Winter Outdoor Learning Fund to hold fundraiser for scholarships

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By Darcy DeGuise
Special to The SUN

Living in Pagosa Springs, especially during the winter months, lends itself to a multitude of outdoor activities. From cross-country and backcountry skiing to snowmobiling and hunting, there is no limit to the fun one can have in the snow.

While we enjoy the winter and all its offerings, are we truly aware of the dangers on the mountainside? The mission of WOLF, the Winter Outdoor Learning Fund, is to educate teens and young adults about such dangers while better equipping them for fun or even a possible future in the outdoors.

Founded two years ago by Wolf Creek ski patrollers, this nonprofit organization provides scholarships for wilderness medical training and avalanche awareness courses in the hope of helping to promote safe practices in the backcountry, as well as grooming young people for possible employment opportunities in the future.

Eric Deitemeyer, treasurer and a founding member of the organization, said, “I wished that I had more exposure to such opportunities when I was a young adult, trying to decide what I wanted to do for a career.”

An accomplished river guide and head of the Wolf Creek Ski Patrol, Deitemeyer and the rest of the WOLF board intend to provide support in making such classes and experiences more accessible to the youth of Archuleta, Mineral and Rio Grande counties.

Since its inception, WOLF has awarded five scholarships, four avalanche and one medical training. Two of its recent recipients, Liam Doctor, a junior at Pagosa Springs High School, and Wyatt Logan, a sophomore, attended a Level 1 avalanche course on Dec. 27, 28 and 29.

Logan, an avid snowmobiler, said he “wanted to take the course in order to be more aware of my surroundings (in the backcountry) and to be safer.”

In order to continue offering scholarships, WOLF will be holding a fundraiser on Thursday, Jan. 19, from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Res Hill Grill. There will be a raffle and a cash bar with beer provided from local breweries.

All proceeds will ensure that WOLF can grow its message while continuing to give back to young people in our community.