Dolores River Boating Advocates has expanded its youth programs to include a summer river camp this year.
The expanded outdoor activities are in partnership with the Cortez Recreation Center, Montezuma Inspire Coalition, Great Outdoors Colorado, the LOR Foundation and Trout Unlimited, among others.
Dolores River Boating Advocates also hold annual field trips, classroom instruction, rafting trips and paddling clinics that target Montezuma and Dolores county youths and families.
In June, 14 middle school students, including children from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, attended the inaugural river camp, which was led by educators and guides. There was no cost for participants.
Students camped together on the West Fork River, learned ecology and river safety, went fishing and swimming, learned outdoor skills, cooked meals and rafted the San Miguel River.
“The kids loved it. For a lot of them, it was their first time camping and rafting,” said Alana Bond, DRBA program outreach director. “They were nervous at first and did not know each other. By the campfire on the last night the had all become great friends and did not want it to end.”
DRBA youth programs have been expanded to accommodate demand.
So far this year, 348 youths have taken part in activities, up from 268 participants in 2021 and 125 kids in 2020, Bond said.
“Our programs aim to connect youth to the outdoors while providing education, fun experiences and a deeper connection to the Dolores River,” she said.
This year, class and field trips about the Dolores River involved nearly 200 students in grades kindergarten to eighth grade. Students went on rafting trips, toured the river valley below McPhee Dam, paddled local lakes and hiked river and McPhee overlook trails.
Providing free or low-cost rafting trips also is a priority.
This year, more than 100 kids floated local rivers on guided trips, Bond said. River trips were arranged and guided for the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe’s Bushwacker summer youth program, the School Community Youth Collaborative and for several local middle schools.
To further connect youths with river recreation, DRBA has access to kayaks and paddleboards from the School Community Youth Collaborative Gear Lending Library.
Applications for next year’s river camp will be posted on the DRBA website in spring. If you are interested in DRBA’s youth programs, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out a video of the first DRBA summer youth camp at https://vimeo.com/721201264