Archive for the ‘Sanborn Semester’ Category

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!

The Good Earth

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

Our First Session Big Spring Outbackers refitted this old horse coral right above the BS Barn (used to be called the Elephant Pit, according to Mr. Jerry) into our very own garden plot!

The combination of horse poop, hay and shade made for great soil conditions. The Outbackers were stoked to be able to create something that will be turned into a Sanborn summer gardening program as well as curriculum on high altitude farming for our new Sanborn Semester. We created a low-flow irrigation system for such hot days, as well as rows to separate such vegetables as beets, carrots, radishes (mainly rooty items, due to our altitude). It’s a fun project for the kids to see progress in just a few weeks (with help from our friendly skies of late) and they can go home knowing there is something growing here that they planted.

Fresh cilantro, arugula and beets (with help from worms churning soil and creating better organic material underneath) growing in an ol’ water tank.

Our compost bin (full of 2 lbs. of red wiggler worms) is filled with vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and other brown, carbon-rich material (eaten by the worms–crazy) to make this lovely, four-week-old compost! This will be spread as a top layer over our garden plot to add sufficient nutrients to our crops.

Opening Day 2012!

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Welcome hugs

The Opening Day of camp is the most exciting day of our year and we enjoyed sunny, warm temperatures and a brilliant blue sky today. After almost two weeks of staff training, we are excited to have campers running down the paths and filling the lodges with laughter.  They seem as happy to be here as we are to have them.

Luggage was barely unpacked before camp activities began.  The stables were busy with Ride-Out and Basic Preparation, shouts came from the volleyball courts, and the sounds of old friends reconnecting and new friendships forming were everywhere.  Tent and cabin groups played “Getting Acquainted” and “Team Building” games to facilitate the formation of these important living unit communities.  The energy and enthusiasm is contagious.

Tomorrow, our program will begin in earnest and we will have half-day hikes heading out to A-Bluff, Top of the World, the Crystal Beds and other favorite destinations.  Basic Preparation will continue at both stables, and we will have introductory sessions in rock climbing and camping skills.  We’ll also begin crafts projects, activities at the Interbarn science center, tennis, fishing, and sports.  Junior campers will be hiking, riding, swimming, playing tennis, and learning camping skills at the Mountain Odyssey program during their first two days.

On Wednesday morning the girls will backpack out for their Cabinside Overnights at campsites on our property.  The boys will camp-out on Thursday night.  These first overnights with the living unit accomplish some important goals.  They introduce everyone to the fun of camping out; outdoor skills are learned or reviewed; and close bonds are created among the members of each living community.   Sanborn Junior campers will also experience their first overnight on Wednesday or Thursday.

Tomorrow night, Opening Campfires will be held at both Big Spring and High Trails.  These are always lots of fun and include great singing and Broadway quality skits.  Other special events planned this week include the All Camp Adventure Race, the Counselor Hunt and Cabinside Skit Night at High Trails.  At Big Spring the boys will enjoy the Bomber Relay and Unit Skits.  Later in the week, we will all get together for a coed ice cream social on Saturday night.

Early in the week, we will be signing up for trips throughout the term.  High Trails and Big Spring campers will choose from many exciting possibilities including mountain climbs, horseback trips, tubing on the South Platte River and wilderness backpacking trips.  Counselors and senior staff members will be on hand to help campers select those trips which best fit individual interests.  Sanborn Junior campers do not sign up for trips; their program includes several exciting all-day trips in addition to their overnight camping trips.

We will be taking group photos early in the week and will post them on our website—so check us out again late in the week!  We’ll also be mailing you a copy of your camper’s group photo with the counselor letter next Sunday.  Each Sunday evening, we will post a report about our activities as well as photos of activities taken during the previous week.  Although we can’t promise to show every camper or every activity, we hope these photos will provide a glimpse into life at camp for families and friends.  Until next week……..

The Trans-America Challenge Takes on Wagon Tongue Road

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

The 2012 Trans-America Challenge

This morning I was delighted to find out that the Endurance Rally Association had chosen to route part of it’s legendary Trans-America Challenge down Teller County Road 46A…and right past the Sanborn Western Camps front gate.

These amazing classic cars (all pre-1973, and many far, far older), make the journey from New York to Alaska in about 30 days.  It is a fully supported rally, with mechanics and support vehicles along the way, and the race organizers even post a daily blog sharing the highlights of the day’s journey.

Beyond the fun of seeing all of these intrepid drivers (who often waved and honked as they revved on by), the best part of waiting for the cars was listening for the distinctly deep and throaty sound of these older cars as they came around the tight curve on 46, and opened up their engines on their approach toward the Sanborn sign.  In between the cars, the sound of the wind and the screech of Red-tail hawks riding the morning thermals were the only other sounds one could hear.

We all wish the drivers and their cars the best of luck during as they continue their drive from Durango tomorrow on into Arizona.  As fellow adventurers, we know they will marvel at the expanse and beauty of the American West as we do every day of the summer!

Author’s Note:  We are beginning to suspect Florissant truly may be the Center of the Universe…or at least, the Center of Adventure.  Next fall, the USA Pro Cycling Challenge will ride from Breckenridge to Colorado Springs, following the route over Hoosier, Wilkerson, and Ute Passes that many campers and alums would find quite familiar.  The riders will pass the main camp sign (on Highway 24) on Thursday, August 24th.  If you are interested in using camp or The Nature Place as a “base camp” for your OWN ride to Wilkerson Pass (or just want to stand by the Sanborn sign and cheer the riders into Florissant) please give us a call at 719.748.3341 or email ariella at sanbornwesterncamps dot com.

