Executive Director Emily Krall founded BookTrails in December 2011 with the goal of starting a reading-based summer program. Many of her life experiences provided the impetus for her vision and action. These include her family’s business of an independent bookstore, her own positive experiences at summer camp, her degree in environmental science, and her involvement as a teacher at the Thorne Nature Experience in Boulder, CO.
When Krall moved back to Steamboat, she spoke with many parents who expressed their desire for more summer opportunities that would provide their children with an educational experience. Krall responded to this need by launching Reading on Ranches Camp. Both strong and struggling readers thrived in this summer camp environment. The gifted readers enjoyed the opportunity to read more and participate in creative reading activities, and the struggling readers improved their skills through the exposure to multi-sensory learning and positive role models. BookTrails’ Reading on Ranches Summer Camp went so well after the inaugural summer that parents asked for programming to continue into the school year.
Krall then planned and implemented the BookTrails School Year Program. Many parents asked for scholarship funding to be able to send their children to BookTrails programs. Krall recognized the need to develop the BookTrails Scholarship Program, a fiscally sponsored 501(c)(3) non-profit organization of Colorado Student Care. This Scholarship Program became a reality in April of 2013.
The program continued to grow, eventually to serving over 120 children in the Summer of 2014. As BookTrails grew and continued to integrate more programs, it became clear that the organization would thrive best as a full non-profit entity. An informal board of advisors transformed into a formal Board of Directors and in January of 2015, BookTrails earned their own 501(c)(3) status and continued to fundraise towards larger goals to serve an increase of students.