BOEC in the News

BOEC hosts Cleft Camp

Posted Tuesday, July 30th, 2019 by boec-admin

Campers & counselors pose at Mayflower Gulch trailhead

The Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center hosted its annual Cleft Camp this week, partnering with Children’s Hospital Colorado Springs for the first time.

The three-day camp that ended Friday provides the hospital’s 10- to 18-year-old cleft clinic patients with the chance to take part in the center’s outdoors programming, including hiking, kayaking, canoeing and rock climbing.

Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center executive director Sonya Norris — who was instrumental in building the camp during her time working for the Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation — said the program is pivotal to expanding the potential of campers as well as providing them with an empowering opportunity through meaningful outdoor experiences.

The program is paid for through Outdoor Education Center scholarships and fundraisers.

“They spend the time all together sharing experiences and talking about their struggles and successes,” Norris said. “And they feel the benefit of doing these outdoor activities and how confident and comfortable they can be in this environment. The outdoors experience builds their confidence and helps them to deal with the difficulties they are facing.

“With whatever kind of challenge they are facing, it shows them they can take on any kind of challenge and shows them that they can accomplish anything,” Norris said. “It puts them in a position of achieving challenges on ropes courses, the climbing wall, hiking — all with other kids. They are talking about that in a sharing circle, the successes they have, and that they have the power within themselves to grow in their own lives.”

I’ve Gained Compassion & Empathy Enough to Outweigh Other Losses

Posted Friday, June 21st, 2019 by boec-admin

Rafting the Colorado River is part of BOEC's Challenge by Choice Adventure Retreat for survivors of an injury to the brain.
White water rafting is part of the Challenge by Choice Adventure Retreats

The following is from a letter written to BOEC program staff from a course participant after the Challenge by Choice Adventure Retreat, June 9-14, 2019, for survivors of an injury to the brain:

“Dear BOEC,

Thank you for the scholarship. I could not have attended camp without it.

This week I did so many things. We went rafting, cycling, and to a ropes course as our major events. Kayaking was especially fun and surprisingly relaxing. I can’t remember ever being more calm.

Everything about this camp was outside my comfort zone. I admit I was stressed out a lot. I definitely felt exhilaration from some of the activities, and pride from overcoming some of my fears; however, I think the hardest parts of camp for me were between events. I helped cook and nothing went wrong (or caught on fire). I helped set the table. I did dishes. I was useful. I don’t know how to explain how amazing that is.

I was asked if I had discovered any strengths this week. I certainly got along with everyone much better than I had expected. Perhaps I’ve gained compassion and empathy enough to outweigh other losses. Frankly, I was shocked at how easy it has been to accept, forgive, and have patience with fellow campers. This gives me hope that I can find a similar community at home, which is something I had give up on.”

If you or someone you know and love is interested in having an experience of a lifetime such as this, sign up for BOEC’s next two brain injury retreats; the Challenge by Choice Adventure Retreat II (July 7-12) and Challenge by Choice Adventure Retreat III (July 28 – August 2).

BIA course participant letter

BOEC to Celebrate Completion of Headquarters & Logistics Center at Grand Opening Celebration & Open House

Posted Monday, June 10th, 2019 by boec-admin

The newly remodeled BOEC Headquarters & Logistics Center

Breckenridge, Colo., June 10, 2019 – After a 3-year, $2 million capital campaign comes to a close, Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC) looks to show off its new digs with a Grand Opening Celebration and Open House on Saturday, June 15th from 1 pm to 4 pm at 524 Wellington Road in Breckenridge. The core project of the campaign was a complete remodel and update of the administrative and logistics center, including critically-needed seasonal staff housing, upgraded administrative offices, and improved warehousing for outdoor adaptive equipment.

From 1 pm to 4 pm, all guests will have the chance to tour the new facility, learn more about BOEC, and take part in a celebratory toast at the 3 p.m. unveiling of the donor wall recognizing those that made all this possible. Light snacks and refreshments will be provided.

Established in 1976, BOEC is one of the oldest four-season adaptive outdoor educational organizations in North America and is a leader in innovative outdoor education curriculum, serving people with diverse abilities and special needs. Upgrades to BOEC HQ and Logistics center completed during this project will allow BOEC to meet the growing demand for increased program capacity.

