Sky High

CAMP SNAPSHOT

Aspen Grove Family Camp and Conference Center

Provo, Utah

www.alumni.byu.edu/aspengrove

Summer Sessions: 11, one-week sessions

Price: Adult fee, $426; Teenagers, $362; 9-12 year olds, $286; 5-8 year olds, $262; 3-4 year olds, $230; 0-2 year olds, $154

Sitting at 7,000 feet in the Utah Wasatch Mountains is Aspen Grove Family Camp and Conference Center, a mountaintop haven used to strengthen and rejuvenate families by serving Brigham Young University alumni and friends.

Only minutes from where Robert Redford founded the Sundance Institute and Film festival, Aspen Grove sits at the base of Mt. Timpanogos, and is one of only a handful of camps in the United States directly sponsored and supported by a major university.

The camp is actually a branch of the BYU alumni department, and staff members have always been seeking new and exciting ways to serve the college since its transformation from a summer school to a family camp in 1963.

Functionality

The facilities on this 65-acre forest setting can accommodate up to 408 guests at one time with a primary goal to offer growth and learning for each member of the family. And for cutting edge family fun there is Aeroball, the trampoline basketball game, cross-country skiing and indoor virtual golf for the vacationing businessman.

The week-long family camps that are offered in the summer provide many moments for families to bond. Other activities included are arts and crafts, a ropes course, a rappelling tower, miniature golf, racquetball, a stocked rainbow trout fishing pond, and a heated swimming pool with a view of the “Timp” peak.

And for the adventurous folks, a 15-mile round-trip hike to the peak, close to 12,000 feet elevation, is available. More novice hiking through the camp’s natural springs, waterfalls, streams and through the neighboring U.S. Forests’ trails is also very popular.

After a full day of activities, families large and small and guests are able to relax in one of the four two-story family lodges, rustic cabins or guest rooms. Each pine and fir-enveloped hilltop family lodge structure contains eight bedrooms, five bathrooms, kitchen facilities and a loft, large enough to accommodate large families or groupings of families.

Recently, many families are discovering Aspen Grove as a cherished location for family reunions.

“Now, with up to 75 percent of the attendees being family reunions, the diverse group brings many challenges,” states Mark Longhurst, manager of marketing. “We’ve had to change our programming to provide for more adults.”

Programmatically

With the influx of reunions being hosted at the camp, many changes have been implemented, such as the need to develop multiple choices for various ages of adults, including parents and grandparents.

It has been a recent programming challenge for the camp to keep new things happening each year. Where other generations may have enjoyed potato sack races and dominoes, the staff has added some fresh, creative ideas like the recent Frontier Village as a place to relax and mingle Old West style, with pellet gun competitions and remote control car races.

Located only an hour from Salt Lake City and 30 minutes from the BYU campus, Longhurst and Camp Director Glen Parker continue to seek ways to reach the locals and boost growth throughout the fall and winter seasons.

They are seeing an increase in the off-season by providing such programs as family getaways, marriage retreat weekends and the newly implemented single-parent weekends.

Family structures are changing, and programs like the single-parent weekends are filling a camping void. These directors recognize that even the camping culture must change and adapt to meet the needs of today’s families. And these parents love it. The response has been overwhelming, and the support has been abounding.

One critical component is providing the adequate childcare needed so the single parents can have some down time. “Donations from family foundations have made it possible to sponsor single-parent families to show them that they are not alone,” says Longhurst. “They are able to have a break and have their kids taken care of, even for a weekend.”

Camps like Aspen Grove are meeting the need of providing a wholesome positive bonding experience for today’s sometimes fragmented and busy families.

“Families choose Aspen Grove over a cruise or a Disney trip to come back year after year for their family vacation,” says Longhurst. “The return rate is over 90 percent.”

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