BookTrails adds overnight camp on historic North Routt ranch |

BookTrails adds overnight camp on historic North Routt ranch

Teresa Ristow

Dylan Gormley reads a book outside of a raised platform tent at the Reading Ranch last summer. The staff at Booktrails is hoping to find volunteers, who should bring work gloves and a smile, to help spruce up the camp Sunday during its annual Work Day.

— Students who already love reading and those who need a little encouragement will benefit from a new overnight reading camp on a historic homestead offered by Steamboat Springs nonprofit BookTrails.

The organization spent the last two summers sprucing up a two-acre parcel adjacent to Steamboat Lake and on the Fetcher Ranch in North Routt, adding three raised platform sleeping tents, an outdoor classroom, a fire ring and other improvements.

The overnight camps will allow students to dive further into BookTrails programs, which turn ideas and themes from books into activities between chapters.

Students might read the book “Hatchet” by Gary Paulsen and take breaks from reading to practice shelter building, foraging for edible plants or basic first aid, said Book Trails founder Emily Osterman.

"Kids might read the chapter on when he encounters a bear, and then, we talk about animal encounters and animal tracks," she said. "There's always a direct link to what they're reading."

In the past, BookTrails offered only day camps, or week-long camps with one overnight stay. The camps took place at the Fetcher Barn at Steamboat Lake and included day trips to locations throughout Routt County.

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The new location gives the organization a home for week-long overnight camps.

Staff and volunteers spent two years developing the property.

Rocky Mountain Youth Corps helped by volunteering to knock down several beetle kill pine trees, and funding for the project was provided through grants from the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, Kettering Family Foundation and Peyback Foundation.

"The new site is a pristine, amazing old growth forest with a creek running through it," Osterman said.

Property owner Jay Fetcher said the site was used decades ago by a Boy Scout troop and more recently by Emerald Mountain School for campouts, and his family was happy to now provide the land to BookTrails.

"It's so important to get kids outside and to enjoy reading, and Emily hit on something that could do both," Fetcher said.

Fetcher said the site is the foundation of the original homestead of Ed Burnett, a bachelor who lived in a two-bedroom log cabin for many years until his death in 1939.

Fetcher's daughter Molly Lotz said the family likes that BookTrails students are exposed to agriculture at the site. The Fetchers have supported the organization since it began.

"It's such an impactful and powerful community organization that touches a lot of youth," Lotz said.

Part of the organization's philosophy is to never turn away a child because of an inability to pay, meaning many scholarships are awarded to students each year.

There are four all-overnight camps scheduled for this summer, and they are open to students who have completed fifth through ninth grades. Additional camps with one overnight or day-only camps will also be offered.

Visit for more information or to register.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow