Archive for the ‘Outdoor Education’ Category

Thoughts From the ACA National Conference: Artie the Abert Squirrel Chats with Sanborn Staffers

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

It’s sure nice to have everyone return to the office after attending the American Camp Association National Conference in New Orleans this year.  When 11 of my most favorite people are all absent from the office at once, it sure makes for a lonely week, but then they all return full of excitement about new plans for the summer and ideas for enhancing what we do here at camp. As a seasoned camp squirrel, I know what a driving force these camp leaders are and have seen great innovations come out of their conference learnings.

Jane always organizes a conference debrief meeting shortly after the conference, allowing staff to share in each other’s take-aways and become invigorated all over again. Staff then team up to organize our new insights  into action: new staff week training sessions, new program ideas, and more for the rapidly approaching summer. I had the great opportunity to sit in on this meeting and then to interview people afterwards!

Artie the Abert Squirrel (AAS): Why do you believe it is important for so many Sanborn staffers to attend?

Jane: The ACA National Conference helps keep us on the cutting edge. We learn the latest research and information in youth development, education, brain science, and fun program ideas. The conference really inspires us to provide the best experience possible for our campers and staff.

(AAS): Explain a little bit about the format of the conference and why it’s so important for camp professionals to attend?

Elizabeth: There are so many great reasons to attend the National Conference. It is gives us a chance to network with other camp professionals, and like Jane said, stay current on youth development and brain research, hear creative new program ideas; not to mention–at this last conference in New Orleans–the chance to have a beignet at Café Du Monde between breakout sessions. Each day of the conference there is a keynote speaker that everyone has the chance to hear, as well as breakout sessions that cover a variety of topics from staff training to brain science,  psychology  to program development, and crisis management to effective communication. And in beautiful Louisiana, each day was not complete without an outstanding New Orleans meal as well!

AAS: There were 4 keynote speakers; Jessica Lahey, Scott Cowen, Dr. Deborah Gilboa and Tom Holland. Tell me what you learned from their presentations.

Matthew: Jessica Lahey gave a fantastic keynote.  She discussed her forthcoming book “The Gift of Failure,” and how the principles of that book can apply to camp.  It was a captivating speech about how we can help children to succeed, but also we must give them room to fail.  Lahey outlined a practical approach to teaching campers to discover their own inner independence, resilience, and creativity.

Mike: ‘Dr. G’ spoke to us about the challenges parents face in raising respectful, resilient and responsible children and gave us real-life examples, insightful models and solid tips on how we can continue to strengthen our youth development efforts.  Camp is one of the best places to practice and develop these foundational life skills, and with all of us at Dr. G’s keynote, many thoughts and conversations about the summer have begun!

Patrick: After listening to Scott Cowen I really had to stop and think about where High Trails is. He spoke a lot about being aware of where your organization has come from, where it is, and where you want it to go. I really enjoyed this because our organization has a rich history; I love where we are right now, and I feel has a valuable mission and is relevant in the future.

Ariella: Tom Holland was our Closing Keynote speaker and he followed an incredible performance from Dancing Grounds, a New Orleans dance school that “builds community through dance.” The youngsters who performed ranged from about seven to 17 years old and were led by passionate instructors, Randall Rosenberg and Laura Stein. One of the dances they performed was to Michael Jackson’s song, “Scream.” The highly energized and emotive dance revealed the growth during adolescence and a broader cultural narrative of the pressure kids are experiencing across all aspects of society. I know this is true because 15 year old Empress, totally impromptu (and wildly poised under said pressure), stood in front of 1500 conference attendees and described the story of the dance after they finished. Rosenberg and Stein, in their enthusiasm, pride and even in their shout out to the kids’ parents in attendance (who took the time to pull the kids out of school and drive them downtown for the performance) demonstrated exactly what Tom Holland talked about in his keynote: our opportunity to be part of a transformative experience that positively shapes the lives of children. Throughout the conference, threads and themes came together giving us tools and language to promote quality youth development at camp–and that development starts with supportive adult relationships–which is exactly what Dancing Grounds and ACA camps across the country create and nurture every single day.

AAS: There were 4 days of sessions that ranged from youth development strategies, camp protocols, marketing solutions, and so much more – what were some of your favorite sessions?

Sarah: I enjoyed Kristen Race’s session about Mindful Campers and Leaders.  She gave me some new ideas and tools for debriefing activities and reflective listening strategies for not only myself but for summer staff as well!

