For the first time in my life I was surrounded by teenagers who were hungry, dirty, tired and loving every minute of it! At Camp Rocky there is no cell phone service, no texting, no television or electronic games; only nature, the instructors and kids getting their hands dirty working on environmental restoration projects. This camp is about teens engaged in real life application of environmental and natural resource management that benefits them, the communities, and the environment.
For 48 years, the Camp Rocky Program has been providing hands-on work, leadership training, and instruction in related environmental career opportunities for teens ages 14-19. The Colorado Association of Conservation Districts (CACD), founded in 1945, co-hosts Camp Rocky. CACD represents 76 Conservation Districts statewide which provide over 32,000 volunteer hours annually. Through cooperation of environmental agencies and organizations, Camp Rocky provides an average of 70 teens each year with hands-on outdoor experiences, education, and career mentoring opportunities. Educational advancement occurs through instruction in five principles; water and soil conservation, fish and wildlife management, forest management, rangeland science, and recreation management. Students implement their work plans such as riparian area restoration projects and trail construction.
As I toured the completed environmental projects, I was amazed at how many students approached me asking if I had any questions about the work they had done. I was also very impressed by the pride of ownership the students and volunteers expressed about the service projects that had been completed over the years. Many students return each year to Camp Rocky to experience different courses or to mentor new students in the program. Not many programs have this kind of staying power. No doubt it is due to the dedicated volunteers and hard working teens! My visit to Camp Rocky was an uplifting and down to Earth experience at the same time!
About the author: Wendy Dew has been with EPA for 13 years and is the Environmental Education and Outreach Coordinator for Region 8.