Archive for the ‘American Camp Association’ Category

Resilience, Research and MORE at Sanborn

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

BMWs: Beautiful Mountain Women

Last year, High Trails campers participated in research on the development of resiliency in girls through the camp experience. COEC Director of Research, Heather Huffman, Ed.M. Harvard, Ph.D. UCLA, worked in concert with researcher Anja Whittington, Ph.D. of Radford University to test her newly designed measurement tool, the “Adolescent Girls’ Resilience Scale.” Surveys were administered to a specific population at camp at both the beginning and end of each term and we wanted to share our results with you.

Overall, High Trails campers showed a positive and significant change in their resiliency scores by the end of camp.  Specifically, the girls’ scores increased in the areas of Positive Approach to Challenge, Self-Efficacy, Relationship-Building, and Confidence. Their scores did not change significantly in the area of Positive Peer Relationships. Scores did not decrease in any area. What does this mean, you ask? Read on to learn more about the AGRS scale and how resilience can be defined in the camp environment.

From the Adolescent Girls’ Resilience Scale (AGRS) website:

Simply stated, Resilience is the ability to negotiate and successfully cope with risks, challenges, and/or disadvantages. This includes having feelings of confidence and self-efficacy, being able to approach challenges in a positive manner and developing positive relationships with others.

The AGRS measures several components of girls’ resilience.  This includes:

  • Approach to Challenge: the degree to which girls view challenge positively; respond positively to stressful situations; feel brave and courageous; show persistence, and are flexible when problem solving.
  • Self-Efficacy: the degree to which girls believe that they are capable and believe they have the ability and motivation to complete tasks and reach goals.
  • Relationship Building: the degree to which  girl’s form positive relationships with others, successfully negotiating conflicts in relationships, and feel comfortable with and supported by other girls.
  • Confidence: represents an adaptive approach to challenge and sense of self-efficacy.
  • Positive Peer Relationships: includes interactions with peers and how one interacts with or feels about their peers.

Teamwork and Adventure

The goal of the AGRS is to measure change in the potential for resilience among adolescent girls (ages 10-18) as a result of participating in a broad range of programs designed to promote resilience among girls, such as adventure programming or camp experiences.  The AGRS was tested over three years with a total of approximately 1500 girls from various organizations.

Both Dr. Whittington and Dr. Huffman’s research is instrumental to determining OUR ability to achieve our mission and demonstrate quantitatively that we actually DO what we say we do at camp. The best part? Dr Whittington and her research team are making the AGRS available to the public for free–with the recognition that it is a measurement to be used in outdoor, adventure programming or camp experiences for girls. Just visit to learn more.
In addition, over the last four summers, our campers have participated in the ACA’s Youth Outcomes Battery–a measurement tool that can help us show the specific “take-aways” our campers gain at Sanborn Western Camps. We have aligned the ACA’s measurements with our own mission: to live together in the outdoors, building a sense of self, a sense of community, a sense of the earth and a sense of wonder through fun and adventure. Each summer we focused on one set of outcomes aligned with one of the four pillars of our mission: self, community, earth and wonder. We are in the process of examining all of the results from the last four summers and translating that data into meaningful information we can share with parents, alums, campers, and others who are interested in the benefits of the camp experience.

Courage and Competence: The Sanborn High Ropes Course

We know that our camp experience helps develop resilience in girls and we also know that camp has a positive impact on the development of a child’s independence, perceived competence, responsibility, problem solving-confidence, friendship skills, teamwork, camp connectedness, family citizenship, interest in exploration, and affinity for nature…and we can’t wait to share even more of the hard data that says, “Camp is an important part of a child’s healthy development,” because we have known that for over 65 years.

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.

Jane Sanborn Receives Colorado College Spirit of Adventure Award

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Sanborn Western Camps and Colorado College have a long, storied history. The Admissions team used to hunker down at The Nature Place to finalize their annual freshman class; every summer (and many Outdoor Education seasons) we hire CC students and graduates as staff; we have relationships with many faculty members past and present; and we even have a few Colorado College graduates on our year-round staff. One notable Colorado College grad is our Executive Director, Jane Sanborn. Among other things, she credits Colorado College for her affinity for Shakespeare, for her witty editorial voice, and for her ability to solve multifaceted problems in creative ways.

This upcoming Saturday, October 11, 2014, Jane Sanborn will receive the Spirit of Adventure Award at Colorado College’s Opening Convocation Ceremony in Shove Memorial Chapel. The Spirit of Adventure Award is one of only four Alumni awards presented during Opening Convocation. 

This award “recognizes an alumnus/a, who exemplifies the unique CC experience through a life of intellectual, social or physical adventure. These attributes are characterized by Robert M. Ormes ’26, English Professor, Colorado College, 1952-1973 who was the inaugural award recipient.  He was an adventurer of the mind, body and the spirit which exemplifies much of what is special about Colorado College.”

The College profiled Jane in both a recent Alumni magazine as well as in the Homecoming registration materials and shared this biography and description:

“An adventurer’s spirit has guided Jane McAtee Sanborn ’70 throughout her career at Sanborn Western Camps/Colorado Outdoor Education Center, a nonprofit that focuses on teaching and practicing teamwork, perseverance, responsibility, independence, and critical thinking. As executive director, Jane leads Sanborn Western Camps, which involves 700 young people each summer in an active outdoor program. She oversees the High Trails Outdoor Education Center, which provides residential outdoor education programs for sixth graders. Through the Nature Conference Center, Colorado Outdoor Education offers programs for adults and families, in addition to providing outstanding team and leadership development programs for MBA students, educators, and corporate groups. Jane served two terms as president of the American Camp Association (ACA)-Rocky Mountain Region, and as a member of the ACA National Public Policy Committee. She currently serves as chair of the ACA National Conference and chair of the ACA National Children, Nature, and Camps Committee. She is a recipient of the Rocky Mountain ACA’s Distinguished Service Award, and the ACA’s National Service, and National Honor awards. Jane, who was a Boettcher Scholar at CC, served two terms on the Colorado Governor’s Advisory Committee for Child Care Licensing. Prior to serving as executive director of COEC, she was director of the High Trails Ranch for Girls Summer Camp for 30 years.”