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Janie: One of my favorite sessions was led by Michael Brandwein and Dr. Debi Gilboa. The session was about ways to set up a positive camp culture starting on the very first day. Both of these presenters had so much helpful information to share. If you want to learn more about them visit their websites: Michael Brandwein and Dr. Debi Gilboa.

Jackson: I enjoyed learning about autonomy supported programs.  These range from natural play areas, of which we have plenty to a “dream space” area on our trip sign-up sheets for campers to formulate their dream trip or activity, and we can do our best to make it happen! I also enjoyed continuing to learn how the developing brain works and tools to calm the alarm system in our brains.  I look forward to showing this information and these skills to campers in a non-stressful setting so when campers to become stressed, at camp or at home, they have used practice and tools they’ve learned from camp to deal with certain stressors.

Carlotta: I went to a session called Kickin’ Kitchens which asked you to think about the kitchen like a systems engineer by thinking about how easy and obvious can you make the routines of the kitchen for everyone working there from the cooks to the assistant counselors. I am so excited for our kitchens to run even more smoothly this summer!

Jessie: There were quite a few sessions that focused on autonomy and the idea that competence in an area leads to confidence. I am excited to use this idea on trips this summer and to bring the campers more into the planning of trips, especially menus, and to teach them even more throughout the trip, which would give them the competence needed for the responsibility of preparing meals, leading the way, and finding the perfect campsites.

There you have it folks – the ACA National Conference keeps my staffer friends on their toes and ready to enhance the lives of children every summer. Stay tuned for upcoming posts from them that go into more detail about all the research on brain development, and teaching kids autonomy and independence. For now, I learned that interviewing 11 different people is hard work and I’m ready for a snack and a nap! – see you this summer!

Artie the Abert Squirrel

Artie is a well- loved member of the Sanborn wildlife family and official spokes-squirrel to the greater Sanborn community. He has been a long time contributor to the High Country Explorer sharing his knowledge of camp life with campers new and old. Artie is currently practicing his balloon animal creating skills with Jane and knows Jerry’s actual birthdate. Artie is honored to have the opportunity to write for this blog.

The Lemon-Lime Time

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

"Aspen" Wondering When Fall Would Arrive!

Fall is a (but not THE) favorite season for all of us at camp.

We love the crisp evenings, the cool mornings, the warm days, and the gold Aspen against the bluebird blue sky. This summer’s bluebirds can still be seen flying in the fields around Big Spring, the coyotes are even more talkative than usual, and the elk bugles and whines can be heard as we walk the quiet paths on the weekends…the trails are still pretty noisy during the week with High Trails Outdoor Education Center students and The Nature Place guests enjoying the granite bluffs and beautiful vistas, as well.

Fall is both sweet and sour; sweet because we get to look ahead to next summer, and sour because we didn’t want Summer 2014 to end. It is a transition time around the office, too. The pace from the summer slows, and we take time to read evaluations, write letters, and begin to look forward to the possibilities of 2015.

We hear from campers, staff, and alums who miss camp and long for the simplicity of summer days. Days when breakfast is hot and ready for you, when accomplishments are measured in thousands of feet and shared connections with beautiful horses, when friendships are deepened by real experiences and real challenges, and when we each can begin to see and understand our unique place in the world.

One of the most valuable parts of the camp experience is the time and space that is created for reflection. This doesn’t only happen when you are watching for meteors in the star-filled night sky, or when you can take a cat-nap in the alpine tundra after a successful climb on a beautiful day. This space and time for reflection can be internalized, and—once it is in you—you are more able to take a deep breath and simply be.

Our wish for you, as the grassheads begin to dry and lose their seeds, growing more yellow and brittle as they lighten the landscape, is that you take time to go crunch among the fall leaves—or stop and share a beautiful view with a friends—or simply find that special spot in your favorite outdoor place where you can pause, listen to the wind, the birds, and just breathe.

Dr. Seuss said, “Do not cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Celebrate these transitions, as brief and meaningful as they are, because they remind us to remember, reflect, and anticipate the wonder ahead.

Happy, Healthy and Moving

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Staff Gaga Ball...Practicing Best Practice!

Just yesterday, there was a piece on NPR that basically said our teenagers are getting fatter.  Based on the nation’s recognition of the childhood obesity epidemic and PSA’s from the NFL, the First Lady, and a wide variety of Sesame Street characters, our kids should be moving more right?

Maybe.

