Early child care in Aspen will have international flavor through Ajax Cubs | AspenTimes.com

Early child care in Aspen will have international flavor through Ajax Cubs

Aspen’s child-care crisis is becoming a little less so with Ajax Cubs taking over four classrooms in the Yellow Brick Building.

Ajax Cubs was founded by the Ajax Adventure Camp leadership — Danny Hundert, Liz Beckwith and Oliver Umpleby. Ajax Adventure Camp is a summer camp for kids ages 5-15. When it was founded in 2010, leadership had always envisioned starting a child-care center for infants through age 5, the founders said.

“It just so happened the opportunity in the Yellow Brick presented itself at a time where we felt that we could provide an amazing service to the community and really fulfill the mission that we have of providing fantastic child-care services to the Aspen community and the Valley’s youth,” said Danny Hundert, one of the founders of Ajax Cubs.

Ajax Cubs will operate four classrooms in the Yellow Brick Building. There will be two preschool classrooms for ages 3-5, a classroom for toddlers ages 18-36 months, and an infant room for 2-18 month olds.

One thing that makes Ajax Cubs unique is their internationally-minded curriculum. Ajax Cubs partnered with Ivy Camps, another educational camp Hundert helped found. Ivy Camps originated as an international education holiday camp program and is helping Ajax Cubs to develop curriculum for their preschool classes.

“Internationally minded curriculum is also going to apply to helping children understand that there’s a lot of cultures out in the world and so we’re going to be incorporating a lot more activities revolving around other cultures that you might not see in the Aspen area,” said Beckwith.

In addition to their internationally focused curriculum, Ajax Cubs will incorporate nature and community learning into their curriculum as well.

“We have a lot of experience running a camp with play-based learning, so that’ll be right up our alley,” Beckwith said. “We want to take advantage of the community of Aspen, so we’re going to try and partner with as many kind of organizations around and get kids out and experiencing what the Aspen community has to offer.”

Hundert described the curriculum as “combining the best of both worlds” because they are developing curriculum specifically for Aspen while incorporating international standards.

Another benefit of the international curriculum is what Hundert called the “modernized pen pals.” Students are able to work on projects and connect with kids around the world.

“In a world that is becoming, in my opinion, increasingly more dangerous, and again, in my opinion due to intolerance and people not understanding others, if we can help young people understand that humans are humans, people are people and no matter what your background, your religion, your your education is, if we can expose kids at a young age to others, I do think we can make the world a safer place and that is really how you can change the world and and make a big difference,” said Hundert.

Umpleby added that they are not reinventing the wheel, but they have a great opportunity to put their own spin on early childhood education and provide international and play based learning to the Aspen community.

International curriculum also helps with teacher retention. By bringing in Ivy Camps, there is another entity to provide resources and training for teachers, which the founders hope will help them to retain teachers.

Ajax Cubs was founded by the leadership of Ajax Adventure Camp, a summer camp based out of Aspen.
Ajax Cubs/Courtesy photo

“This is really helpful to keep our teachers at at the top,” Hundert said.

Ajax Cubs is hoping to start services sometimes in January, however it is dependent on how quickly they can hire and train staff.

“We have a small team that is growing as we speak,” said Umpleby. “Liz is working with the government regulators to make sure we’re checking all those boxes. We’re getting furniture and equipment moved into the rooms. There’s all sorts of things we are working on simultaneously.”

So far, it has been smooth sailing for the Ajax Cubs team. From Kids First, to the county, to the city, Umpleby said it’s been great working with everyone so far.

“We can’t ask for a better community and a better array of resources to provide quality childcare programming in this valley,” said Hundert.

To find out more about Ajax Cubs or fill out an interest form, visit ajaxcubs.com.


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