At 11 a.m. on Saturday morning, Colorado College President President Jill Tiefenthaler and Alumni Association Board President Chris Moon Schluter ’65 will present the Benezet, Worner, Riley, and Spirit of Adventure Awards. Everyone is invited to attend this special ceremony that honors our distinguished award recipients and will feature remarks from President Tiefenthaler. Shove Memorial Chapel is located on the west side of Nevada Avenue between E Cache La Poudre and Uintah Streets.

We look forward to seeing you on Saturday and to celebrating Jane’s adventurous accomplishments in both the community and in the world!

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!

November News Update

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

We miss the golden Aspen...but they will be green again before we know it!

After a long and beautiful Indian Summer, with golden and red aspen trees lasting into late October, winter arrived last week in the form of wind and colder temperatures.  We still have not seen much snow, however.  We are certainly thinking about our many friends on the East Coast and wishing you the best as the clean-up from Hurricane Sandy moves forward.

The High Trails Outdoor Education Center staff will finish an outstanding outdoor education season on November 9th.  They hosted a fantastic Halloween event for the Colorado Springs District 20 students, as well as helped almost 1,500 sixth grade students, high school “counselors”, teachers and administrators connect with the natural world in a positive, transformational way.

We are happy to announce that our Sanborn Semester school will begin in January 2014!  The Sanborn Semester is a semester school for motivated, aspirational high school students who are looking for an alternative to traditional classroom learning.  Classes feature hands-on experiences, inspirational educators, service projects and regular field trips to explore the many facets of the Rocky Mountains.  Electives even include Western Horsemanship and Bicycle Maintenance!  Students will live, study and exchange ideas in the comfortable facilities of  The Nature Place.  Call Chris Tholl at 719.748.3341 or visit for more information.  Scholarships are available.

Our maintenance crew has made excellent use of the good weather and has built four new tent frames on STUW Ridge at Big Spring.  These are similar to the new tent frames they have built on HKL and MOPQ ridges over the past two years. They have also put new roofs on three cabins at High Trails.  If our sunny days continue, they will complete several more roofing projects this winter.  One of their winter projects will be to build new Gaga Ball pits for both Big Spring and High Trails.

Maren reports that the horses are very happy grazing in the Fish Creek Meadows. They have appreciated taking it easy and munching sweet mountain grass to their heart’s content after their busy summer in the Big Spring and High Trails Riding programs.

We will be again be hosting the American Camp Association—Rocky Mountain Region Annual workshop in mid-November.  Attended by camp leaders from several states, this is a wonderful educational and networking opportunity and many of our year round staff will be attending and, in some cases, presenting programs.  Big Spring Director Mike MacDonald is the current President of the Rocky Mountain Region.

Early morning mountain climbs...the best!

We are all looking forward to the relative calm of the winter season and the opportunity it provides to improve our programs and our facilities. We will meet soon to select dates for some of our exceptional trips next summer.  These include four- and five-day backpacking trips on Mts. Elbert and Massive, Mts. Harvard and Yale, Pikes Peak, the Colorado Trail, Buffalo Peaks, the Tarryall Mountains and several more spectacular wilderness areas.  We will also plan mountain climbing trips to Mt. Huron, Mt Ouray, Mt. Oxford and Belford, La Plata Peak, Mt. Quandary, Mt. Democrat, Mt. Princeton and ten more Colorado “Fourteeners”.  We are already anticipating the fun and challenge of these amazing adventures.

Plans are underway for Mike and Elizabeth’s January—February trip to the Midwest with the camp road show.  A schedule of their travels will be posted on the website, and we will be sending information about the shows to camp families, alums, and those who are interested in exploring the opportunities at Big Spring, High Trails and Sanborn Junior.

Many of you have received enrollment information in the past month, and we are always happy to send our brochure and DVD to new families.  We offer an early bird tuition discount for enrollments we receive before December 1. We have already received a significant number of enrollments for 2013 and are excited to watch the High Trails and Big Spring communities take shape.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!


Saturday, July 14th, 2012

July 13, 2012

Opening Day Second Term!!!  The cars rolled in, the buses arrived, and by dinner our Second Term campers were all here.  After waiting half the summer for camp, they are ready for camp, and we are very excited to have them here!

Many campers have already been to the stables, picked up their rental equipment, explored the camp, and played a game of volleyball.  Tomorrow, we’ll be doing more horse program introductions, some super hikes, and making sure everyone has the camping equipment they will need for the summer.

Take a look at the website for more opening day photos for Big Spring and High Trails and remember that we’ll post another update and some more photos on Sunday night.  Jane

ACA Explore 30 — enter Big Spring Read-a-Thon

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Challenge: During the summer children experience “summer learning loss” when they are not involved in high quality programs with opportunities for skill building.  As a result, young people can forget up to 2 months of academic instruction, particularly in the areas of reading and math when they are not in school. Camps and other youth development programs provide the opportunity to reduce summer learning loss in an expanded learning environment where children are engaged experientially and have an opportunity for additional academic enrichment.

- taken from ACA Explore 30 web site

Our new Big Spring Library is fully equipped with books about astronomy, Colorado flora & fauna, as well as two full shelves each of fiction and non, children book series and picture books for those bed-time read-a-louds!  Plus board games, maps and other fun resources for campers and counselors to make camp an enriching environment!

