Thank you for changing lives in 2019

2019 Annual Report

In 2019, we celebrated 57 years of running courses. Students navigated the rivers of the Southwest and backpacked in the La Sal Mountains in Utah. In Colorado, our students tackled mountain environments across the state through backpacking, rock climbing, and mountaineering courses. Some adventurous students went the extra mile (and days too) and attended COBS semester courses.  

Thank you to our amazing supporters, families, board, staff, and students for being part of the magic!  

Scholarships and gear 

2,100 student program days for our 330 scholarship students from 26 partner schools and organizations. It truly takes a community to ensure that all students, regardless of ability to pay, can access COBS courses. Short courses or long expeditions, these students rocked! 

Our donors rocked too! Thank you to the 61 donors who made new gear possible for our scholarship students – 20 pairs of hiking pants, 15 sets of base layers, 15 pairs of river shoes, 12 rain jackets, 22 pairs of rain pants, and 20 puffy jackets. 

 photo by Danny Holman

Board of advocates  

We were thrilled to launch our new board of advocates in 2019. Thanks to this committed group of eight for helping us connect better in the Colorado community, fundraise to support our students, and think creatively about new opportunities for the organization.  This crew also meets students where they are at – on field visits! Their enthusiasm and energy for COBS is amazing.  

Corporate spotlight 

Thanks to Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck for its sponsorship of the Black Tie and Tennis Shoes gala and its ongoing probono legal support. The team at Brownstein is always ready to answer the call for COBS and we so appreciate it! Going back to 2012, Brownstein has been a key corporate partner of COBS.  Thanks to the many attorneys and employees who support us!         


A special thanks to DaVita for its support of our Black Tie and Tennis Shoes Gala and our ASCEND full scholarship program. DaVita shows up as a strong community advocate and fully support our students, knowing that when we dig deep as individuals, we are better leaders and teammates to those around us. We appreciate the volunteers from DaVita who came on a course visit with us in June! Your support means the world!  

Semester courses  

40 students completed our COBS semesters this year. Some attended the 81 day on the Rockies to Ecuador Leadership semester, other attended the 55 day Southwest Backpacking and Rock Climbing Outdoor Educator course, and others attended the Southwest Leadership semester

Congrats to all of these students for digging deep and completing 2,900 days in the field together!  

Exploring Ecuador's paramo on the Rockies to Ecuador semester. photo by Lauren Hebert

10 – 11 year old courses 

Adventure calls for those of all ages. Our newest COBS students this year attended our intro to backpacking courses for 10 and 11 year olds, who spent their time at the Leadville Mountain Center. They explored, learned about our alpine ecosystem, cooked together, camped together, and had their own discoveries. We know that some of these students will be in the field again for a backpacking experience on our 12 – 13 year old courses this summer! 


Fellowship for People of Color 

It's not always easy to get into the outdoors. Traditionally, the outdoor industry has been less than welcoming for people of color, with opportunities for access being reserved primarily for white, privileged individuals. COBS launched the Fellowship Program for People of Color in 2019 as a way to encourage the next generation of outdoor educators to find a home at COBS and in the industry. Five amazing Fellows joined the program this summer, serving as instructors and interns, working side by side with our students. Thanks to these five for leading by example, challenging us to do better, and being such inspirations for our students and our team!   

Terence, teaching the next generation

Trainings and improving our practice 

COBS staff work hard to stay up to speed and in tune with student needs. In 2019, we offered four Mental Health First Aid trainings for COBS staff, from Denver to Leadville to Moab, building capacity and skills for our talented educators. We are so grateful to the amazing funders who made this possible!  

Black Tie and Tennis Shoes  

 COBS hosted five amazing story tellers at the Black Tie and Tennis Shoes on October 24 at Mile High Station.  Thank you April, Emiliano, Sara, Nicky, and MattE for sharing about courage, determination, focus, and confidence at the Black Tie. 

Story telling – thank you to our field staffers Bri & Terence for moderating! 

Mingling. photo by F4D

Some lessons from the field

Colorado Gives Day  

Thanks to our amazing community of generous supporters for making 2019 a Colorado Gives Day to remember! With 121 donors, we raised over $46,000 in support of our students and our mission – our best year yet! A huge thank you to FirstBank and Community First Foundation for all you do for Colorado nonprofits – COBS received an additional $1,000 prize thanks to their generosity.  



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