Often the journey towards what we love is filled with surprises. That certainly has been true for Tom and Taurin Dimler.
Many of you know Tom, the owner and face of “All the Range,” the outdoor gear store on Main Street in Westcliffe. He is an accomplished mountain climber and dry-wall craftsman, who began yearning to own and operate an outdoor store several years ago. The surprise was how the business called “Take A Hike” changed hands and became his own “All the Range” so easily.
Taurin may not be as well known to some of you, although she’s had a foot here in the valley for a long time. Taurin’s family bought a hunter’s cabin in Bull Domingo in 1993 as a summer home, which they remodeled over the years. When her father and mother retired, they resettled to the Wet Mountain Valley year-round until their deaths in 2015. Taurin has a lifetime of memories lived in this valley, and she treasured the possibility of living in the family home full-time. The surprise was how quickly it happened.
Enter Trails For All. About the time the Dimlers moved here full time, having lost 3 parents in one calendar year, and looking for the stability and rootedness they were now missing, Trails For All was forming. Tom joined the fledgling group as it organized, and he has been a vital part of the process of TFA’s development as a non-profit.
At the same time Taurin, an experienced teacher, started working part-time at the Custer County School. Previously she had seen countless students in the Denver and Jefferson County school system who had no experience in the out-of-doors. She wondered if there would ever be a need for outdoor education for children in the Wet Mountain Valley. The surprise was an open door to apply for a grant that would involve both Tom and Taurin’s passions together.
Enter the Childrens’ Health Fund. The Childrens’ Health Fund has provided funds for the health needs of children and youth in our valley for years. This year they yearned to increase the quality, health, and wholeness of students’ lives in new ways. Because improving quality of life is a key goal for Trails For All, TFA applied for a grant for the purpose of educating kids in outside skills, and getting them out into nature to grow in confidence in those skills. And who would develop and run such a program? No surprise here: Tom and Taurin Dimler! Trails For All was indeed given a grant for 2019, and the Dimlers have been steadily at work since late February laying a foundation for the venture.
They call it S.E.E.K.: Sangre de Cristo Environmental Education for Kids. In their planning, they envision reaching out to students in the late elementary grades and expanding to older grades in the summers to come. There hopefully will be 5 gatherings, one per week, all of them in the month of June, and all of them at All the Range. They hope to use the first and third sessions for teaching the 10 Essentials (what one should take to be prepared in the out-of-doors), Leave No Trace (how to treat nature), and Courtesy (how to interact with others on trails). The second, fourth and fifth sessions would then be spent on outings, where the students can practice what they’ve been learning, and use some of the items they will receive from S.E.E.K., like a backpack, sunscreen, whistle, compass, water bottle, and more.
The top limit for this year’s pilot project will be 10-15 students. They are asking that the kids who sign up make a commitment to attend all 5 sessions, if possible. The dream is that this may lay the foundation for the creation of an Outdoor Club at the Custer County School.
I asked them what they may need in order to make this program happen. A handful of volunteers will be needed to serve as caring adults in both inside teachings as well as the outdoor outings. Transportation to and from outings will be a key need.
Here’s how you can get more information, sign up a student, and/or volunteer your time:
Your surprise just might be getting to know this great couple, or some fantastic students, or learning something you’ve not been exposed to, or simply experiencing how fun it is to serve.
(Contributed by Paul Parsons)