As the pendulum has swung, and children have been spending less and less time outdoors (this generation has spent less time in the outdoors than any generation in human history)—I will posit—that they have actually FORGOTTEN how to play.

During a recent training session with the High Trails Ridge Leaders, we actually had to look up the rules to “Kick the Can” (granted, it was because there were competing theories…and we realized it is a much easier game to play in an urban environment where there are a lot of cars and basement stairwells to hide in).  Active play has been endangered by hyper-vigilant playground monitors, fear of strangers, children’s access to and us of technology, and a lack of adults who model outdoor play.

Yet, at camp, all of that changes.  Kids walk everywhere.  They hike, they bike, they look at the stars instead of screens, they carry saddles long distances (ask any Sanborn Junior camper what is the hardest thing they do at camp and it is carrying those gigantic, awkward saddles).  It isn’t hazing, it is helping—we help these campers recognize the potential of their bodies.

Our staff are wildly active—pick-up Frisbee games after every meal, Gaga ball, riding bikes to commute to work, walking up and down the High Trails hill and back and forth from the ridges to the lodge and all of these crazy games.  During our afternoon training, our comprehensive pack-packing clinic was a bit rushed because we couldn’t stop playing games (my new personal favorite is a tag game where everyone is trying to tag everyone on the backs of their knees, and when the person who tagged you gets out, then you are back in again…ran and laughed so hard I thought I was going to throw up…which was NOT an unpleasant feeling in this case).

Adults love to run and play, too, and when we model it for our own children, students and campers…AND TEENS, we WILL help the pendulum shift back to an understanding that play might be the job of childhood, but it is a requirement of of healthy, happy adulthood, too.

Building Interview #2: Quick’s Homestead

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

The gate is open and the wire and wooden post is covered in snow. Where are the juniors running around the campfire waiting for their chili mac to finish? I’ve seen a lot of light saber duals around this house, not to mention the amount of shady deals gone down in the feed-store-turned-saloon in front of the homestead. Soon school groups will be here. They will move from the tool shed to the caved-in potato cellar, across the wooden boards to the barn, and out to see the old carriages and plows rusted out and wood bleached from the sun in the field.

I interviewed the stove.

WM: What’s cooking?

S: Heh, not much.

WM: It was only a question, don’t get overheated!

S: Wow, that’s great.

WM: Thanks. You ever get to read the books in here?

S: Sometimes, but I’m not a big reader.

WM: What do you want to be when you’re older?

S: A Stove.

WM: Ha, good one. Uh… [WM shuffles through his pad of paper.] Ever heard of television?

S: Nope.

WM: A Jet Boil?

S: No.

WM: You hear how many retweets Ellen DeGeneres got at the Oscars?

S: Nope.

WM: Like over 2 million.

It’s hard to imagine, this winter flying back and forth home to Massachusetts, driving down to Colorado Springs to see a movie in 3D, driving to Crested Butte to ski for the weekend, that Quick’s is always here. That it always smells like this. That at 2pm the sun looks like this. The tools are lying just so, waiting for us to find them in the Spring and hand to wide-eyed children. I sometimes think the ground squirrels always hide in the rafters of the tool shed until I walk up, exploding across the wooden boards and vanishing with a flip of their tail out of sight.

WM: A microwave?

S: [She shakes her head.]

WM: It’s really neat, it’s got these buttons and you can make a hotdog in 45 seconds. 1 minute if you want it to split—

S: Look, can we wrap this up soon?

WM: Wait! Sorry I’m so nervous, it’s just… you’re my favorite stove.

S: [Stove brightens up.] OK. Let’s try again, then.

WM: Sorry about before. I didn’t mean to grill you.

Big Spring Journeys to the Center of the Earth

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

The day began at the Victor Lowell Thomas Museum, where, although it was their off season, they had graciously offered to give us a tour of the surface mine in Victor. We waited in the museum around a portable propane heater (they will have year-round heat and a bathroom by next year) until our van/tour bus arrived.

For whatever reason we weren't given orange vests.

Our knowledgeable driver, Dick, apologized the first few minutes the few times he drew a blank—he hasn’t driven a tour since fall. We began by driving through the historic downtown of Victor, and then moved on to the surface mine overlooking the town. We drove 1,000 feet down to the base of a dig, were shown where the raw materials are brought, and finally allowed to climb on one of their retired trucks, which, years ago when full of its rock load, weighed over 1 million pounds.

