Vail Today: Vail local turns a passion for the prehistoric into a camp for kids (video) | VailDaily.com

Vail Today: Vail local turns a passion for the prehistoric into a camp for kids (video)

By Tricia Swenson | Vail Today

Kids in Vail have a vast array of day camps to choose from, but one that sets itself apart is Fossil Posse Prehistoric Journeys, offering dinosaur education for youth ages six and up. Here, youngsters learn about these prehistoric giants that walked the Earth and literally walked in what is now Eagle County millions of years ago, depending on if they were from the Triassic, Jurassic or Cretaceous eras or even further back in time.

Founder Billy Doran leads each group dressed in his Crocodile Dundee-style leather hat and khakis. His enthusiasm keeps the kids engaged in learning about some of the world's biggest creatures. He's able to keep the youngsters mesmerized for nearly 45 minutes before they get to dig for their own treasures in the sand pit. This interactive experience not only stimulates questions from curious children, but also from their parents.

"If you want to see an adult melt into a child again, then place a huge and real tyrannosaur tooth in their hand and watch what happens," said Doran. "Adults have equally intriguing questions about our prehistoric history."

Doran's penchant for the prehistoric intensified as an adult with his own personal discoveries of dinosaur bones and footprints in Eagle County. He contacted the Denver Museum of Nature and Science to confirm and report what he had found. Those initial contacts lead to Doran being invited on actual field digs to find and recover not only dinosaurs, but also other prehistoric animals like woolly mammoths, mastodons and more.

These trips led to several National Geographic expeditions and eventually led to Doran's photography being featured in a double-page spread in the May 2015 issue of National Geographic magazine. "There I was, in the magazine, my name listed and everything! It was just an out of this world dream come true for me!" said Doran.

Doran credits the idea and creation of Fossil Posse to the folks at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. "What they allowed me to experience was something I just had to share with others, and that is really where Fossil Posse came from," said Doran.

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Doran moved to Vail in 1989 and has developed plenty of friendships and connections to make this dream come to fruition. Fossil Posse was able to find a home thanks to Suzanne Gallegos, who allowed Doran to set up camp next to the Gallegos Corporation's headquarters in Wolcott, CO. With support from the Gashouse restaurant, Woody’s Bar & Grill and Edwards Business Center, Fossil Posse has been able to teach hundreds of kids since it began in 2015 and continues to grow each year.

Doran's idea for what this could become is bigger than some of the largest dinosaurs he teaches kids about. "It is my dream that Fossil Posse will eventually lead to Dinosaur Junction Paleontological Research Center right here in Edwards, Colorado. It would be a working lab and dinosaur museum where people can see life-size skeletons and replicas of the dinosaurs that lived right here so long ago," said Doran.

For information on Fossil Posse, please visit http://www.fossilposse.com

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