Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

We agree – Camp is Magic

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

Facing challenges that seem impossible at the time is part of the Magic of camp.

Maybe being this far back in the forest you would think that it’s hard for the News to reach us, but we do appreciate those of you who help keep us connected to what’s new and trending, and we will never pass up a great article about the Magic and Purpose of Camp! So when this article from the Huffington Post by Kelly Newsome was passed along to Jane by a couple of alums, it quickly made its way around the office and now up on the blog and back out to you, who we have a feeling will appreciate it as much as we did!

We know from first-hand experience that the thoughts Ms. Newsome expresses about how camp shaped her as a person are very real. Camp is an environment where individual growth and self-understanding occur in a way that seems magical. It does not matter where or which camp you attended as a child or worked at in your young adult years or came back to for an Alum Reunion.

The Magic of camp can happen in as short a time frame as a weekend.

And that is where this article struck me as so true. We just enjoyed the camp alum reunion to celebrate our 67th year, and welcomed nearly 50 over-excited “children” (as Ms. Newsome so aptly put it).  The excitement in the lodge on Thursday night was palpable. Pre-historic through present aged camp alum immediately blended together into a new camp community. All weekend they enjoyed together the activities that make up so many happy memories from camp days.

My favorite part of the reunions though are the stories told during meals and “rest time” on the deck. The stories of great adventures, favorite counsellors and campers, and most especially the challenging moments! Just as Ms. Newsome said, “After lice outbreaks, soiled linens, projectile vomiting, and shrill screams in the wee hours of the morning, getting splashed by an oncoming bus on the way to class or stepping in dog poop at the park just doesn’t take a toll on my happiness the way it once did.”

We all have those stories of the great mountain climbs and perfect 5-day horse trips that we look back on fondly, but it’s not these stories that get told with minute-by-minute details and pride in all the sheer will-power it took to boil water in a torrential Colorado downpour. It’s the challenges we all faced, and overcame, that turn into the stories that are now told and reflected on as being the best. You were challenged by Nature, by very-tired distraught campers, by a mountain with 14 false peaks. You struggled, worked as a team, and overcame the worst of the situation to pull through and return triumphant! Those are the memories that you hold dear and those are the times that shaped you into the strong confident human being you are now.  These are the magic moments – and yes, for those of you who are currently campers, this is happening for you too!

The world is changing out there (we do venture out of our forest home enough to know that). It is continuing to become a place of diversified challenges and struggles. Yet, we know that what we’ve done here for the past 67 years and the challenges we continue to embrace, are still helping to grow and shape us into the very best humans we can be. The humans that will take Camp out into the world and “redefine magic” there as well.

Find Kelly Newsome’s article The Magic of Summer Camp here.

News from Camp: October 1, 2015

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

We are enjoying spectacular Indian Summer days here at camp. The golden Aspen are 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.

Everyone at camp had a great time watching the lunar eclipse on September 27. It was a spectacular show from our location, and bugling elk in the background made it a night to remember!

Our outdoor education 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 September 19 and were very happy to have many local families join us for a morning 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.”

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 15 years. The students 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 Fishcreek where they are exceptionally appreciative of the lush green grass. They miss taking rides every day with their many friends but are already looking forward to next summer.

We are most excited about opening enrollment for another season of camp. The summer of 2016 will be our 68th 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 having a fantastic Autumn!

Reflections and Realizations

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015
Camp is finally here! We are all together again! My skin can barely hold all joy and excitement inside me! It is absolutely amazing to see everyone, staff and campers, in the lodge, on the trails and playing in the fields. What we’ve discussed for the last ten days is finally being out to practice. First year counselors and fourth year counselors are seamlessly blending together as a group of strong mentors for this group of young people we’ve welcomed home in the last 24 hours. Everyone is experiencing the first few days of Summer 2015 together and looking forward to all the adventure and fun in store.
As I struggle to sleep tonight with all this excitement, I’ve also been reflecting on the past 10 days of training and the conversations I know have happened at both Big Spring and High Trails. The impact will we have on their lives as counselors, wranglers, or leaders on trips this summer is remarkable. We talked about ways to help campers learn both hard and soft skills and build competence and confidence; not only in their lives at camp, but throughout their lives outside of camp. Staff members are taking to heart all the ideas presented to the group and looking for ways they can impact campers.

Celebrating the summit of Mt. Elbert on day 4 of the 2010 1st Session Elbert/ Massive Trip.

This helped me recognize something special about this summer for me. Many of my junior campers from my first summer on staff are now the Junior Counselors (JCs) at High Trails. In fact, a great many of our staff members were also former campers on trips of mine. Over the past ten days, I’ve realized that some of my favorite people in the world are on the staff this summer – it’s because they are the people that made a huge impact on my life!