We began a Read-a-Thon at the beginning of the session and about 23 counselors and 26 campers took part in the four-week-long challenge. The record was around 5,300 pages read thus far by a counselor, and not far behind was another counselor with about 5,100 pages read, and Liam Kelly, a camper, with 3,120 pages!

Stay tuned for next session’s Read-a-Thon!

High Trails 50th Summer Staff

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Here at High Trails it’s been a long standing tradition to ask only the most important questions. You see we don’t like to waste our time on frivolous things like seating charts and upholstery patterns… Instead we wonder things like what kitchen utensil would you be and why? Or: What is your favorite musical experience you’ve experienced? We also ask ladies to imagine the most perfect weather… what are you going to do on such a day? Any particularly odd or weird things you can or like to do? Any by the way, if you were stranded on a desert island, what’s the one item you would bring with you?

This summer we are pleased to have some exceptionally talented, intelligent and strong women on our staff. We’ve also come to learn how quite funny and witty they all are, yet always kind and compassionate as well! During our 50th summer we are looking forward to remembering the history of camp with some old traditions and continuing with current projects like our GROW STRONG Initiative! Happy reading as you get to know us a little bit here and we can’t wait to meet you in person on opening day!

Juniper West

Juniper West (left-right)

Lucia Nunez

I am from Colorado Springs and am attending Scripps College to study Environmental Analysis. My dream vacation spot would definitely be Italy! I like to ballroom dance and am currently reading The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm! If I had to choose a kitchen utensil, I’d be a water bottle because I would save someone from using disposable water bottles AND have some awesome adventures – especially this summer!

Stacey Murrell

I come from Littleton, CO and am attending Malcalester College to study History, Political Science and Educational Studies. In the kitchen I would be a fryer in order to make things crunchy, salty, and delicious with a tough exterior and savory interior, but while frying I’d probably be eating super spicy chicken wings! I wonder what they would be like fried?!? The most interesting talent I have is that I can transcribe Elvish (Lord of the Rings), so of course if I was on an island I’d take a bow and arrows! Then, I could make my own adventures and live out Lord of the Rings/ Elf dreams… someone would probably write a book about me too!

Robin Gallagher

Hello there! I am from Mason, Texas and just graduated from Texas A& M with a degree in Animal Science and Agricultural Economics. The most important thing about me is that I am a happy person and I want you to be happy too! And of course dark chocolate (my favorite midnight snack) is always an important part of a well – balanced meal! I can’t wait for the campers to arrive and we get to have adventures together!

Juniper East (Left to right)

Juniper East

Whitney Walker

I spent the last 5 years living in Westminster, CO, but recently moved back to my hometown of Springdale, Arkansas – and am now back in Colorado for the summer! I have a BA in English from the University of Arkansas and a MLIS in Library and Information Studies from the University of Oklahoma. I’m planning to also work toward an MA in Journalism in the near future! Seeing “They Might Be Giants” on their “Flood” tour last year was a pretty awesome musical experience! Although, I would like to meet Mozart and chat with him about music – maybe I could introduce him to some of my favorites! This summer I’m super excited to become an expert fire building and campfire chef!

Haley Dukart

I am from Masonville, CO and attend the University of Wyoming to study Art Education with a Spanish minor. Someday, I’d like to travel all over the world and see all there is to see! Chief Sitting Bull, Cleopatra and John Lennon are 3 historical figures I’d like to meet.  The most important thing about me is I’m a very kind, friendly, trusting, and fun person. I follow my heart and stick to my gut feeling whenever possible.

Angela Scruggs

My hometown is Hendersonville, TN near Nashville and I am studying Statistics at the University of Tennessee KnoxvilleOne. Traveling to Switzerland and seeing the Alps, especially during an Olympic Games, would be a dream come true! I love awkward moments and laughing at awkward moments. So I end up laughing at myself a lot. And my greatest passion is helping the people of Haiti in any way possible. By the way… I can wiggle my ears on command!

Ponderosa West (Clockwise from Top)

Emily Abel

I’m from the mountains of Western North Carolina – lived in Franklin, NC for a while, then moved to Otto, NC, and now – when I’m not at school in Winston-Salem – I live in Black Mountain, NC. So…when people ask me this question, I typically just say “The mountains of Western North Carolina.” :P   I’m currently pursuing a double major in Sociology and Spanish  with a minor in Psychology at Salem College.  A deserted island actually sounds like a pretty great vacation to me, but I’d still bring some sort of satellite radio communication system so that I could get in contact with someone to ah…get me off of the island that I could only bring one thing to. :P Hopefully the battery would not be dead when I got there.

Ponderosa West

Kelsey Coon

I live in St. Augustine, Florida and grew up in Jacksonville. FL. I attend Flagler College and am studying Fine Arts and Graphic Design. I love to find live music gigs at little coffee shops and enjoy the show! I love the challenge of rock climbing and am stoked to meet new people during my first summer here at Sanborn!

Casey Carr

I am from Buffalo, NY and am a sophomore at Cornell University, studying Nutritional Sciences. I am currently reading The Book Thief, which has nothing to do with the fact that my dream vacation spot would be somewhere in the Swiss/ Italian Alps! My favorite midnight snack is an orange or clementine, but the most important thing about me is that I appreciate good souls!

Ponderosa East (Left to Right)

Kat Jarvinen

I traveled to camp from Evergreen, Colorado – it took near forever to get here! I am attending Reed College in Portland, Oregon and

Ponderosa East

am still figuring out my best course of study. I’m considering Chemistry, Anthropology and Religion as potential majors! I’m currently reading House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, but can’t wait to also start reading something aloud with my campers in the evenings. I’m excited to be back at camp and have lots of adventures!