We ate a pleasant lunch at one of the many trailheads winding and looping around the old Victor mines, where in the summer we hope to bring the campers.

Our afternoon began at the Pikes Peak Heritage Museum in Cripple Creek, built in 2007. It is a beautiful facility, and we were given the scavenger hunt that school groups are given when in the center. Mike Piel was the only one who seemed to care enough about completing the scavenger hunt, and completed all but 2 questions, due to time. We also watched a very informative 30-minute film on the origins of the mines in Cripple Creek and Victor.

Last was the jail museum, where we were allowed to wander in and out of the old cells, graffiti from inmates still covering the walls. Some of us were even locked inside the cells—temporarily, of course.

With all this great new information we can’t wait to rework our summer Cripple Creek trip, and to create our new all-day trip to Victor!

Sanborn Alums in Action: Rediscovering the Great American Prairie Project

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

From Montana to Missouri on horseback, for grassland conservation

Tenacity. Persevarance.  Spirit. Unbridled adventure. A deep respect for the natural world and the lessons it teaches you: those of humbleness, responsibility, and connectedness.

These are the things that you carry with you after spending a summer (or 4) at Sanborn. As a camper for many summers, and then as an assistant counselor, I left Sanborn with a sense that things that at first glance seem undoable (climbing Mt. Princeton at dawn, taking 15 8 year olds on a backcountry expedition, cleaning the dining hall after 150 campers pass through its Sunday buffet) are achievable when they coincide with an equal dose of determination and fun.

It is impossible to drive down the dirt road in Florissant after a summer at High Trails without discovering an intense respect and appreciation for the vast beauty and explosive grandeur of the natural world. You gain this at Sunday Vespers, as you sit and watch the sky light up in flame and paint a snow flecked Pikes Peak delicate pinks and fierce reds. You gain it when you listen to the clash and crackle of Aspen leaves around you. You begin to develop an environmental ethic. My own includes a sense of responsibility to be a thoughtful and engaged steward of this land and earth.  To look at the world around me and inquire what my place is within it.

With this in mind, I have developed a project, along with my colleague Sebastian Tsocanos, that aims to put this ethic into action. We will traverse the North American Great Plains on horseback to increase public understanding and appreciation of a region that is absolutely pivotal to conservation efforts in North America. Through education and outreach, from both scientific and artistic perspectives, we will engage a wide audience in an investigation of the issues that affect this vitally important region. We will explore what our legacy as stewards of this land has been and what it might become, shaking hands with the landscape and the people who call it home.

We will produce a documentary film that will share the beauty of the landscape and the perspectives of the people we meet along the way. It will be used as an educational tool to promote greater local and national involvement in determining the future of an ecologically imperative region.  After we complete the ride, we will present our film at high schools, universities, and other groups, giving talks nationwide promoting conservation of this enormously important region and challenging communities to become involved in its story. In addition, we will exhibit our work at galleries around the country, combining art, conservation, community, and education to deepen ecological understanding and appreciation of the natural world.

Temperate grasslands are the least protected biome on earth, and our own are disappearing at an alarming rate. Our project aims to increase understanding of their fragile state and volatile future and contribute to the growing momentum of grasslands conservation today.

The project requires support–financial and otherwise. For the financial aspect, we have started a fundraising campaign with IndieGoGo, and hope you’ll contribute. You can learn more about our project and make a donation at our Indiegogo page. Please check out it out at: www.indiegogo.com/projects/rediscovering-the-great-american-prairie

Your contributions are so very appreciated, and we’ve arranged some great perks for donors, including photographic prints, and horseshoes thrown from the road!

Learn more about the project and follow us on the road at our website:www.RediscoverThePrairie.org

Please help us make it happen by passing our Indiegogo link on to family, friends, colleagues, and campers. Tweet about it, post it on your Facebook, talk to friends about it. Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and support and we can’t wait to share our stories with you from the road!

-Robin Walter, High Trails Camper 97,98,99, 2006; High Trails Staff 09-

Winter Is Here…What Do We Do?

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Fly-tying during Stalking Education in the Wild 2012

There are two questions a camp director dreads: 1. Why does toilet in Kinnikinnik look like a Yellowstone geyser? 2. What do you DO in the winter?