These are the ladies that were campers on the first backpacking trip I led, on the first trip with 2 mountain climbs, and on the trip that the rain would never stop and I had dreams of our tents floating away. These were the trips that have shaped me into the mountain woman I am today. I remember those instances that I didn’t speak with grace first, I didn’t come into each conversation with the thought of teaching first. Those are the trips that were wonderful in their many missteps and these are the ladies that trusted me to guide them, teach them and celebrate with them….even when I didn’t feel I had the competence and confidence that I was trying so humbly to help them gain.

All the 2015 staff members who I first met when they were campers and took out on trips. (And Ariella too, who has always been a rock of support)

These are the ladies that impacted my life in so many positive and most important ways.

There is a phrase we use around here sometimes, because of camp… Well, because of camp, I have gained the skills and self-confidence of a great leader, all while being too busy playing in the dirt and hiking with my girls to notice.
To the parents who send their most precious treasures to camp, thank you, you are giving our staff members a most precious gift–the gift of being able to grow and change alongside your sons and daughters.

- Jessie

News From Camp: June 1, 2015

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

June is finally here and we are excited for the arrival of campers in two weeks. We had a significant amount of moisture in May, which has made the Ranch more beautiful than ever. The grass is green, the Aspens are leafing out, and the wildflowers are beginning to appear. We see deer every day in the immediate camp area, the Mountain Bluebirds are settled in for the summer, the hummingbirds are back, and the Abert’s Squirrels are exceptionally fat and sassy.

We have been preparing the facility and are almost ready for everyone’s arrival. The Big Spring tents are up, the BS Lodge is open for business, and fresh paint is being applied in many places. The flowers are planted, the horses have new shoes, and the swimming pools are full and heating. We think you will be pleased by the facility improvements we have made over the winter: a new floor in the HT Lodge, renovations at the Real Estate Office at Big Spring, a new bathroom in Crystal Palace, and new tent frames for the Outbackers at Big Spring are just a few of these. Although we are still finishing a few last minute facility projects, we have now turned our attention to staff training.

The leadership staff arrived last week and we are conducting a special training for our Senior staff team over the weekend. Several staff are also taking a lifeguard training course over the weekend. On Thursday and Friday last week, our rock climbing staff enjoyed a two-day training at our Wild Goat Mountain climbing site, while several staff completed a riflery instructor course. Our wranglers have been here for two weeks now and have been busy getting our horses ready for the summer and completing their specialized training.

On Monday and Tuesday, many of our trip leading staff will complete a two-day Wilderness First Aid course taught by the Wilderness Medicine Institute. Also on Monday, several staff will complete a course in archery instruction. On Wednesday, we will hold an all-day driver training course and also will conduct First Aid and CPR courses. Our entire staff of more than 100 will arrive on Thursday. For the following nine days, we will hold sessions on youth development, outdoor skills, our mission and core values, leadership tools, and health and safety, as well as trainings in our many program areas.

It is always special when our wonderful summer community comes together. We are looking forward to the mountains we will climb, the horseback trips we will enjoy, the sunsets we will share and the friendships we will make. We especially anticipate the opportunities we will have to learn more about ourselves, our companions and the natural world.

We again plan to post weekly updates and photos on the website once camp begins. Although we cannot promise to show every camper or every activity, we think these photos will help parents, friends, and family members to get a peek into life at Big Spring, High Trails, and Sanborn Junior. So visit us again on June 14!

News from Camp: April 1, 2015

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

The Pasque Flowers are blooming beautifully this year!

A few of our summer birds, including bluebirds and robins, have returned to the Ranch so we know Spring is on the way. We still have quite a few snow drifts scattered around, mostly on north-facing slopes, but the first Pasque flower of the season has been spotted. Temperatures have warmed up and the nice weather really inspires us to work hard on our many pre-summer projects. The summer staff will begin arriving in less than two months.

Speaking of staff, we have some great people returning for 2015!  At Big Spring, returning staff include Mike Adler, Hazel Coogler, Kevin Fernandez, Kevin Gassaway, Matthew Goodrid, Jake Gulliver, Peter Hoeller, Robert Hune-Kalter, Nick Jordan, Aaron Kilian, Jeremy Mabe, Evan Niebur, John Nowlan, Logan Parr, John Stewart, Alex Stoffel, Stephen VanAsdale, Ethan Wallgren and nurses Margot Cromack and Kristen Givens. Ian Stafford and Jackson Blackburn will once again be part of the Big Spring Leadership Team and Mike Mac will lead the staff, with the help of Assistant Director Matthew Huffman.
At High Trails, returning staff include Val Peterson, Gracie Barrett, Cade Beck, Megan Blackburn, Zena Daole, Shannon Gardner, Jenny Hartman, Jenna Howard, Maddie Jenkins, Avery Katz, Sarah LeBrun, Cara Mackesey, Annie McDevitt, Iska Nardie-Warner, Melody Reeves, Meghan Rixey, Kendra Shehy, Cheyenne Smith, Tully Sandbom, and nurse Molly Radis. Janie Cole will be Program Director, Carlotta Avery will take care of the camp kitchens and trip organization, Maren MacDonald will direct the riding program, Jessie Spehar will take photographs and Ariella and Elizabeth will keep everyone organized. We also have a great group of former campers returning as staff members, and some wonderful new staff who will join us for the first time.
We have begun our Spring outdoor education program and are excited to provide experiential, nature-based classes for 4th– 6th graders

