Paul Newman camp eyed in Eagle Co. | AspenTimes.com

Paul Newman camp eyed in Eagle Co.

Connie Steiert
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

DOTSERO, Colo. ” An 85-acre parcel of ranch land along the Colorado River might one day turn into a summer camp for children with serious illnesses.

Eagle County is now processing an application for the ‘OK Corral’ camp, located eight miles north of Dotsero, which would become one of a number of such camps created by actor Paul Newman.

A group of local citizens and businessmen and women have formed a board to create the camp along the Colorado River. The process is in the very early stages. If approved, the camp could open in 2010 to offer children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses a safe environment for a Rocky Mountain camp experience.

“It’s just about giving them that vision, and the knowledge that they can do this, and being around other kids who are going through this,” said Ruth Johnson, executive director for the camp.

The camp could serve 60 or more children at any one time, ages 7-17, suffering from everything from cancer to hemophilia to sickle-cell anemia and epilepsy. Eight, one-week summer sessions would be offered, along with other weekend programming year-round.

Anne Milmoe, in charge of marketing and programming development of OK Corral Camps, said there are more than 35,000 seriously ill children in the Mountain West, and less than 15 percent have the opportunity to attend camp. “There’s a tremendous need,” she said.

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The camp would be affiliated with the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps, first started by Newman in 1988. Since that time, the camps have served more than 100,000 seriously ill children. There are five full-member camps in the U.S. ” four on the East Coast and one in California ” which is one of the reasons the O.K. Corral Camp board looked at opening one in Colorado. The O.K. Corral, if approved, would be the first Hole in the Wall camp in the Rocky Mountain region.

One of the main tenants of Hole in the Wall Camps is that it must be offered free of charge to children and their families, and relies heavily on donations and grants.

The 85-acre parcel along the Colorado River was purchased on the behalf of the camp by a board member and a friend of the camp. The applicant is Shipley Craghead LLC.

Currently, the property is zoned as resource, which would not allow the camp use. The applicants are seeking a zone change to planned unit development, which must be approved through a public hearing process by the Eagle County Planning Commission; then by the Eagle County Commissioners.

Reportedly, the land will be donated to the camp, if the commissioners approve the project.

The camp hopes to break ground in the third quarter of 2008.

Johnson said neighbors are open to the idea, explaining, “They are awesome and have been incredible.”

The OK Corral Camp board was founded in July 2006 by Lake Creek resident Alison Knapp, who is also chairman of the board.

“Our goal is to give as many of these under-served children the opportunity to attend summer camp as possible,” she said.

Board members include architect Jim Morter and interior designer Beth Slifer, who have reportedly agreed to offer their firms’ services at a discount, with their own time donated. The camp would also be affiliated with Vail Valley Medical Center.

In addition, Children’s Hospital in Denver is a founding medical partner of the camp.

“We’re truly honored to be affiliated with Children’s Hospital,” states Johnson. “They have been incredibly supportive.” One of the reasons the Colorado River site was chosen was its relatively low elevation, at 6,300 feet, as well as its close proximity to both I-70 and the Eagle County Regional Airport.

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