BOEC in the News

New Executive Director Hired at BOEC

Posted Thursday, February 22nd, 2018 by Bruce

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 Bruce

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 Bruce

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!

https://youtu.be/sVbDIBvP8YE

BOEC Breaks Ground on New Facility

Posted Thursday, April 27th, 2017 by boec-admin

For the past several years, Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC) has been planning and raising funds for major facility upgrades at its headquarters and program sites in Breckenridge.  Core to this plan is the creation of the BOEC Basecamp, a major remodeling and expansion of the Town of Breckenridge aging Sanitation Building on Wellington Street to meet critical functions and needs of the BOEC. These needs include the following:

Seasonal Staff Housing

The creation of seasonal field staff housing will enable BOEC to better attract and retain high quality staff, the most important element in our future success.  With the high cost of living in Summit County, seasonal field staff members struggle to make ends meet.  The standard in the outdoor programming industry is to provide low to no cost housing.  BOEC’s goal is to provide seasonal housing for 10 – 16 core staff in each season, summer and winter. This offers a major benefit to staff, making working for us more affordable and more easily attainable, and would potentially increase tenure.

Logistical Support and Warehousing in Support of BOEC Programs

Adaptive outdoor education and recreation requires an enormous amount of gear, from rafts to adaptive cycles to canoes to coolers and stoves.  Adequate warehouse storage and preparation space is extremely important to program quality and to the current and future success of BOEC.  Improvement and expansion of our support facilities at the BOEC Basecamp will position BOEC for many years to come to deliver the highest quality outdoor experiences possible.

Office Space for Administrative Support of BOEC Programs

Administrative support of our programs is critical to our success as well, requiring effective, efficient and accessible office space.  The BOEC Basecamp facility will include modern, functional workspace and IT support for our 10 – 12 administrative staff.

Office Space for other non-Profit, outdoor-oriented organizations

BOEC Basecamp will also provide office space to house 2 – 3 other outdoor-oriented non-profit organizations.  This shared space increases the collaboration and synergy between organizations with similar missions. Current organizations include Summit Huts and the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

The Town of Breckenridge Sanitation Department building, built in the early 70’s and in urgent need of renovation, is the perfect site for the BOEC Basecamp.  Not only is it located in Breckenridge and only a short distance from our Wilderness Campus and Adaptive Ski and Ride School, it has the essential infrastructure, layout and opportunities for improvements that we seek.  The Town has extended a 50-year lease to BOEC that will allow us to make the improvements that will serve us well into the future. Planned additions and improvements include the following:

  • Add a 2,400 sq. ft. third floor to the building to accommodate staff housing for our seasonal staff. Housing will feature individual rooms for 10 – 16 staff members with communal living, kitchen and bathroom facilities, much like lodging at a fire station.
  • Construct a new pitched composite roof to replace the existing deteriorating flat asphalt roof. This improvement will improve the heat efficiency of the building as well as better handle the snow load.
  • Replace entire siding, repair windows and repaint. A new façade will enhance the professional image of our business as well as neighborhood appearance. Window repair will improve our energy efficiency.
  • Replace the obsolete heating system with an energy efficient boiler.
  • Replace obsolete bi-fold garage doors with sliding track doors. New doors will enhance safety and efficiency of the warehouse space.
  • Add an elevator that will access all three floors of the building. Currently, there is no assisted access to the upper floors, not the standard we need to best serve our constituents with disabilities.
  • Add loft storage to the warehouse space. As our operations have grown so has equipment inventory.  New lofts will make better use of the high ceiling warehouse space and expand storage capacity by 60%.
  • Add new floor coverings and interior paint; remodel and upgrade bathrooms. A refreshed interior will enhance our professional image and provide employees and guests with a more attractive and usable space.
  • Landscaping and expanding/resurfacing the parking lot.

Construction begins in April 2017, with a groundbreaking ceremony on April 26th, 1 PM. The project should be completed by the spring of 2018, in time for the summer 2018 operating season.

BOEC Basecamp has been made possible due to the generous donations and in-kind support of many individuals, businesses and foundations.  A special thanks to major contributors Peter Joyce and Rockridge Building, Jon Gunson and Custom Mountain Architects, the Town of Breckenridge, Tim Casey, Scott Downen and Columbine Hills Concrete, C&C Swanson Foundation, Breckenridge Grand Vacations/BGV Gives, The Summit Foundation and J.W. Kieckhefer Foundation.  A full list of contributors can be found at the BOEC website www.boec.org.