The staff of High Trails Outdoor Education Center enjoyed learning and playing camp games out in the snow during the last couple days of March.

from 15 schools over the next six weeks.

Our April will be filled with putting the finishing touches on improved programs and trips for this summer, renovation projects to improve our facilities, hiring the last few summer staff and counting the days until camp begins.  We’ll be painting, cleaning, flying tents, and planting flowers in no time.
Our 2015 community is really coming together.  The First Term at High Trails is filled and there only a few openings left in the Second Term of High Trails.  Many grades in the First Term of Big Spring are filled, and Big Spring still has openings in most grades in the Second Term.  Some Sanborn Junior terms in both camps are filled.  Families interested for the summer of 2015 should call to check availability.  As always, we are happy to send our brochure, DVD and references to any interested families.
We can’t wait to begin creating the fun, adventure, and friendship of the Summer of 2015!

The Importance of Climbing

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Life is a gift, but some days it feels like a chore.  On those days, we can feel overloaded with the weight of responsibility, disappointment, and anxiety.  It’s important to push through those feelings because in the end, life is an adventure.  That’s one of the reasons it’s important to get outdoors.  More specifically, it’s important to climb mountains.

Climbing a mountain somehow resets your brain.  Ascending any peak, no matter its size, is an exhausting journey, a crazy trek.  It changes you as it challenges you.  Maybe it’s the lack of oxygen, but every time I climb a mountain I see the world in a new light.

I climbed my first mountain at camp many years ago.  School had ended, summer rolled around, I assumed I had three months of dullness to look forward to.  But then, my parents sent me to Sanborn.  Boredom went out the door.  I loved it.

It was that summer that I climbed my first 14er.   I’ll never forget that trip.  I remember getting dropped at the trailhead, our packs full.

At the trailhead, ready to climb

Counselors checked the maps, and we set out into the wilderness.  After many hours of hiking, we reached our basecamp.  Rising to the north was the cloud-covered mountain that we were driven to climb.  That night, we ate well, sang songs around the fire, and drifted to sleep in our little village of tents.

We woke long before dawn to find the counselors up and ready.  We crunched down some cold cereal and set out to climb the mountain.  The adrenaline was flowing, the spirit of adventure pushing us.  Hours passed, our line of headlamps bobbing up the steep trail, gaining altitude. I was exhausted and I wanted to give up.  But with encouragement from my counselors, I pushed on.

As early daylight broke on the mountain, we were able to see our progress.  I was encouraged by how high we had climbed.  In the valley below, our tents were so small they were hard to see.  And then we saw an eagle fly.  Not above us, but below us.  Looking down on that powerful bird as it soared across the sky was a shift for my brain.

We pressed on.  After a while, we could see the summit — it was only a few hundred yards away.  I was so excited I joined other campers and we ran… only to discover… it was a false peak.  We learned an important life lesson: don’t burn out racing up false peaks.  I was exhausted, but because of my counselors, because of how much they believed in me, I never gave up.  We pressed on.  It seemed like we were hiking across a lunar landscape.

Climbing a 14er

We were above tree line, no vegetation, the squeak of pikas all around us.  Hours moved like minutes.  We fought the wind and cheered each other on.  Finally, we scrambled over rocks that were billions of years old and reached the summit.  We did it.  There was a mystic silence as we stood on the peak and watched the sun rise over the Rockies.  I laughed with delight, bonding with my Big Spring brothers.  I couldn’t wait to climb again.

Standing on top is amazing, but the summit is not the goal.   The reason we climb a mountain is just that:  to climb.   One of my favorite climbs was years ago, when I was a counselor myself and our camp trip didn’t even reach the top.  A storm rolled in over Mount Harvard and pushed us down long before the summit.  We returned to base camp and took shelter from the cloudburst.  We still had a great climb.  It was an epic trip, long remembered, even though we didn’t make it to the top.  The goal is not only the summit, the goal is the journey, the strength you gain from the climb, and the memories.

