Participants and staff members of the new Book Trails camp in Steamboat Springs take a break for a photo shoot during camp this week at the Kurtz Ranch.

Courtesy/Terry Leonard

Participants and staff members of the new Book Trails camp in Steamboat Springs take a break for a photo shoot during camp this week at the Kurtz Ranch.

Sue Leonard: A refreshing take on summer camp

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Sue Leonard

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Visit Book Trails' website at www.steamboatbooktrails.org.

— Sports and adventure camps offered in Steamboat are many and varied, but this summer, there’s a new option for local students in Steamboat Book Trails, a camp that focuses on literacy and the environment.

On Wednesday, I visited the Kurtz Ranch out in the Elk River Valley to observe the campers and talk with Emily Krall, founder and director of Book Trails, and her staff.

When I arrived, a “The Hunger Games”-themed camp was in session. The New York Times best-seller and now feature film was popular among students this year. According to Krall, a few of the students had read the book written by Suzanne Collins “six or seven times over.”

At camp, the students were paired up and engaged in an activity designed to tap into their creativity, artistic talents, critical thinking and writing skills.

Charged with creating a piece of propaganda for an item they felt would be essential to survival, each two-person team used its persuasive sales skills to describe why its product was necessary and should win the prize.

Proposed creations of the campers included One Sip Hydration, an energy drink with long-lasting power; and an Invisa cooker, which uses the reflection of the sun’s power and aluminum foil to cook food.

One team designed a camouflage raincoat and another a Suit of Safe, which included boots designed for climbing trees.

It was the camo raincoat that ultimately won because of its diversity of usefulness collecting water, providing concealment for hunting and as a lean-to type of shelter to protect from the elements.

Clearly, these middle-school-age students were enjoying the activity and their camp counselors. The staff and interns all share a love of the outdoors and have a background in environmental science or writing.

Next week will be the final of six one-week day camps offered in Book Trails’ inaugural year.

Each week’s program is centered on a different book and explores its outdoor themes while local ranches and historical sites in Steamboat and Routt County play host to the campers.

In a community where sports camps take top priority for many families, it was refreshing to see a different slant on a kid’s outdoor camp that combines reading, creativity and learning about the environment.

Steamboat Springs resident Sue Leonard is the president of Cornerstone Fulfillment Service LLC, which specializes in e-commerce and e-marketing for independent publishers. Read her blog at www.allthingsfulfilling.com. Leonard may be reached at 970-870-1518.

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