PHOTOS FROM GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONY:

Eric Mamula, Tim Casey (Chairman, BOEC) and Tim Gagen (former Breck Town Manger)

Eric Mamula and Jon Gunson (Custom Mountain Architects)

Tim Gagen (former Breck Town Manager), Wendy Wolfe (Town Council), DJ Schappert and Peter Joyce (Rockridge Building), Tim Casey (Chairman, BOEC), John Warner (former Mayor of Breck)

Jon Gunson, Eric Mamula, Tim Gagen, Wendy Wolfe, Peter Joyce, Tim Casey, Jeffrey Bergeron, Mike Dudick, John Warner, DJ Schappert, Meg Nuttleman, Bruce Fitch

DJ Schappert and Peter Joyce (Rockridge Building)

Deb Edwards (BGVGives) and Meg Nuttleman (Summit Foundation)

Mike Dudick (Town Council and Breckenridge Grand Vacations), Tim Casey (Chairman, BOEC) and Eric Mamula (Mayor of Breck)

BOEC on the Today Show

Posted Tuesday, April 18th, 2017 by boec-admin

On Sunday, April 2, BOEC had the amazing opportunity of teaching Olympic gold medal swimmer Amy Van Dyken-Rouen to ski for the first time since her injury. Check out our very own Jeff Inouye and Lindsey Hahn as they teach Amy how to mono ski. The lesson was featured on the Today Show and highlighted Amy’s amazing will to succeed. Check out the full video.

Wounded Heroes Family Adventures brings in veterans, families for a week in the mountains

Posted Wednesday, August 10th, 2016 by Bruce

Joseph Sandlin and his family look forward to returning to Colorado, joining Wounded Heroes Family Mountain Experience for the second time. Sandlin, his fiancée Dana Pullum, and two sons will come to Breckenridge for a week as a “mentor family” with the program, helping the families who will join them next week get to know each other.

“We got to meet some friends for life,” Sandlin reminisced. “We got to share some of the issues with each individual family to let them know they’re not alone in this fight. We share the same symptoms, the same problems.”

Sandlin, a former sergeant with the U.S. Army, did two tours in Iraq with the 2-11th field artillery regiment. He was later deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 with the 101st airborne division.

That November, he was awarded a purple heart after he sustained a traumatic brain injury from a suicide bomber.

“It was the first time I really got hit outside of my vehicle. I was on my feet,” he said. “I had shrapnel in my hip. … I remember bits and pieces. I remember the flash and some other stuff.”

He was medivac’d out of Afghanistan before he was medically retired in Fort Campbell. In Tennessee, he met Dana.

“That was just meant to be — hook, line and sinker,” he said. “Dana, she’s an awesome person. She’s got an awesome personality, too; she’s just easy to talk to.”

Last summer, Sandlin said with her outgoing personality and experience working with PTSD, she brought the entire group together.

“We’ll go up there and see if she can work her magic again,” he chuckled. “I think she can.”

Dana’s magic is just one of many pieces bringing together the program, hosted three times a year by Wounded Heroes Family Adventures. Another piece, Bob and Bonnie Miller came together to create the local nonprofit in 2008, offering ski trips for veterans and their families throughout the winter.

A few years ago, the program expanded to the summer, partnering with the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center to offer rock climbing, high ropes courses, kayaking and more.

“It’s a really neat bonding experience,” said Jules Stennes, a volunteer who helps lead the summer camp. “This program is unique, in that it’s small and local even though we have families from all over the world.”

She and her husband, Patch, became involved in the program while working at Breckenridge Grand Vacations, which provides a week of lodging for the families. They have volunteered for four years since, hosting dinners with families and leading them through the great outdoors.

“There’s that outdoor activity element that we love, exposing people to new experiences,” she said.

PUTTING TOGETHER THE PIECES

Next week, the program will host a total of nine families. As it is, most are Iraq or Afghanistan veterans working through everything from knee injuries to PTSD.

“The idea is to get families more comfortable,” Stennes said. “This is way to unwind, I think, from their daily challenges.”

