Aspen Valley Land Trust buying inactive Marble Base Camp from Colorado Outward Bound
“This is an incredible opportunity to protect this region’s history, wildlife, and future of outdoor education and relationship to conservation,” said the land trust’s Executive Director Suzanne Stephens. “We are grateful to everyone involved to date and to our community for supporting big, visionary projects like the acquisition of this campus.”
The Marble Base Camp has been owned and operated by Colorado Outward Bound School since 1962 as a site for youth outdoor education and leadership programs and has historical significance as the first Outward Bound base camp in the United States.
In the 1970s, Outward Bound acquired its primary Colorado base camp in Leadville. Colorado Outward Bound continued to operate the Marble Base Camp through 2019 but had to stop programming in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The organization decided that the best course of action would be to sell the asset to a local, mission-driven buyer who will continue to utilize the facility for outdoor education, including continued support for the organization’s own expeditionary programs.
“Our dream for Marble was to honor the history of this special property as the first Outward Bound Base Camp in the United States and preserve its legacy as a site for outdoor education and exploration,” said Colorado Outward Bounds’ Executive Director Lauren Schmidt. “We are thrilled to be entrusting the Marble Base Camp to AVLT, who shares our commitment to outdoor education and preservation and will help make this dream a reality.”
The land trust purchased the neighboring property, Chapin Wright Marble Basecamp, in 2016 with community support and has since expanded programming to schools and non-profits in the Roaring Fork, Colorado River, and North Fork valleys.
Purchasing the Marble Base Camp will expand program capacity by providing a more accessible space that includes cabins and dining facilities, land trust officials said. They said the land trust will continue and grow the outdoor-education model established at Chapin Wright Marble Base Camp with a focus on serving children who have not historically had access to outdoor education experiences.
The partnership aims to protect the regional and national legacy of the Marble Base Camp as one of the original homes of the expeditionary learning movement in the United States.
To save this historic campus, Aspen Valley Land Trust is working with several funding and programming partners and launching a public campaign, officials said. To learn more and donate, visit avlt.org/save-outdoor-ed. For more information on how to support Colorado Outward Bound programs, visit cobs.org.