ages 4-12

• What: Kids can dig in a simulated bone bed, which is composed of dirt from the authentic bone beds.

• Benefits: “They get to play around and be an explorer. It’s a very active thing and they can emulate what they see on the tour.”

• Kids and Adults

• What: After taking a tour, kids and adults can participate in a simulated dig, which utilizes soil from the original fossil beds.

• Benefits: “This really mimics the Jr. Paleontology Program but allows the entire family to participate in a simulated dig.”

Atlatl (Ancient Spear Throwing)

• Kids (Ages 8 and Up) and Adults

• What: Spear throwing at targets.

• Benefits: “It’s a great way to show how the people in the Ice Age hunted. Who doesn’t love throwing spears at targets?”

Three summer classes will kick off June 1 and run through August 15.

in the mid-2000s and have dug 20 feet deep so far. The soil sample showed bone and fragments as deep as another 40 feet, at least.

“It’s science without the feel of it,” she said. “People always leave having learned something new.”

It’s also the perfect place for families.

“It’s not a quiet museum,” she said. “If you have toddlers who are on the run, they can be ahead of you and you can see them. It’s an active dig site, so there’s not an expectation that it has to be quiet. There are a lot of interactive activities and things that kids can touch.”

The site hosts scientists from around the country and the world who can intern at the location, or be part of the Ice Age Explorers. Diggers for the latter stay between one and four weeks.

“People are encouraged to ask questions,” Scarborough said. “It’s always so exciting when they discover new things. They just keep digging.”


Children 3 & Under – Free. Ages 4-12 – $11.00

Active & Retired Military – $11.00

Ages 13-59 – $14.00. Ages 60 & Over – $12.00


“The relationships between Sensei and Ninjas are really sweet,” Chandelle says. The Senseis become aware of each Ninja’s unique learning style and are able to connect with their kids in effective ways — both about coding and about life.



When Travis and Chandelle Brink started Code Ninjas in Rapid City, they were expecting to witness kids get excited about things like computer programming and robotics. What they didn’t foresee was how the Ninjas (that’s what the kids are called) entering the Dojo (the learning environment) would also be gaining things that would serve them throughout their lives.

Senseis Support

“We have several teachers who send their own kids here,” Chandelle says. She explains that educators recognize the benefits of Code Ninjas and how the skills Ninjas gain there go beyond just knowledge. Ninjas are leaving the Dojo with new levels of confidence and the ability to connect with others.

Case in point is a story about a Ninja who found her voice at school — thanks to her experience in the Dojo. “We had a girl start coming here who was pretty shy when she started,” Travis shares. “After a while, she just really started to connect with the other kids and the Senseis.” (Senseis are the Ninja’s guides who are usually high school or college students with a bent towards the technological and — most importantly — have the heart of a mentor).

The Brinks select Senseis who are able to connect with their Ninjas in meaningful ways. “Their conversations are about real things; they're not just talking about

superheroes and video games. They're really working through life together, and we love to see that.”

Ninjas Connect

This young girl was really enjoying herself during her time in the Dojo. She, like many other Ninjas, was discovering a love for science and technology and also friends and support. “Her mom stopped me one day after she had been coming for about two months,” Travis says.

“The mom said that the girl’s teacher had called to ask her what she was doing differently because the girl had been so much more confident in school.”

“There's community here,” Chandelle says. “There is cohesion, there's growth here, and it's all

done in a way that is supportive and encouraging.” The value of supportive relationships is something that serves Ninjas even after they leave the Dojo. At school, at home and as Ninjas grow up, that instinct to connect, grow and be supportive doesn’t leave them.

Find out for Yourself

This summer is a great time to find out what so many kids and parents already know about Code Ninjas — that this relationship and community-focused group is making significant strides in science, technology and life. Ninjas make friends, find mentorship and gain new life skills. Summer camps are the perfect time for kids to experience the Code Ninja effect firsthand.

Kids can learn the ins and outs of video editing and creation with a stop motion animation camp. They can get their first taste of computer programming with a Minecraft modding camp. They can see their coding skills come to life with a robotics camp. And there’s many more ways for kids to start their Code Ninjas adventures this summer.