Chelsea Davenport

Tulsa, Oklahoma is my hometown, but I attend Colorado College in Colorado Springs, CO to study Psychology with a, Art: Theory and Practice minor. Currently my dream vacation spot is Greece, but we’ll see what other places I learn about that might intrigue me! I love to dance and performed an interpretive dance piece to a piano piece my friend composted for the final performance of one of his classes! I’d love to meet Einstein and discuss Quantum Physics as well as hair products.

Kelsey (Kelso) Shumate

I am from Fayetteville, Arkansas and am studying French at the University of Arkansas.  Thailand is definitely my dream vacation – A day of elephants, yoga, beaches, and endless Pad Thai sounds like a dream come true to me. Nothing compares to music around a campfire – so all of my friends playing all kinds of different instruments and singing around a fire is a great musical experience! With all the love and energy in the kitchen, I would be the sponge, so I could soak it all up!

Silver Spruce West (left to right)

Hannah Flink

I am another Colorado girl from Littleton and am attending the University of Colorado at Boulder to study Psychology/ Sociology. It was really cool when I performed in an a cappella group! I’d like to be a spatula that spends a lot of time mixing cake batter – yummy! I am so excited to share my passion for the outdoors with the campers! And P.S. I can make air come out my eyes…

Silver Spruce West

Maggie Kittner

I am from a very small town on the border of Mass. and NY called Great Barrington. I am attending Elon University in North Carolina to study Acting. I saw Lady Gaga in concert at 6 Flags New England before she was famous! I would take a huge radio/ boombox that has access to every music station ever to a deserted island! Don’t forget to ask me to wiggle my eyebrows like Ace Ventura!

Kelsey Wessels

I am from Howard County, Maryland and am attending Wake Forest University, studying Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies. Chocolate covered pretzels are my favorite midnight snack and I think sporks are the silliest (and yet most genius) utensil ever! The most important thing about me is that I’m always the one who laughs the hardest at my own jokes!

Silver Spruce East (left to right)

Silver Spruce West

Hannah Weisbecker

I am from Lincolnwood, IL, but am currently attending Tulane University and am deciding whether to study English or physics engineering. Currently I love learning to longboard in great sunshiny weather. I’ll know I’m really good when I can longboard on the camp roads! Really the most important thing you should know about me is that I love eating Cheerios and 2% milk for a midnight snack!!! Also, I am really looking forward to playing my guitar at vespers this summer!

Taylor Indrebo

I am currently studying Recreation and Outdoor Education at Western State College of Colorado! My perfect weather day is crazy thick fog. When you walk through it, it’s like being in another world! Along those lines, I would like to vacation on the Moon – I like cheese! But the most important think about me is – I am who I am!

Claire Pendergrast

coming soon

Cedar Lodge West (clockwise from top)

Cedar Lodge West

Eva Metz

Coming soon

Katherine Friedel

I am from Overland Park, KS and am studying Environmental Studies at the University of Kansas. Fun fact about me: I can touch my tongue to my nose and cross my eyes at the same time! I am so excited to be here for the camping, hiking, horseback riding – this is my dream vacation spot! And when I’m not doing any of those things you’ll find me sitting outside reading a book!

Hailey Jung

My hometown is Billings, Montana and I attend Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington where I am studying Anthropology, Global Studies and French.  The most important thing about me is that I am a devoted Hanson fan and I got to see them in concert with my sister Megan last year! I love pretzels, dry cereal and ice cream – separate or together! And if it were a bit cloudy and rainy, but warm I would hike all up and down the Pacific Coast!

Cedar Lodge East (left to right)

Kate Smith

I am from San Anselmo, California and am attending George Washington University to study Security Policy and International

Cedar Lodge East

Affairs. Probably the first thing you should know about me is that I can lick my nose (comes in handy when eating ice cream cones)! I’d like to have a girls’ night with Katharine Hepburn – she’d probably appreciate the nose trick too! I’m most looking forward to meeting people that I will become best friends with, and climbing mountains this summer!

Bry Meloni

Hello! I am from the great state of Michigan and earned a BFA in Production Design with a focus in Stage Management from Michigan State and will be attending the University of Colorado in Denver to study nursing in the fall! I’d love to travel anywhere I haven’t been and has a sense of adventure to it! One of my greatest memories is sitting backstage of Phantom of the Opera in the Broadhurst Theatre with the calling stage manager and the conductor struck up the orchestra for the overture. Not only was the music striking and stunning, but I literally felt it in my bones. It was one of the most full-bodied experiences I have ever had.

Crystal Palace East (left to right)

Crystal Palace East

Mary Gigliotti

I am from Jamestown. NC and attend the University of NC in Wilmington and am studying Environmental Studies. Good thing I’ve come back to camp where the food is amazing, since I can eat an impressive amount of food when it is something really yummy! That, and I love river trips, cabinside overnights, long trips, the scenery, etc. etc.  Of course, I would be the cookie jar and make sure I’m always full for midnight cookie runs!

Julia Hunter

I come from New Orleans, LA and am currently attend Duke University to study Pre- Med and French. In the kitchen, I would be a wooden spoon because they stay cool – even under heat! They are also good for making popcorn, sweet potato fries and pumpkin pie – all things I enjoy eating at midnight! This summer I am so excited to spend my time OUTDOORS walking through the mountains!

Maya Witte

My hometown is Columbia Heights, Minnesota and I am studying Liberal Studies – Global Non-Profit Leadership at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. I love musical jam sessions with my friends and stove-popped popcorn. Just so you know – I can cluck like a chicken while shaking my eyes!

Crystal Palace West (left to right)

Annamaria (A.M.) Viazzo

I come from Larchmont, NY, am attending Stony Brook University to study Biology and Bioengineering. I would really like to travel

Crystal Palace West

around Australia. Wherever I am, when the weather is sunny and dry, I’d go hiking with friends; bring a picnic lunch and a soccer ball for a pick- up game! If I could be a kitchen utensil, I would pick a man powered rotary egg beater because they’re pretty handy and just fun to play with!

