Archive for the ‘Sanborn Western Camps’ Category

Down in the Dump…and happy about it

Monday, October 31st, 2011

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

Ahhhh! Remember the Good Old Days…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Jane Sanborn-

Tails from the Barn Coming Soon!

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

Introducing: A new section of the Sanborn Blog!  Tails from the Barn will chronicle the lives of our favorite four-legged friends during the on- and off-season at Sanborn.  Ever wonder what CindyLou does all winter long?  Curious about what Popcorn looks like in her full winter coat?  Want to check in on Cowboy?  Here’s where you’ll find that information and more, including Four-Legged Profiles, New Arrivals, Horsey News and Updates all relating to Sanborn’s Riding Program.

Stay tuned for updates on our favorite friendly four-leggeds.

Click here for more Tails from the Barn.

The Teenage Brain: A Beautiful Thing!

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

A Natural High at the High Ropes Course

Teenagers rejoice! In the October issue of National Geographic, an article entitled Beautiful Brains reveals that many of the traits that cause you (and your parents) headaches and heartaches actually make you, from about age 10-25, some of the most adaptable individuals on the planet.

In a nutshell, the research shows that your love of excitement, novelty, risk, and the company of peers is not only normal, they are universal traits of adolescence. For some “these traits may seem to add up to nothing more than doing foolish new stuff with friends,” but for you—they help prepare you for life on your own.

Teens’ love of excitement and novelty, “sensation seeking”, peaks at age 15. The desire to meet new people and try new things can, theoretically, lead to negative outcomes (depending on the people and the things). Yet, in most cases, sensation seeking is a supremely beneficial trait: by seeking opportunities to meet other people in new situations—much like camp–you better prepare yourself for a world full of people who aren’t exactly like you. Thus, you create a rich pool of varied friends and relationships with your peers, and supportive, healthy adults outside of your immediate family.

New Experiences Above the Clouds

Teenage risk-taking involves the most hand-wringing from their parents, and has recently been attributed to teens “undeveloped” brains. The article showed, however, “teens take more risks not because they don’t understand the dangers but because they weigh risk versus reward differently: In situations where risk can get them something they want, they value the reward more heavily than adults do.” In many cases, the reward is recognition, acceptance and the admiration of their peers.
This “reward” may not seem substantial (especially if, as a parent, you are dealing with any sort of teenage—or tweenage—girl drama), yet teens “gravitate toward peers for another, more powerful reason: to invest in the future rather than the past.” We are born into a world made by our parents, but it is whether we can successfully create and remake our own world that matters…and we need good, healthy friends to help us do it. This reminded me of a story from one of our SOLE trips this summer.

Making dinner on SOLE trip

Every day of the trip, staff members assigned certain “camp life” tasks to certain groups when they arrived at camp. Some campers would put up tents, others would hang the bear bag, while others would prep for and cook dinner. One day, the small group that was supposed to be hanging the bear bag was just hanging out. When asked about the bear bag, they replied, “Oh, we didn’t see how you put it up yesterday, we were waiting for you to help us.” The counselor kindly, but firmly, said, “Figure it out.”

Both the counselor and the campers related that story to me after the trip. The counselor was struggling with what she must not have done during her demonstration; the campers were beyond ecstatic and delighted because, “It took a long time, but we did it ourselves!”

So the counselor should feel validated when author David Dobb states, “when parents engage and guide their teens with a light but steady hand, staying connected but allowing independence, their kids generally do much better in life.” And, after 63 years of doing just that with each and every one of our campers, we know it is true.

As always, the images from the National Geographic article are stunning…but we like to think our own images tell a bit different story of risk-taking, novelty, excitement, and the company of peers. Enjoy!

Why Are The Aspen So Red?

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Lots of Red Leaves in the High Country!

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

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

Jewels Underfoot

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

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

Nature's Myriad Hues

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

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

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

Lyrics and Video for This Summer’s Hit Song: High Trails Queen

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

You’ll be my Julie Richardson, I’ll be your Mike MacDonald

You’ll be my pair of Chacos, I’ll be your pair of Keens

You’ll be my Big Spring Warrior, I’ll be your High Trails Queen

Hey, we just said it all

We’ll miss camp in the fall

We’ll miss the Big Spring mail and Pony Express

We’ll miss the Hipster Hoedowns

And all those Viking Showdowns

We’ve got a love for camp we must confess

You’ll be my pita pizza, I’ll be your breakfast crepe

We’ll be like Ryan and Ashley,

They’re havin’ a Sanborn babe

You’ll be my aspen grove, I’ll be your Grow Strong Tree

You’ll be my Big Spring Warrior, I’ll be your High Trails Queen

You’ll be my Crazy Creek, I’ll be your Nalgene bottle

You’ll be my Julie Richardson, I’ll be your Mike MacDonald

You’ll be my pair of Chacos, I’ll be your pair of Keens

You’ll be my Big Spring Warrior, I’ll be your High Trails Queen

Sanborn Homecoming and Reunion: Will YOU Be There?

