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Tour de Force, and FUN!!!: ABA’s Camp Colorado 2012

 

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 Camper Rosemary Kramer cuts up for the camera ©Jeffrey A Gordon

What's the best work you've ever done? What gave you the greatest sense of accomplishment, of having a larger purpose, of really throwing yourself into something, yet coming away feeling renewed and energized? Work that kicked your butt yet at the same time felt like play?

Everyone I know that works with young birders puts that work at the top of their list of things they've done that are truly worth the effort. They know how great the care and attention required can be and they also know how vast the rewards are. It's a wonderful thing to feel that you're present at times and places where lives are being changed for the better and that you're having a hand in fostering it all.

 

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Ptarmigan watching on Trail Ridge Road photo ©Jeffrey A Gordon

This year's ABA Camp Colorado, which ran from July 8 – 13, was a truly great piece of work. I can't say enough to adequately convey the fine job done by leaders Bill Stewart, Jennie Duberstein, and Bill Schmoker, who brought an endlessly impressive array of skills and talents to bear. 

 

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Bill Stewart does his Turkey Vulture impression ©Jeff Bouton
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Jennie Duberstein with a Cassin's Finch photo ©Bill Schmoker

 

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Bill Schmoker keeps his cool ©Jennie Duberstein

 And this year, they were joined by Jeff Bouton and Cameron Cox of Leica Sports Optics, both incredibly competent and passionate birders, naturalists, and guides. These five were simply inspiring to watch in the field, especially when you know the weeks and months of planning and decades of experience that undergirded the whole enterprise.

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Jeff Bouton represents ©Jeffrey A Gordon
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Cameron Cox (hat) Lorenzo Rohani (at scope) and Luke Hamilton (taking photo) ©Jennie Duberstein

 The only thing more impressive than this corp of leaders was the kids themselves. Eighteen young men and women so smart, funny, knowledgeable, energetic, and enthusiastic that you just had to shake your head in awe and admiration. It felt like the positive energy flowing around that group of campers and leaders could move mountains and I think it’s just possible that it did. I wish you all could have been there to experience it first hand.

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The camp crew at the floor of Phantom Canyon ©Bill Schmoker
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Alec Wyatt works on his field notebook—nice job, Alec! ©Bill Schmoker

Liz and I were lucky to accompany the group for 2 days, joining a cast of guest leaders that included Birding editor Ted Floyd and ABA board member Chuck Bell. It was wonderful to be along for the ride!

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Liz Gordon admires a siskin while Alexandra Emond looks on ©Jeffrey A Gordon

 

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Chuck Bell (r) and Dillon Cole discuss cacti in Phantom Canyon ©Jeffrey A Gordon

 

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Ted Floyd (l) waves on the way up Phantom Canyon ©Bill Schmoker

 

I hope the photos here can give you a little taste of that energy that poured forth from all these people and that you’ll feel a measure of the pride and gratitude that I did, to have played a part in something truly great. That’s appropriate, as all of you who support the ABA through your membership and donations support this work. To all of you, and especially to the leaders and the kids, I give my thanks. Strong work, everyone!

 

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A midday session on careers in birding, biology, and conservation ©Bill Schmoker

 

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Rosemary photographs Sean Burns releasing a Cassin's Finch ©Jeffrey A Gordon
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The group in Phantom Canyon ©Jeffrey A Gordon

 

A couple more cool things:

This post has mostly people photos, but it's easy to see some of the amazing birds and animals and experiences we all shared.

There's a great post on the ABA Young Birder Blog with photos from campers.

Bill Schmoker has an awesome Flickr set of photos from camp.

Jeff Bouton did a great guest post here recently on his experience at Camp. 

Cameron Cox did a cool post on Leica Birding's Facebook page about how the kids were great all-around naturalists.

Leica Sport Optics, Legacy Sponsor of ABA's Young Birder programs, provided us Jeff and Cam's leadership as well as money for scholarships. We are very grateful for their support.

Scholarship funding also came from duPont's Clear Into the Future initiative. We want to thank them as well.

The ABA's 2012 Young Birder Appeal is still in full swing. Check it out and please give what you are able to. Let's keep it going!

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