Outdoor Lab is a Jefferson County rite of passage. For over 60 years, the program has provided week-long residential camp experiences in the mountains for approximately 5,000 Jeffco sixth-graders each year. Outdoor Lab is impactful because it carefully integrates proven youth development models, including experiential education, life-skills training, outdoor recreation, and mentorship.
Founded in 1957, the Outdoor Lab curriculum and program format work in tandem to help students realize their leadership potential and uncover personal, interpersonal, and social skills. Though each group experience is unique, we ensure consistency and alignment with our objectives of teaching environmental science, physics, and astronomy while imparting civic-mindedness, self-esteem, self-efficacy, empathy, and personal responsibility.
We increase students' understanding of how natural spaces are connected to their lives back home and can serve as a resource for greater personal wellbeing, learning, and happiness. Our camps provide a safe and supportive environment for youth to develop teamwork, an increased sense of self, an understanding of their place in the world, a passion for lifelong learning, and a commitment to environmental stewardship.
The Outdoor Lab Foundation was founded in 2003. Our mission is to inspire community support for, and advocate on behalf of, Jeffco Schools Outdoor Lab Program. The Foundation was created by two former Principals of Outdoor Lab sites who wanted to create an avenue to provide small grants to the project sites for capital improvements and special initiatives. Over time, and as the fund grew, the Foundation began working more closely with the Outdoor Lab sites to set strategic programming priorities and to discuss alternative funding models that would facilitate sustainability for the program. We currently prioritize four Strategic Initiatives – the Tuition Assistance Program, the Intern Program, the High School Leader Program, and the Site Support Program.