CMC precollegiate camps introduce future possibilities

Photo of students at Reach Your Peak

Outside Colorado Mountain College Carbondale, Reach Your Peak student Cristina Landeros, center, tries to remember the names of her fellow camp participants during a warm-up exercise. Local middle and high schoolers took part in a photography camp based at CMC Carbondale this past summer. Two other Reach Your Peak camps in Rifle were also held, focusing on animal science and Lego robotics.

For some students, learning opportunities at Colorado Mountain College start well before their high school graduations. As one of CMC’s precollegiate programs, Reach Your Peak Colorado summer camps help local youth discover the possibilities that higher education and career exploration can bring.

This past summer, Colorado Mountain College hosted 37 students in three, five-day camps designed to give middle and high school students a bridge to their futures. Each camp had a different focus – Lego robotics and animal science in Rifle, and photography in Carbondale – all meant to spark lifelong interests and potential careers by creating fun, summer learning experiences.

Hands-on learning

The last time Sterling Brintnall went to summer camp was when she was 6 or 7. Now she’s a Coal Ridge High School ninth grader, and this summer she attended a Reach Your Peak robotics camp.

Brintnall said she enjoyed designing and assembling robots made out of Legos. “We got to ask questions,” she said, “and our teacher (Josh Taylor) didn’t just do the work for us; he showed us the steps we needed to take to do it ourselves.”

Like a Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner, Brintnall’s robot could move on its own before hitting something in its path. “It could turn around and go a different way,” she said.

She said participating in the camp made her consider becoming a programmer, but that she thinks she’s more interested in designing robots.

Glenwood Springs middle schooler Cristina Landeros also was inspired to learn more after participating in Reach Your Peak’s photography camp at CMC Carbondale. She enjoyed it so much, said CMC youth outreach coordinator Katia Curbelo-Del Valle, Landeros “ended up taking another art class at CMC. The staff at CMC Carbondale were thrilled with that tiny student.”

Path to reaching peaks

Photo of students at Reach Your Peak

Glenwood Springs High School 10th-grader Molly Hancock, closest to camera, explains how to dissect a snake in Reach Your Peak’s animal science camp at Colorado Mountain College Rifle. Looking on are Reach Your Peak students Kara Keathley (10th-grader), Lily McCann-Klausz (ninth-grader), and Maisie Smith and Chloe Duran (seventh graders).

Reach Your Peak Colorado was founded in 2012 by El Pomar Foundation’s Northwest Regional Council and four Western Slope colleges – Colorado Mountain College, Colorado Mesa University, Colorado Northwestern Community College and Western Colorado Community College – with financial support from El Pomar. Fees for each student currently range from $70 to $125 per weeklong session, and scholarships are available.

The path for students to reach their peak is the same with all four participating colleges’ programs. After attending two summers of camp, students take college courses in high school through concurrent enrollment programs. Students can then earn Reach Your Peak scholarships to use at one of the partner colleges after they graduate from high school.

‘Confident and proud’

Molly Hancock, now a 10th-grader at Glenwood Springs High School, has seen both sides of Colorado Mountain College’s youth programs. She’s been both a participant and a student counselor at First Ascent Youth Leadership, another summer camp based at Colorado Mountain College Leadville. This past summer, Hancock took part in Reach Your Peak’s animal science camp in Rifle.

“Molly is our star participant for college prep programs offered by CMC,” said Curbelo-Del Valle. “At Rifle’s animal science camp, she was definitely a great mentor and participant.”

“Molly totally loved it,” said Tia Valas-Hancock. “As her mother, I can tell you it was wonderful to see her grow. She learned lots of new material, and the trip to the CMC vet tech center got her excited about CMC’s vet tech program at Spring Valley.”

At the end of each camp, students gathered to give each other and their parents presentations about their Reach Your Peak experiences.

“I thought all the students did outstanding on their presentations on the last day,” said Valas-Hancock. “It was easy to see how confident and proud they were of what they had learned that week.”

For more information about Reach Your Peak Colorado camps and the summer 2018 schedule, contact Colorado Mountain College Youth Outreach Coordinator Katia Curbelo-Del Valle at, 947-8357 or