Spring cleaning on the Book Trails’ Reading Ranch | SteamboatToday.com

Spring cleaning on the Book Trails’ Reading Ranch

Dylan Gormley reads a book outside of a raised platform tent at the Reading Ranch last summer. The staff at Booktrails is hoping to find volunteers, who should bring work gloves and a smile, to help spruce up the camp Sunday during its annual Work Day.

Before BookTrails founder Emily Osterman and her staff can cultivate young minds this summer, she knows that the Reading Ranch north of Steamboat Springs must undergo a little spring cleaning.

"This weekend, on Sunday, we will be holding our second annual camp cleanup day," Osterman said. "This needs to happen if the site is going to be ready for campers on time."

The Reading on Ranches Camp is BookTrails' premiere summer camp, offering a number of programs aimed at fostering both a love of literature and the outdoors, according to the group's website.

The nonprofit organization has spent the past two summers building the Reading Ranch, which includes three raised-platform sleeping tents, an outdoor classroom and a fire ring on the site.

BookTrails offers week-long summer day camps for first- through fifth-grade students, which run from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The group also hosts five week-long camping excursions for older students. Those outings included five days and four nights on the Reading Ranch, which is located about a mile from the Fetcher Ranch near Steamboat Lake.

Those programs are limited to fifth- through ninth-graders, with campers spending their days and nights reading, writing and experiencing the words of the authors in a new and mind-opening way. All the camps have a theme inspired by a book, or book series, and lessons blend the outdoor experience with experiences described in the books the campers are reading.

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But before the programs can begin, Osterman is looking for a little help to remove brush and timber from the site and spruce up the area after the long winter.

Last year, 25 to 30 volunteers helped with the clean-up on the two-acre parcel before the campers arrived.

"If we can get similar numbers, that we be great, but I want to get as many as we can," she said. "The more we have, the quicker and easier the work will be."

This year's cleanup day will take place from 12:30 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

BookTrail's summer season will open with the American Girl Camp, which is slated for June 12 to 15. That day camp will be held at the Fetcher Ranch near Steamboat Lake. Other day camps include the Harry Potter Camp, Hatchet Camp, Little House Camp, Magic Treehouse Camp, Camp Splash and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Most of the spots for the day camps are filled, but anyone interested can visit mybooktrails.org to get more information on the camps or find out how to get on a wait list.

Osterman said there are still spots available in many of the overnight camps. Those include two Ultimate Survival Camps (The second one in August is full) based on "My Side of the Mountain." There is also a Camp Mystery, "Land of Stories," and camp "Ranger's Apprentice." The camps will be held through four weeks, with the "Land of Stories Camp" and "Ranger's Apprentice" taking place at the same time.

The Fetcher Barn is located 30 miles north of Steamboat Springs. Volunteers should head north on Routt County Road 129 past Clark, Seedhouse road and Hahn's Peak Village. The barn is located just off Routt County Road 62, which is north of Steamboat Lake.

Osterman said adults and children are invited to the cleanup day and that it is a great opportunity to meet other families and see the new Reading Ranch. For more information, volunteers can call 855-426-6857 or email admin@steamboatbooktrails.org. Refreshments and snacks will be provided.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966