Aether Games

As a father who knows its value, I can attest to what a worthy cause and community asset the Aspen Youth Center is. The idea that there’s a safe place where kids can go hang out, rock climb, swim, skate or play games is amazing. The idea that it’s almost all free (I think the swimming and skating require an Aspen Rec Center pass) is whatever adjective greater than amazing you want to use.

It might surprise you to know, however, that the AYC has a budget each year that goes to staffers and maintenance and insurance and whatnot, and that budget isn’t covered by the nothing the AYC charges kids to go there. That’s where this weekend’s second annual Aether Games come into play, literally and figuratively.

“We’ve always wanted to do a fall field day at the beginning of the school year,” said Oliver Sharpe, the president of the AYC board of directors. “We like to take these themes from kids but apply them to adults, which is where the spelling bee (another AYC fundraiser) and the fall field day came from.”

Hosted by Aether Apparel, which has a store on the Cooper Avenue Mall, the field day for adults will take place this Saturday, Sept. 8, at Aspen’s Rio Grande Park from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., followed by an after party at Jimmy’s Bodega. Teams of five adults will compete in 10 different events, including a tug of war, an obstacle course, giant pong and different relays.

“Games of skill and strength and fun,” said Sharpe. “It’s a great day. It reminds people of their school days.”

This being Aspen, the event will, of course, include plenty of libations, courtesy of Roaring Fork Brewing Company, as well as a hearty barbecue lunch from Home Team BBQ.

Last year’s inaugural games drew 15 teams, but Sharpe expects more than 20 this year and predicts that they’ll be even more amped with the addition of crowd pumper-upper and Youtube sensation Cameron Hughes.

“He’s basically a professional cheer guy,” said Sharpe. “He leads cheers. He’s not a cheerleader, but he’s a guy that’s in the crowd and hypes people up. He’s at the U.S. Open right now. He’s going to be our emcee.”

Teams can still enter for $500 (go to, which, as I may have mentioned, goes toward keeping the AYC free forever. Did I also mention how beyond amazing a cause that is?

So get four friends together, sign up and indulge your inner child while helping Aspen’s actual ones.

Todd Hartley is the special sections editor for Aspen Daily News. He can be reached at

Special Sections Editor