Outward Bound Denver makes its new home at underutilized Camp Rollandet in NW Denver

Seven acres of underutilized, wilderness-like city land in northwest Denver is experiencing a rebirth. The former Camp Rollandet, which was once owned by the Camp Fire Girls before being purchased by Denver Parks and Recreation in 2005, is now home to Outward Bound Denver. Camp Rollandet will serve as the organization's home base for its urban programming.

Outward Bound has a long history in Colorado. The 49-year-old outdoor leadership program's first site was in Marble, Colorado, and for decades, it's had an outpost in Leadville that serves as the headquarters for mountain expeditions that can stretch as long as three months.

In 2008, Outward Bound added a site in Denver, one of ten cities with an urban program catering to youth and adults who wouldn't otherwise have access to wilderness experiences. Denver's programs are shorter, ranging from one to ten days. Some take place in city parks, while others venture out into nearby state parks for hiking and backpacking. Still others focus on rock climbing or ropes courses.

Before signing a lease agreement with the city for Camp Rollandet, which is located near 51st Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard, Outward Bound Denver was based out of a succession of small office spaces. Having access to a building on seven acres will afford it new opportunities, says executive director Connie Rule. "We were looking for a new home as we were expanding -- really looking for a physical location to use as a hub," Rule says. Outward Bound Denver plans to use Camp Rollandet as a starting and ending point for its programs, she says -- something it wasn't able to do before.

"It's uniquely located," Rule adds. "It's in the city, yet it's a natural environment."

Parks and Rec spokeswoman Angela Casias describes the deal as a win-win. Though the city had been using it as a headquarters for its natural resources division, the space wasn't being utilized to its full capacity. "The community has been wanting to see that space activated a little more," Casias says. "We decided it'd be a great idea to have Outward Bound there to create more of a presence in the area."

That's not to say that the deal wasn't without its detractors. City council minutes show that at least one council member received a complaint that the city hadn't issued an RFP for Camp Rollandet. According to the minutes, however, that wasn't necessary.

Outward Bound Denver will be hosting an open house at its new facility, 5161 Sheridan Boulevard, on Tuesday, November 15 from 4 to 7 p.m. For more about its programming for youth and adults, visit the Outward Bound Denver website.

More from our News archives: "Parks and Rec fee increases postponed (again) due to computer upgrade delay."

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar