Aging Well: Community spelling bee to highlight senior programs |

Aging Well: Community spelling bee to highlight senior programs

Event to benefit Routt County Council on Aging, city senior programs and Aging Well

Tamera Manzanares

— It's nice to know that some things hardly change.

Long ago, neighbors held spelling contests to pass the time and test their intellects. Americans today may have spell check (and a lot of distractions), but their fever for linguistic smarts continues to take root in old-fashioned spelling bees held regularly in schools and communities.

This spirit extends to Routt County, where senior service providers are planning a community spelling event to raise money and awareness about their programs and the older residents they help.

"It seems like our programs are only known about by seniors," explained Laura Schmidt, executive director of the Routt County Council on Aging. "We thought this would be a neat way to encourage the community to learn about what we do and also get involved with seniors."

The bee

The Community Spelling Bee will be Jan. 22 at the Steamboat Springs Community Center. Teams of three are invited to participate. At least one member of each team must be 60 or older.

Organizers are hoping for a diverse group of teams representing schools, churches, neighborhoods, families, clubs, government and/or businesses.

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Staff members at the Bud Werner Memorial Library have created the word list for the event, with words categorized into three levels of difficulty. The bee will begin with Level 1 "easy" words and progress toward Level 3 "difficult" words.

Examples of words similar in difficulty to those chosen for the contest (increasing in difficulty) are: bailiff, aardvark and daguerreotype.

The event will be held in rounds. Each team remaining in the contest at the start of a round will spell one word in that round. Teams that misspell their word are out of the competition.

During each round, each team will choose a member to pronounce and spell their word. Teams will have one minute to consult about the spelling of their words.

Spellers may ask the pronouncer to repeat the word, define it, use it in a sentence and/or provide the word's origin.

Older adult programs

Like many nonprofit programs, organizations dedicated to the health and well-being of older adults in Routt County are facing budgetary challenges.

Although they welcome the opportunity to raise much-needed funds, they are even more hopeful that the spelling bee will help residents understand the importance of what they provide for the county's older population.

The Routt County Council on Aging provides numerous services, including group meals in Hayden, Steamboat and Oak Creek, home-delivered meals, transportation and Medicare counseling.

The council is joined by the city of Steamboat Springs, the Aging Well program of the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association and the Over The Hill Gang in planning and hosting the spelling bee.

Bringing the organizations and staff together for the event provides a unique opportunity for them to learn more about one anothers' programs while strengthening their collective ability to efficiently meet older adults' needs, Schmidt said.

"I don't think that's ever happened before on an event like this," she said. "I think it will lead to more collaboration in the future."

The city's Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department provides trips and activities for older adults.

Aging Well offers fitness classes, chronic disease self-management workshops, wellness checks and Wellness Days — a full day of activities, including exercise and health checks, held weekly in Oak Creek, Hayden and Craig.

The Over The Hill Gang provides recreational and social opportunities for active older adults, including skiing and cycling programs. A portion of members' annual fees goes toward helping young athletes attend sports programs.

The community is welcome to watch the spelling bee. There will be no admission fee for spectators, but donations will be accepted at the door.

For more information about the event, call Schmidt at 970-879-0633.

Tamera Manzanares writes for the Aging Well program and can be reached at Aging Well, a division of Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, is a community-based program of healthy aging for adults 50 and older. For more information, visit or call 970-871-7676.

Community Spelling Bee

The Community Spelling Bee will be 2 to 4 p.m. Jan. 22 at the Steamboat Springs Community Center. Teams of three are invited to participate. Each team must include at least one adult 60 or older. Youths are encouraged to participate.

The cost is $50 per team for registrations received by Jan. 15 and $60 for those received after Jan. 15. The event will be limited to 30 teams. Registration forms and rules are available at the Routt County Council on Aging office at the Steamboat Springs Community Center or at — click on “search” and enter “Routt County Council on Aging.” There will be no admission fee for spectators.

All proceeds will benefit nonprofit senior service programs in Routt County. For more information, call Laura Schmidt at the Routt County Council on Aging at 970-879-0633.

Volunteers needed

The Spelling Bee committee is seeking qualified volunteer judges and individuals to help with cleanup after the event. Organizers also are seeking donations of baked goods for the refreshment table. For more information, call Laura Schmidt at 970-879-0633.