Katie Powers

I come from Sherwood, Oregon and study Business Marketing at Portland State University. The one item I’d bring to a deserted island would be Emily Katz – of course, she’d be both helpful and entertaining! I love a good apple, anytime of day, but especially at night – good thing we have so many apples here at camp! And everyone should know that I can fold my tongue in half – hamburger style (not hot dog style!)

Kinnikinnik East (left to right)

Kinnikinnik East

Valerie Peterson

I am from Wichita, Kansas and am studying History and Sociology and would like to teach sometime in the future.  If I could imagine my plans for a day with the most perfect weather, I would have an outdoor party in the grass with cute little lights and awesome music (and since this is imaginary I’m adding a white fine sand beach and a lake) and lots of my friends and we’d all be barefoot and play outdoor games. And then, I’d sleep in my hammock under the moon! – And since I’ve perfected the most perfect combination of cheese we’ll dine at that! (Toasteds Buttercrisp Crackers with marbled colbyjack cheese. So. Good.)

Tess Cohen

I come from Palm Beach, Florida and attend Colgate University and am studying Art History. I am currently reading The Happiness Project which fits – since I love spreading happiness myself! With no other explanation needed – I would definitely be the ice cream scooper in the kitchen, but maybe more so the one at the ice cream shop in Breckinridge! The most important thing about me is that when there is music, WE will DANCE!

Tully Sandbom

I have traveled south from Anchorage, Alaska to be at High Trails this summer! Cookies, milk, and a book are a sure fire way to relax for me, and I’m currently reading Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. I love playing outside and am so excited for long trips and vespers this summer! Besides all that – if I were stranded on a desert island, I think I would like to have a magic lamp because my happiness is infectious – I think the genie and I would have a great time surviving on the island!

Kinnikinnik West (left to right)

Kinnikinnik West

Lindsey Herman

I am from Warrenton, Virginia and am attending Salem College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina to study Environmental Studies and Women’s Studies with a minor in Music (Oboe Performance). I’m a patchwork quilt of stories and pictures. Also, I legitimately am as open-hearted as I seem, even though I look a little… funny (try to see past the mohawk). I’m so excited to be here this summer and sit on the porch and diddle around on the banjo… Run around and play ultimate frisbee… garden…jump on things. There’s so much stuff to do!

Sarah Merfeld

I am from Madison, WI and attend Colorado College to study Religion/ Philosophy. I would love to meet the Dalia Lama and just listen to him talk about anything. Also, I love the band Phish, and listening to an awesome fiddler is thrilling! You should probably all know that I can shoot water out of the gap in my teeth really far!

Kiley Falcone

I was born in Denver, Colorado. I live in Wilmette, IL, a town right outside Chicago and I go to school in Burlington, VT. I am a double major in English and Studio Art at the University of Vermont. I am currently reading Jane Eyre and love it! My favorite midnight snack is ice cream with more rainbow sprinkles than ice cream! I am most excited to reunite with friends this summer and finally getting to be an AC (I’ve been thinking about it since I was in Juniper!)

Columbine East (left to right)

Columbine East

Elizabeth Kirby

I come from Wilmette, IL near Chicago and am Pre-Med at the University of Virginia. I, myself, am not really musically inclined, but I had a great time at the Lollapolooza music festival. My perfect weather includes a 6 foot base of snow and a perfect powder day – then I’d go skiing. I would really like to visit Tahiti and Patagonia – they’d be pretty great! And p.s. I can pull out my belly button!

Janie Cole

I am from Chapel Hill, North Carolina and will be a senior at Salem College in the fall. I am double majoring in Sociology and Women’s Studies. I got to see and hear Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel… it was a beautiful night. :) I believe that midnight snacks are the best type of snack! Some of my classics would be lucky charms, or pickles, but not usually together. Oh, and I pretend that I am two inches taller than I really am. I am really good at it. The truth only comes out when I try to reach for things at the same time as friends who are actually two inches taller than me.

Darcy Kuhn

I am from Birmingham, Michigan and attend Adrian College to study Secondary Education. I think that visiting an ice hotel in Iceland is a pretty great dream vacation spot! In the kitchen, I would be the whisk – cause they’re just cool! And I would definitely take sunglasses with me to a deserted island!

Columbine West (clockwise from left)

Columbine West

Caitlin Rosso

My hometown is Birmingham, MI and I am attending Central Michigan University to study Entrepreneurship and Museum Studies. I really enjoyed seeing the Lion King musical production! If I could meet a historical figure, it would be Homer and I would like to know all about the Trojan War. And Obviously, if I were stranded on an island – I would want a boat and maybe some ice cream for a cool snack!

Sean Sudekum

I come from Defiance, Missouri and am studying Urban Development at the University of Redlands. I am so excited to be back at camp climbing 14ers, being with my girls and doing dishes – obviously! My favorite midnight snacks are sparkling lemonade, chocolate chip cookies and cashews! And of course – I would take a magical genie to a deserted island and he could make sure I had all the cookies I needed to survive there!

Morgan Coffey

Hey! I am so excited to be back at High Trails this summer and can’t wait to spend more time on trips with my girls and at the barn! I am from Kentucky and study biology and chemistry at Samford Pharmacy School. Besides camp, if I could vacation anywhere, I’d probably go to Greece and go island hoppin’ and see Athens!

Gold Hut East (top to bottom)

Sara Everhart Coming Soon

Gold Hut East

Jessica Locke

I am from Nocona, Texas and am attending Texas A and M – Commerce to study Agriculture Sciences and Technology with Education Certification. I would love to meet Annie Sullivan and discuss the keys to being an exceptional teacher and the challenges she faced in teaching Helen Keller. In the kitchen I would be a blender because I am a peacemaker. We can all come together from different walks in life and I would help us mix together to become something amazing. Oh, and I love Oreos and milk – really at any time of day!

