Vail Daily letter: Empowering kids | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily letter: Empowering kids

Our community is unique and fortunate in the number and quality of cultural and educational outreach programs available to both adults and children. Like other programs before it, Ute Springs Experiential Learning Center began with a great idea and in fewer than two years, it has become a successful reality. As both a volunteer and a board member, I’ve witnessed firsthand its important work.

Ute Springs Experiential Learning Center’s mission is to empower kids between the ages of 7 and 18 with the social-emotional skills of leadership, personal responsibility and healthy communication; this is accomplished through experiential learning both outdoors and in the classroom. Founders Linda Miner and Amy Ben-Horin, along with their staff and volunteers, have served more than 700 kids in 2015. Ute Springs Experiential Learning Center’s goal for 2016 is to make sure that every child or youth who wants to attend its programs will have the opportunity to do so.

While there are many other excellent programs for youth, Ute Springs Experiential Learning Center is unique in its focus on providing tools to help each participant reach his full potential. Its programs are not only important to the kids and their families, but also to the community as a whole.

Dr. Glass, superintendent of Eagle County Schools, states, “We deeply value our partnership with Ute Springs. Their programs provide hands-on experiences in our natural surroundings that teach global-ready skills, like building critical thinking and problem solving, collaborating and leading, enhancing a child’s natural curiosity, and expanding their imagination.”

Denise Jacobs (a camper’s mom) adds, “Ute Springs Experiential Center’s summer camp changed Sarah’s life and we will be forever grateful. She became more aware of the world outside her own and how she can feel good about making a difference. As a parent, I can easily say this is one of the most important life lessons we can teach our children!”

And Carlito, a 10-year-old camper, enthusiastically agrees: “I think Ute Springs is special because I get to spend time in nature. I chose to be here because Ute Springs is different from other camps, like we get to see what we can find outside. Maybe we will get to find something we’ve never seen before or something that I’ve never got to do before.”

All of this amazing work could not have been completed without the generous support of our community. Should this project resonate with you, I hope you’ll consider making a year-end donation to Ute Springs — or perhaps honor friends with a contribution in lieu of holiday gifts. For more information, go to utespringselc.org

Karin Weber

Edwards