“I am overwhelmed at the resources our community donated to the Campaign for the reconstruction of the Wellington headquarters, including Town of Breckenridge, Rockridge Building Company, Custom Mountain Architects, Columbine Hills Concrete and so many others,” said Tim Casey, BOEC Chairman of the Board (2010-2018). “It is our generous and committed donors who make what the BOEC does possible year after year and I am grateful to all of those who help the BOEC to continue to touch so many lives through our winter and summer programs.”

RSVP to Hallie Jaeger at today before all the champagne glasses are taken.

Randy Ford, Owner of Alpine Fishing Adventures, Talks About His Cinco Donation & His History with BOEC

Posted Monday, April 22nd, 2019 by boec-admin

Alpine Fishing Adventures Owner, Randy Ford

My name is Randy Ford, owner of Alpine Fishing Adventures. Along with this donation of a guiding fishing charter, I wanted to share my story and thank you for your contribution to the BOEC by attending this event (36th Annual Cinco de Mayo Celebration). Your contributions will do amazing things for a variety of people who have the will to live and enjoy despite life’s most difficult circumstances.

In 1994 at 19 years old, I found myself paralyzed from the neck down with a C4/C5 spinal cord injury after a skiing accident. Due to the incomplete nature of my injury, after 7 months, I was able to step out of Craig Hospital upright on two feet using Canadian crutches. With various impairments throughout my body I was faced with a whole new situation in life with some difficult circumstances ahead of me.

For quite some time once I left Craig Hospital, I attended clinical physical and occupational therapies, and despite some of the amazing and talented caregivers I had, I was at a plateau in my recovery and felt like I reached a dead end. I started to become depressed and had feelings of giving up, I had begun to lose my will to keep fighting for more recovery. Through it all, something I did realize, was the time I had spent with the Craig Hospital Therapeutic Recreation Department was some of the most enjoyable time I had spent since my injury occurred and within a year and a half after my injury, I found that best way to wash my depression and pain away was to emerge myself back into activities and exploration in the alpine environment. It became my best therapy, and it’s the same type of therapy that inherently comes along with the BOEC outings.

Through my own experiences, and having spent time helping out on BOEC adapt ski, and fishing outings, I am a witness to how participating in activities in the mountainous environment can expose the body to physical, occupational, psychological, and spiritual therapies. For me, it challenged my motor skills by being in situations navigating different terrains in the alpine conditions. It helped increase my abilities for motor movements and strength. My mind and body where challenged to come up with more ways to move and adapt, I learned how to use my body differently to accomplish movements and tasks. It built confidence and independence, and it kept me in touch with what was true to me spiritually. It was like taking an antidepressant, going to clinical therapy, attending church, and having a blast all in one shot. It was my best medicine.

I am contributing this fishing trip from my company Alpine Fishing Adventures, because I want the funds raised by bidding on this trip to help others get the same kind of benefits I received by participating in activities in the mountains.

Once again, thank you for your contributions. And thank you for your bids on this fishing trip. I will give it my all to show you a fantastic time on Dillon Reservoir!

After ATV accident left Olympic gold medalist Amy Van Dyken paralyzed, BOEC helps her learn to love skiing again

Posted Tuesday, April 16th, 2019 by boec-admin

As Amy Van Dyken rode up the Quicksilver chairlift at Breckenridge Ski Resort on Saturday, she described her mindset in the wake of a 2014 ATV accident that left her paralyzed. And, while relaying her experience, the American Olympic champion swimmer caught herself mid-sentence.

“I kind of felt like I wanted to do everything,” Van Dyken said. “But, at the same time, I knew that I was going to be limited — pardon me — I thought I was going to be limited.”

Read More

Amy Van Dyken skis with BOEC
Photo Courtesy of Antonio Olivero, Summit Daily News

Team Semper Fi Visits Keystone Adaptive Center

Posted Wednesday, February 13th, 2019 by boec-admin

‘What it’s all about’: Team Semper Fi brings vets to Keystone Adaptive Center… on Krystal 93 news – February 12, 2019.