Cade Beck

I am from a “little” mountain town by Golden, Colorado and am attending Whitman College. I am a history major who does a lot of theatre and a lot of photography! Hmm… dream vacation – somewhere deep in the woods. Well, I’m a gymnast, so I can do quite a few stupid human tricks if you give me a wide open field! And, I would be a spatula because I think that flipping pancakes would be really fun!

Gold Hut West (left to right)

Gold Hut West

Alex Tilsley

I come from New Hampshire and am attending the University of Southern California to study Comparative Literature with a Psychology minor. Dream vacation – hmmm – can it be somewhere where there is a city, the ocean and the mountains all in one? I am super excited about seeing the stars — we don’t get that often in LA. Also hiking, camping, and getting to meet amazing people. For obvious reasons – I would be a coffee maker!

Clara Troyer

I am from Denver, CO, but attend school at George Washington University and study English and Sociology. In order to help with homework, I’d like to meet Shakespeare and get his perspective on things! One of my goals in life is to emulate the ultimate combination of Beyonce, Tina Fey, and Audrey Hepburn… it’s a work in progress! Toward that goal I’d like to be Vicky’s (the High Trails baker) cookie jar, because I aspire to make people as happy as a chippy dippy bar can make me!

Aspen (top to bottom)

Irina Rasner

I consider Fairfax, Virginia my hometown and where I grew up for the majority of my life, but for the past few years, I’ve been living in Salt Lake City, where I feel I have grown the most as an individual. I graduated from James Madison University in 2009 with a degree in Psychology and minor in Russian Studies. I would like to travel to the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa and hike all through them! You should all probably know that I’ve been to 5 Backstreet Boys concerts!

Helen Higgins

I am from Mission Hills, KS and am attending Hamilton College studying math and art. I loved hearing an alpine horn while hiking in the Swiss Alps! I love to talk with Dr. Seuss about cheese, and I’ll have a carrot eating contest with Jessie Spehar any time of the day or night! But really, the most important thing about me is I love peanut butter – especially on carrots!

Lucy Stockdale

I am from Denver, Colorado and am attending Trinity University. I am still in the process of deciding my major, but am thinking about education/ communication. I am so excited to be back at camp and climb some more 14ers! I would want a Genie if I were stranded on an island! And the most important thing about me is that I’m a very loyal person and am open to anyone who wants to talk to me. (Plus, I secretly wish I was Cat Woman!)

Ridge Leaders (left to right)

Kristy Burt

I come from Mount Vernon, Ohio, but have spent the last couple years in Fort Collins, CO. I graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in Natural Resources Environmental Communication. I love playing ukulele while campers sing along and another of my favorite music experiences was listening to Trampled by Turtles play at the Southeast Alaska State Fair. I am excited to climb so more mountains and sleep under the stars this summer; and you can count on my having a musical instruments at most times!

Kelly Muedeking

I am from Baltimore, Maryland and just graduated from St. Lawrence University with a BS in Environmental- Sociology and a Gender Studies minor. My most perfect day would include a nice long bike ride. Then, I’d grab a blanket and a book and lounge around outside. I’d end the day with a big BBQ with friends! And when I woke up in the middle of that night, I’d pop a big ‘ol bowl of popcorn.  One of the proudest moments of my life was when I beat a group of my friends (including two boys on the football team) in a pancake eating competition! I ate a pancake the size of a turkey platter in the least amount of time- 32 minutes!

Ashley (Smash) Robin

I come from Rehoboth, Mass. and attended St. Lawrence University and studied Geology and Environmental Science. If, by chance, I was on a deserted island I would take my Lord of the Rings books because they shaped my life and I would need to read them to all the wild animals that would be there. I am also hoping that maybe someday New Zealand will become a deserted island, and then I would be able to visit the hobbit holes! Obviously, I would want to meet J.R.R. Tolkien … we’d talk about EVERYTHING and speak Elvish with each other!

Lela Payne

I am from Jackson, MO and attended the University of Missouri and studied Political Science and Religious Studies. Speaking of musical experiences: Coldplay, but then there’s David Gray, Feist, John Mayer, and The Swell Season too … all equally impressive, earth shattering and magical – hard to choose! I would invite Queen Elizabeth II to dinner and I’d ask her how she really feels about the Spanish Armada… along with me maybe living in Buckingham Palace, full time of course!


Jenny Hartman

Hi! I am a Colorado girl from Littleton! I graduated from Colorado State University in 2010 with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies! I’m so excited to continue working as a wrangler at the barn and teaching the campers to ride and care for their horses! You can definitely find me on my favorite horse, named Aspen, any chance I have, but I also enjoy reading. One of my favorite authors right now is Jodi Picoult, and you can find me in a hammock, in an aspen grove, in the mountains.

Lacey Ellingson

Well hello there – I am from Shoreview, MN and studied biology and Pre-veterinary Medicine at Willamette University. You can find me on my horse most days and as soon as I can figure out how to cook and eat a superhuman amount of s’mores while on my horse – life will be complete! I currently am reading A People’s History of the United States, so I might want it on a deserted island, but I’d definitely take my sister, since we keep each other entertained!

Amanda Nooter coming soon

Emily Katz

I am from the great plains of Kansas where buffalo roam through tornados made of sunflowers! I am currently attending the University of Colorado at Boulder to study Geography and Peace and Conflict Studies. On a nice sunny clear day I would find a grassy knoll and just roll, and roll, and roll until I got back to my tent – which would be pitched perfectly in a grove of aspens! In terms of music, I like to sing – and I sang Enrique Iglesias in Spanish on the streets of Spain once.

