Sertoma Grant Opens New Doors at Aspen Deaf Camp
June 17, 2016
Ah, the sweet essence and experience of summer camp. It is place where freedom and adventure intertwine, new relationships grow and comfort zones dissolve.
For those attending Aspen Camp in Snowmass, Colorado, it is a special opportunity for both Deaf* children and Deaf* adults to explore new realms, relationships and the outdoors.
Aspen Camp originated in 1967, and is currently the only Deaf* camp in the United States that provides year round programs to Deaf* youths, adults, families and hearing allies.
Aspen Camp focuses on the acceptance of Deafhood, and the ways in which people can embrace their individuality in a unified environment. The word “Deaf*” is used to represent all of those who identify as Deaf*, hard of hearing, or DeafBlind.
Approximately 72% of campers who attend camp each year require scholarships, which are provided through generous donations from individuals, or grants from organizations.
Katie Murch, the marketing and strategic director at Aspen Camp, and a previous camp attendant, said that despite the enormous hurdle, she is immensely proud to say that Aspen has never denied a child access to camp due to economic reasons.
“We rely on grants like Sertoma’s to fulfill our mission,” Murch said. “The money helps provide campers with the opportunity to explore their own identity through social interaction, art, theatre, wilderness expeditions and opportunities for leadership.”
During camp, explorers are given chances to participate in a wide variety of activities including: yoga, arts, crafts, white water rafting, paddle boarding, low ropes, and much more. Each day is different, but the fundamentals of “fun” and “growth” are instilled and practiced within each activity.
Murch mentioned that her experiences at camp have personally touched and influenced her life in an infinite amount of remarkable ways.
“I always say that there are two things in my life that has greatly shaped me into who I am today: My mother, and Aspen Camp,” Murch said.
“I solidified my identity as a Deaf* person and began to celebrate the beauty that comes with being Deaf* at Aspen Camp,” Murch added. “I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Diversity is celebrated and embraced at the camp, and campers come from all over the world to experience it. One young girl in particular named Amrin, from India, is incredibly excited to attend camp for the first time this year.
Amrin was rescued from the Red Light District in India. She will be attending Deaf* boarding camp next year, and mentioned that she is afraid to be away from her friends and family. However, by attending camp at Aspen this year, she is looking forward to making new friends within the Deaf* community, and becoming more independent.
Sessions have already started this year at Aspen, and are continuing to fill up quickly according to Murch.
“Not only do we see tremendous growth in the campers that come to camp. We receive countless numbers of heart touching stories from our alumni about how this place has impacted them,” Murch concluded.
“It’s great to see the magic of this place continuing into the next generation and the one after that. Of course, it’s all made possible with the support of community, including Sertoma’s.”