Standing on top of the world

When we climb mountains, it clarifies our thinking.  The disorder of our lives — the argument with a friend, the bad grade in algebra — all of it is forgotten.  The mountain is all that matters.  It gives us perspective.  When we climb, the mountain speaks to us in geologic time, a slow-motion language, and it reminds us that that problems are fleeting and life is truly a gift.


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!

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.

Starry Night Gala for the John Austin Cheley Foundation

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Sanborn Staff Members in front of the "Lapis Icicle Tower"...oh the irony!

On Saturday, September 27th, 2014, the Sanborn Western Camps administrative team brushed the dust off of their dress clothes and popped down to the Denver Botanic Gardens to not only see the incredibly Dale Chihuly exhibit and the new Science Pyramid, but to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the John Austin Cheley Foundation.

As stated in its mission, The John Austin Cheley Foundation funds need-based camperships for high potential youth to attend extended-stay wilderness summer camps that have a proven track record of positively impacting youth development. Sanborn has been an Associate Camp with the JACF for almost two decades. Other associate camps include: Cheley Colorado Camps in Estes Park, CO; Friendly Pines Camp in Prescott, AZ; Camp Thunderbird in Bemidji, MN; and Colvig Silver Camps in Durango, CO.

Over 400 individuals were in attendance at the event which included admission to the gardens and museum, a silent auction, dinner and two excellent keynote addresses, one from Rue Mapp of Outdoor Afro, and the other from our very own camper, Luis Ochoa.

Rue Mapp spoke at length about the importance of connecting young people to the outdoors; while Luis simply spoke about the impact Sanborn, and the Brotherhood of Outdoorsmen, has had on his personal growth and development. Ms. Mapp believes that parents in underserved communities must first understand the benefits of connecting to the outdoors before they will be able to understand the benefit of a camp experience, and that exposure to nature has to happen at a family, grassroots, and community level.  Luis Ochoa said, “I used to think BOOM was a only sound—like an explosion in movies—but now I understand it is a brotherhood: The Brotherhood of Outdoorsmen.”  Luis also went on to talk about how the connections in the close-knit Big Spring community have allowed him to be a successful student at the rigorous Philips-Exeter academy. “Before I went to Sanborn,” Luis said, “I didn’t know who I was as a person, and how to express myself….Camp gave me the confidence to talk, and when you go to a school where every class is a discussion, that is HUGE.”

The Big Spring Brotherhood Represents

The evening was a huge success, both in raising funds to help send even more campers to camp, but also because it made everyone collected under the “Starry Skies” of the twinkle-lit tent at the Botanic Gardens understand the power of the camp experience. Even Hollywood seasoned actor, Jason Ritter, who was the emcee for the evening, found it hard to put the impact of the camp experience into words. Yet for him, and for most of us, camp simply “changed my life.”

“Camp Matters” is the official slogan of the John Austin Cheley Foundation and after being part of such an excited group of passionate camp professionals and camp supporters, it is officially true, too. If you would like to learn more or help send a deserving young person to camp, please visit:

To see more photos of the evening, please visit our Facebook page.

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!

Cooking With Fire #1: Spanish Tortilla

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014


Tea has been running rampant through the office. Our electric kettle, decorated with orange and brown flowers, first began its journey at the PPRS Research Station, made it’s way to South Platte, and finally to the offices of the Sanborn Blog. But don’t let word get out to the wonderful men and women working downstairs– the kettle barely makes 2 1/2 cups as is. Tea is our major defense against the cold days, along with fleeces, flannels, and beanies (or knit caps, toboggans, bobcaps, stocking caps, a tabby cap, a watch cap, or in Canada, a tuque; this interactive map will help you decide: How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk). But we’re here to talk about eggs and sprouts, not if you say hoagie or grinder.

Spanish Tortilla, along with Brussels Sprouts and Chicken

1 red pepper

1 onion

1 large sweet tater

12 eggs from Marty’s chickens



3 cloves of garlic

coconut oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

chili powder

chicken breast with lemon

Brussels sprouts

JB scrambled up the eggs along with a bit of milk. He put the cut veggies into a 10-inch cast iron skillet and sauteed them with coconut oil, salt and pepper to taste, and some butter. Once the veggies started to brown he poured in the egg and cooked over medium heat. Some recipes call to flip the tortilla halfway into cooking it, but JB chose not to. A little chili powder was added. On the side he baked chicken breast at 400 degrees till done, along with lemon, onions, and salt and pepper to taste. The Brussels sprouts were sauteed in a 12-inch skillet with salt and pepper.

The Spanish tortilla is best served with friends and family on a cold, snowy night. 3 year old children seem to like all elements of the Spanish tortilla, yet 5 year olds seem aversed to certain vegetables. Broccoli was a hit with all ages. If there is no side of chicken, along with growing children in the household, ham can replace the sweet tater in the tortilla. Theoretically.

JB takes a quick moment to battle local wildlife.