CMC and GOL! are making the mountains more accessible

Get Outdoors Leadville! participants and CMC students on family nature night.
Get Outdoors Leadville! participants and CMC students on family nature night.
CMC students helped run the GOL! station at the “SOLE” (Schools and Outdoor Learning Environments) Family Nature Night put on by Colorado Parks & Wildlife. Visitors made sun catchers and greeting cards using nature-themed magazine clippings. PC: Becca Katz

CMC Leadville and Get Outdoors Leadville work together to benefit students and the community

As the outdoor industry continues to grow, creating more jobs for Colorado Mountain College students and future outdoor professionals, it’s important to address social issues affecting the industry and local community. In Lake County, Get Outdoors Leadville! has been tackling concerns regarding outdoor access for underserved communities, enlisting the help of students and faculty from the Outdoor Recreation Leadership program at Colorado Mountain College.

Get Outdoors Leadville!’s mission is to connect youth and families to the outdoors to inspire dreams, foster stewardship, build leadership, and strengthen community. Initiatives like the GOL! Gear Library and the Rockies Rock summer day camp remove accessibility barriers and create opportunities for Lake County residents to participate in outdoor activities.

In addition to learning the technical skills necessary to succeed in the industry, the outdoor curriculum emphasizes the importance of interpersonal communication and developing leadership skills. Volunteering with local non-profit organizations, like Get Outdoors Leadville! gives students the chance to flex those skills in a constructive environment.

Strengthening Skills

CMC students helping at the GOL! Frozen Treasure Hunt & Chili Tailgate at Turquoise Lake.
CMC students helping at the GOL! Frozen Treasure Hunt & Chili Tailgate at Turquoise Lake. PC: Becca Katz

With a full calendar of events and activities, there are ample occasions for students to volunteer with GOL!: Rockies Rock summer camp, after-school programming, family events in the evening or weekends, and loads of school day activities in support of the Lake County School District.

“We have students with goals of working in the outdoor industry,” says Cooper Malozzi, professor of Outdoor Education and Dean of the School of Tourism, Hospitality, & Recreation at Colorado Mountain College, “Many are seeing the value of these volunteer efforts as a way to connect, give back, and gain experience with local partners…all of which adds to their foundation of professional skills.”

Outdoor students volunteer at GOL! events, like the Frozen Treasure Hunt/ Chili Tailgate and Family Nature Night. These events are a win/win for both organizations. Students gain relevant experience working with a local outdoor non-profit, and GOL! has access to a population of enthusiastic volunteers.

“GOL! has loved support from CMC students,” says Becca Katz, Community Learning director of Get Outdoors Leadville! and the Lake County School District. “They bring energy to the events and they help reduce the workload considerably. With just one staff person from GOL! and several CMC students and community volunteers, we are able to run successful events.”

Connecting with the Community

For many students, volunteering is an incredible opportunity to practice professional skills while building a well-rounded resume. Students are exposed to new activities and age groups, while gaining leadership skills and co-supervisory experience. They work with a local partner and grow their professional network, while making a connection to the Leadville community.

“It has been great to watch CMC students interacting with Lake County community members and giving back to their college town,” says Katz. “We look forward to more collaboration of this sort, especially opportunities where CMC students are honing relevant, job-transferable skills and building their resumes while supporting GOL!.”

Outdoor gear and equipment are available for rent at the GOL! Community Gear Library.
Outdoor gear and equipment are available for rent at the GOL! Community Gear Library.

‘Public Lands are for Everyone’

After surveying residents and conducting research within different community populations, Get Outdoors Leadville! identified specific barriers preventing locals from recreating outside. In addition to common issues like transportation and time off, obstacles like having access to equipment and information about outdoor opportunities became apparent. Thus, the idea for a public gear library was born.

Colorado Mountain College Leadville has stepped up to provide land on campus for Get Outdoors Leadville! to build a community gear library and hub. Plans for the future home of the community gear library are in the works. In the meantime, residents can access outdoor clothing and equipment from the existing GOL! Gear Library, currently located at 107 Spruce Street.

“We want everyone in our community to understand that public lands are for everyone,” says Mary Palumbo, Hub tech at Get Outdoors Leadville!, “In addition to recreation equipment, the GOL! Gear Library is a hub for folks to gather and access information—in English and Spanish—about the outdoors.”

GOL! Gear Library

There is a wide variety of outdoor equipment and clothing available for borrowing at the Gear Library: winter jackets, base layers, hiking boots, backpacks, tents and sleeping bags, camping cook sets, snowshoes, Nordic skis, mountain bikes and more.

“The idea is that someone can walk in and be outfitted for a range of outdoor pursuits, even if they have little to no experience recreating outside,” says Palumbo.

Lake County residents can sign up for an annual Gear Library membership, which allows folks to drop in and borrow anything from winter jackets to Nordic skis. An individual membership is a minimum donation of $30/year and a household membership is a minimum donation of $50/year. Memberships are open to anyone who lives or works in Lake County, for all or part of the year.

The future GOL! Gear Library will be built adjacent to CMC’s Climax Molybdenum Leadership Center, which also happens to be the home of the Outdoor Studies program and gear room. Both Colorado Mountain College and Get Outdoors Leadville! anticipate ample opportunities for future collaboration that will benefit CMC students and the Leadville community.

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