Both questions require thoughtful responses (but the first question might also require a plunger and a biohazard suit).  Beyond hiring the 120 broadly talented seasonal staff members, recruiting 600 unique and fantastic campers, connecting with our alums, designing new programs like the Sanborn Semester, organizing mission-centric educational opportunities like Stalking Education in the Wild or our annual No Child Left Inside Family Fun Day, hosting the ACA Rocky Mountain Section regional conference, sending birthday cards (over 10,000 annually), and operating The Nature Place and High Trails Outdoor Education Center, we are committed leaders and educators in the field of youth development and in the camp profession.

As the culture shifts, camp is taking its rightful role as an important component in the year round education of every child.  COEC Board Member Rod Lucero said in a recent article in Camping Magazine, “One concept that emerges from most every camp activity schedule is the idea of “fun.” While “fun for fun’s sake” is a worthy goal, I would contend that fun with an articulated focus on education transcends the camp experience and extends to the pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade classrooms.”  Sandy and Laura Sanborn believed in “fun and adventure with a purpose.” And we, like Rod, believe that “the purpose is education, and as the camp has evolved and grown, this mantra has remained fundamental to every aspect of the good work being done there.”

One of the 101 Nature Activities: Find a Tree Hike

Everything begins at home and we are committed to professional development of our year round and seasonal staff.  Through conferences, training sessions, and skill development workshops, our staff not only represents a seasoned group of camp professionals, we actually lead, teach, and design many training sessions for others in the camp community.

The National Convention of the American Camp Association was held in Atlanta in mid-February, and we participated in full force.  Executive Director, Jane Sanborn, was the program chairperson for this year’s conference (as well as for the upcoming 2013 National Conference in Dallas, TX) and worked on an outstanding educational program for many months.  Chris, Elizabeth, and Ariella led educational sessions at the conference. Mike, as President of the Rocky Mountain Region of the American Camp Association, participated in all of the leadership events held at the conference. COEC Board member Rod Lucero presented one of the keynote addresses, and Julie, David, and Carlotta attended the conference.

Additionally, Jane, Elizabeth, and Ariella have written curricula and participated as webinar panel experts for the ACA’s e-Institute.  The ACA just released a 15 hour online Certificate of Added Qualification for Middle Managers, and Ariella was one of the four writers of the curriculum.  Jane is the chair of the ACA’s Children, Nature and Camps Committee and co-authored the best-selling, “101 Nature Activities for Kids” with Elizabeth.

Then there is the hard skill training: BC is a AMGA (American Mountain Guide Association) Certified Top and Bottom Managers and supervise our rock-climbing staff; we train using the most current ACCT Ropes Course certification model; all of our summer trip leaders have WMI/NOLS Wilderness First Aid certification; we have an on-site Red Cross Lifeguard course; we require our peer supervisors (ridge leaders, wranglers, kitchen coordinators) to attend a specialized Supervisor Workshop; and all of our trip leaders go through a comprehensive Trip Leader and 15 Passenger Van Driver Training…plus all staff are certified in CPR and Standard First Aid and participate in our 10 day Staff Week training. This training includes everything from the latest in youth development research to experiential teaching techniques.  Whew!

Winter=Time to Turn Our BIG Dreams into Reality!

We are invested in the experience and our own continued growth and development.  We are actively involved in building a more professional camp and educational experience for ALL children through our staff development and the variety of outreach and educational sessions we lead.

This is a big part of our “purpose” and it is one we take pride in.   And with Jane repeating as program chair for the 2013 American Camp Association National Conference, we will continue to take a professional lead in the camping and youth development industry.

So we actually do work in the wintertime…maybe that is why summer is so darn incredible!

October News Update

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Follow the Yellow-leafed Road

We are enjoying spectacular Indian Summer days here at camp.  The golden Aspen are almost at their peak and are stunning against the bright blue sky.  We’ve been spying on the herd of elk at Potts Spring and have also seen deer, porcupines, wild turkeys, bobcats, and, of course, the fat black Abert squirrels.  Many of our summer birds have headed south and the year-round bird residents are beginning to show up at our feeders more regularly.

Our High Trails Outdoor Education Center program with sixth graders from District 20 in Colorado Springs has been underway since mid-September. We also hosted a “No Child Left Inside” open house last Saturday and were very happy to have many local families join us for a day of hikes and nature-based activities led by our staff.   We are very committed to doing everything we can to help young people connect with the natural world.  The benefits are enormous—as Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder” says:  “Children who have a personal connection with nature are happier, healthier, and smarter.”

On October 12-14, we are looking forward to hosting “Stalking Education in the Wild”, our outdoor education workshop for teachers, camp staff, naturalists and others who work with young people.  The workshop includes sessions on everything from geology and outdoor teaching techniques to creative writing and international folk dance.

