Archive for the ‘alum event’ Category

Nominate YOUR Favorite High Trails Woman Today!

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Growing Stronger from then....

2012 marks the 50th anniversary of High Trails Ranch for Girls.  To celebrate we are creating the 50 Years of High Trails Blog Project. This project hopes to acknowledge the depth and breadth of outstanding women who have created a lasting impact on both our camp culture and in the world at large.  These mothers, sisters, best friends, counselors, ridge leaders, trip leaders, kitchen staff and others should all have two things in common: they are amazing women and they all have been, or continue to be, part of the High Trails community.

If you have a photo of you and your nominee together, or of your nominee in action, please attach the image so we may share it–along with a unique story about your nominee–on the Sanborn Western Camps Blog beginning in January 2012.  Our goal is to share the accomplishments of these fantastic women every week on the blog.  Nominations should be submitted via our online form before January 1st, 2012.

Be a part of this historic celebration of women who have learned to GROW STRONG because of their experiences at High Trails.  Nominate YOUR favorite High Trails woman today!

...til now!

Down in the Dump…and happy about it

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Co-mingling at the Dump...not what it USED to be.

Ahhhh! Remember the Good Old Days…

When the dollar was worth more than the Swiss Franc? When Apples and Blackberries were still fruits? When we threw our trash in the dump?

The Dump has been gone now for more than a decade. Today we have a trash compacter, and a 1962 (not kidding) semi trailer that we fill with cardboard and haul down to Colorado Springs three or four times a year for recycling. We spend $600 hauling it down and receive about $400 for the cardboard—but it is the thought that counts, right? We also have three huge recycling bins—one for paper, one for aluminum and one for “co-mingle” which sounds vaguely suggestive but actually means that glass and various metals can get tossed together in there.

But please DO NOT put garbage bags in the co-mingle bin!

Things are not always perfect with the trash compacter either. On at least three separate occasions, the compacter was so heavy when the driver came from Waste Management (don’t you love that name?) to haul it away, that his front wheels would not stay on the ground and he had to dump all the trash out on the ground. Apparently, they can only haul 13 tons or something like that.

But I digress. Back to the dump—which was the ultimate co-mingle. Everything went in the dump. You remember…it was about 50 feet long, 20 feet wide, and 15 feet deep…large enough to hold several trucks. And over the years, it did hold several trucks–when the garbage man miscalculated while backing up or forgot to set the emergency brake (or did set the emergency brake but it didn’t work). Sandy was not happy when this occurred.

The dump was also a fabulous wildlife refuge. How many of you remember hopping in a van in the evening to tour the dump and watch the bears that were always attracted by the pungent aromas coming from the area? There were a few garbage men, however, who had rather frightening encounters with bears at the dump, because, as you will recall, our garbage trucks rarely had windows. One poor guy was seriously upset and ran back to Big Spring when a bear came right through the no-glass back window into the cab. Now the bears walk mournfully around the trash compacter and head off to the back porches at the Big Spring and High Trails Lodges where the aroma is still pungent. It is a sad loss…

Another advantage of the dump was that, if something was accidentally thrown away, you had a chance to retrieve it. The classic example is the retainer that someone wrapped in a napkin during the meal and forgot until a couple of hours later when the trash had already been hauled away. I have personally retrieved at least five retainers from the dump by focusing in on what we had for lunch that day (“Ah! I see taco remnants) and crawling into the dump to search the trash. (always checking of course to make sure no bears were around). It was messy but effective and the retainers could be washed and returned to their grateful owners. Today, however, if a retainer gets to the compacter…you can imagine.

We are much more environmentally conscientious these days, and much more in compliance with a whole bunch of rules made by a whole bunch of bureaucracies, but there are times when I long for the old Dump.

-Jane Sanborn-

Why Are The Aspen So Red?

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Lots of Red Leaves in the High Country!

At camp this fall, we have a remarkable number of BRIGHT red Aspen. This is unusual, as most of our Aspen tend to be the standard “gold and amazing” types. So what factors are present this fall to create such a remarkable color display?

