Happy Campers | VailDaily.com

Happy Campers

Teepees are set up and awaiting new campers for next week's opening of the Steve Fossett Spirit of Adventure Ranch, a new Boy Scout camp located at Anderson Camp north of Dotsero.
Anthony Thornton | athornton@vaildaily.com |

For good reason, last week a kid’s summer camp letter went viral.

In her blog at scarymommy.com, the referenced mother shared her son’s actual, written communication in which he boasts of consuming 23 push pops as he chased the camp record of 32. The happy camper also shared this gem:

“I used my toothbrush to dig for werms. Don’t freek out. The guy on the bottom bunk lets me use his. Its safe. I don’t know his name but he can burp the alphabit like me.”

Really, is there a better way for a kid to while away the hours during June, July and August? For generations, kids measured their summer success in terms of the laughs they shared at Anderson Camp, established in the 1960s and located at the confluence of Sweetwater Creek and the Colorado River north of Dotsero.

So when the facility didn’t open for the summer of 2013 after continuous operations dating back to the 1960s, the Sweetwater silence felt particularly poignant.

But the quiet has proven to be short lived. The Western Colorado Council of the Boy Scouts of America have taken over operations at Anderson Camp and beginning next week, it will operate as one of only four high adventure Boy Scout camps in the United States. The facility is now called the Steve Fossett Spirit of Adventure Ranch. (See related story.)

Camp Director Jim Graham noted the opening marks the end of a 16-year effort. “Generations of Scouts have not had the opportunity to enjoy a camp experience on the Western Slope,” said Graham.

Graham credited Steve Beckley, the owner of the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, with bringing the idea of a Scout camp to the shuttered Anderson Camp facility. Beckley is an Eagle Scout and the father of two Boy Scouts and he knew there was a need for a high-quality camp in Western Colorado.

As they were working out a way to make the camp operational, the Scouts forged a partnership with Peggy Fossett, Steve Fossett’s widow. She, donated $50,000 to establish the camp in his name and issued a $50,000 challenge grant for Boy Scouts to match.

“It was, literally, a godsend,” said Graham. He noted Boy Scouts jumped at the dual blessing of a Western Slope, turnkey operation and began planning the kind of camp every boy dreams of attending.

High Adventure

The theme for the new facility is high adventure. That means in addition to regular Scouting activities such as hiking, fishing and horseback riding, attendees can sign up for special excursions including mountain biking, whitewater rafting, rappelling and more. There are three camping tiers offered — Base camp at $375 includes food service and one day trip. The Adventure tier includes four days and three nights with two excursions for $450. Finally the Expedition tier includes five days and four nights with extended excursion options for $550. Glenwood Adventure Co. will provide professional guides for many of the adventure offerings including whitewater rafting, kayaking and ATV excursions.

“Some of these excursions we are offering for a week would cost $1,500 for a day if you booked them independently,” said Graham.

“We are offering age-appropriate high adventure,” Graham continued. Scouts ages 11 years and older can attend the camp. Between participating in adventure treks, Scouts will be busy with traditional merit badge activities such as orienteering and pioneering

Scouts will sleep in Tepees at camp. “We are the only Scout camp in the nation that can offer that,” said Graham. A staff of 26 counselors, medics and kitchen workers will oversee the campers. The Scout programing will highlight three special focus areas — a cooking program based on a healthy eating model, a sustainability program that presents Scouting ethics in a modern-day format and a space program that will give Scouts a chance to fire rockets.

Staff arrived at the camp this week. “All they can talk about is how they can’t wait for the first kid to come through the doors,” said Graham.

The camp’s director is equally pumped. “I have worked with Scout camps for more than 15 years and Scouting is in my family,”said Graham. “With this facility we are really thinking outside of the box from regular Scout camps and this is something we want to offer, not only to Boy Scouts, but to youth from all over the Western Slope.”

Eventually, the camp can host up to 150 boys per week. Graham noted that 2014 is a introduction year for the new facility, so it won’t reach that occupancy this summer. Camp registrations are still being accepted. For additional information visit http://www.sccbsa.org, call 970-524-7769 or email james.graham@scouting.org.

Support Local Journalism