Another magical summer is drawing to a close at Easterseals Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Village (RMV) Camp, nestled in the mountains near Empire, Colorado. In this tenth and final week, RMV is playing host to three separate camps and only a small portion of its summer staff remain on site. RYLA+, whose campers got to attend a talk by gold medal Paralympian Noah Elliot today, is a small leadership camp for teenagers with physical disabilities run by the Rotary Club staying in Homebuilders Lodge. Camp Promise, a week-long overnight camp for individuals with neuromuscular diseases, is also here, dressed in their traditional bright pink and curly pig tails. Finally, Rocky Mountain Village’s second week of Travel Camp is in full swing, camping out each night and adventuring by day – the group is currently spending a very arduous day soaking in the hot springs of Glenwood Springs, Colorado. 

Left: Butch has attended RMV for 55 years! He says, “The love and acceptance of everyone is what makes camp special.”
Right: Campers enjoy time with horses at Rendezvous Week for young adults age 21-30 with
physical and/or
developmental disabilities.

This year, RMV was fortunate enough to run six traditional weeks of overnight summer camp and continue important collaborations with Children’s Hospital Colorado, the National Hemophilia Foundation and the Muscular Dystrophy Association to run four additional weeks of specialized rental camps. We also hosted Camp Comfort, which runs two weekend camps for children grieving the loss of a parent, and provided services to Keystone Science School and Camp Paha from Lakewood.

Summer 2019 saw some exciting changes as well as the return of many important traditions at Rocky Mountain Village. Most recently, RMV celebrated two important events in one day: the grand-opening of the new Friendship Lodge, which will be replacing Frontier cabin in the fall, and our renaissance-themed prom event for teens with disabilities. Community partners, organizations, and representatives who helped bring the Friendship Lodge to fruition were able to visit RMV and appreciate the results of their donation first-hand.

Left: Lyda Hill Philanthropies, the Scarangella Family, Krasimir (Easterseals Colorado VP of Programs), and
Roman (Easterseals Colorado President & CEO) pose for the official Friendship Lodge Ribbon Cutting.
Right: The new 7,500 square foot, 32-bed, fully accessible Friendship Lodge. The lodge will host campers and staff in the summers and private rental groups in the off season.

Prom also drew in a huge range of volunteers and donors, including Denver Tux, Denver Botanic Gardens, Tommyknocker Brewery, Ms. Colorado Senior America, an opera singer, an aerial silk dancer, photographers, news crews, Parker the Snow Dog and countless other friends of camp, all keen on making the day as special as possible (watch the KRDO Colorado Springs news clip and read the Colorado Sun story on this year’s prom, featuring camper Kate, RMV’s 2018 Prom Queen).

Left: Kate with her counselor at RMV Prom. The sticker on her water bottle says it best, “Don’t let anyone ever dull your sparkle.”
Right: Frontier Lodge at RMV decked out with decor for the special prom night.

The Friendship Lodge ribbon cutting and prom provided an amazing note to end the summer on, but weren’t the only highlights this camp season. Another special day took place during the Mile High Hemophilia camp, when Sheffield Homes along with almost 100 youth and volunteers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints threw our campers a huge county fair-style celebration, complete with a snow cone truck, square dancing, a bouncy castle, a bungee run, prizes and a dunk tank. The group also pitched in on several volunteer service projects around camp over the course of two days. Needless to say, all their effort was highly appreciated by campers and staff alike – we all returned to our cabins that evening happy, dusty from square dancing in the field and with snow cone-colored tongues. 

Earlier in the summer, Pi Kappa Phi continued their tradition of assisting our camp, sending both their Build America crew and Journey of Hope cyclists to RMV. Build America made significant headway constructing the new boardwalk and viewing deck that will make our climbing wall and zipline more accessible and enjoyable for all. We always appreciate their visits and the energy they bring to camp, which is even more impressive considering the long miles biked by the Journey of Hope crew between stops on their cross-country tour.

Left: Remy, age 17, has been coming to RMV since he was 6 years old.
Center: Jake Jabs of American Furniture Warehouse performing for campers.
Right: Campers enjoy the reptile show by the Denver Zoo.

Monday nights at RMV saw a wide variety of entertainers and performers come to bring some music and magic into our campers’ evenings. We enjoyed performances by Kind Mountain Band, Wonderlic, Jake Jabs of American Furniture Warehouse, Amazing Dave the magician, and the Denver Zoo reptile show. Several DJ’s also volunteered their time to breathe a little extra excitement into our Thursday night dances, including DJ TVG, DJ Mixed Messages and DJ West (who consistently provides his DJ and lighting services on prom night each year).

This summer, Rocky Mountain Village revived their archery program which hasn’t run for several decades. Even campers with limited arm mobility got to nock, draw and loose this summer using our adaptive crossbow set up.

After trying a traditional bow and arrow, one of our campers wrote,

“Every day I take back something my disability stole from me. I used to love archery and the feeling of holding a bow in my hands again was…unreal. I felt powerful and strong and capable.”

Left: A group of campers at the RMV archery range.
Right: Emily came to RMV for the first time when she was just 6 years old. Summer 2019 is her 30th year at RMV!

Throughout the past 10 weeks of summer camp, RMV employed 65 full-time seasonal staff members, hosted over 90 volunteer counselors including individuals from Italy, Hong Kong and Brazil, and served over 500 campers with disabilities from across Colorado and the United States. The RMV Family is continually growing and we couldn’t be more pleased with how this summer went or more grateful for the help we received from so many to make our summer camps possible.

In the words of one of our long-time campers,

“When I come to camp, I feel like my disability takes a vacation, because I can participate in all the activities, just like anyone else.”  

Summer 2019 RMV Staff ready for campers after training week.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for helping us create a space where disability takes a back seat here at Rocky Mountain Village!

To learn more about Rocky Mountain Village, visit our website here, call 303.569.2333, or email campinfo@eastersealscolorado.org.

Easterseals Colorado is leading the way to creating a Colorado where everyone, regardless of age or ability is 100 percent included and 100 percent empowered. Learn more about the many programs and services at Easterseals Colorado by visiting our website here.

One thought on “Another magical summer at Rocky Mountain Village Camp!

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