Outdoor Recreation for All in the Rocky Mountains
When thinking of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, a variety of visuals may come to mind. Perhaps the most common image is a winter scene with miles and miles of snow covered peaks. People are bundled in warm clothing, walking and skiing in the snow or ice skating on frozen ponds. Colorado is in fact one of the most health-conscious states in the country with recreational activities everywhere you turn. Vacation plans for trips to Colorado usually involve such activities; individuals with disabilities are often just as likely hoping to experience recreation and adventure programming on their trip to this western state.
The Adaptive Sports Center started in 1987 when a group of volunteers saw a need in the Crested Butte Colorado community for a program for individuals with disabilities. With input from former President and First lady Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter, the Crested Butte Physically Challenged Ski Program (CBPCSP) began. The first several years were focused on providing ski lessons. As the popularity of the program grew, so did the number of interested individuals with a disability who wanted to try not only alpine skiing but also snowboarding, back country skiing, snow shoeing, ice climbing, snowmobiling and dog sledding.
In 1999, summer programs were added and the CBPCSP changed its name to the Adaptive Sports Center (ASC) to reflect the additional seasonal program offerings. Summer activities take advantage of the mountain environment and include mountain biking, on- and off-road hand cycling, rock climbing, challenge courses, hiking, horseback riding and various boating activities. Adaptive sports camps are also offered.
Year round, the ASC’s goal is to provide positive outdoor experiences for people with disabilities and their families. This means ASC uses the latest therapeutic recreation practices and state-of-the-art equipment. They also employ highly trained and educated staff who ensure each participant will have a personalized and unique experience that will provide life lessons that last long after they leave the mountains. While the breathtaking location is bound to make anyone feel healthier, the attention given to each participant by the trained staff is one of ASC’s trademarks for providing a memorable experience. The credentials often held by staff include Wilderness First Responder, Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS), Professional Ski Instructor of America and American Association of Snow Board Instructors (PSIA/AASI) and professional certifications specific to outdoor summer programming.
Despite a four-hour drive to the nearest metro area, ACS continues to attract individuals, families and groups from around the world to their pristine location. Reasonable rates and scholarships make their programs accessible to all who wish to attend. Recreational fundraising events such as the 7 hours of the Banana, Bridges of the Butte and the Crested Butte Open are fun offerings for anyone to attend and help raise money. Local businesses, town residents and visitors also support ASC with donation opportunities earmarked for specific funds or scholarships and “wish list” items.
After 25 years of providing outstanding adaptive recreational opportunities and programs, ASC is still pursuing standards that set them apart from other adapted recreational programs. One of their latest pursuits, through a unique partnership with the Brigham Young University (BYU) Department of Recreation Management, has been to evaluate the benefits of ASC’s programs after participants have left the mountains. A recently completed (not yet published) study shows that 94.7 percent of individuals rated their experience at ASC as having a positive or very positive influence on their overall health, and 100 percent felt the experience had a positive influence on their quality of life. Both organizations have benefitted tremendously from the partnership: ASC is able to refine and improve its programs, while BYU is able to utilize a leading program provider and its users to create publishable research and expand the knowledge base regarding adaptive recreational programming. Based on the benefits both organizations have already received from the collaborative partnership, they plan to continue working together to further examine the outcomes of the programs offered. Such a partnership is a shining example of the positive outcomes than can be achieve when non-profit organizations and research institutions enter into a partnership that maximizes the best of what both have to offer, leading to beneficial results that can further define the field.
ASC is also focused on continued improvement and updates for its facilities and equipment. Over the past five years, capital campaigns have been focused on updating and renovating the physical facility, making it a “green village” with universally designed facilities for participant housing, administrative offices, meeting and conferences rooms, equipment outfitting facilities and intern housing.
When planning a vacation to Colorado, the recreational possibilities for individuals with physical disabilities are now endless. Reach out to the ASC at:
Adaptive Sports Center
10 Crested Butte Way
Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado 81225