The visibility beneath the waters of Aurora Reservoir is between 5 and 12 feet in front of your face. The murkiness is less frustrating than it is suspenseful—you don't know exactly when the twin engines of an airplane will appear, allowing you to trace the rest of the sunken craft and greet its finned inhabitants. The remote, shadowy world of the downed plane is just one of many rendered accessible to students of Rocky Mountain Diving Center, where instructors can train their protégés up from first-time divers to certified teachers through a combination of classroom, pool, and outdoor sessions.
The center's educational programs include swimming and snorkeling classes in addition to open-water-diving-certification courses. These lessons enable graduated pupils to delve into several local lakes. The curriculum also covers specialty training on topics such as deep diving, night diving, and underwater photography—a career passion of the school's owner, Mark. With equipment for sale and rental as well as a dedicated service team, the center prepares its students for safe and comfortable excursions. Its tropical retreats afford rare opportunities to explore the reefs off of Fiji or swim alongside whale sharks or shark whales—extremely intimidating belugas.
Shannon Long's path to the American dream went in the opposite direction than that of most people. While many work in retail to support their dreams of becoming artists, Shannon molded clay over steel substructures, sculpting half-scale abstract figurative art while dreaming about starting a fly-fishing business. As a boy growing up in popular Lake Havasu, he frequented a small Western-themed shop where the owner was always chatting with customers who shared his fascination with the independent spirit of the American West. In a turn of serendipity, Shannon got married and happily followed his wife to her native Colorado. Sometime after, he opened the fly-fishing shop he had always dreamed of, and found himself becoming the shopkeeper chatting with and educating customers in their shared interests.
Today, Shannon oversees a guide service manned by a staff of veteran fly-fishing experts. On full-day and half-day fly-fishing trips, guides lead anglers for the grand slam: rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, brown trout, and brook trout all caught in a single trip. The Rocky Mountain landscapes surround fishermen in dramatic scenery, including towering pine trees, giant red rocks, and bright-blue skies as the sounds of colliding bighorn sheep occasionally ring out over the water. In addition to guided trips, the staff also leads classes, including courses designed for women and families, that cater to both beginner and advanced anglers.
Reach Out and Read Colorado’s medical partners meet with parents and children at their regular doctors’ visits, starting at the 6-month checkup and continuing through age 5. The organization distributes developmentally appropriate books to more than 82,000 children each year, and its partners discuss with parents the importance of reading aloud to children at an early age. By encouraging reading in young children, Reach Out and Read Colorado aims to increase their vocabularies and strengthen their language skills to prepare them to begin kindergarten.
Fifty horses roam the prairies and Rocky Mountain foothills of Chatfield Stables, and dedicated trainers call to each of them by name, having known many of them since they were lanky and awkward foals. Trainers organize an extensive schedule of programs and activities to ensure that all these horses receive healthy amounts of play and exercise. Programs include horse camps for riders as young as seven years old, with activities such as grooming, saddling, and riding. The training team also leads riding and horsemanship lessons, along with leisurely trail rides through miles of forest trails, which follow the Platte River where riders can attempt to test their newfound abilities on river-dwelling seahorses.
Focused on community-building and self-expression, Working With Artists bestows dedicated, skilled photographic instruction upon fledgling shutterbugs during digital-photography workshops, instilling pertinent picture-taking knowledge alongside burgeoning technological prowess. Classes of 50 or fewer students learn the ins and outs of their digital portrait boxes, learning how to zoom with aplomb and adjust settings to create flattering outdoor photos or achieve a spooky flashlight-held-under-the-chin effect. Tote along your own camera for in-depth tutorials on camera function while developing practical skills and increasing creativity during the six-hour session, taking a quick break to eat a snack or build a tripod out of snack wrappers.
Art from Ashes (AfA) promotes artistic expression among youth in the care of human services and homeless shelters as well as those dealing with abuse and poverty. Working with local organizations, AfA sponsors poetry and theater workshops for youth aged 8–24, prompting them to tap into their imaginations and create art that reflects their inner strength and the issues they have overcome. The organization’s Phoenix Rising poetry-and-spoken-word program uses words to encourage inner development and help young people connect with their communities, and its Casting Shadows theater-and-play program helps youth express their feelings in a healthy way through dramatic performance. These programs are designed to provide ongoing tools for artistic expression and engage youth in the social sphere, encouraging them to facilitate change in their communities.