New Rocky Mountain Village Easterseals Camp Living Quarters

At KGA, giving back to the community is one of our core values. Each year we donate design services to a local nonprofit in need. Our latest project is designing a 2,200 SF staff residence for the Rocky Mountain Village Easterseals Camp in Empire, Colorado. This camp means so much to so many people. At their recent Perfect Pairing event, where we revealed our design for the new staff house, we were touched to hear stories from parents whose kids attended camp there. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as we listened to the story of a daughter in tears because she was supposed to attend camp in the winter, but the camp was snowed in and they couldn’t make it. For her – and many others – the camp is a place she belongs. Everywhere else in her life she’s different, but not at camp. Here, she fits in. She’s just one of the kids.

About the Rocky Mountain Village Easterseals Camp

In 1951, Easterseals Colorado was gifted 220 acres of land nestled near Georgetown and Empire by the University of Colorado, and the Rocky Mountain Village was born. The donation came with the understanding that Easterseals would, at minimum, provide 30 campers with disabilities the opportunity to experience the outdoors over the course of the summer. Since then, the camp has grown by leaps and bounds, and is considered one of the premier camps of its kind not just in Colorado, but nationwide. In 2018, Rocky Mountain Village served 800 people with disabilities over 10 weeks in the summer. Throughout the year they also served an additional 400 people through various weekend respite and training programs.
The camp is fully accessible, allowing children and adults with disabilities to enjoy the camp activities they wouldn’t normally get to be a part of. Campers enjoy swimming, fishing, overnight camping, outdoor cooking, day trips, arts & crafts, sports and recreation, hiking, dances, music & drama, horse-back riding, and riding the zip-line.

The Need for New Staff Housing

The need to remodel or replace camp buildings is greater than the resources of the camp. While the camp has been focusing on replacing camper lodging and community buildings as resources allow, the staff residences remain outdated and run down. Since a handful of full-time staff live at camp year-round, this makes it difficult for them to recruit and retain new staff members.

KGA and Rocky Mountain Village

Bob Shearer, a long-time friend, colleague and dedicated Rocky Mountain Village volunteer, contacted us about designing a new staff residence for the camp. Of course, we said yes. One of our values is to give back, and this is a perfect opportunity. We get to use design to help improve lives – both for the staff who will live in the home and more importantly, the campers whose lives they will impact.

We held a design competition for our staff. Design criteria included buildability (the home will be built by volunteers using mostly donated materials), flexibility to house a family or 2 individuals, and total accessibility. On a Friday afternoon over sub sandwiches our crew created 8 different design concepts. Easterseals VP of Programs Krasimir Koev, Camp Director Tony Garcia and volunteer Bob Shearer joined us the for the afternoon to offer insight and feedback throughout the design process. The 3 of them then judged the entries, and selected the winning design.

Next Steps

KGA’s Kristen Fowler and Jerry Gloss attended the camp’s 6th annual Perfect Pairing event and fundraiser in April to unveil the design. The camp is in the process of collecting the needed donations – both funds and supplies – for the home to be built. If you’d like to get involved, contact Tony Garcia at tgarcia@eastersealscolorado.org or 303.569.2333 for more information.

Pablo Picasso said “the meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” The gift of design is powerful. It endures to touch the lives of many over the years. It can ease burdens, enhance daily living and lift spirits. We feel fortunate to be a part of this project!