By Darcy DeGuise
Winter Outdoor Learning Fund
The love of the outdoors and the many activities afforded to us in our small mountain town rank among the reasons to live in southwestern Colorado. From skiing and hunting, to rafting and mountaineering, there is no limit to the fun one can have in Pagosa Springs and the surrounding areas.
Even in these sparse winter months while we pray for snow, understanding the dangers that come with engaging in outdoor activities is paramount. WOLF, the Winter Outdoor Learning Fund’s, mission is to educate our community about such dangers while better equipping them for fun, for accidents or even a possible future in the outdoors.
Founded five years ago by Wolf Creek ski patrollers, this nonprofit organization provides scholarships for wilderness medical training and avalanche awareness courses in the hopes 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, shared, “I wished that I had more exposure to such opportunities when I was a young adult while 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, continue to provide support in making such classes and experiences more accessible to those of Archuleta, Mineral and Rio Grande counties.
Since its inception, WOLF has awarded more than 30 scholarships. Scholarships are awarded in the amount of $500, which can be used towards Level 1 Avalanche, Wilderness Medicine courses and other certifications dealing with outdoor education. Applications are available online at www.winteroutdoorlearningfund.com. The application deadline is a rolling one; however, scholarships are accepted and approved in the order they are received.
In order to maintain its scholarship fund, WOLF hosts a winter and a spring fundraiser each year. This year’s WOLF winter fundraiser will be held Thursday, Dec. 9, from 6 to 10 p.m. at Tall Pines (formerly Bogie’s). The film “Stoke the Fire” by Teton Gravity Research will begin at 7 p.m., and food and drink specials will be available, so arrive prior to showtime for a nosh and a libation. All proceeds ensure that WOLF can continue to host and create outdoor learning opportunities for our local community.