Last June, Wounded Heroes Family Adventures launched a new summer program with BOEC’s help. The four-day program, known as Family Mountain Adventure, hosts families at BOEC’s Griffith Lodge near the base of Peak 9. BOEC also offers scholarships for the program.

Throughout the entire year of programs, Wounded Heroes Family Adventures will also bring in counselors to lead family enrichment programs, helping educate families about communication, traumatic injuries and PTSD.

“You don’t hear too much about it in the public eye,” Sandlin said. “The more you know about something, the more you can combat it.”

Denise Hargon, a retired Army officer and board member with Wounded Heroes Family Adventures, said they interview families before and after each program to determine what worked well, and what needs to change.

“One of our main goals is to improve communication and awareness within families,” she said. “These people stay in touch. They’re friends after they leave.

It’s just a very powerful thing for them to have that support from someone else who’s going through the same thing they’re going through.”

Stennes added that while it might take time for the families to get to know each other and build trust, the end result is worth it.

“It’s heartwarming and heartbreaking to hear their stories,” she said. “It’s rewarding work. It’s exciting to see a group come together.”

Sandlin still talks to families all over the country, from Arkansas to Florida. He added that he and his family would continue to spread the word about the program to other veterans, so they might experience it, too.

“We’re just so grateful for Patch and Jules bringing this together; they’re just amazing people,” he said. “We go to places like this and make lifelong friends.”

Elise Reuter
Summit Daily News
August 4, 2016

Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center Celebrates 40th Birthday

Posted Thursday, July 28th, 2016 by Bruce

By the numbers:
$76,362 in ski scholarships extended to Ski Program participants
19,627 hours donated by 325 volunteers
9,258 program days 112 veterans served
955 students took ski/snowboard lessons
32 percent of students received scholarships
60 percent participants from Colorado
81 percent of funds go to program services
12 percent of funds go to administrative costs

The campers gingerly crawled across the spider’s web of cables, ladders and platforms woven around the lodgepole pines. The wheelchair accessible high ropes course, open last week to participants with the Brain Injury Alliance, ended with a quick zipline trip to the base of the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center’s Wilderness Campus. BOEC has worked with the Brain Injury Alliance for several years, among several other groups the center hosts each year. A wall length calendar in their office is packed with dates, each one a program for one of the hundreds of agencies they serve.

Breckenridge Nordic Center owner Gene Dayton was the mastermind behind BOEC. After moving to Summit County, he began offering adaptive Nordic ski courses for people with disabilities, partnering with Olav Pedersen, founder of the Ski for Light program, and local doctor Aris Sophocles to create the BOEC.  “That evolved two years later into BOEC’s adaptive sports program,” Executive Director Bruce Fitch said. “Gene’s vision was to create Outward Bound for the disabled.”

In 1976, the center acquired their current Wilderness Campus, the old Breckenridge town reservoir at the base of Peak 9. An old mining cabin, which used to serve as BOEC’s main operations, still rests on the wooded shore. In 1981, the center began offering a downhill ski program at Ski Cooper. Thanks to advancements in adaptive ski technology, it has little resemblance to the current program. “Back then there wasn’t any adaptive ski equipment,” Fitch said, “just a sled and rope.” Volunteers would tow people up the mountain, and let them “ski” down about 200 yards. Now, BOEC has offered adaptive ski programs to more than 900 students at the Breckenridge and Keystone Ski Resorts.

While the center began offering wilderness courses shortly after, the donation of the Scott Griffith Lodge in 1994 advanced the program by large strides. Richard and Anne Griffith donated it in memory of their son, a BOEC client who died of cancer. “A lot of our clientele needed a residential site,” Fitch said. “I think that was the trigger that got our summer program going.”

Helping Those Who Serve

Since 2008, the number of military BOEC has served has tripled, the center’s Development Director Marci Sloan said. “We’ve been able to grow with some unique opportunities,” Sloan said. “We’ve been able to do a little bit more because of funding.”

The Center hosts Wounded Heroes Family Adventures every year, with the goal of supporting both veterans and their families. “It changes lives,” Fitch said. A retired Army Sergeant Major, Robert Ahern III, wrote BOEC after going on a six day rafting trip with his family through the canyon of Lodore. “The first day on the rafts and in the river was so exciting; my family was astonished at the natural beauty of the canyons,” he said. “This trip brought my family so much closer and made me forget my anger with the war. We have built a lifetime of memories together and strengthened our family bonds over those six short days.”

