Home > Article from newspaper > Deaf camp winterizing and opening to the community

Deaf camp winterizing and opening to the community

July 29, 2007

By Charles Agar

Name: Aspen Camp of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

2007 budget: $550,000

2007 expenses: $550,000

Executive director: Judith Cross

Salaries (three year-round employees and summer staff): $280,000

Mission: To enrich the lives of deaf and hard-of-hearing children through superior quality recreational and educational experiences which build self-esteem, confidence and individual capabilities.

For 40 years the Aspen Camp of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing has led children ages 8 to 18 to new horizons in the mountains near Old Snowmass.

And after canceling 2006 summer sessions for a campus overhaul, organizers hope to expand to a year-round facility open to all local groups.

Reed Harris founded the Aspen Summer Camp for the Deaf in 1967 on 17 acres along Snowmass Creek Road as a place for deaf children from around the U.S. to learn about the outdoors.

In 1972, organizers changed the camp name to the Aspen Camp School for the Deaf.

“The mission has not changed, although the manner in which the mission is executed has,” said executive director Judith Cross, adding that with programs such as a high-ropes course, the camp focuses on increasing children’s self-confidence and self-esteem.

“And fun is the vehicle by which these skills are built,” Cross said.

Currently kicking off the last of three three-week summer sessions, in 2007 more than 100 deaf and hard-of-hearing kids will learn backpacking skills, whitewater rafting, horseback riding and canoeing.

A former camp board member who has a 31-year-old daughter who is deaf, Cross took over the executive position in 2006, replacing B.J. Brubaker, who was a driving force at the camp for some 22 years.

And with the change of leadership, Cross and other members of the board decided to revisit the camp’s vision, changing the camp name to Aspen Camp of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

“First we want to do a year-round camp,” Cross said. And that means raising funds to winterize rustic camp buildings – Anderson Windows representatives recently donated 28 windows to help with three buildings, she said.

“We have had a reputation for being somewhat closed,” Cross said. “Our desire is to have this camp used.”

In 2007, programs for deaf children opened to their hearing siblings – a convenience for parents who don’t have to send their kids to separate camps – and the campus hosted separate programs for autistic children, Cross said.

With a family camp planned for October, as well as winter programs for deaf and hard-of-hearing people, Cross is also working with officials from the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies to host programs for area schoolchildren.

“We are truly as a camp almost as cosmopolitan as Aspen is as a community,” Cross said.

“We’re nurturing two of our assets, our children and our land,” Cross said, adding that the outdoor programs on the sprawling campus are the perfect synthesis of environmental stewardship and life experience for kids.


“We have people who are really loyal and wonderful to us,” Cross said.

And since the days when John Denver held an annual concert and popular picnic, the nonprofit has operated mostly on local funding, Cross said, currently matching $550,000 in annual revenues and expenses.

Camp expenses include maintenance and upgrades of some 17 buildings on campus, and salaries for three year-round staff as well as some 20 summer workers.

And Cross said the summer programs attract leagues of volunteers each year.

Tuition for summer sessions ranges from $1,200 to $1,800 depending on the camp, and there are scholarships available thanks to a $1 million endowment, Cross said.

The camp will host a barbecue and open house Aug. 4. And at $325 per ticket, supporters of the camp can attend the second annual Western Shindig Aug. 18 at the T-Lazy-7 Ranch. The fundraiser will feature live music, line dancing and a silent auction at the Maroon Bells Lodge. The two events raise more than 30 percent of the nonprofit’s annual funding, Cross said.

December 2008 will mark the 13th time camp organizers kick off the Crystal Palace dinner theater season, another major fundraiser, Cross said.

For more information, visit www.acsd.org or call (970) 923-2511.

Charles Agar’s e-mail address is cagar@aspentimes.com.


  1. leslie golden
    August 18, 2008 at 12:35 am

    i am searching for camp for winter of october of 2008 year for one week?
    in california thank you this for the Deaf

  2. August 18, 2008 at 12:38 am

    that was fast responce thank u but in october

  3. October 6, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    FYI- Our website changed to http://www.aspencamp.org. Please visit us at Aspen Camp!

  4. October 6, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    We changed our website address to http://www.aspencamp.org. Please visit Aspen Camp if you can!

  1. No trackbacks yet.
Comments are closed.