the Power of Play
Program Director at Telluride Academy
“Working with kids is an amazing opportunity.”
THE ONLY THING THAT DISTINGUISHES LUKE BROWN from the group of kids surrounding him is that he’s at least a foot taller than they are. Despite being in charge, Brown still shares the same unbuttoned enthusiasm and volcanic energy as the students he leads, and it shows in his wide, boyish grin. “My childhood was spent traveling and adventuring around the backyard, playing hard outdoors. It wasn’t until I started working at Telluride Academy that I realized how blessed I was. I get to share my childhood with 800 kids a year.” Telluride Academy is also blessed to have Luke Brown. Brown grew up in southwest Colorado, in nearby Dolores, and his love of the outdoors was more than just part of a happy childhood—it became a profession. Brown, whose parents were outdoor educators, went on to earn a degree from Colorado State University in natural resources and recreation with a focus on environmental education. He started with the academy as a field instructor, leading programs as diverse as theater performance and trekking the Grand Canyon, but after just three seasons he was hired on year-round as the program director in 2007. “It’s a really good fit, and the Academy is good about letting me work with the groups. It’s the part of the job that I enjoy the most.” Telluride Academy programs, like the kids who participate in them, have a hard time standing still. The instructors all have 15-passenger vans and are completely mobile, says Brown, so they can spend their time exploring the region’s outdoor activities. Discovering new experiences is what the Academy does—whether it’s closer to home, in the mountains and canyon lands of the Southwest, or farther afield. Brown has taken teenagers on the spring international trips to Nicaragua, Northern India, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Chile and Turkey. He says the experience has a profound effect on the young sojourners. “It’s transformative, and you get to see that growth and progression in the way they perceive the world. It’s life-changing.” Brown says he loves seeing the power of play at work. On the first day of an introductory boating week, one of his young charges was terrified of the swim test; by the end of the session he became the most skilled paddler of the whole group. Telluride Academy is about getting kids out there, away from the computer, TV and game screens they are constantly watching and into the real world. The best thing about kids, says Brown, is how they embrace the opportunity to try new things; they are open and enthusiastic about the unknown. “As an adult, being in that environment, you can’t help but feed off that energy. Working with kids is an amazing opportunity and a mutually beneficial experience.” 800.525.3455
Telluride has plenty of fun activities to keep the kids busy. San Juan Outdoor School and Telluride Academy offer summer programs for young people such as rock climbing, biking, mountaineering, backpacking, camping and nature tours. Eco Adventures takes kids rafting, mountain biking, flyfishing and on other recreational adventures. Telluride Town Park has a skateboard park, basketball court, the Imagination Station playground, a kids’ fishing pond, tennis courts, volleyball courts, horseshoe pits and a small outdoor pool. Kids can experience the arts scene by learning how to play music at The Rock and Roll Academy, how to dance at the Palm or how to paint, draw or sculpt at the Ah Haa School for the Arts. They can work out at the climbing gym at Telluride High School or Gravity Works. The Wilkinson Public Library Youth Services Desk is the ultimate play station for families, with books, movies and games for kids of all ages. And when it’s time to call in the hired guns, let the pros take care of the kids while the parents play. Daycare and babysitting services include Annie’s Nannies, Telluride Sitters and Mountain Village Nursery.
A resource for visitors to Telluride and Mountain Village, Colorado.