DOTSERO — Adventurer and Eagle Scout Steve Fossett set 115 world records and credits the Boy Scouts with helping him “catch the adventure bug.”
With that spirit in mind, the Western Colorado Council of the Boy Scouts of America is opening the Steve Fossett Spirit of Adventure Base Camp this summer.
When it opens in June, it will be one of only four high adventure Boy Scout camps around the country. It will also be the first time in a decade and a half that the Western Colorado Council has had 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,” said Mark Switzer, Boy Scout executive and CEO of the Western Colorado Council.
Fossett’s world records include the first solo nonstop round-the-world aircraft flight and the first solo nonstop round-the-world balloon flight, as well as records for gliding and sailing. He also completed the Boston Marathon, the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii, Alaska’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and the Leadville Trail 100, swam the English Channel and scaled the highest peaks on six of the seven continents.
The Beaver Creek resident disappeared while flying above the Sierra Nevada mountains on Sept. 3, 2007.
His widow, Peggy Fossett, donated $50,000 to establish the camp in his name and issued a $50,000 challenge grant that the Boy Scouts are trying to match.
Anderson Camp site
The scouts worked out a five-year lease on the Anderson Camp north of Dotsero, where Scott and Tammy Stuart operated summer camps from 1962 through 2012. Steve Beckley, who runs Glenwood Cavers, found out that Anderson Camp was looking for a new direction and made the first contact.
The idea immediately took wings.
“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.
The camp is located near the confluence of the Colorado River and Sweetwater Creek. Scouts ages 11 years and older can have adventures ranging from mountain biking, orienteering and backpacking to class IV whitewater, climbing fourteeners and hut-to-hut trips.
There’s a full-service dining hall, cabins for camp staff, rappelling from cliffs and from a tower, corrals and a shooting range. The Boy Scouts are adding 32 20-foot teepees where the Scouts will sleep, making it the only camp in America to offer this amenity.
Every Scout will have the opportunity to go on an off-site high adventure, said Beckley, an assistant scoutmaster for Troop 225 in Glenwood Springs.
“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,” he said.
Glenwood Adventure Co. will provide professional guides for many of the adventures, including whitewater rafting, kayaking, horseback riding and ATV excursions.
Food is the top complaint at many camps, so the Scouts are hiring a professional chef to run the kitchen, and they are working to bring in culinary students from around the region.
“Our food budget is almost twice that of neighboring camps, so we’re heading that one off at the pass,” Switzer said.
Beckley, an Eagle Scout and the father of two Boy Scouts, was instrumental in making the dream come true. He owns Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park with his wife, Jeanne, and is a member of the Glenwood Springs tourism board.
“In addition to providing a much-needed, high-quality camp for our Scouts, this camp will bring hundreds of Scouts and their families to the area each summer,” Beckley said.
The camp will operate for seven weeks, June 15 through Aug. 2. It has capacity for 150 scouts per week or 1,050 for the summer.
For the first year, the Western Colorado Council is focused on bringing in scouts from the Western Slope, the Front Range and Utah. Next year, the camp will be marketed nationwide.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.