Archive for the ‘Leadership and Teambuilding’ Category

News from Camp: February 1, 2017

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

We've had some gorgeous days to tromp through the snow. We love seeing Pikes Peak rise up through the clouds!

Although we haven’t had a lot of snow this month, it has been pretty cold and wintry here at Big Spring and High Trails. Elk, deer and Ninja Squirrels have heavy coats and seem to be staying warm through the season. Two deer are hanging out in one of our open storage sheds, sometimes startling our maintenance department when they come to work in the morning.

Mike Mac, Elizabeth, and Mike Adler enjoyed seeing many of you as they traveled through the Midwest with our digital slide show program last week. They appreciated their warm receptions and enthusiasm for the coming summer.

February is a busy month as we prepare for the summer of 2017. 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 Albuquerque in mid-February, and we will be participating in full force. Jane is the Program Chairperson for the conference and has been working on an outstanding educational program for many months. Ariella, Elizabeth, and Patrick will be leading educational sessions at the conference, and Jessie is an official photographer for the event. Mike Mac, Mike Adler, Mark, Jalen, Carlotta, Anne, Val, Megan, Martie, and Sarah K. 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.

Our maintenance team continues to work on various projects to improve our facilities. They are finishing up a major plumbing project at Big Spring and continue to work on interior renovations in the High Trails Lodge.

Maren, Rachel, and Annie are hard at work preparing the riding program for next summer and making sure the horses are all ready for their busy season. It won’t be long before we start having new calves at the Witcher Ranch.

The staff team in 2016 was incredible and we are so excited for some of them to return! We are especially excited to meet all the new 2017 staffers who will be equally as awesome!

We are all excited about the community that is coming together for the summer of 2017 and can’t wait to begin the fun. We are happy to mail our new brochure to anyone interested in camp and to provide references for new families. If camp is in your plans, please let us know soon, as we have many grades in both terms at High Trails and the first term at Big Spring which are filled or near filling. Several terms of Sanborn Junior are also building waiting lists.

The sun is shining brightly today, reminding us that summer is only four months away!

Family Time, Game Time

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

Passing the Wah in "The Wah Game" can get really crazy.

This afternoon was our annual COEC holiday luncheon. We get together and sit around the tables at The Nature Place to enjoy good food and the fellowship of our coworkers. As Mike said, “we all work together, yet sometimes only see each other in passing or on this day”. The ranch is big and our duties are various, yet we are all working toward a common mission. It is fun to sit around a table together and laugh about the funny stories that have made up the past year. It is like sitting around the tables at both the High Trails and Big Spring lodges during the summer and sharing stories of daily adventures or long trips.

Football is the not only game that requires a huddle. Giants, Elves, & Wizards also requires a solid game plan.

We know that many of you will soon be traveling to be with family or will be welcoming family into your home. The stories and conversations will flow out while enjoying a delicious meal. We imagine some of these stories will be told by current campers and will probably lead into to memories from all of you former campers. We can just hear the stories now…

“We were hiking uphill all 22 miles from Tipi Village to Quicks Homestead” (We know camp stories tend to sound a lot like fishin’ stories) “It was so hot, so we stopped for water and a game break. Our counselor taught us this new game called Llama Llama. It’s so hilarious!”

Stories are the best! And so are games! We recently discovered that were too many people in the office who had no idea how to do the Broom Dance. Jane and Ariella were shocked and saddened, and soon the ninja squirrels outside could hear some raucous broom dancing. “Cough-cough AHEM!” It took a while for everyone to catch on, that it was hard to dance because we were laughing so much, but we are proud to say the entire Sanborn office can now do the Broom Dance.

Games put a smile on everyone's face around here - Enjoy!

It got us thinking, though, about all our favorite camp games. There are many that bring up memories of fun counselors, or that time so-and-so fell down playing Ninja. There are the debates over the correct rules for Crossed and Uncrossed or the Stick Game. Even with all the discussion and A Bag of Tricks book, we came to the consensus that Jane’s rules are THE rules.

So at your family gatherings this year, when the stories die down, what do you do next? Not the dishes! Ask your current campers to teach you the Llama game, the 2016 Sanborn Game of the Year, or any of their favorites. You ‘ol timers can brush up on your broom dance. This is a great way to share memories of camp with friends and family around your table – well after, or before, the dishes are done.

P.S. If you need a refresher on how to play a game, check out Youtube or just Google it. We were surprised at how many tutorials we could find.

News from Camp: September 1st, 2015

Friday, September 4th, 2015

Don't worry...This Window, That Window and The Other Window signs will be back!

It is much too quiet around camp   The fields, hills, and lodges are filled with great memories from the summer of 2015, and we are grateful to have had the opportunity to spend this time with so many outstanding campers and staff.

One of our tasks during the weeks following camp is to collect and distribute all the lost and found items.  We have now mailed every major article which has a name to the owner.  We still have some jackets, boots, and other items of clothing which do not have names.  Please let us know if your camper is missing something and we will do everything we can to track it down and send it to you.