New Executive Director Hired at BOEC

Posted Thursday, February 22nd, 2018 by BOEC

BOEC is pleased to announce that Sonya Norris (Colorado Springs, Colorado) has been hired as its new Executive Director. Sonya brings a wealth of expertise and skills to this role, with over fifteen years of experience in adaptive sport, community programs, fundraising and development. Her resume includes ten years with the U.S. Olympic Committee serving as Associate Director of Paralympic Programs and other leadership roles. She has spent the last five years with Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation in Colorado Springs as the Director of Events and Corporate Programs. Tim Casey, Chairperson of the BOEC Board of Trustees, states, “We believe Sonya will be a great asset to our organization both as a leader to our staff and as an Executive Director who can help us determine and execute our strategic vision moving forward.”

Bruce Fitch, Executive Director for BOEC over the past twelve years, announced his retirement late last year. Since then, the board commenced a nation-wide search to find a replacement. From over sixty resumes and a set of intensive interviews, Sonya was determined to be the best fit for the future of the organization.

Sonya will start her duties March 5 but will attend the Banff Mountain Film Festival on March 2. Please welcome Sonya to the BOEC community.

Semper Fi at Keystone Adaptive Center

Posted Monday, January 15th, 2018 by BOEC

Antonio Olivero, Summit Daily News, 1/12/2018
U.S. Marine Corps veteran and U.S. para athlete Peter Park makes turns on his monoski at Keystone Resort this week as part of the Semper Fi Fund ski and snowboard clinic for veterans, put on in conjunction with the Keystone Adaptive Center. (All photos by Brian McPherson / Special to The Daily)


For Marine Corps veteran Manny Jimenez, an above-the-elbow amputee, one sentence sums up why he traveled across the country from his home in Glastonbury, Connecticut, to learn how to ski here in Summit County this week.

“A lot of veterans bounce off veterans in their time of need,” Jimenez said.

Like many young veterans nationwide, Jimenez has had difficulties adjusting to life after his tours of duty overseas. His time in service included his second deployment, to the southern Afghan agricultural town of Marjah, where he was injured by an improvised explosive device on Aug. 1, 2010.

It was at his bedside table where Jimenez and his family met his case manager through the Semper Fi Fund, a nonprofit that provides both immediate financial assistance and lifetime support to injured service members like him. As an organization, the Semper Fi Fund says their focus is helping service members realize there is life post-trauma.

“Which I believe played a huge aspect in my recovery to give me that strong mindset,” Jimenez said. “You need a strong support group, especially in the beginning after the traumatic event.

“You grow up all your life with all of your limbs,” he added, “and one day you wake up and you can’t remember a lot of things, and your brain is rattled and you realize you are missing an arm. You need a strong structure from the beginning. And the Semper Fi Fund case manager has always helped me, to keep me on target.”

Jimenez credits the Semper Fi Fund with instilling a fire inside of him, one that led him to the fund’s sports program, or Team Semper Fi. Just a few months after his injury, he was cleared to run in November 2010, and by January 2011 he was running his first half marathons through the program.

Whether it’s Team Semper Fi marathons, triathlons or other events, like this week’s ski and snowboard clinic at Keystone Resort, Jimenez believes these programs are the best way for vets to meet friends who can relate to trying to tackle post-trauma life.

“You can pick up the phone, send text messages to the buddies you met at camp to help you through that moment,” Jimenez said. “And that’s what it means to fight the invisible wounds, half the time. It’s someone who has been there too.”

Semper Fi Fund athletes and family members pose for a photo with Keystone Adaptive Center instructors at Keystone Resort this week.

Jimenez was one of 30 service members and their family members to take part in this week’s three-day Semper Fi Fund Ski and Snowboard Clinic. The national not-for-profit teamed-up with the Keystone Adaptive Center and the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center for the second straight year to help outfit and educate veterans who have injuries ranging from those who are wheelchair-bound, to those dealing with cognitive function disorders from a traumatic brain injury, to those dealing with the wounds of post-traumatic stress disorder.

