“What’s Camp Colley?” is a question I often get when people ask me where I work. Even after nearly 15 years as a City of Phoenix facility, the camp is still unknown to many; even fewer know the Camp Colley Foundation, which fundraises for the camp. These next few years, that will all change.
Camp Colley is a secluded adventure camp nestled in the inspiring Ponderosa Pines on Arizona’s Mogollon Rim. The camp introduces under-privileged youth to the fun and education of outdoor recreation. The camp, which is owned by the City of Phoenix and operated by the Arizona Parks and Recreation Fellowship, is one of Arizona’s most effective interventions for at-risk, inner-city youth and people with life challenges. An all-volunteer Board of Directors and a Director of Operations manage the Camp Colley Foundation that fundraises for the camp.
I have been fortunate enough to work on both sides of the coin, for the foundation and the camp, and I will openly admit that before this past year I hardly knew anything about the camp. But now, less than a year later I have been privileged with seeing the beauty of this facility and the positive impact it can have on people’s lives. Whether it was teaching kids who have never been out of the Phoenix area how to skip rocks on a lake, or seeing a child’s eyes light up when you tell them we were going to roast s’mores around a camp fire under the stars. Every group was special in their own way.
This summer as a whole was particularly special in terms of changing things up. Now that the camp is operated through the Arizona Parks and Recreation Fellowship, the camp was able to take on new challenges as far as number of campers and number of camps held throughout the summer. This year Camp Colley more than doubled it’s old record of campers with more than 800 campers coming through the gates. And it’s expected that over the course of the next few years, there will be additions to the facility so Camp Colley will be able to function year round giving kids the chance to come up and experience snow in the winter as well.
Camp Colley truly is a gem and with all of the growth the camp has experienced and the lengths the foundation is going to, to advertise this beautiful place, I have a feeling that I won’t have to answer the question, “What’s Camp Colley?” for very much longer.