Beyond winter: NSCD makes a name for itself in summer, too |

Beyond winter: NSCD makes a name for itself in summer, too

Volunteers with the National Sports Center for the Disabled, headquartered in Winter Park, take a young boy on a horseback ride as part of therapeutic horse-riding.
File/Sky-Hi News
About the NSCD The National Sports Center for the Disabled is one of the largest therapeutic recreation agencies in the world, based in Winter Park. They offer a variety of year-round sports and recreational adventures for participants with physical, cognitive and behavioral disabilities, helping them realize the depth of their abilities while improving overall health and well being. Participants improve endurance, coordination and competitive skills, as well as build self-esteem and confidence. They become empowered.

The National Sports Center for the Disabled has gained international acclaim in its near 50-year existence as one of the world’s premier outdoor therapeutic recreation and adaptive sports agencies.

The center, headquartered in Winter Park, was founded and rose to prominence as an innovator of adaptive skiing, working on the cutting edge of adaptive equipment and serving as a feeder for Paralympic national teams in alpine and Nordic skiing, as well as Biathlon. But over the last 20 years, the organization has taken on a new identity as a year-round therapeutic recreation paragon, serving the needs of over 3,000 children and adults with disabilities every year.

“It really started with a desire from the people who were in our ski programs, whether they were individuals or groups, that wanted to do more,” said Diane Eustace, operations and communications director for the NSCD. “Like all avid skiers, what do you do when the snow melts?

“We put out surveys at the end of every ski season and see if we’re matching the needs of what our participants want to do. And our participants don’t want to stop. They want to keep having fun and adventuring all year round.”

The NSCD offers a number of summer programs in both Grand County and the Denver metro area. The most popular include camps, water sports and riding.

The first camp of the summer is the Summer Woods Camp, from June 11 to 14, and again on July 23 to 26 in Winter Park. The camp is for adults with developmental disabilities, and is meant to promote independence and camaraderie through activities like rafting, hiking and camping.

The Therapeutic Horseback Riding Camp runs from July 5 to 7, Aug. 7 to 10 and Aug. 29 to 31. Located at the riding center in Granby, guests will learn to lead, groom, tack and ride a horse during the day, and cookout by the campfire at night.

New this year is the Veterans Camp, running from Aug. 13 to 16 in Winter Park. The camp is free to any veteran with a disability, and may include white water rafting, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, fishing and more.

“We did a winter camp and the veterans that attended really loved it,” said Eustace. “We’d love to reach a few more people and get them involved in some activities they may not have tried before.”

The Women’s Weekend Camp will return this year from Aug. 20 to 23 in Winter Park. The camp is meant for women ages 18 and over with physical disabilities, and will include day activities like rafting, rock climbing, and biking. Evenings will revolve around dinner and more social activities guided by an all female staff.

There are also a number of different camps for kids, teens and adults in the Denver metro area.

Aside from camps, the NSCD also provides independent activities in Grand County like camping, paddle sports, river rafting, canoeing, kayaking, sailing, horseback riding and Winter Park Resort activities like the alpine slide, human maze and rock wall.

The NSCD’s facilities in Denver focus more on weekly and team building activities including a year-round adaptive airgun league, archery, indoor climbing, and The Course, the NSCD’s custom obstacle course.

“We really have an opportunity to go year-round in Denver,” said Eustace. “We just move indoors and outdoors with the seasons. We’re trying to make it more seamless for people looking into the NSCD, and to really let people know we’re open year-round and there’s always activities going.”

Also of note are the NSCD’s ability clinics. Each year the NSCD partners with professional sports teams around Colorado to put on free, interactive sports clinics for individuals ages five and older with any type of disability.

The clinics with the Denver Nuggets, Broncos and Outlaws have already passed, but there’s a Colorado Rapids Clinic coming up on June 26 and a Colorado Rockies clinic on July 23. There’s also a golf clinic at Sanctuary Golf Course on July 25, and a Glendale Rugby Clinic on Aug. 8.

“We usually get lucky and have a couple players come out and do drills with the kids,” said Eustace. “And the kids love it when the mascots like Miles and Dinger come. Our hope is not just that these kids have fun and seeing the players, but also get them used to trying something physical.

“A lot of these kids and their families are on a limited income. So with it being a no cost activity, we want to make sure these kids know there’s more out there that they can do. And maybe if we encourage them we can even give scholarships so they can come ski at Winter Park, or rock climb at Clear Creek.”

So whatever it is you might be interested in trying this summer, whether it’s rock climbing or kayaking, archery or horseback riding, the NSCD has got you covered.

“We just want people to get out there, be active and have fun,” said Eustace. “And we’ll make it happen for you.”

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