The timing of leaf coloring til leaf fall is dependent on the increasing length of night. As the days grow shorter, a tree’s biochemical process shifts and its production of chlorophyll slows and eventually ceases. As the leaf’s chlorophyll is used up by the tree, other color pigments—carotenoids and anthocyanins—become visible. According to the USDA Forest Service site, “Both chlorophyll and carotenoids are present in the chloroplasts of leaf cells throughout the growing season. Most anthocyanins are produced in the autumn, in response to bright light and excess plant sugars within leaf cells.”

Jewels Underfoot

Carotenoids are responsible for the yellows, golds, oranges and browns in both leaves and in corn, carrots, bananas, and buttercups. Anthocyanins give cranberries, plums, cherries, blueberries, and strawberries their distinct hues. Typically, a tree’s fall color doesn’t vary much from year to year…but this year, we have had a number of unique factors that have contributed to our beautiful display.

1. Exceptionally dry spring and early summer; all of our trees were highly stressed during that period.
2. Good rainfall beginning in late summer and early; leaves began producing sugars like crazy to support the renewed growth potential of the trees.
3. A succession of many warm, sunny days and very cool, crisp evenings.

Nature's Myriad Hues

Though more anecdotal than scientific, we DO think that the Aspen leaves at camp have more sugars in them than they normally would at this point in the fall because of both the late rains and the very warm days. Anthocyanins are produced during these “lots of sugar lots of light” conditions—and then, with the very cool evenings, the veins of the leaves gradually close—leaving behind the gorgeous reds, and purples of the anthocyanin pigments. Additionally, because of the late rains, the Aspen seem to be a little behind schedule…it is almost October and many Aspen are still completely green.

It is almost as though the trees are celebrating this gorgeous end of summer and early fall–and trying to postpone the inevitable long, cold winter days ahead. We hope YOU will continue the celebration with us at our annual Sanborn Reunion on Oct. 13th-16th. Together, we will enjoy these beautiful fall days and the successful completion of our Sanborn 60 Capital Campaign.

The Aspen will be blazing the trail home. Hope to see you in October.

Sanborn Homecoming and Reunion: Will YOU Be There?

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

On top of horses, on Top of the World

October 13-16, 2011

As we enter August, do you find yourself longing for those long-ago carefree days of summer when all you had to worry about was which pair of dirty jeans to put on in the morning and whether you could find your water bottle (or canteen)? Would you like to ride a horse through aspen groves, catch the view from the Top of the World, have delicious meals served to you—and cleaned up for you?

If so, it is time for you to come back to camp!

Please join us for our Alum Homecoming Reunion, October 13-16, 2011. The event will take place atThe Nature Place, so your accommodations will be warm and comfy, the food great, and our “bug juice” will be of the adult variety. We’ll be hiking, horseback riding, rock climbing, mountain bike riding, mountain climbing and enjoying all types of camp activities. We’11 reconnect with friends, camp, and the natural world.

A View from A-Bluff

And this reunion will be special because we will celebrate the successful conclusion of our first ever Capital Campaign: Sanborn 60. It will also be special because Jim “Herc” Roth has already promised to provide his world-famous St Joe barbequed ribs. And it will be special for a hundred reasons we can’t even define yet—maybe you will see a Red Tail hawk soaring over Little Blue, or reconnect with a friend from long ago. Maybe you will be energized by the smell of the pines or the crisp mountain air. Maybe we’ll have one of those long gentle nighttime rains that provides the best sleeping anywhere on the planet or maybe we’ll see the first snowflakes of the season. The possibilities are endless.

Registration information is on the alum section of our website or we can mail you a form. We hope to see you in October!

This post was copied from the Alum e-News.  The Alum e-News  is sent monthly to alums of Sanborn Western Camps. To add your name from the Alum E-News list, please send an e-mail to

Camp History Scavenger Hunt

Monday, August 1st, 2011

Would YOU be able to locate Humpty Dumpty Rock? Do you know where to find the ORIGINAL swimming pool at camp?

These are some of the questions that were asked on a recent “Camp History Scavenger Hunt” that based out of High Trails and meandered all over camp–allowing campers and staff to learn more about both the area’s western history and the legacy of Laura and Sandy Sanborn.

