Deaf camp director resigns; summer sessions canceled
Aspen Camp School for the Deaf officials canceled this year’s summer program – the institution’s peak season – and said the camp’s longtime executive director recently resigned.The camp will become a year-round operation, with a capital fund-raising campaign to fund a remodel of infrastructure, said Bob D’Alessio, president of the board of trustees.B.J. Blocker was executive director for 21 years before the board accepted her resignation. D’Alessio said she was not forced out; Blocker did not return a message.”She’s retired,” D’Alessio said. “Because B.J. was so intimately involved in all the programs, we’re going to use [this summer] to refresh the camp and move forward. We’re looking forward to a very positive, positive future.”Board member Judith Cross will be interim executive director. D’Alessio described the camp’s facilities as dated and said one goal is to modernize the buildings on its Old Snowmass campus. The program changes and addition of new activities are aimed at making the camp a “showplace for deaf children nationally,” D’Alessio said. “We really plan to do some wonderful things.” He said the board and staff hope to attract deaf and hearing-impaired adults, in addition to children, to the new, year-round camp.”We’re just trying to get more use out of it,” D’Alessio said.The camp offers a four-day ski program in winter. But it had devoted the bulk of its schedule to the summer sessions, which drew about 130 people ages 8 to 20.Participants come mainly from the Roaring Fork Valley and around the Southwest. They tackle everything from week-long backpacking trips, horseback riding and river rafting to computers, drama and communication skills. The camp offered seven-, 12- and 17-day sessions.”To the best of my knowledge, no one is going to be disappointed,” D’Alessio said. “It’s one summer out of many, and we hope to have a very exciting future.”The board of trustees will launch a search for a new director and is hoping to start the capital campaign “very soon,” D’Alessio said. The staff is excited by the new challenges, he added.The Aspen Camp School for the Deaf was founded in 1967 and is the second-oldest nonprofit in the valley. It is licensed by the state as a child-care center and residential camp, according to its website.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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