Our outdoor education program staff has arrived and we will begin welcoming sixth graders to High Trails Outdoor Education Center on September 8.  Among the summer staff who have returned to teach during this program are Mike Adler, Janie Cole, Melody Reeves, Jared Allen, Anne Ulizio, Nick Jordan, and Jalen Bazile. Patrick Perry, Carlotta Avery, Sarah Ulizio, and Jackson Blackburn will provide leadership for the program.

An outstanding hay crew consisting of Jim Larsen, Joe Lopez, Ian Stafford, Matthew Huffman, and Anne Shingler has been working hard to bring in our hay crop this year. The cattle and horses are very grateful for their work because the hay will provide their nourishment through the winter months.

Our maintenance crew has been busy since camp ended. They have completed a beautiful new over the road sign at the entrance to Big Spring and have almost finished a big job at the High Trails Lodge—installing new electricity, new paneling, and new windows. We think it will be a big hit with all the High Trails diners.

We have several exciting events this Fall in addition to our traditional schedule.  On September 4 we will be providing leadership training for students from School District 20 high schools.  We have developed this outstanding program over the past few years and are always excited to work with these motivated teens. And on September 19, we will again join with the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument to celebrate “No Child Left Inside Day” by hosting an open house.  We will be offering a program of nature-based activities and hikes for families who would like to get their children outdoors for the day.  There is no cost for the event.  We also have an Alum Reunion planned for October 15-18, and are looking forward to welcoming many old friends back to camp.

We are already thinking about next summer and have established our dates.  The first term at Big Spring and High Trails will be Sunday, June 12 – Tuesday, July 12, 2016. The second term will be Friday, July 15 – Sunday, August 14.  The four terms of Sanborn Junior will be June 12 – June 26, June 28 – July 12, July 15 – July 29, and July 31 -August 14.  We have sent this information to current camp families and will send additional information in October to camp families, former camp families, and prospective camp families. If you would like to receive our catalog and DVD or know someone who would, we will be happy to mail them at any time.

Each month we will post news from camp on the website, so keep checking it out!  Right now, a few gold leaves are showing on the Aspen, and the sky is incredibly blue.  A large herd of elk is hanging out at Potts Spring and the horses are wondering why no one comes each day to ride them.  We wish all of our camp friends a great beginning to the school year and hope that everyone will keep in touch.

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: 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!

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.

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: www.cheleyfoundation.org

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

B Strong, Find Your Community

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

I Zigga Zumba?

Last night, the Boston Red Sox won the 2013 World Series.  The media celebrates the Cinderella “From Worst to First” baseball story; the players celebrate the fans and the city; and the Team Manager, John Farrell, celebrates the players.

The Boston Marathon bombing was tragic and terrifying, yet the story that has unfolded as the Red Sox moved toward the pennant was anything but.  Winning a world championship in America’s game with a motley crew of bearded dudes and players who hail from Aruba, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Japan, and all over the US sounds both incredible and a bit like Opening Day at Big Spring.

When it comes to describing the way the team worked together, the word that we keep hearing is “chemistry.”  I would argue that it should be “community.”  That is what these men have, and they have it because—from day one of spring training—they pushed themselves to be the best team they could be.  That is why they were incredibly fun to watch both during the season and in post-season play.  One could tell that they truly enjoyed each other.  From the beard pulling to the varied personnel executing key hits to the hilarious head butting on first base to their individual passion for the game, these men created community through tradition, ritual, irreverence, hard work, and their collective desire to support one another.  It was this community which carried them through mishaps, errors, and challenges into first place in the American League…and now, into history as the 2013 World Series champions.

Why, as a nation, are we so enamored?  Why do we love this 95-years-in-the-making story so much?

Because, at our cores, we understand that community and a sense of belonging makes us more responsible and caring.  Because we understand that supporting one another when times are tough, or tragic, is more important than our individual day-to-day stressors.  Because we understand that community can, and should, include people from all over the world who are invested in a common purpose.  Because we need to see grit and quality character modeled regularly so we can internalize and realize our own authentic selves.  Because we love the inside jokes, the fun, the joy, and the playfulness of people who don’t take themselves too seriously and simply love the game.  Because we appreciate giving, respectful, model leaders who have the class to recognize and applaud the fierce strength of their opponents before the press corps can ask a single question about their victory.  Because we want to see perseverance, effort, trust and unselfish teamwork be rewarded.  And all of this because we want to root for the underdog.

At one point in our lives, each of us was an underdog.  And many of us were, and are, fortunate enough to have a community of unique individuals that celebrated our mundane, sublime, monumental and ridiculous accomplishments.  We often find ourselves at our most “underdog” moments when we feel powerless, voiceless, unmoored and lost.  For some, that might have been in middle school, for others—right now.  Yet, when we found—or find– “our people” “our community” “our place”—suddenly we had and have the support to be more confident, strong and directed.

Community.  That is both the lesson and legacy of the 2013 Boston Red Sox and the realized vision of Laura and Sandy Sanborn: when we can come together, connect face-to-face, overcome obstacles and simply play…amazing things will happen.

Congratulations, Boston.  Thanks for modeling one heck-of-a-fun sense of community.

~Ariella Rogge

Disclaimer:  The opinions (and overt team support) expressed in this blog post belong to the author who wrote the blog post and don’t necessarily reflect the views (or preferred team/teams) of the organization and its members(We love you, too, St. Louis)

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!