As kids go back to school, the city’s EXPAND participants have some great stories to tell about the fun they had this summer at Camp Amico and adaptive water-skiing at Boulder Reservoir.

EXPAND is the city’s nationally recognized therapeutic recreation program, which ensures community members of all abilities can enjoy parks and recreation services. Serving community members with disabilities is a core value of Boulder Parks and Recreation and one that is prioritized time and time again by the city’s community members.

Camp Amico was a six-week summer camp experience with water sports, arts and crafts, and the thrill of a summer outdoors. Youth and teens ages 12 -18 years old with developmental disabilities had a therapeutic summer camp experience to work on social skills, be active, and have fun.

Part of the fun included a nature walk led by Natural Lands Program Coordinator Joy Master, which was supported by a special grant opportunity from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO). The grant program helped communities respond to one-time immediate needs that emerged in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This nature walk exemplified one of GOCO’s program values: youth connections to the outdoors.

“As a part of the camp, they explored plants and wildlife at Coot Lake and learned ways to bring art and nature together during an educational hike,” said Master. “We started out talking about the color wheel and different colors you can find in nature. Then we did ‘nature bingo,’ finding items and talking about them as we went.”

In addition, the camp included peer mentors (teens without disabilities) to make the camp an inclusive experience and for campers to build connections to other youth within their schools and the community.

Another fun experience for EXPAND adult participants was the six-week "EXPAND Beyond: Skiing is Believing" adaptive water-skiing program. The program helped participants learn to water ski at Boulder Reservoir and was run by city Parks and Recreation employees, volunteers, and staff from EXPAND Beyond.

“Water-skiing was an amazing experience for the community members and we’re so happy to offer it,” said Recreation Supervisor Lori Goldman. “We really appreciate all the staff and volunteers who helped with boat and sea doo driving, setting up the skiers, supervising the dock and equipment, and more. We couldn’t have held the program without them!”

Learn about future EXPAND programming including pickleball, bingo and more at bouldercolorado.gov/services/EXPAND.