After picking the brains of an Original High Trails Camper (Julie Richardson) and locating one half of a Sanborn marriage (Maren MacDonald), the girls hiked to Big Springs to find Jerry McLain–our resident historian, current Director of Alumni Relations, and general know-it-all (in the most positive sense of the phrase). He told a few excellent stories from the original “dining hall” (the main room of the current Big Spring office, and the former dining room in Laura and Sandy’s original house) and told the ladies about the evolution of camp.

How would you have done? Check out the questions and the great photos the girls took on their scavenger hunt.

1. Find Humpty Dumpty Rock
2. Locate the place where a sit-in occurred to keep a pipeline from being constructed
3. Locate the original lodge
4. Find the original swimming pool
5. Identify a square of Laura’s quilt
6. Find a person who was a camper the first year of the girls camp
7. Find the two halves of a Sanborn marriage
8. Find the newest cabin at High Trails
9. Find the oldest camp building
10. What is the actual name of the “treehouse trail”
11. Which were the original four cabins at High Trails
12. Locate the original dining hall
13. Find someone who can tell you a story about Quicks Homestead or the Witcher Ranch
14. Locate the first tennis courts
15. Find the original “Leo’s”–the 1st auto maintenance shop

Ready for some answers? Check out the photos below and see if they trigger any memories…and right answers!

Humpty Dumpty Rock on the way to Sandy and Laura's house

Standing above the water pipeline...and down the trail from Old Boys Sunday Rocks

The Pool that became The Depot that became The Rock House

Quilt Made By Campers and Staff for Laura's 80th birthday

Many generations of High Trails Ladies

Ashley McGowan=Half of Camp Marriage #58

Ryan McGowan=The Other Half (these hats were actually worn at the wedding)

The Big Spring Barn: One of the two original buildings on camp property

Jerry McLain Parkway

The Original Four HT Cabins=Juniper, Ponderosa, Gold Hut and Kinnikinnik

Jerry and the girls in front of the Big Spring office: aka, the Original Dining Hall

The Original Tennis the Ultimate Prison Ball Court

The Chalet of Auto Maintenance: The two bays for cars have become a) Outcamp and b) The Tent Room

All of the Little Parts

Monday, June 6th, 2011

High Trails Staff "Chips Off the Old Block"

Last week we welcomed our 2011 staff to Big Spring and High Trails and the camps are once again alive with the sounds of hiking feet, laughter in the Lodge, and splashing at the pools. It is always exciting to reconnect with old friends who are returning to the camps and to begin to get to know our new staff. For them, everything is fresh and new and it is energizing to look at the camps through their eyes.

During staff week we always stress that the summer of 2011 is our only focus now, and that the community we will build together this summer is unique. We also remind them, however, that they have now joined a long history of campers and staff who have contributed a part of themselves to create what Big Spring and High Trails are today.

Those contributions are evident in the songs we sing: our songbook still contains at least four songs written by campers or staff over the years. It also contains songs where we have changed the words and made them our own. “High Trails where the people you meet are your friends” was created by a cabinside group in 1965 and we sing it still. “I Zigga Zumba” comes from the earliest history of Big Spring.  Those contributions are also evident in our Words of Wisdom quote book where we have collected the inspiring things that you said or thoughts that you brought to camp with you.

There are a significant number of landscape features or buildings that you named and the names have stuck. Just yesterday I was explaining to a group of staff drivers that our maintenance building is called “Leo’s” in honor of David Sebring, who was here 1961-68. Were you part of the JC group that built the stairs in front of the craft shop? They are still there.  Did you, as an Outbacker, help build the Bridge below the Big Spring Infirmary? It still stands.

Your games and program ideas have also come down through the ages. We know who invented Schmerltz (Peter Whitely and Phil Marthens) but who first invented Marshmallow Baseball? Libby Malone brought the Bring Me Game to camp and another alum taught us all Hungarian Frisbee. The list goes on and on.

