Snowmass tradition supports deaf camp |

Snowmass tradition supports deaf camp

Denver-based The Motet will headline the Deaf Camp Benefit on July 18 in Snowmass.
Vail Daily file |

Deaf Camp Benefit

Saturday, Base Village



1 p.m. — Doors open

2-9 p.m. — Silent auction

2 p.m. — Rich Ganson

3:15 p.m. — Tribute to John Denver

5 p.m. — Starwood

7 p.m. — The Motet

Colorado favorite The Motet will play a free show today in Snowmass Village in support of a longtime local charity.

The jam band will headline the Deaf Camp Benefit, a longstanding tradition with a new name but the same cause: supporting the Aspen Camp for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Old Snowmass.

The Aspen Camp is one of Aspen’s oldest charities, founded in 1967 and said to be the original organization supported by the Aspen Rotary Club. It offers programming for adults, children and family members of deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, including everything from ski weeks to backpacking trips to American Sign Language classes.

“Aspen Camp is the only year-round camp for the deaf in the world,” said D.J. Monahan, the camp’s interim executive director of programs. “This benefit will support our operations: Over 60 percent of our campers attend camp on scholarships.”

In its early years, the Deaf Camp Picnic, headlined by John Denver, Jimmy Buffett and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and held in the Campground area behind Snowmass ski area, was the camp’s biggest fundraiser. Then and now, one of the most remarkable aspects of the benefit was how deaf individuals experienced the concerts.

“Deaf individuals experience music in many ways — no two individuals are the same,” Monahan said. “Some such as myself don’t hear any words, so we like to be up as close to the bass and action as possible. Some others who can hear words and instruments enjoy music much like you would. Generally, all of us like to see what is happening, so you’ll often find deaf groups up near stages where they can both see musicians perform and feel vibrations.”

Aspen Camp resurrected the picnic in 2013, and organizers have found that the event is more successful at raising funds for the nonprofit when it’s donation-based. This year, all the music will be free, and donations to the camp were accepted at the Thursday night concert on Fanny Hill as well as at the benefit in Base Village today.

Today’s benefit includes four different performances, culminating in the Motet’s set at 7 p.m. Aspen Camp participants have been practicing signing two songs to perform.

“I am most looking forward to our campers performing onstage,” Monahan said. “Some of the hardest work is translating English into ASL, as ASL is not ‘signed English’ — it is a language on its own that relies heavily on 3-D visualizations. We spent a good 15 minutes (Thursday) discussing how to translate ‘heartbreaker’ from English into visual ASL sign.”

Food and drinks are available for purchase at Base Village restaurants and can be carried throughout the venue. VIP tickets, including a wristband for appetizers and non-alcoholic drinks in a private buffet area, are available for $100. VIP tickets also include a commemorative poster, raffle tickets and other items.

To purchase VIP tickets or for more information, visit

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