BookTrails camp registration opens Monday, Feb. 5 | SteamboatToday.com

BookTrails camp registration opens Monday, Feb. 5

Dylan Gormley reads a book outside of a raised platform tent at BookTrails new overnight camp location in North Routt.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Letting imaginations soar through classic novels to hands-on learning like foraging for edible plants or practicing shelter building, BookTrails offers a variety of programming for young readers.

Tying environment education and literacy together, the nonprofit hosts organized day and overnight camps, and registration for its 2018 schedule of camps opens Monday, Feb. 5.

"This will be BookTrails’ seventh summer offering Reading on Ranches Camp, and we couldn’t be more excited about the programs we are offering to children," said Executive Director Emily Krall Osterman, who founded Book Trails in December 2011.

Based outdoors, the camps range in theme from pioneering to Egyptian myths, with carefully chosen books taking children on different journeys every week. Kids might re-enact battles one session and build a solar oven the next. And the emphasis is always on the natural environment.

In the past, BookTrails offered only day camps or week-long camps with one overnight stay. The camps took place at the Fetcher Barn at Steamboat Lake and included day trips to locations throughout Routt County.

For children in first through fifth grades, Book Trails offers week-long summer day camps from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with some that include a Thursday night overnight at Fetcher Ranch near Steamboat Lake.

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Last summer, BookTrails opened the Reading Ranch to its first 32 students during four separate week-long camps for students in fifth through seventh grades. Osterman said those overnight camps will be offered again at the two-acre ranch site where students live in raised, platform tents and learn in outdoor classrooms.

At the Reading Ranch, children learn outdoor skills and facts about Colorado wildlife along with an introduction to stories, writing activities and art projects around a focused book or theme.

The Reading Ranch is a capital improvement project that will be completed over the next five years, eventually being able to host groups of 24 students and 10 adults for weeklong periods.

The site is BookTrails’ new home and in addition to the tents, the site in North Routt includes yurts, hiking trails and outdoor classrooms.

"We have broken the project into three phases, and we are currently finishing phase two," Osterman said. "Our goal is to share the Reading Ranch with other organizations, nonprofits, and community members to help further their missions and collaborations."

A few of the book themes for the 2018 season include: American Girl, Harry Potter, Magic Treehouse, Hatchet, Land of Stories, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Little House on the Prairie and many more.

One of the new offerings this summer is Camp Summits, an overnight night aimed at helping kids learn how to climb mountains and prepare for long hikes. The students will be reading a variety of stories about mountain climbers and famous excursions.

Another new camp is the Outlaws Camp, based around the Wild West and learning about the Yampa Valley’s first settlers.

A part of BookTrails’ mission is to never turn a child away from participation due to lack of funds and to encourage all children to love reading, This is achieved through a program that awards $20,000 a year in scholarship funds to local children.

Osterman said BookTrails has also created the Summer Slide Initiative, a collaborative program with Steamboat schools and Integrated Community to provide summertime literacy education to children who are learning the English language and who are behind on their reading and writing skills.

"To witness a student discover a love for reading and writing or experience the outdoors for the first time makes the hard work worth every minute," Osterman said. "Our scholarship program is one of the most rewarding pieces of our organization, as many of these children have never owned a new book or explored freely in the wilderness."

To apply, register or find more information about BookTrails camps and mission, visit mybooktrails.org.

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email adwyer@steamboattoday.com or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1.