The Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center hosted its annual Cleft Camp this week, partnering with Children’s Hospital Colorado Springs for the first time.
The three-day camp that ended Friday provides the hospital’s 10- to 18-year-old cleft clinic patients with the chance to take part in the center’s outdoors programming, including hiking, kayaking, canoeing and rock climbing.
Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center executive director Sonya Norris — who was instrumental in building the camp during her time working for the Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation — said the program is pivotal to expanding the potential of campers as well as providing them with an empowering opportunity through meaningful outdoor experiences.
The program is paid for through Outdoor Education Center scholarships and fundraisers.
“They spend the time all together sharing experiences and talking about their struggles and successes,” Norris said. “And they feel the benefit of doing these outdoor activities and how confident and comfortable they can be in this environment. The outdoors experience builds their confidence and helps them to deal with the difficulties they are facing.
“With whatever kind of challenge they are facing, it shows them they can take on any kind of challenge and shows them that they can accomplish anything,” Norris said. “It puts them in a position of achieving challenges on ropes courses, the climbing wall, hiking — all with other kids. They are talking about that in a sharing circle, the successes they have, and that they have the power within themselves to grow in their own lives.”