And, there are the immense contributions of those alums whose children are now 2011 staff members. People like Kassie Marshall (HT 70-71, 73) and Paige Vicker (HT Staff 83) whose daughters Emily Katz and Taylor Klauber are counselors at High Trails; or Jay Metcalf (BS 66-71, Staff 75-80) who has two daughters, Emily and Linnea, on our staff. Sophie Ohaus, daughter of Karl Ohaus (BS 68-75, Staff 77-79) is working at High Trails as is Bea Raemdonck, daughter of Leslie Riss (HT 63-68; Staff 69). Joe Aniello, son of Susie Wells (HT 76,78) , Kurt Blose, son of Nancy Heitsch (HT 77), Josh Feldman, son of John Feldman (BS 69-70) and Andrew Morton, son of James Morton (BS 69-71) are on the staff at Big Spring this summer.

And, of course, when campers begin to arrive next Sunday, we will have the great joy of welcoming many of your children to Big Spring and High Trails (almost 200 of our campers this summer will be the children and/or grandchildren of alums). So, even though you are not physically here for the summer of 2011, your spirit and contributions live on. Sandy always used to say that “Everyone leaves a little part of themselves at camp.” Believe me, those little parts are still valued here.

Back In The Day….Sanborn Bus Memories

Friday, April 29th, 2011

This is NOT a Sanborn Bus...but it could have been

For some reason I have been thinking about camp buses recently. We don’t use buses anymore, relying instead on
more flexible vans. But vans do not have the personality quirks that the buses had and there is a sameness about
them that makes them—well, boring. Today’s vans are numbered and this is how we tell them apart. 105, 106,
121, and 122 are all white vans, as are all the vans we now lease for the summer. 124 is a light blue van and 119
is teal blue but it is still too confusing to put those descriptions on the transportation list so we just use the numbers.
116 and 117 are both red; 120 is dark grey but 103 and 104 are light grey. We do have 2-tone purplish van
we call Grimace, but you get the point.

Camp buses, however, had personality, and no camp driver needed a number to clarify which was which. Do you
remember “Fat Albert”? I never knew whether the song (“Old Fat Albert had a puncture in its tire…and we fixed
it with a piece of chewing gum”) came from the name of the bus, or the name of the bus came from the song.
Then, in the spirit of fair representation of the sexes, there was “Plump Penelope”. “Fat Albert” and “Plump Penelope”
were both 24 passenger buses and I guess they did look a bit alike, but no one ever had a trouble telling
the difference between them. Somehow, “Fat Albert” was more macho.

“69B” was the pride of our fleet and one of its primary workhorses well past the time when it should have gone to
a quiet retirement. I still remember being shocked in the early 90’s when I realized that “69B” was named for the
year of its birth. “69B” had a split axle and only those of us with some experience could drive it—“69B” was one
fine bus!

Then, in the 70s or 80s, Sandy bought “The Rust Bucket”, named for a slightly rugged exterior look. It, frankly, was one we tried to hide on parent visiting days. Sandy, however, swore that “The Rust Bucket’s” motor was just great, and, in truth, it served us well for quite a while. The JCs and Outbackers painted it one year as a project, but it didn’t improve its looks much. About that time we also got “The Big Ford”—this was a 40 passenger bus which could hold most of High Trails or Big Spring after a coed activity. I don’t know why we never gave it a more interesting name.

The beginning of the end of the bus era came when Sandy purchased “The Automatics”. These were two small
buses with automatic transmissions and we never gave them individual names. We “experienced” bus drivers
hated “The Automatics”. For one thing, they were wimpy. We knew how to drive split axles and double clutch
and we were not about to be seen in an automatic. But the even more important reason we hated “The Automatics”
was that they didn’t work very well—they were always dying near the top of the High Trails Hill or at the
crest of Strawberry Shortcut—it was terrifying to have to back down one of those hills with a bus full of loud
campers. So, on Saturday nights, we always gave the Automatics to the newbies who didn’t know any better.

Those buses were great! Do you remember climbing in one for the trip back to High Trails or Big Spring after the
dance on Saturday night? Do you remember the noise level? Do you remember that there were no seatbelts—
and, in some cases, the seats were not even fastened to the floor of the bus and that the “seating capacity”
was often just a suggestion. Do you remember riding in a bus to the river or to Leavick Valley? Some Big Spring
boys may recall running from side to side in a bus parked on the streets of Fairplay, making innocent passers-by
gasp, because it looked like the bus was about to turn over.

