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Wilderness Outreach provides hands-on learning

ANDY FRAMEsummit daily news
Special to the DailyBOEC instructors and campers take a ride down the river last summer. River guiding is one of the activities taught at Wilderness Outreach, an eight-day hands-on learning program offered June 12-19 to high school age kids.
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BRECKENRIDGE – The Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC) is entering its 30th year of existence in 2006 with one goal in mind – “to expand the potential of people with disabilities and special needs through meaningful, educational and inspiring outdoor experiences.”To make that happen, the BOEC tries to find the right people to work in that unique environment. June 12-19, for the third time, the organization will host Wilderness Outreach, an eight-day camp for people that have finished their freshman year of high school. The BOEC doesn’t put a cap on age limit.”This is a hands-on learning program where they will be learning by doing,” BOEC associate program director Cindy Wetherald said. “It’s strictly experiential.”Wetherald said the typical enrollment is between six and eight students, but the program could take as many as 12 high schoolers that have “the desire to work with special populations.” “The BOEC is looking for students who want to expand their personal potential, have fun, learn new skills and enhance their community involvement,” she said. “With Wilderness Outreach, students have an opportunity to be a part of the BOEC team, fully immersing themselves in the experience of delivering high quality programs to people of all abilities.”

Wilderness Outreach consists of eight days of training at the BOEC campus in Breckenridge and on surrounding U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands. It will include an introduction to team building through initiatives and facilitation, adaptive and dynamic ropes course experiences, canoeing, rock climbing, inclusive camping techniques and a river rafting workshop on the upper Colorado River. Later in the summer the students will go on a five-to-seven day volunteer assignment where they will serve as assistant instructors. These volunteer assignments will enable the students to work directly with BOEC participants and put their recent knowledge and experience to use under professional staff supervision. Enrollment in Wilderness Outreach is $800 per person. The cost pays for 24-hour staffing, equipment and all meals. Partial scholarships may be available for qualified applicants.Two years ago, Summit High School student Matt Bowers was a Wilderness Outreach camper. Bowers now works for the BOEC during the summers. He helps organize camps, ordering all of the food and needed supplies.

Bowers said the lessons learned during his eight-day experience have helped him in many ways. “I use the leadership skills in everyday life,” he said. “They continue on in everything you do.”A large part of the program is learning to interact with disabled people. The camp will coincide with a retreat put on by the Brain Injury Association of Colorado. Wilderness Outreach campers will participate in activities, such as whitewater rafting with people who have suffered brain injuries. “They will learn a lot about disability awareness,” BOEC course director Jaime Benthin said. “A lot of people walk into it and don’t know what to do or what to say to someone with a disability. It’s all about being yourself.” The campers will spend the week in a small cabin with no electricity or running water, where they will be responsible for preparing their own meals.

“It’s good food,” Bowers said. “If you’re cooking your own food you don’t want it to be bad.” For more information, contact Wetherald at (970) 453-6422, or email to wildprog@boec.org. For more information about the BOEC, visit http://www.boec.org.Andy Frame can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at aframe@summitdaily.com.


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