Sanborn Camps News Update…and an (almost) spring Top Ten

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Top Ten Ways We Can Tell Spring Is Just Around the Corner

10.  Days are getting longer.  More sunshine=More birds singing in the Ponderosa Pines

9.  The spring winds have arrived…and are trying to blow Colorado into Kansas.

8.  There is mud everywhere: on our boots, in our cars, in the office, and under our fingernails

7.  Larry is spending more time servicing camp vans and less time servicing snow plows

6.  Popcorn is starting to lose (some) of her winter coat

5.  The number of staff employment applications has quadrupled

4.  Preparations for our spring High Trails Outdoor Education Center are well underway (we’ll smell baking cookies by the end
of the month!)colorado summer camps

3.  Our annual Denver Reconnect is happening THIS WEEKEND!

2.  Sunbathing on the Big Spring office balcony is once again possible (but don’t blow away…see

1.  We are wearing tutus

Hello from camp and happy (almost) spring!  We are just coming off an incredible American Camp Association conference in Atlanta.   Our very own Jane Sanborn was National Conference Chair, and many of our year round staff members presented educational sessions.  COEC board member, Rod Lucero, gave a powerful and motivating keynote speech to the 1,000+ camp professionals reminding us that we are outstanding educators who provide—in the words of Sandy Sanborn—“fun and adventure with a purpose.”

As educators, we are happy to announce the launch of COEC’s latest program offering, our very own Sanborn Semester.  The Sanborn Semester offers achievement-oriented high school students an opportunity to create, live, and learn in a supportive community environment isolated from the distractions of the sometimes too-busy and over-stressed high school years.  We are currently accepting applications for the 2013 spring semester, and would love to answer any questions you might have about the program.

We are gearing up for another incredible summer at camp!  New Big Spring Program Director, David Cumming, creating a variety of great new program offerings and building a comprehensive library for Big Spring.  Maren, Rosie and Scot are charting new rides, designing great activities and trips, and waiting for the cows to calve.  Chris, BC and Carlotta have assembled a top-notch staff for our outdoor education program, and are currently helping Colorado Spring’s District 20 with their outdoor education fundraising efforts.  Mike and Julie finished up the Sanborn Road Show tour in Boulder on February 8th.  It is always a fantastic way to kick off the upcoming camp season, to connect with camp families, alums and staff, and to have the opportunity to share the spirit of camp with prospective campers and their families.  If you are interested in hosting a future Sanborn Road Show in YOUR community, please contact Mike or Julie at 719.748.3341.

Everyone in the office is busy hiring staff, processing camp applications and sharing the experience of Sanborn with prospective families over the phone.  One of our favorite things to do is to talk to parents about the life-changing opportunities that camp provides kids of all ages.  Even when the phones are ringing, we regularly share great parenting, camping, child development research and information on our blog and Facebook page, so if you are not currently following us, we hope you will soon!

We are all excited about the community that is coming together for the summer of 2012 and can’t wait to begin the fun. Many of our age groups are already full for the summer of 2012, so if you don’t want to miss any of the adventures, get your application in today!  Last month we shared that we have added the “Camp In Touch” app to our Facebook page.  This will allow families to access their camp information, view photos from the summer, purchase “Camp Stamps” for our one-way email program and much more.  We are happy to mail our brochure and DVD to anyone interested in camp and to provide references for new families.

Think summer!

The Sanborn Semester: Education at Its Peak

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Live It.

We begin the new year with some exciting news!

We are launching a new semester school program, the Sanborn Semester, to begin in January 2013. This unique semester program is designed for achievement oriented, college-bound high school juniors and seniors.

Students will live at The Nature Place from mid-January to mid-May and take core subjects (English, History, Science, Math, Foreign Language, etc) taught in an experiential and integrated format. In addition to the academic subjects,
students will participate in a unique Perspectives course which is focused on leadership, service learning, environmental ethics, and research. They will provide community service by becoming teaching assistants in our High Trails Outdoor Education Program, and they will also have the opportunity to take advantage of the many special outdoor opportunities the Sanborn property provides—horseback riding, rock climbing, hiking, biking and more.

Learn It.

Why, you might ask, would a summer camp undertake a high school semester program? The answer is simple: We are educators and we have always been educators. (Some of you will recall the stories Sandy used to tell about the years he was Superintendent, Principal, only Teacher, and Janitor at the Florissant High School) We know that young people thrive when they have contact with the natural world; we know that the technology we are surrounded with can create distraction in a teen’s life which leads to diminished focus; we know that a program which integrates academic skills with social and emotional skills provides a solid foundation for 21st century success. And we know that our brand of experiential curriculum works on many levels. It excites and inspires students; it reignites curiosity and wonder; it makes learning fun and relevant again; and it helps to create a passion for lifelong learning.

Be It.

Our year-round professional staff is extremely excited about the opportunities which the Sanborn Semester presents, and are committed to providing a truly transformational experience for the students who join us.

If you know of any outstanding high school students who might be interested in the program, please let us know
and we will be happy to send them additional information about the curriculum, the program, and community life.

We would also be happy to send information if you are connected with a school and know of students who might be interested in this opportunity. You can also check our website

We look forward to hearing from you!