Jaime Olivette

Howdy! I am from Cazenovia, NY and am studying Elementary and Special Education at Syracuse University. I am very adventures and love to always be doing fun and silly things! My most perfect weather scenario is 80 degrees and sunny, and I would go kayaking, then for a long run, and take a nap in a hammock! I also think I would be a pyrex pan, if I were a kitchen utensil, because it can go in both the kitchen and the oven, and it’s see through – so you always now what you are getting!

Creative Quartet (left to right)

Bea Raemdonck - Kitchen Coordinator

Jenn Dalton – Arts and Crafts Guru

I am from Ohio and attended Ohio University to study Fine Arts. Interestingly enough my favorite midnight snack is jalapeno poppers and I LOVE art! I would definitely invite Vincent Van Gogh to dinner and I’d ask him how he felt about his success. Even though I love backpacking, if I were stranded on a desert island I would like a satellite phone!

Ali Ardery - outcamp

I come from Harper, Kansas and attended Oklahoma Wesleyan University and studied Psychology. Everything about seeing Cirque de Soleil was an exciting experience- I loved the music, entertainment and acrobatics! My favorite midnight snack is peanut M&Ms, and if I were the mixing bowl in the kitchen maybe someone would make M&M cookies in me – that would be pretty great! I am so excited to go on trips and learn new skills this summer!

Jessie Spehar – paparazzi

Hey! I am from Laramie, Wyoming and attended the University of Wyoming to study Elementary and Special Education. I am so excited to continue taking photos all summer and be in the out of doors with all the girls! My favorite midnight snack is tator tots, but you can probably find me eating them any ‘ol time! My water bottle has climbed 16 mountains with me in the last 6 summers and if I were on a deserted island I would probably bring my camera and homesick pills (the m&m’s from Julie’s desk)!

Nurses (left to right)

Ashley Noelke

Hello! I am one of the nurses this summer and can’t wait to help everyone stay healthy and hopefully get to come do some activities with you outside of the infirmary! I am from Washington, MO and went to Southeast MO State University for my nursing degree. I love to bake and if I got to pick any kitchen item to become for the day it would definitely be the mixer! The most important thing about me is that I’m a nice person and love fixing boo boos so you can get back to having fun!

Tressa Rudik coming soon

Sanborn Summer Staff: True Professionals

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Mentor, Leader, Youth Development Professional

There has been quite a bit of buzz about camps recently. The New York Times ran a number of articles in its Motherlode parenting blog over the weekend. In one, Dan Fleshler doubts the resume building value of working as a camp counselor, and in the other, Michael Thompson extolls the benefits of having college-aged camp counselors who can “out-parent” parents. Finally, KJ Dell’Antonia struggles as a new-to-camp, first-time camp parent who wonders, “Is It Too Late to Send Myself to Camp?

All of these articles speak to the education and human development that occurs at camp. The campers grow, the staff grow. The American Camp Association has detailed the 13 Core Competencies that camp staff members will develop while they work at camp.

As a camp counselor, you will gain professional skills that are applicable to many future careers. Staff learn skills that enhance Youth and Adult Growth and Development. They are exposed to and design different Learning Environments and Curricula. Program Planning allows counselors room for creativity, innovation, and developing advanced organization and teaching skills. Counselors learn how to Observe, Assess, and Evaluate the efficacy of their teaching and counseling skills. They develop Professionalism and Leadership by working with career camp staffers who truly understand the larger place of camp in the “whole education” of every child. Young counselors recognize the value of Health and Wellness for both themselves, campers and within the creation of work/life balance. Staff members practice Risk Management–in urban, rural and extreme outdoor environments. Cultural Competence allows staff to develop respect for, an understanding of and for ALL people, no matter what their background. Counselors make connections with Families and Communities that provide the opportunity to expand their own networks as well as help them see the positive impact of their job. Children and adults who have positive experiences with Nature and Environment are happier, healthier and smarter…and ALL of our camp counselors are nature counselors. Sanborn has incredibly progressive Business Management and Practices and policies, and many senior staff have the opportunity to manage other staff members and receive professional training on business leadership and management. At camp, Human Resources Management doesn’t stop after counselors are hired…counselors are given regular formal and informal feedback about their strengths, weaknesses, and areas of improvement so they can improve immediately and transfer those improvements to the campers. Camp staff also engage in Site and Facilities Management while they are responsible for the upkeep and care of expensive camping equipment, camp vehicles, and the overall care of the facilities…plus they are teaching campers how to care for those things, too.

Evolving Education: Rodrick Lucero & the Educational Landscape, Part Two

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

The following is the second part of Rodrick Lucero’s keynote speech from the 2012 ACA Conference:

The journey to being an educator has been repeated over and over again in the last 150 years as emerging teachers “cut their teeth” in the day camp and residential camp environments.  It is here that they learned the art of teaching…the way to apply content (relevance), the way to challenge students to think critically (rigor), and the way engage campers as members of a community (relationships).  Relevance, Rigor, and Relationship have become the new “three R’s”, as the former (Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic) cannot be effectively learned without the new “three R’s”.  Famed Psychologist, Abraham Maslow reminds us in his Hierarchy of human needs that if we as educators can take care of the human-ness of our students, their psychological safety, their physical safety, and their sense of belonging, then and only then will we be able to teach them, and learn beside them, and discover with them in ways that engage their learning.  There is some research out there that discusses the “summer dip”.  I’m not sure that I buy into much of this research, but I do know that there is no summer dip when kids are actively engaged in camp activities that encourage them to apply what they know…this is learning, and it is different than memorization.

It seems to me that schools do a great job of asking students to engage in the theoretical learning, learning that is taken at face value as valid.  Whereas camps ask students to apply the knowledge that they have learned in school, and use these learning in their explorations of the natural world.  One might read about the Milky Way, and its place in the cosmos in the context of their Environmental Science class.  They might even be able to identify constellations from a computer generated model…but it’s when they lay on grassy hill at night that the Milky Way becomes real, and the constellations jump from the computer screen and become material upon which to engage the imagination, Cephus the king, Cassiopeia, and Orion, indeed!