At The Nature Place, Rob Jolly and his staff are busy working with the University of Denver on a team-building and leadership development program for DU’s MBA students.  We have collaborated with DU on this program, where every MBA student spends a long weekend at The Nature Place, for over a decade.  The groups rock climb, participate in an orienteering course, and work through many team building scenarios, all of which teach values-based leadership.

The horses are grazing happily in Olin Gulch and High Tor, where late summer rains helped to produce some tasty green grass.  Soon, they will head out to winter pasture at Fishcreek.

We are most excited about opening enrollment for another season of camp.  The summer of 2013 will be our 65th and we are looking forward to sharing adventures, friendships and lots of fun.  We have already begun enrollment, and additional enrollment information will be going out throughout the month of October.  If you know of interested families, we’ll be happy to send our brochure and DVD.  They can also request information from our website.  We hope you are enjoying the photos from the summer of 2012 which are appearing each month on our website.

We hope you are having a fantastic Autumn!

Nature Activity: Nature Scavenger Hunt

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

This looks SCARY!!!

At High Trails Outdoor Education Center, students experience the natural world through role play and hands-on activities. One of our students’ favorite activities comes during their first Discovery Group: Setting the Mood.

The Nature Scavenger Hunt is facilitated by the high school counselors, many of whom have attended our HTOEC Leadership Day. The goal is to help the students begin to see interrelationships in the natural world, as well as to help them slow down and help them truly “see” (and understand) the natural world all around them.

Here is what the students will be looking for:

HTOEC Nature Scavenger Hunt
Something red in nature
Something scary
The oldest thing you can find
The youngest thing you can find
Something you can feel but cannot see
Something with a smooth texture
Something with a rough texture
Something beautiful
Something amazing
Two seeds
A piece of litter
Evidence of an animal
Three different kinds of grass
Something that makes a noise
Something humans could not live without
Something natural that has no purpose

Once the group has found all the items, the high school counselors will facilitate a short wrap-up discussion to allow the students to share their discoveries. Some of the questions the counselors may ask are: What do all the objects have in common? How are they interrelated? Would a dog be able to find something red? Would a bat be able to hear the same things we found which made a noise? What else could a bat hear? What things would animals be able to find better than we can?

These questions help the student begin to recognize that our senses help us experience the natural world in rare and unique ways—and that our sixth sense, our sense of wonder, allows us to understand, appreciate and celebrate our connection to nature.

What do YOU look for when you are out in the natural world?

A Tale of Two Peaks

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Harvard/Yale BS 2012

As we sit here in the Rocky Mountains it makes my mind wander. Where do trees come from? Why are milkshakes so delicious? What makes White Mike’s hair grow in such cute yet funny looking curls?

The answer to these questions and more, is you!

After driving the treacherous hour and forty minutes to pick you up from your pick up point it makes me recognize that this world is comprised of all creatures both man made and natural. If you squint at a sunset it looks similar to shining a flashlight in your eyes, if you attempt to eat a pinecone in less than six bites it’s going to make your insides hurt (I know this from personal experience), this is the world. It is your world. And today you are stepping into it not only as men, not only as boys, not only as Big Spring Warriors, but mythical creatures much like a combination of a pegasus, with an ogre’s arms, Jerry McLain’s hair, tarantula fangs, and the heart of a zephyr.

At Big Spring we do many things that literally make the world go round. Sumpings, chants, growing facial hair, and being bold brave warriors. These attributes have culminated here, in this very park, eating this very pizza! We have conquered fears, hunger, thirst, the desire to flirt with that girl at the swings over there, but, alas, we are still here. We are legendary, we are the ones that return with glory!

These mountains were once flat, this grass was once dirt, that sky was once a fish, and we are much like all of those things. We grow, evolve, develop, regress, develop again, scratch our arm pit, and then recognize that we must shape shift. Not in a creepy way like how Will-O turns into a horse, but like Mystique from x-men. This is who we are and it’s to be carried as a true testament of our character, courage, fashion statements, and hygienic values!

I came to this spot to greet you and bring you home, but now I stand here and understand that this is more than just a pick-up, it is a ceremony of life, and I think Ghandi put it best when he said “if I eat anymore rice I’m gonna throw-up on myself” and that is the thought I want to leave you with…I’m proud…humbled…and ready to eat more pizza!