Almost two decades of summer camp is enough, say the operators of the Learning Camp.
Ann Cathcart and Tom Macht, operators of the Learning Camp in Gypsum, are retiring after 17 years running the summer residential camp that served children with learning differences. The last session of the camp ended in August.
They’re not out of the business, though. In conjunction with the camp, they’ve been running after-school programs at Eagle Valley Elementary School and Brush Creek Elementary School for nine years. They were invited earlier this year to add Red Hill Elementary in Gypsum, Cathcart said.
So they did.
Why they did it is not complicated, Cathcart said. Parents need the service.
“This was me when I was that age, like so many people in this community. I was one of the people who needed after-school care,” Cathcart said.
She says they’ll miss the camp, but it’s time to do something else.
“It has been our privilege to serve different learners for nearly 20 years,” Cathcart said.
She said their campers show them every day how smart they are.
“We will miss them, but know they will run our world one day,” Cathcart said.
The Learning Camp was one of the first summer programs to combine traditional summer camp with academics for boys and girls ages 7-14.
They started in 1996 as a day-camp program run out of Edwards Elementary School. A move to McCoy the following year expanded their offerings into a residential camp on the edge of the Colorado River.
In five years, the camp had grown and they bought 36 acres at the top of Spring Creek Road in Gypsum. A commercial lodge, bathhouses, yurt lodging units and the Ristow Pavilion where built around the horse pastures and pond tucked under BLM lands.
In those nine years, the Learning Camp served more than 3,000 campers, including local children and children from China, Saudi Arabia, England, Mexico, Turkey, the Dominican Republic, Russia and Switzerland.
“The Learning Camp has been a wonderful chapter in our lives,” Cathcart said. “This land, and our facilities, are perfect for living an adventure, and we hope that it can remain a place for children to run and play and grow.”
Macht said he’s proud of the work he and Cathcart and the Learning Camp staff did.
“Many of the teachers and staff we recruited, who helped develop our curriculum, have now made Eagle County and Colorado home after spending their summers with us,” Macht said.
Cathcart and Macht say they plan to sell the 24-acre camp property and focus on the Learning Camp after-school program.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.