So, if we imagine schools as primarily engaged with rigor and camps primarily engaged with relevance then where do relationships fit? They belong in both.  The ability to make and maintain friendship is a condition of our human existence…Children learned this from their first years.  We need relationships.

So, then it is up to us in the schools and the camps to make sure our environments are filled with opportunities to make and maintain these human connections and friendships.  It’s in the eyes of others that we learn more about ourselves, and which becomes the “cement” or “glue” that holds us close to our most treasured learning experiences.  It is in the mirror of relationship that learning gains meaning and where it finds a context with which we can base our next learning.

So, we create the inescapable bond between traditional educational environments (schools), and less traditional educational environments (camps).  Much of what I have discussed thus far is about students and campers, but what about the camper directors, the principals, the counselors, and the teachers…those adults who have committed themselves to making the world a better place.  Those who realize that an investment in a child is the only way to insure a democracy and a future for the planet…maybe we need to send our politicians to camp???  I wonder what might happen if they were placed in a situation where they HAD to help each other climber that mountain, or cross that river?  Maybe some lessons could be learned…but I digress?

Camp personnel are every bit the teachers and leaders of schooling in America.  It is time for the camp community to take their rightful seat at the educational table, and partner, regularly!!  With schools…about innovations that are mutually beneficial…This is a way to do what we do well in our business models and business plans…Simultaneous Renewal!  As Camp Directors train their new crop of counselors are these counselors taught the fundamental importance of their work, in making the world a better place to live…do they understand that every day and every situation is a teachable moment.  How will they “teach” when the disagreement over a care package arises?  How will they teach when a camper is homesick?  How will they teach the appropriate knots that make rock climbing safer and more enjoyable?  How will they teach the beauty of quiet?  How will they teach the importance of genuine care and concern?

I think camp counselors are luckier than teachers, because we get to spend more concerted time with our charges.  We get to know them in an informal way that is often more deep, more human, more real.  We get to see the hurt, the fear, the confusion, the laughter, and the silliness, and we get to use the tools of our trade to help them overcome their vulnerabilities…they can do the high ropes course, they can take the hand of a younger camper to help them overcome the heavy back-pack, they can get outside of themselves and see the PURPOSE!  Camp Counselors get to engage students in the depth of their learning, while schools are adept at providing the breadth!  This is the simultaneous renewal that both entities bring to the table…what they bring to the education of every child.

There are other partners in our camp work that I have yet to discuss; the parent community.   How do we educate our parent community on the importance of camp at times of dwindling resources, and longer school years.

First of all we need to understand that the parent community is an important member of the team that educates their child.  It’s critical that we spend time building partnerships, formal and informal with our parent community.  How will they be renewed by sending their child to camp?  Just like their campers, are parents being engaged in the process…and if we were to look at Maslow as a framework, are we taking care of parents needs for physical safety, are we sharing with them how our staff is being trained for supervision at the pool, on the mountain, around the river, what kind of food is being served etc…for their psychological safety, are we sharing with them how our staff is being trained to handle bullying, homesickness, disagreements, etc.  How are we inviting parents to “belong” to the camp community?

This is obviously a difficult balance, as it’s important for parents to allow their children to explore their world, to become more independent.  I think that if all parents are involved in a non-intrusive way in the camp community, and if institutionalize their involvement there will be less need for “more” intrusion.

So, as I reflect upon my comments today, it’s clear that we have made an argument for the importance of camp in the educational life of every child…

If we can argue that camp is critical to the development of a child, then I believe that we, in this room, have to make it a priority to include access to the opportunity of camp to every student…this will cost us financially, but in a very real sense I don’t believe that we can afford, as a society, to have opportunities for some students and not for others…How can we make camp accessible to all children!

… How can this be done, I have no idea, but I enjoy the thought that at some point in our lifetimes, every child can go to camp, every child can have a mentor, and every child can challenge themselves as they figure out their place in the world.  If we can do this well, schools won’t feel the need to elongate their calendars, because their partners at camp will continue the educational enterprise in June, July and August…nothing will be lost, but a well-educated democracy of social justice focused citizens will continue to grow and flourish.

I am here because of each of you, the camp collective, the camp community.  I am here because of camp.  My life was forever changed thirty–one years ago on June 7th…the first day of the first staff-training I experienced, when a camp director told me that camp was about “fun and adventure, but with a purpose”…and on that day I went all in…and continue to engage in “fun and adventure, with an eye…always…on the purpose”.

On that day, I became a camp counselor and it was then that I began to grow beyond myself and it was then that I began to understand the responsibility of my privilege, and it was then that I began becoming a man.  Camp holds me accountable to every decision I make, to this day.  It’s strong hold on my integrity, and the ethical principles (that I have come to value) have made it impossible to sit back and watch injustice…it is camp that engages me to make the world a better place.

You see,

We are all camp,

We are united in the camp spirit,

and We are the future,

We are relevant

We WILL make our mark

We will engage every child in their own learning

We will continue to believe in our mission

We will not be deterred, failure is not an option…because failing our kids is not, nor will it ever be an option!

The answer is ….CAMP

We are camp…

And we are the answer!

Dr. Rodrick S. Lucero is an Associate Professor and Associate Director of the School of Teacher Education and Principal Preparation in the School of Education at Colorado State University and has 10 years’ experience as a camp staff member. He was a well-respected high school teacher and high school administrator for 21 years before moving to his current position. His educational career has been heavily influenced by the relevance inherent in a natural environment and he continually advocates for a myriad of learning environments in order to educate every student effectively. It is at this complex intersection that Rod has fused his passion for nature and his passion for educational opportunities for every child.