With bittersweet emotions and full hearts, we are sharing with the Colorado Outward Bound School (COBS) community that we will be selling COBS’s historic Marble Base Camp to a wonderful and trusted community partner, Aspen Valley Land Trust.
Founded in 1962, the historic Marble Base Camp is the home of the first Outward Bound school in the United States. This 40-acre property, beloved for its abundant aspen groves and rustic charm, is tucked between the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness and the town of Marble, Colorado. The base camp is widely known as one of the original homes of expeditionary learning in the United States.
Marble served as COBS’s primary base camp until the 1970s when COBS acquired our Leadville Mountain Center. Although the Marble Base Camp has not always operated at full capacity over the years, it has remained operational for most of its 60-year history and has served as the home base for thousands of students and hundreds of Outward Bound staff. In 2014, a collection of COBS’s donors, supporters, and former staff banded together to re-purchase the base camp from Outward Bound USA to keep this special property in the COBS family.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic halted all Outward Bound programming and reduced our financial capacity for the maintenance and restoration of our base camps. As we have worked to recover from the financial impacts of the pandemic and rebuild our programming to pre-COVID levels, the Marble Base Camp has remained closed.
After extensive review, we have concluded that the base camp has been underutilized for most of the past decade and that the volume of programs we have supported there in recent years does not justify the cost of operation and maintenance. This reality led the COBS Board of Directors and leadership team to develop a vision for the Marble Base Camp that preserves its legacy and promotes financial stability for COBS.
After months of strategic development and planning, we are thrilled to have identified the Aspen Valley Land Trust (AVLT) as the next steward of the Marble Base Camp.
AVLT is a nonprofit local to the Roaring Fork Valley that has been preserving land in Colorado for over 55 years. They will continue to operate the Marble Base Camp as a place for outdoor education and adventure, serving local school districts and youth-serving organizations. Moreover, COBS will have the opportunity to lease back the base camp from AVLT to support several Outward Bound expeditions each year, and AVLT has committed to preserving Marble’s rich history as the first Outward Bound base camp in the United States.
This win-win scenario would not have been possible without a great deal of effort from the COBS Board, staff, donors, and the Colorado outdoor education community. Thank you to everyone who has helped to make this partnership and the future of the Marble Base Camp possible.
Knowing that Marble is in excellent hands, we look forward to supporting the ways AVLT will continue Marble’s legacy as a home for discovery and adventure in the outdoors. Moreover, we are thrilled that through the work of multiple program partners, many more students in the Roaring Fork Valley will have the opportunity to experience programming at the Marble Base Camp.
If you have fond memories from the Marble Base Camp, we invite you to share your stories, testimonials, and pictures with the rest of the COBS community. You can submit your stories in the comments below.
Additionally, we are working with AVLT to plan a celebration of Marble’s history and this exciting new chapter. Please reach out to Kelsey at [email protected] if you are interested in joining us for this celebration.