Register or discover more information, visit sd-rapid-city/camps.

At Code Ninjas, kids aren’t just gaining computer and technology skills; they’re preparing for a lifetime of confidence and connection.


The Sturgis Soccer Association is passionate about success. This might seem like an intense approach to youth soccer, but it’s not if you consider this club’s definition of the word. “Success, to us, is children learning the sport, falling in love with it and, most importantly, discovering something new about themselves,” explained Richelle Bruch, board member with the Sturgis Soccer Association. For this group, the success of the kids and teens playing the game comes first — and that means success on and off the field.

Richelle’s two boys started playing soccer when they were both young, and they fell in love with the game and the camaraderie that comes with playing on a team. “One of the big benefits of being in a soccer club is the opportunity to make new friends,” she said. “There's a loyalty and family-ness of the soccer club that is just wonderful.”

The Sturgis Soccer Association has grown tremendously since its beginnings in 1978. Today, hundreds of kids and teens are getting involved in the game of soccer through this club that serves all of western South Dakota. “The soccer program has grown 33 percent since 2019,” Richelle said. “An average of 256 kids participate in the fall season and about 315 on average compete in the spring season.”

This growing soccer club is looking to expand how it’s serving families from all over western South Dakota.
Photo: Tim Potts

That’s a lot of opportunities to make new friends. And Richelle reported that the Sturgis Soccer Association is far from plateauing. Richelle and others are forecasting continual growth in participants for years to come. Because of that, the Sturgis Soccer Association is pursuing a major opportunity to serve this growing group of soccer players.

The Field of the Future

They’re calling it the Field of the Future — a moniker which Richelle admits is a bit cheesy, but one she hopes will stick with people. The Sturgis Soccer Association wants to raise $1.4 million (they’ve already raised about $500,000) to update their current facilities in a major way. In addition to addressing some safety concerns that have cropped up with one section of the facility, the biggest goal of the project is to update and to expand the soccer facility so that more families are able to enjoy everything that the sport has to offer.

The updated plans include several improvements — everything from the addition of bleachers for families to the construction of shade structures to give the players a way to get out of the sun on hot summer days. Richelle said that the heart of the expansion project is to provide every player and their family a great experience with the sport.

“We want to give the kids the opportunity to perform at a different level.”

A Core Piece

The Sturgis Soccer Association obviously has a huge impact in the city of Sturgis, but the club also serves families from all over western South Dakota. “We have families from Spearfish, Belle Fourche, Piedmont, Summerset and Rapid City,” Richelle said. “Not a lot of people realize the extent of the Soccer Association until they start digging into it. It’s a core piece of Sturgis, and it has a huge impact on all of western South Dakota.”

The Sturgis Soccer Association offers two recreational seasons — a fall season and a spring season, and each team is coached by a dedicated group of volunteer coaches. “The coaches are phenomenal, and just really want to see the kids succeed,” Richelle said. To register or to learn more, visit


Something big is coming to Sturgis on July 14, 15, 16.

The Sturgis Blacktop Tournament is a fullysanctioned 5 v. 5 outdoor tournament for youth and adults. Mark your calendars and look for registration information in the near future.

Photo: Tim Potts


Fit-N-Fun Child Care & Preschool

3660 Sturgis Rd

Rapid City, SD 57702

During the summer months, Fit-N-Fun in Rapid City puts on a summer camp experience for kids ages 3-11. Kids will enjoy the enormous gym at Fit-N-Fun and will go on fun field trips and learn awesome lessons along the way.

YMCA, Custer Branch

644 Crook St

Custer, SD 57730 custer-ymca

YMCA Giraffic Park Day Camp

22735 US-385

Rapid City, SD 57702 giraffic-park-day-camp

Giraffic Park is specifically designed as an introduction to elementary-aged children to experience camp for the first time. Kids are dropped off in the morning and picked up in the evenings, and throughout the day they get a chance to gain some outdoor skills, make new friends and grow as people.


Black Hills Retreat Center

12145 Paha Sapa Rd

Deadwood, SD 57732

Adventure awaits campers at Black Hills Retreat Center — water activities, zipline, high and low ropes course and much more all await campers at this secluded retreat.

