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Phoenix looking for youth camp operator

Phoenix is looking for a nonprofit to take over operations at a remote youth camp located far north of the city. 

The 30-acre site on the Mogollon Rim in Coconino County is called Camp Colley, named after former Phoenix Parks and Recreation Director James A. Colley. Before ending operations last year, the Camp Colley Foundation spent 23 years providing wilderness experiences for underserved kids.

“There is a bunkhouse, there is a dining hall, there’s a remote campsite,” said Alonso Avitia, deputy director of Phoenix Parks and Recreation.

A new operator will continue summer programs for urban youth and potentially add programs to make money for the nonprofit.

“There could be equestrian activities, birding, wildlife viewing events, those types of things,” Avitia said.

Camp Colley is located about 145 miles north of Phoenix near Happy Jack, Arizona.

“The camp is off the grid. There’s a well, there’s a solar system there for lighting of course, but it's really off the grid, so it’s really enjoying the night sky if you would and really being in those tents and experiencing that with friends,” Avitia said.

Camp Colley highlights:

  • Bunk house with 12 beds
  • Bath house
  • Dining hall
  • Barn
  • Remote camp site

The next operator must conduct a minimum of five overnight camping programs per year, for youth participants currently enrolled and attending city of Phoenix Parks and Recreation community center programs and provide transportation from Phoenix. Each overnight camping program will consist of a minimum of three days/two nights.
Proposals are due by 12 p.m. on Sept. 26. The contract will be for two years with three one-year options to extend the contract, based on specification in the request for proposals.

On the camp’s website last year, the Camp Colley Foundation announced it would end operations after two summers without full camps due to the pandemic, followed by fires closing the forest, in addition to administrative changes.

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.