SNOWMASS VILLAGE — Snowmass Village resident Adam Ross has been participating in Challenge Aspen summer camps for many years. He doesn’t join in the winter camps, which focus around skiing, but he has developed a relationship with people at the nonprofit and has even taken a part-time job there, running errands and taking care of their mail.
“I come into the office a lot since I live in the Village,” Ross said. “(I’m a) frequent flier.”
The 27-year-old recently participated in the nonprofit’s Outdoor Adventure Camp, which is targeted toward people with cognitive disabilities, primarily autism, according to programs coordinator Sally Anne Harrell. Challenge Aspen will offer five nonmilitary camps this summer, all geared toward people with different needs — physical or cognitive disabilities — and interests, with outdoor camps as well as a music and dance camp.
Ross and the other participants in the Outdoor Adventure Camp took a Jeep tour with Blazing Adventures to the back side of Aspen Mountain on June 25, and spent the afternoon that day at the pool at the Aspen Recreation Center. Throughout the week, campers went hiking, rafting and rock climbing, as well as camping overnight at Wildness near Ruedi Reservoir.
Campers hailed from a variety of places, including the Roaring Fork Valley, Boulder and Texas.
“One of our biggest goals is to get more locals,” Harrell said, speaking particularly about downvalley residents.
Glenwood Springs resident Chris Guay participated in the camp, his first summer Challenge Aspen program to attend.
“It’s fun,” he said. “(There’s) different activities to do in the summertime.”
Guay also runs every day and plans to run in the 5K race at the Aspen Valley Marathon event July 7, part of the proceeds of which go to Challenge Aspen.
Guay and his girlfriend, Shannon, who he lives with in Glenwood Springs, will attend the Magic of Music and Dance Camp July 23 through 27. Campers will rehearse and perform “Mary Poppins” for the public at Basalt High School.
Starting at the end of July, Challenge Aspen will host a camp for teenagers ages 13 to 20 with any kind of disability.
The final camp for the summer, also the nonprofit’s newest camp, involves outdoor education and is targeted toward nonmilitary adults with physical disabilities, such as amputations.
“We realized how much we needed an adult camp,” Harrell said.
Challenge Aspen also offers several camps throughout the summer and winter for service members. The nonprofit is also taking a team of 15, five volunteers and 10 participants, to Iowa for the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, a 471.1-mile ride across the state, done in seven days in late July. The team will include five participants from the military program, according to a statement.
The nonprofit charges a fee for its camps in order to stay self-sustainable, Harrell said. However, scholarships are available and can be applied for online at www.challengeaspen.org.