May 7-12, 2023

A successful Job Skills Training Camp was run with a total of 27 students from four Schools for the Deaf: Idaho Educational Services for the Deaf and Blind (IESDB): 7 students, New Mexico School for the Deaf and Blind (NMSD) 6 students, Rocky Mountain Deaf School (RMDS) 11 students and Utah School for the Deaf and Blind (USDB) 3 students.A fabulous team of eleven teachers supported these students and stepped into the role of facilitators/safety managers and sometimes interpreters. Ten volunteers worked directly with students on seven different projects throughout the week: Clint Woosley in the kitchen with 4 student culinarians with Chef David Anderson making an appearance from the Pine Creek Cookhouse, Victor Garcia on mechanics, Paul Duba building a culvert and the new ADA ramp for future Deafplus participants to have access down to Snowmass Creek, Brian DeBenedetti and Luke WIlliams on demolition and the woodworking rebuild of the Artist Cabin deck, Antonio Perez teaching drywall for the Bear’s Den, and professional painters Luis Enrique Sanchez and Chiapo- Antonio Carbajal leading the paint job of the Lion’s Lair. In addition, Mary Flynn from the US Forest Service came out to talk about trees and students put patches on a few trees to prevent beetle infestation, moved brush and had a first lesson about fire mitigation and climate change. Four interpreters: two hearing, two CDIs, moved around amongst the projects all week to facilitate communication that ensured a safe week. Zeph’s safety talk was reviewed multiple times with helmets, work gloves, eye protection, face masks, and appropriate tools provided

While all projects require some follow-up, students left with a sense of accomplishment and teamwork. One evening workshop focused on the practice of personal presentation for a job, an actual mock interview, personal advocacy especially as relates to Deaf individuals requesting communication access in any job situation, identifying their strengths and making a plan for a future step towards getting a job. Students had opportunities to take on leadership roles. Social interaction for them with peers from other schools added to the power of this ”camp” experience: making new friends and learning with, from and about one another.

Several donations came to the Camp in support of this program: Aspen Rotary, the Town of Snowmass Village, the Foundation for the Advancement of Vocational Education (FAVE), Aspen Rent-All, the Aspen Eagles, the Roaring Fork Leadership Cohort and Miguel Herrerez.

Our pilot program in May 2022 with 18 students for 4 days expanded to this year’s 27 students for 5 days. Super rewarding and successful in so many dimensions. Thanks to all who participated!

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