Steamboat Springs’ Rocky Mountain Youth Corps has come a long way from its start as a crew of seven showing up at Diamond Peak on June 10, 1993, to repair a rundown buck-’n’-rail fence surrounding a campground.
What a difference two decades makes. Equipped with little more than “RMYC Backcountry Crew” T-shirts, hard hats borrowed from TIC, new work gloves and leather boots, and assorted fence-building and camping equipment, that first day of life as an RMYC crew member since has been repeated more than 10,000 times with the nonprofit placing more than 2,000 youths and young adults on crews to help better the outdoors and themselves. This summer, the organization celebrates its 20th anniversary serving the Steamboat community and beyond.
“We’ve definitely come a long way in 20 years,” says RMYC Executive Director Gretchen Van De Carr from the nonprofit’s new 4-acre headquarters off 13th Street. “Our crews are working on projects all over the state, and this year they’re busier than ever.”
Typical projects include trail work, signage and fencing upgrades, forestry enhancement and more. Each year, the organization also hosts the Yampa Valley Science School for sixth-grade students. Operated in cooperation with local schools since 2000, the program incorporates a five-day educational curriculum, culminating with a conservation service project. The program also engages more than 40 Routt County junior and senior high school students each year who participate as Junior Leaders, providing mentoring, teaching and supervision to the sixth-grade students.
“Most of our projects give crew members a chance to help make a difference while working in the great outdoors,” Van De Carr says. “In the process, they make new friends, learn about themselves and gain a special and intimate connection with the land. I can’t think of a better way to have spent 20 years.”