Ah, those were the days. Today our vans are cared for by a qualified mechanic, our drivers are trained and follow
strict protocols, and everyone fastens their seatbelt for even the shortest trip—it is a much safer situation. But the
old bus days were fun—weren’t they?

This was excerpted from our monthly newsletter. The Alum e-News is sent to Sanborn alums (and other Friends of Sanborn). To add or remove your name from the Alum E-News list, please send an e-mail to jane at sanbornwesterncamps dot com.

The Fabulous Four Story Treehouse

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

The Sanborn Treehouse

Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods:  Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder” is a big fan of tree-houses; educator David Sobel includes tree-houses as important examples of children’s special spaces; and who hasn’t had a secret longing to spend a few days or even weeks in the Swiss Family Robinson’s Treehouse, as envisioned by Johann Wyss and Walt Disney. Tree-houses are magic for all of us, but especially for kids. Hanging out in the treetops, spying on the birds, hiding out in a protected nook—it’s fun, it’s adventure, and it’s memorable.

ERIC WEIDMANN (BS 63-64; Staff 66-70) was the architect and builder of the 4-story Tree-house which has provided so many fun times and memories for Big Spring and High Trails campers over the past 40+ years. “I’m pretty sure the fourth and last floor of the Tree-house was completed in 1970. I’m also pretty sure it was started in 1969 and might have had its first three floors done that year.” As leader of the Tree-house builders, which was the successor to The Congo Bongo Construction Company (led by SHRIMP “Lamumba” GOETHERT (BS Staff 63-65) and JACK “Kasa-Vubu” KUSSMAUL (BS Staff 64-66)), Eric doesn’t recall the specific inspiration that led to the creation of the Tree-house. He thinks it is possible that “I just saw those three trees while walking the road between HT and BS and was struck by how perfect they would be for a tree-house”.

The BEST Treehouse in Colorado!

“Of course Sandy was worried about kids falling out of it. When I first brought up the idea of sleep-outs up in the Tree-house, I think I found him the next morning early up in the tree house himself pounding extra nails, testing structural integrity, etc. He was the one who first required side boards to secure any sleepers from rolling out.”

“Sometime during the summer of 1970, after we had painted it, we had a formal dedication. The tree house was dedicated to Jerry as Apollo, God of the Sun. He dressed as Apollo for the christening.”

The 4-story Tree-house has become a landmark at the camps and is one of the first places campers want to visit when they arrive. It has been painted about thirty times, often as an Outbacker or Junior Counselor project and has sported every color of the rainbow.  It has been the site of innumerable cookouts and sleep outs and the staging area for thousands of egg drop contests. It has had a starring role in the Woodsmen Discovery Group for the HTOEC program.   Eric did not realize at the time that his inspiration would become Pyramid-like in its longevity.

“The funny thing about that experience, one I will always cherish, is that I’m terrible with my hands, a miserable carpenter.” (Just for the record, we do have our maintenance department check the Tree-house every year for boards that need replacing and nails that need pounding in again.)

News from Camp: March 1st Update

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Snow is melting...for now

March has come in like a lamb with blue skies and mild temperatures. It feels like Spring and this makes us even more excited about the upcoming summer.

Julie and Mike finished up their camp road show programs for the year last week in Boulder, CO.  Thank you again to everyone who attended one of these programs and especially to those camp families and alums who helped with arrangements.

We had a wonderful “Reconnect with Sanborn” event in Denver on February 27 and were excited to see so many alums from all eras at camp.  We took a lot of photos which are now up on our Facebook page, so check them out.

A few Prehistoric (yet still VERY FINE) HT ladies at the Denver Reconnect

Jerry and Elizabeth will be heading East next weekend to host two “Reconnect” events in Greenwich and New York City on March 6. They look forward to seeing Sanborn alums in this part of the country.

