Aspen High School students spend spring break giving back |

Aspen High School students spend spring break giving back

Jill Beathard
The Aspen Times
Henry Henley applies a second coat of paint inside an Aspen Camp of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing cabin Wednesday.
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times |

If you go...

What: Aspen Camp Open House

When: 6 p.m. Friday (today)

Where: Aspen Camp of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, 4862 Snowmass Creek Road, Old Snowmass

While some of their peers are off lying on a beach, three Aspen High School students are spending their spring break giving back.

Freshmen Ashlyn Dunn, Henry Henley and Sabrina Zanier have spent this week helping remodel two cabins on the campus of the Aspen Camp of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. They dismantled and moved out furniture, patched up holes in the wall and gave the rooms a brand-new paint job, all while staying on site and participating in nightly activities with the team there.

One of those activities is taking American Sign Language classes every day. By Thursday, they had all learned how to spell their names and have broken the language barrier with some of the deaf members of the Aspen Camp team.

“Just knowing a little, we feel like we can really talk to them now,” Dunn said.

And they’re working continuously on a presentation about their project and what they’ve accomplished this week, which they will give at an open house Friday for the camp’s board; members of the Aspen Rotary club, which covered the costs of the materials; the Aspen Elks Lodge, also a sponsor; and the public.

The paint job is really just the start of the work on the cabins, which will have all new fixtures and carpet before Aspen Camp’s summer programs get started.

“This really kickstarts our long-term vision for updating our facilities,” development director Annie Henderson said. While the more major projects are still a few years out, the Aspen Camp has to start looking for resources and raising capital now, she said.

Aspen Camp’s 50th anniversary is in 2017, and programs are as full as ever, Henderson said. The camp has always drawn deaf children and adults from all over the country, but now its reach is even going global, with some international participants signed up for programs this summer.

While that’s something to celebrate, more demand means more pressure on the camp’s facilities.

“We need our facilities to be top-notch,” Henderson said.

But a little goes a long way. The cabins getting the renovation haven’t had a remodel since they were first built.

When asked why they decided to help out at the camp, the students said this was exactly the spring break they were looking for. Zanier said she hopes to keep studying sign language.

“We wanted to give back to the community and do something that will be here in the future,” Henley said.