To open their programs to as many as possible, BOEC subsidizes program fees by 60 percent. They also have a scholarship fund for individuals or families unable to meet program costs. “The bottom line is we’re not turning people away,” board chairman Tim Casey said. “We’re proud of that,” Fitch added. “For a lot of people we work with, the disability has wiped them out financially.”

BOEC serves a wide spectrum of disabilities, from those who have lost the ability to walk, to those suffering from PTSD, to children and adults with mental health concerns. They also work with local at risk youth, and provide programs for survivors of domestic violence.

SEEKING CAPITAL

In 2015, the center launched a capital finance campaign with four goals: creating staff housing, expanding program activities, increasing their scholarship endowment and upgrading administrative support facilities. To start, the nonprofit is seeking $1.85 million to address these needs.

“The biggest obstacle for working for BOEC is finding a place you can afford to live,” Fitch said. “We quickly identified we have to do something to help with that situation.” Seeking out local architect Jon Gunson to redesign a leaky roof at their headquarters, a former Town of Breckenridge sanitation building, he suggested that adding another floor to the building would be possible. The third floor would offer apartments for BOEC’s eight core staff, many of whom work on a seasonal basis. “We’ve had all of these wonderful affordable housing initiatives. But even those aren’t affordable for us,” Fitch said. “We want to do anything we can to attract and retain quality staff.”

In addition, the center plans to add an elevator to their headquarters, making it wheelchair accessible. They also plan to add loft storage to the warehouse space, increasing capacity by 60 percent.

BOEC has already seen several in kind donations for the project, including Rock Ridge Builders and Custom Mountain Architects offering their services in construction.

“These were two major contributions right out of the gate,” Fitch said. “The in kind support for this project has been unbelievable.” The center has also seen significant support from the town of Breckenridge and Vail Resorts. The town offered BOEC a 50 year lease for their headquarters and a 25year lease for their Wilderness Campus, both at $1 per year.

Vail Resorts donates free lift tickets for students, volunteers and staff, as well as two offices at the base of Keystone and Breckenridge, in exchange for BOEC offering their adaptive skiing services at the ski school. “We fulfill that function,” Fitch said. “BOEC would not exist without all their support.”

The Summit Foundation also donated $50,000 to the capital campaign, and Breckenridge Grand Vacations contributed an equal amount. This leaves BOEC with a remaining $250,000 to reach their fundraising goal.

“What a generous community Summit County is,” Fitch said. “People have stepped up in spades. It’s extraordinary; more than we’d ever expect.”

Elise Reuter
Summit Daily News

July 14, 2016

Breckenridge Brewery supports BOEC

Posted Monday, July 11th, 2016 by Bruce

Breckenridge BreweryBreckenridge Brewery is proud to support BOEC by donating $1 from every tour reservation fee from July through December!  The production brewery in Littleton offers public tours Thursday through Monday. The $3 tour reservation fee (of which $1 is donated) includes 5 tastings, an informative tour of Colorado’s 3rd oldest craft brewery, and memorable camaraderie!  Those not interested in tasting, or those under 21, are welcome to tour the brewery at no charge.  Reservations can be made in advance at www.breckbrew.com/about/tours.

Many thanks from the BOEC to Breckenridge Brewery!

(Please note that the tour donation program applies to tours of the Breckenridge Brewery production facility in Littleton, Colorado. The Breckenridge Brewery here in Breck on Main Street has long supported BOEC through donations to fund-raising events.)

 

Slifer Smith & Frampton Foundation Gift Match

Posted Monday, July 11th, 2016 by Bruce

live local give local

Summer Match Madness

Starting July 8 through July 31 your donations can go twice as far!

This means that Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate will match all donations, dollar for dollar, to local Summit County charities up to a total of $15,000!

To have your donation to BOEC matched, visit SSFfoundationsummit.org and GIVE starting July 8th!

About the Summer Match Madness matching program:

In keeping with the SSF Foundation’s giving philosophy, donations must be direct contributions made to the pre-approved list of nonprofit organizations, which includes the BOEC. The SSF Foundation will match up to $2,000.00 per single organization in an effort to diversify giving. 

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