We have many projects underway in preparation for camp next summer.  Mike, Julie, Ryan, and Elizabeth have been hiring some outstanding staff members for next summer.  We have some great returning staff as well as some super new staff signed up for the summer of 2011.  We are working on many areas of the program, too, which will provide some exciting new activities and trips this summer.

New Tent Frames and Platforms at Big Spring

Our maintenance crew has finished laying new electrical lines on the North Ridge of High Trails and has finished renovations in the HT Lodge kitchen and the Cedar Lodge bathroom.  They have also installed new solar powered lights with motion sensors along the trails between the Lodge and the cabins to make it easier to see where we are going at night.  At Big Spring, they continue to work on refinishing the outside of the Lodge and rebuilding tent frames.

Ariella and Ashley have been keeping us up-to-date on the Internet, and our blog is an active, informative site with valuable information for families, alums, and youth development professionals.

If you "Like" us IRL (In Real Life) you should like us on Facebook

Our Facebook page is extremely active, too, and has 1500 fans at this time.  On February 22nd, in partnership with Mom It Forward, ACA, and the Children in Nature Network, Sanborn hosted a wildly successful “Twitter Party” using the hashtags #gno (Girls Night Out) and #sanborncamps to talk about the importance of getting kids outside and the value of a summer camp experience.  Along with sharing great information, our virtual connections have truly enhanced our real-life connections resulting in new campers, conference speaker opportunities, new business for The Nature Place, and much, much more.  If you aren’t already doing so, please visit us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Camp is only three months away and we can’t wait.  Already we have campers and staff from 38 states and 10 countries—and we’re adding more every day.  The fun and friendship which occurs when all of these great people get together is what makes camp so special!  We are happy to send our brochure and DVD to anyone interested in learning more about the exciting programs at Big Spring, High Trails, and Sanborn Junior.

News Update: February 1st, 2011

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

A blast of winter weather has hit us during the past few days and we are experiencing sub-zero temperatures and several inches of snow.  Despite the chill, we are focused on next summer, and are happy that June 1 is now only four months away!

Mike and Julie have enjoyed seeing many of you as they travel through the Midwest with our digital slide show program.  They have appreciated their warm receptions and enthusiasm for the coming summer. We still have a show planned in Boulder, CO on February 23.

February is a busy month as we prepare for the summer of 2011.  A major project throughout the winter is to hire the summer staff—counselors and wranglers, nurses and A.C.s.  We are always so proud of the outstanding college men and women who spend their summers contributing enthusiasm, fun, and nurturing leadership for the young people who attend Big Spring, High Trails, and Sanborn Junior.  We already have a great group of returning staff lined up and are making careful selections among new applicants now.

The National Convention of the American Camp Association will be held in San Diego in mid-February, and we will be participating in full force. Ryan, Elizabeth, Jane, Mike and Ariella will be leading educational sessions at the conference. Mike, as President of the Rocky Mountain Section of the American Camp Association, will be participating in all of the leadership events held at the conference and Jane will be participating in several events as a member of the national Children and Nature Committee.  We are especially excited that our new book, “101 Nature Activities for Kids”, written by Elizabeth and Jane will be released at the conference. Julie, Carlotta, Ashley and Pick will also be attending the conference. This type of training helps us to stay on top of evolving issues and inspires us to continue to improve our program each summer.

Unfortunately, the “Reconnect with Sanborn” reunions planned for January 30 in Greenwich, CT., and New York City had to be rescheduled due to snow on the east coast.  These events will now take place in early March. Our “Reconnect with Sanborn” event in Denver is scheduled for February 27.  This event is also a benefit for the Sandy and Laura Sanborn Scholarship Fund.

We already have a few early calves at the Witcher Ranch, most of them will show up in March.  Maren, Scot Ashley, and Rosie are hard at work preparing the riding program for next summer and making sure the horses are all ready for their busy season.

Alums can look forward to a big news-filled edition of the Alum News in March, and camp families will receive our Getting Ready information early in March.

We are all excited about the community that is coming together for the summer of 2011 and can’t wait to begin the fun. We are happy to mail our brochure and DVD to anyone interested in camp and to provide references for new families.