For this week’s session at Keystone, Marine Corps veteran and Semper Fi Fund spokesman Brian McPherson, 30, said more than 50 service members from across the country expressed interest in the Keystone clinic.

This week at the clinic, Haley Keller, the program manager at the Keystone Adaptive Center, said 30 instructors and volunteers — including some local veterans — gave their time to help these service members skiers and snowboarders of varying skill levels improve their skills.

“The big part of the Semper Fi Fund event is the lessons are done in a group format,” Keller said, “to really promote the building of relationships and camaraderie with the service members, and perhaps maybe the family or friends they bring as well.”

The Semper Fi Fund shuttled vets like Jimenez from Denver International Airport on Sunday, and beginning on Monday, the Keystone Adaptive Center took special note of each veterans’ injury to outfit them properly to ski for the day.

Then on Tuesday, the veterans for the first time conducted a community service project at the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, including cleaning up downed trees, removing snow and ice outside the facility and winterizing some of the facility’s equipment.

“Since they were giving back to us, we said, ‘Well how can we kind of give back to the Outdoor Education Center?’ Through that they needed some kayaks that needed to be winterized, covered up, moved around,” McPherson said. “It’s new to what we are doing with all of our sports event in the 2018 year.”

Then Wednesday’s final day of skiing was a free ride day, though the clinic provided above-knee amputee Kyle Cook with the opportunity to also work with Paralympic coaches.

As for future fun for others who took part, McPherson himself just relocated to Colorado this past year to ski more often. After his second deployment to Iraq concluded in 2012, the Ohio-native went to a Semper Fi Fund ski and snowboard camp that same year.

A never-ever snowboarder, McPherson fell in love with the sport as it became a primary variable that helped him to regain his balance and to live life despite his PTSD from a traumatic brain injury and orthopedic issues stemming from two shoulder surgeries.

“It allowed me to grow, post-trauma,” he said.

Leg amputee and veteran Kyle Cook snowboards at Keystone Resort this week as part of the Semper Fi Fund ski and snowboard clinic for veterans, put on in conjunction with the Keystone Adaptive Center.






With what might be the season’s biggest snow storm yet set to slam into Summit County in time for weekend powder, these days you may find McPherson splitboard snowboarding in the backcountry. His new favorite hobby is to join veteran friends snowboarding at Loveland Pass, and enjoying the hospitality of Summit County locals along the way.

“It forces you to be more comfortable in the uncomfortable,” McPherson said. “Backcountry, it gave me what I found in the military, which was a consistent challenge, and the ability to read terrain.

“And Loveland Pass, that view,” he added. “You can see all the different resorts from that location up there. And in the event that you just want to take a few runs early morning, the people in Summit County are so amazing, they’ll pick you up on Loveland Pass and take you back to the top.”

Executive Director, Bruce Fitch, Announces Retirement

Posted Friday, September 1st, 2017 by BOEC

Dear BOEC Community,

After eleven great years at BOEC, I have decided to retire at the end of 2017. I informed the Board of my transition months ago and they will embark on a search to find a replacement, with the hope that a new Director will start at the beginning of 2018. That being said, I am committed to staying at my post until a new Director is found.

It has been my privilege and pleasure to serve the BOEC–our staff, interns, volunteers and, above all, our students. What better job than to bring into the outdoors people who may not otherwise be able to experience it. My whole career has been in outdoor adventure education and BOEC has been the capstone, a place of growth and possibility for those we serve.  Thank you all for your partnership in this grand project.

I fully expect BOEC to continue to grow and flourish.  Due to the dedication and hard work of all of you, we have created a strong foundation–financially, programmatically and professionally. We are well set to further our mission for many years to come; and more, new leadership will bring fresh energy, envision new directions and create opportunities that we haven’t yet imagined. Exciting times for BOEC!

I will stay connected to BOEC—I am not moving out of Summit. See you on the slopes, on the trail or over a coffee at the Grace!

Best, Bruce

Patrick Tulley on Adventures Within

Posted Friday, June 9th, 2017 by boec-admin

Check out Patrick Tulley’s video of his experiences on BOEC’s Adventures Within MS courses!

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