Cartier: Boy Scout camp is a place where dreams come true (column) | VailDaily.com

Cartier: Boy Scout camp is a place where dreams come true (column)

Jacqueline Cartier
Valley Voices

Across the vista is a view of the Colorado River that is simply breathtaking. This family-owned property was preserved to continue the dreams of children who seek a summer of adventure, challenge and downright fun. Summer nights under the stars at this incredible ranch have lived in the memories of thousands of kids for decades. It was precisely that memory that encouraged the current owner to develop this oasis of exploration for generations to come.

As you stroll through the grounds, the sounds of laughter fill the air, as boys gobble their lunch, totally unaware that two well-known chefs cooked it, and run out the door in search of their next challenge … daring themselves to take it to the next level.

This magnificent spot is the current home of the Boy Scouts of America SOAR (Spirit of Adventure Ranch) camp, named and partially sponsored by the family of the late Steve Fossett, whose life was an inspiration to all who seek to push the limits of convention.

With western wildfires still ablaze, the world's largest Boy Scout high adventure camp, Philmont Ranch, closed for the summer due to fire danger. This left thousands of campers brokenhearted with nowhere to go. Along come Drew Bair and co-director Chad Jones, both not much older than the campers themselves, with a brilliant idea to rescue these boy's summer dreams. With much hard work, they, along with several generous benefactors, developed an amazing program; making SOAR of Gypsum the 2018 center of Western Colorado's Boy Scout adventure.

Drew, a seventh-generation Colorado native, has taken his academic background, his considerable scouting experience and can-do spirit to create programs that will enhance the development of young people across western Colorado — it is his full-time passion.

Chad has an equally passionate dedication to making a difference in the lives of youth. He understands the benefits of scouting, having begun as a Tiger Cub and completing Eagle Scout at the incredibly young age of 16. These two are the older siblings you want guiding your children as they spread their wings of independence.

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While many of the campers are on a mission to complete as many merit badges (predetermined skills required for mastery) as possible, they also learn important life lessons. They develop an ability to set challenging individual and team goals, experiencing the reality of meeting expected and surprising encounters along the way and learning to enjoy the process.

It becomes a real-world lesson in appreciating the journey, not merely setting the destination. Upon earning a badge, the child gains a sense of accomplishment that is completely his own, and the confidence achieved is priceless. This is a place where it is safe to try something new and receive the encouragement of a highly supportive community, yet no one is coddled. What they accomplish is truly earned, and they proudly know it.

The trails across this 160-acre ranch take you past teepee villages, archery and shooting ranges, historic cabins, a basketball court, swimming pool and many open fields, ending with a treat at the canteen.

In addition, all campers get an off-campus adventure visit to one of the partner facilities such as the Glenwood Caverns, ATGI climbing, rafting and caving trips or the zip line. This is the stuff of childhood memories.

One can see in the eyes of the adult counselors that this is not simply a summer job but a continuation of the commitment that they made years ago, as campers themselves, to bring forth the legacy of helping young people navigate the complexities of an increasingly challenging world, to become solid in their values, skills and dedication to God, country and family.

The ability to participate in the development of a future generation is a drive that keeps them coming back, year after year; plus, they still have that mischievous gleam in their eye, as pranks keep the campus lively.

Jealous yet? Well, this fun is open to kids of all ages. In addition to Scouts and local schools, the facilities are frequently used by organizations as leadership retreats from as far away as Hong Kong.

Many of us live in the mountains for the casual yet adventurous lifestyle, yet we can easily get trapped in the routine of daily life, totally missing out on the reason why we live here. Make plans to take your family or co-workers on a youthful escapade. Your inner child will jump for joy.

Jacqueline Cartier is a political and corporate consultant in Colorado and Washington, D.C. For further information, visit http://www.cartierwinningimages.com. She may be contacted at winningimages.cartier@gmail.com.