A number of years ago, a group of community members had observed some programs in our valley that let kids learn from and within our shared natural environment. At the same time, they witnessed the tremendous social and emotional development that happened in these settings. What would happen, they wondered, if we always placed kids where they were designed to learn best…the natural environment? And what would happen if we designed experiences and curricula in that environment to purposefully help kids grow their social and emotional capabilities?
As it turned out, remarkable things happened! The founders of Ute Springs Experiential Learning Center set out give every kid in Eagle County the opportunity to cultivate their own social and emotional leadership skills using the natural environment as their classroom. They found that the labels we tend to assign ourselves and one another dissolve outside the walls of academia. They found that with directed guidance in that environment, kids rise to their capabilities, rather than struggle against their personal challenges. They found that developing self confidence, learning to work in a team, and pushing personal boundaries are more fundamental to personal success than academic or athletic pursuits and create better community members.
The founders of Ute Springs were soon joined by others in the community who also witnessed the transformational nature of such simple, yet profound, experiences. For nearly four years, volunteers, board members, donors, and our student families supported the efforts of Ute Springs to give kids ages 7 to 17 in the Eagle Valley the opportunity to discover and grow their personal potential.
It is because Ute Springs has impacted so many lives, and because so many in our community embraced our work, that it is with sadness we announce that Ute Springs will soon be closing its doors. But while the organization will dissolve, we are working on ways to continue to provide kids the experiences they have come to love through Ute Springs curricula.
If you have supported Ute Springs with your time, your donations, or your participation, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Next to seeing a child light up in a moment of personal discovery, it is the great relationships formed around the work of Ute Springs that we will miss the most. Thanks to all of you who were a part of this great adventure. We are all honored to have been a part of it with you.
Ute Springs ELC board of directors