Camp Judson

12965 Old Hill City Rd

Keystone, SD 57751

A beautiful setting that offers camps for kids, teens, adults and families.

Cedar Canyon Camp

5130 Memorial Rd Rapid City, SD 57702

Cedar Canyon Camp is located in Rapid City, but it feels like it could be in a secluded area of the Black Hills. Churches and other organizations host their camps and events throughout the year here.

Flag Mountain Camp

23071 Kinney Springs Rd Hill City, SD 57745

Kayaking, mountain climbing, biking and so much more await campers at Flag Mountain Camp.

Placerville Camp UCC

13801 SD-44

Rapid City, SD 57702

Modern amenities await campers at this historical camp that’s over 100 years old. The facility is available to rent for your camps or events. Kids, teens, adults and families enjoy different church camps available here.

Rainbow Bible Ranch

14676 Lone Tree Rd Sturgis, SD 57785

Let your kids grow in their love of nature and horseback riding. With camp experiences specifically designed for a distinct age group, your horseback rider — little or big — is sure to get the camp experience that they need.

Storm Mountain Center

23740 Storm Mountain Rd

Rapid City, SD 57702

Storm Mountain is located just 20 minutes outside of Rapid City. Church camps happen throughout the summer, and the gorgeous facilities are rentable for family reunions or other events.


Brick Bots & Beakers

236 W Jackson Blvd

Spearfish, SD 57783

Kids will discover a passion for programming, robotics, chemistry and more fascinating STEAM concepts.

Code Ninjas

5565 Bendt Dr, Suite 404

Rapid City, SD 57702

Dedicated code senseis will guide your child through the wonders of coding during one of Code Ninjas’ summer camps. Coding is such an increasingly valuable skill in today’s world, and your child can learn the skill all while having a blast.

Dakota STEAM Learning LLC

5311 Sheridan Lake Rd Rapid City, SD 57702

Kids get up close and personal with STEAM concepts during this two week camp.

The Mammoth Site

1800 US-18 BYP

Hot Springs, SD 57747

Register for STEAM camps and let your kids experience the joy of discovery at the Mammoth Site. New this year, families are invited to dig together and experience paleontology first hand.

South Dakota School of Mines & Technology

501 E St Joseph St Rapid City, SD 57701

It is rocket science at SD Mine’s summer STEM programs. And sword science. And computer science. And so much more.


West River Health Science Center

4300 Cheyenne Blvd

Box Elder, SD 57719

High schoolers and middle schoolers get a chance to explore nursing as a career during this West River Health Science Center’s Give Nursing a Shot camp each summer.


Camp Bob Marshall

25007 Camp Bob Marshall Rd

Custer, SD 57730

This classic and rustic camp located in Custer has long been a place for lovers of the outdoors to get away.

Black Hills Basecamp

2026 Samco Rd, Suite 101 Rapid City, SD 57702

Kids work on their climbing skills at the climbing facility throughout their camp experience, and then put their new-found climbing ability to the test at the end of the week with a field trip to Custer State Park with Sylvan Rocks Climbing School.

Outdoor Campus - West

4130 Adventure Trail

Rapid City, SD 57702

Make sure to check out the alwayschanging offering of outdoors classes that focus on fishing, camping, hunting and much more. Families are able to enjoy these classes together and discover a new way to enjoy the Black Hills.


Academy of Dance Arts

230 Main St, Suite B, Rapid City, SD 57701 / 4251 Canyon Lake Dr, Rapid City, SD 57702

Special dance camps are offered throughout the summer with fun themes that are sure to thrill the dancers in your life.

BH Physio

1130 W Omaha St Rapid City, SD 57701

Summer classes, camps and training sessions this summer for elementaryaged, middle-school, high-school and college-aged athletes.

Black Hills Rapids Soccer Club

3737 N Elk Vale Rd Rapid City, SD 57701

This soccer club is passionate about providing a unique path for every player. So, whether your kid wants soccer to be a hobby or if they’re serious about competition, the Black Hills Rapids Soccer Club wants to craft an experience that’s right for everyone.

