Give! 2020: Catamount Institute

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COLORADO SPRINGS — Catamount Institute is a non-profit in Colorado Springs dedicated to connecting kids to the outdoors. Giving kids positive experiences outside, learning, playing, and enjoying what Colorado has to offer. 

Students from all kinds of backgrounds share an interest in science and nature, but not all students get the same opportunities to learn them. The Catamount Institute hopes to change that.

“Catamount Institute really is dedicated to connecting all kids no matter what their social or economic status or background is to the outdoors,” Executive Director of the Catamount Institute Chris Aaby said.

They use outdoor educational experiences to make it happen.

“We have summer camps in the summer where we have normal outdoor summer camp adventures but really tie in science education, and we also work really closely with local schools offering field trips after school clubs, and we also teach during the school day at some local schools,” Aaby added.

Catamount Institute is located in Sondermann Park, a 100-acre city park northwest of Downtown Colorado Springs.       

Kristina Knight has been sending her son Charlie Bednarski to Catamount for years for summer camps, outdoor school, and an overnight trip, which had Charlie feeling brave.

“That was the first time I’ve ever been away from my parents or ever doing the overnight so I was a little nervous,” Bednarski said. “I did it but I was scared and now I feel that I have more bravery inside of me instead of what I had before.” 

With follow-up communication and some pictures of her son in action, it proved to Knight that the experience was a meaningful one. 

“I’m gonna get totally emotional; Charlie’s like don’t do that, but anyway so looking through these pictures I see a picture of a boy sitting with his back against the tree,” Knight explained.

Proof that Catamount counselors made the connection they were hoping for.

“I asked him if he could be anywhere to study or to learn or to read or to be by himself, where would it be? He said I would want to have my back up against a tree out in nature,” Knight said. 

The Catamount Institute hopes to see about 8,000 children a year through all of their programs. Unfortunately, this year their numbers are down.

“In 2020 we’ve only been able to do a fraction of those, possibly only 2,300 students this year,” Aaby said.

You can help connect this camp to kids in our community so they can learn how best to care for it.

“We need your help in funding so we can get more school children out in 2021,” added Aaby.    

>> Click here to learn more about Indy Give! and the Catamount Institute.

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