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Kellen Sams committed his life to further outdoor and experiential education for all regardless of their abilities. Born in Madison, WI, in 1982, Kellen spent many summers at Kabeyun Camp in New Hampshire being mentored as a guide and then guiding campers in his first passion: rock climbing.
While attending Green Mountain College in Poultney, VT, his involvement in Green Mountain Adventure Program (GreenMAP) provided his first opportunity to lead trips. Those experiences helped him focus his education and he graduated in 2006 with a self-designed major in Outdoor Experiential Education.
His adventures included work experiences with Outward Bound, a summer chasing rattlesnakes and black bears off the Appalachian Trail, and honing his gentle teaching skills at the adaptive ski program at Crested Butte Resort in Colorado. Kellen was proud to have completed New Hampshire’s “Presi Traverse” in a day.
Kellen’s final position was at Fort Carson Army Base in Colorado Springs. He was thrilled to provide hours of challenges and fun through outdoor recreation and education to military personnel and their families.
Through all these experiences and his desire to strive for the best in his personal and professional life, Kellen demonstrated his competence as an outdoor educator and his dedication as a friend.
Kellen Sams was a great outdoor spirit, teacher and avid adventurer. But most importantly, he was a compassionate friend to all he met. Tragically, despite preparedness, the highest safety measures, and years of training and experience, Kellen lost his life in an avalanche in February of 2010 while backcountry skiing the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.
In honor of Kellen’s commitment to outdoor experiential education of the highest quality, the Kellen Sams Memorial Leadership Award was established at Green Mountain College in 2014 and then transferred to Vermont Adaptive in 2019. The purpose of the award is to further Kellen’s legacy by providing recognition for those Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports staff, volunteers and interns who show the greatest commitment to professional development and leadership within the organization.
In addition, Vermont Adaptive staff, volunteers and interns are encouraged to apply for a Kellen Sams Memorial Scholarship. The Memorial Scholarship is a financial scholarship awarded to Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports staff, volunteers and interns to assist in each individual’s efforts to pursue personal development within outdoor and experiential education for all abilities.
Scholarship funds may be used for tuition, room, board, and/or travel and can be applied to any training for which there is a compelling argument for why it benefits Vermont Adaptive and its mission and participants. Scholarships will be awarded based on merit, commitment to the organization, need, and at the discretion of the Vermont Adaptive Program Staff.
Learn More and Apply for a Kellen Sams Memorial Scholarship here. All Memorial Scholarship recipients are eligible and encouraged to apply for the annual leadership award.
Learn More About the Kellen Sams Memorial Leadership Award here.