Scouting’s Steve Fossett Spirit of Adventure Ranch teaches kids to soar
August 1, 2017
SWEETWATER — Adventurer Steve Fossett said repeatedly during his life that he "caught the adventure bug" as a Boy Scout.
Fossett, a successful American businessman, adventurer and Eagle Scout, set 115 world records in aviation and sailing. Boy Scouts and other campers around the West are pouring into the Steve Fossett Spirit of Adventure Ranch to catch the same adventure bug that drove Fossett throughout his life.
"As a Scout, I learned how to set goals and achieve them," Fossett said repeatedly during his life. "Being a Scout also taught me leadership at a young age where there were few opportunities to be a leader."
The camp is located near the confluence of the Colorado River and Sweetwater Creek. Scouts ages 11 and older can have adventures ranging from mountain biking, orienteering and backpacking to Class IV whitewater, climbing 14ers and hut-to-hut trips.
Fossett's world records include the first solo, nonstop, around-the-world aircraft flight and the first solo, nonstop, around-the-world balloon flight, as well as records for gliding and sailing. He completed the Boston Marathon, the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii, Alaska's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and the Leadville Trail 100. He swam the English Channel and scaled the highest peaks on six of the seven continents.
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When Fossett was inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame, he said, "Set your goals high, put your team together, figure out how you're going to do it and get it done."
That's now etched onto a plaque in the Spirit of Adventure Ranch dining hall, to regularly remind Boy Scouts that the secret to success is no secret. Fossett was chasing adventure when he disappeared flying above the Sierra Nevada mountains on Sept. 3, 2007. His adventurous spirit lives on in the camp that bears his name.
Adventure for all
The camp is available to groups outside of Scouting, and everyone will have the opportunity to go on an off-site high adventure, said Wayne Nelson, with the Boy Scouts' Western Colorado Council.
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 includes food service and one day trip.
• Adventure tier includes four days and three nights with two excursions.
• Expedition tier includes five days and four nights with extended excursion options.
"At most camps, that's only an option for the older scouts. Here, it's for all ages and it's already included in the fees," said Mark Switzer, Scout executive and CEO for Scouting's Western Colorado Council.
Glenwood Adventure Co. provides professional guides for many of the adventures, including whitewater rafting, kayaking and caving excursions. Between participating in adventure treks, Scouts are busy with traditional merit badges and other activities.
Fare to great
Food is a common complaint at camps of all sorts. They have that handled at SOAR. There's a full-service dining hall with a professional chef. In fact, there's 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.
Campers can rappel from cliffs and from a tower, climb mountains, hike the Colorado's back country, ride horses, enjoy shooting and archery … all the regular camp stuff.
The Boy Scouts added three-dozen 20-foot teepees where the Scouts sleep.
"We are the only Scout camp in the nation that can offer that," Anderson said.
Programs, not payments
Before SOAR, the site operated as a summer camp for generations, beginning in the 1960s. When the facility didn't open for the summer of 2013 the Scouts worked out a lease.
The Steve Fossett Spirit of Adventure Ranch opened in 2014 with the blessing and assistance of Peggy Fossett, Steve's wife.
"Since we're leasing an existing camp, we aren't tying up funds to purchase and build it from the ground up. That means the fees that the scouts pay will go directly toward their programs, and we're able to offer some things that most camps don't," Switzer said.
SOAR is the first time in two decades that the Boy Scouts of America's Western Colorado Council will have its own summer camp.
"Our Scouts have been scattered in camps across the country every summer because there has not been an option here on the Western Slope, so this is a homecoming of sorts," Switzer said.
"I have worked with Scout camps for almost 20 years and Scouting is in my family," Switzer said. "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 partnerships all over the country."
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.