Ignite Soccer Club

3119 Flint Dr Rockerville, SD 57702

This soccer club emphasizes success in both the sport of soccer and in life.

Rapid City Gymnastics Academy

2025 Samco Rd Rapid City, SD 57702

Hone your competitive gymnastic skills this summer at Rapid City Gymnastics. Summer program features a guest clinician.

Rapid City Parks & Recreation

515 West Blvd

Rapid City, SD 57701

Kids are able to register for classes to hone outdoors and sports skills and maybe discover a new love.

Rapid Skillz

840 Centre St

Rapid City, SD 57701

Sharpen skills in specific sports and learn from top-notch athletic professionals.

South Dakota School of Mines Athletics

501 East Saint Joseph St

Rapid City, SD 57701

Learn from Hardrockers athletic staff during one of these athletic camps.

Sturgis Soccer Association

P.O. 833

Sturgis, SD 57785

This soccer club serves all of western South Dakota. They strive to meet the unique needs of each player — whether their goal is to enjoy soccer as a hobby or are honing their skills on the pitch for more competitive play.


Black Hills Community Theatre

601 Columbus St

Rapid City, SD 57701

Children’s House Montessori

3520 W Main St

Rapid City, SD 57702

Eight weeks of fun and discovery.


D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery

Established in 1896, this hatchery located in Spearfish is one of the oldest in the country. Explore the museum artifacts, appreciate period furnishings in the Booth House, take a step inside the Railcar and learn about the Yellowstone Boat. On 10 acres, there is plenty of scenery to explore including the ever popular underwater viewing windows.

Dinosaur Park has been a local favorite since 1936. Check out Jurassic Period dinosaurs like the Brontosaurus and the Stegosaurus, and don’t forget the mighty T-Rex from the Cretaceous Period. Recently, the park improved its accessibility with a major renovation project.


Story: Kari Nielsen Photos: Jesse Brown Nelson

Storybook Island

Founded in 1959 by the Rotary Club, this free park is sure to encourage play and spark imagination. From favorite characters like Winnie the Pooh and the Three Little Pigs to interactive playgrounds and swings, there is plenty to see and do. Spot all your favorite characters, check out the gift shop, and if you don’t mind paying a little bit, hop aboard the train ride and the carousel.

Skyline Drive Wilderness Area & Hansen Larsen Memorial Park Conveniently located in Rapid City, both destinations offer trails for the family looking to get out and hike, bike or run together. Whether you’re looking for a gentle trail or more of a challenge, you’ll be certain to find both here along with spectacular views.

Wind Cave National Park

Free to drive or hike through, Wind Cave’s mixed-grass prairie is home to wildlife such as bison, coyotes, prairies dogs and elk. And if you’d like to do one of the many cave tours, you can do so for a reasonable cost.

South Dakota Air and Space Museum

Next door to Ellsworth Air Force Base, this has been free and open to the public since 1992. They have over 30 rare warbirds from WWII on display, along with four indoor galleries of exhibits. This is a great place to learn about aviation history and provide an educational experience for students and adults alike.

Chapel in the Hills Built in 1969, this chapel is an exact replica of the famous Burgundy Stavkirke of Laerdal, Norway. It was constructed to honor Norwegian Lutherans, who were among the original settlers of the Dakotas. Check out the authentic grass roofed stabbur (storehouse) which serves as a gift shop, the museum housing many Scandinavian antiques or explore the prayer walk.

School of Mines Museum of Geology Located on the SD Mines campus, this free museum provides educational insight to the types of mammals, reptiles, fish and dinosaurs that lived in South Dakota. The museum also features a Kids Zone encompassing a variety of hands-on activities.

Reptile Gardens

A family favorite, Reptile Gardens has made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest reptile zoo. Pet a giant tortoise, sit in on the gator show or stroll through the tropical sky dome. While not free, the reasonable admission cost snags you a season pass for the whole year.

Outdoor Campus - West

Created to provide handson experiences in hunting, fishing and other outdoor skills, the Outdoor Campus has nature trails, an archery course and practice range, along with a 4,600 gallon freshwater aquarium. Free classes are offered throughout the year for kids, adults and families alike.

