CAMO: Awakening The Spirit For Veterans

Accessibility Skier at Aspen Snowmass

Challenge Aspen makes an immeasurable difference in the lives of many.

Their mission is to provide access to outdoor recreational sports for those with physical and cognitive disabilities, and through this access, help them heal and find a pathway toward a more rewarding life.

But what they do is so much more than that. Each person who comes to Challenge Aspen has a unique set of circumstances that must be taken into account.
One program that uniquely demonstrates this is the Challenge Aspen Military Opportunities retreats, known as CAMO. The program offers active military personnel and veterans the chance to find healing through adaptive recreation and wellness practices. Many of those who come to these retreats suffer from traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or both. And the suffering they endure comes at a cost for their spouses as well.

Knowing this, CAMO makes it a priority to include spouses in retreats, so that those who bravely served our country can find a pathway to healing alongside their partner. The Mental Health Channel recently joined one of these retreats to tell the story of two veterans on their road to recovery.
In addition to these spousal workshops, Challenge Aspen also conducts summer retreats for female veterans who suffer from PTSD as a result of sexual trauma. Gathering and traveling to beautiful locales around the Roaring Fork Valley and the surrounding mountains, these women find healing with yoga, breathwork, music and sleep therapy, as well as fostering camaraderie with others.

Aspen Skiing Company has proudly supported and collaborated with Challenge Aspen since its founding in 1995. Few organizations could better embody what it means to "live passionately." By donating approximately $1 million per year to this program, we can help ensure a legacy of healing for our veterans — and for other individuals from all walks of life — who benefit from this outstanding program.

In Their Own Words

Aspen Highlands at Sunrise

Aspen Highlands at Sunrise

"What a blessing CAMO is! I'm grateful that this opportunity came our way and that we came out of it with great friendships. I got to witness Willmer smiling — which is rare. I saw a light in his eyes that — a day before our trip — I would have said was non-existent. This experience is truly transformative. Willmer repeated, 'I feel free' throughout the trip. As his wife, to hear that, well... It meant plenty to finally see this person who usually is so uptight and strict, be fun and free. Thank you for giving him this chance to let his real self come alive. The war in Iraq has stained his life, but for this moment while out in the mountains of Snowmass, he found freedom. THANK YOU! To all the donors who make CAMO possible, you have my infinite gratitude."

–Laura Saurez and Willmer Canas of Miami, FL

"It Allowed Us to Heal Together"

Accessibility Ski Lesson at Aspen Snowmass

Accessibility Ski Lesson at Aspen Snowmass

"The last ten years of our life, we have just been trying to survive ... This trip to Aspen was such an amazing experience for Jeff and I as a couple. I truly feel this trip allowed us to heal together and helped us feel grateful for each other again. Challenge Aspen is one of the few programs out there that invite spouses to attend ... I was definitely hesitant and stepped outside my comfort zone. Challenge Aspen allowed us to heal together more in one week than in ten years." –Anonymous Spouse

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Published April 2017

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