Main Street Square With the summer months nearing closer, the fountains at Main Street Square are a popular place for children to run off some steam and stay cool. Parents can relax at the many shaded tables while kids play the day away. Be sure to check out other events they host throughout the year.

Adams Museum & House Located in Deadwood, the Adams Museum is one of the Black Hills’ oldest musems. Learn about famous legends like Wild Bill Hickok and Potato Creek Johnny, while discovering the town’s rich backstory. Take a step into the Adams House for an affordable admission to relive Deadwood’s rise from mining camp to prosperous city.

32 BLACKHILLSFAMILY.COM Climbing School & Guide Service (605) 484-7585 | 632 Mount Rushmore Rd., Custer, SD | Black Hills State University - Rapid City June 12 - 16 | Grades K - 6 Secure your spot and save today at

Military Spouse

Appreciation Day

May 12

Mother’s Day

May 14

1880 Train Mother’s Day


May 14

Hill City/ Keystone

Celebrate the mother in your life with a special train ride on the 1880 Train. Enjoy the regular ride or buy a gift pack that includes a DIY mimosa and a sweet treat for mom!

Custer State Park Open House And Free Fishing Weekend

May 19 - 21


Storybook Island

Opening Day

May 27

Rapid City

Memorial Day

May 29

Sasquatch Baseball Season Opening

May 26


Kick off the start of summer with the Spearfish Sasquatch as they take on the Hasting SodBusters. Friday night is the first home game of the season as well as the first fireworks night.

Sturgis Hometown Market

Fridays 4 p.m. - 7 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Sundays Noon - 4 p.m.

Downtown Sturgis hosts a vendor market featuring homemade, handcrafted, and locally sourced products from artisans and crafters.

Rapid City Marshals home games

May 13 vs. SW Kansas Storm

May 20 vs. Billings Outlaws

Games at The Monument Summit Arena

Black Hills Farmers Market

May 6 - October 28

July 5 - October 25

Rapid City

Produce and other tasty food is available for purchase from local farmers.

Sound of Silence Tesla Rally

May 19 - May 21


The cars of the future gather in Custer … today! This is the only gathering of Teslas like this in the country.


May 20

Rapid City

Welcome spring and warmer weather with this annual tradition. Local merchants, microbrews, food and live music all gather in Main Street Square for the perfect family outing.

Legends In Light® Laser Light Show At Crazy Horse Memorial®

May 26 - September 30

Crazy Horse Memorial®

Crazy Horse Memorial® is excited to kick off their nightly light show for the summer: Legends in Light. This show will dazzle and amaze viewers of all ages as lights are displayed on the 500foot face of Crazy Horse Memorial®

Back When They Bucked

May 28


Head to Deadwood for two full days of rodeo fun! Back When They Bucked is produced by the Black Hills Stock Show Foundation to raise funds in support of their efforts, including scholarships, community organizations, and public services and education.

Kids’ Carnival

June 3

Rapid City

This one’s for the kids — and the kids at heart. Mainstreet Square becomes a playground with inflatables, games and loads of other activities.

Crazy Horse Memorial® Volksmarch

June 3

Crazy Horse Memorial®

Lighting Ceremony

May 26 - September 30

Mount Rushmore National Monument

Every night at sunset, the Shrine of Democracy is illuminated. The faces of the presidents are particularly inspiring lit up.

Black Hills Playhouse Summer Season

June 9 - August 12


Enjoy one of the best theater experiences in the Black Hills — right in the heart of Custer State Park. There’s a ton of wonderful shows to check out during the 77th season of this iconic playhouse.

Black Hills Renaissance Festival

June 10 - June 11


Hear ye! Hear ye! Get medieval with this family-friendly festival. Come check out the knights and princesses and more.

Sturgis Camaro Rally

June 22 - June 25


Enthusiasts of the iconic muscle car gather in Sturgis. A perfect chance for any fan of these incredible cars to admire and learn more about them.

Black Hills Bluegrass Festival

June 23 - June 25


Toes will be tapping at the RushNo-More Resort & Campground this summer. The Black Hills Bluegrass Festival brings together some of the region’s greatest acts in folk and country music.