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

On top of horses, on Top of the World

October 13-16, 2011

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

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

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

A View from A-Bluff

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

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

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

Musings On Lost and Found

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

A lone water bottle (without a name) has been sitting on the back porch of the Big Spring Office for the past two weeks. I first noticed it just before dawn on Closing Day and have been watching it ever since. I should pick it up and send it through the dish machine and put it in the great pile of anonymous water bottles we keep around to loan to future campers. But I haven’t moved it, because in some small way, that water bottle reminds me of the great summer we just experienced.

Who knows where that water bottle has been? Did it sustain its owner on a climb to the summits of Mt. Elbert and Massive? Or did it travel to the Puma Hills in a saddlebag? Did it sit beside its owner at Sunday Rocks or backpack along the Colorado Trail?

That’s the way it is with Lost and Found.

Even though all the campers and staff (and most of their stuff) left on Closing Day, we continue to find physical reminders throughout the year, and often they make us smile. How did that baseballcap get on the roof of Ponderosa?  Whose sierra cup is underneath the sink at the Big Spring Chalet? Why is there a dirty t-shirt under the driver’s seat in Van 106? When did the single Chaco get left in the High Trails Pool House (and did its owner even miss it?) Many, many minor mysteries.

I sometimes wonder if there is a sock somewhere, hidden in some forgotten nook, from each year of camp. We found a few of them when we tore down the tents on HKL Ridge and built new ones. Unfortunately Carbon 14 dating did not work, and, in our experience a sock which may have been left in 1960 looks much like a sock left in 2008 after a year or two. So we’ll never know…But, to be honest, with the remarkable number of single socks we do find on Closing Day and during the weeks following, odds are really good that there is at least one we have missed every year. We did find a couple of really ancient towels when we renovated the STUW Ridge washhouse a few years back.  They were so disgusting that even Jerry did not want to keep them as an historical display.  And speaking of washhouses, we always find a lot of shampoo, shower gel, and toothpaste on the day after camp. It is the unopened ones that worry me.

And so the Cycle of Camp continues. Campers come and campers go, but most of them leave something to remind us of their presence—water bottle, sierra cup, sock, toothpaste. And it all brings back great memories.

-Jane Sanborn-
Taken from this month’s Alum E-News.
To subscribe, please email and request to be added to our monthly Alum News Update.

September 2011 Camp News Update

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

All is Quiet on the Eastern Side of Pikes Peak

It is much too quiet around camp since second term campers left on August 14.   The fields, hills, and lodges are filled with great memories from the summer of 2011, 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 mailed every major article from High Trails which has a name to the owner.  Big Spring items have been mailed more recently so they may still be in the mail.  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 arrives today and we will begin welcoming sixth graders to High Trails Outdoor Education Center on September 13.  Among the staff who will be returning to teach during this program are wranglers Jenny Hartman and Lacey Ellingson, High Trails ridge leaders Stacey Robinson and Lela Payne and Camp Trip Leader/Photographer Jessie Spehar.  Big Spring staff from the summer of 2011 include Ian Stafford, Zach Schoenfelt, Kevin Robinson, Jackson Blackburn, Falcon Craft and Adam Beard.  Andrew Jones will return from the summer of 2010.  Chris Tholl, Carlotta Avery and Chris “BC” Miller McLemore direct the program;  they are assisted by camp leaders Elizabeth Rundle and Ryan and Ashley McGowan.

We have several exciting events this Fall in addition to our traditional schedule.  On September 9, September 18-19 and October 6-8 we will be providing leadership training for students from several different area high schools.  We have developed this outstanding program over the past few years and are always excited to work with these motivated teens.  On September 10-11, we will be partnering with the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument as part of the National Park Foundation’s America’s Best Idea to provide a fun nature-based experience for the families of soldiers who are serving abroad.  And on September 24, 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.

On October 13-16, we are excited to host a Reunion for camp alums.  We’ll be hiking, riding, climbing mountains, biking, rock climbing, relaxing and reconnecting.  This Reunion is also special because we’ll be celebrating the successful conclusion of our Sanborn 60 Capital Campaign.

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 10 – Tuesday, July 10, 2012.  The second term will be Friday, July 13 – Sunday, August 12.  The four terms of Sanborn Junior will be June 10 – June 24, June 26– July 10, July 13 – July 27, and July 29 – August 12.  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 and photos from the summer of 2011 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.

How Camp Staff Creates Awesomeness

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

A recent Fast Company article, Leadership Lessons from Burning Man, caught the eye of Big Spring Director, Mike MacDonald because, as he said, “We already DO these things.”

“It starts with culture”

The New Face of The HT Store

As the program director at High Trails, each summer I am energized by the creativity and motivation of the collected group of staff members who return or are brand new each and every summer. Their ideas for both in and out of camp programming are as varied and nuanced as each individual at camp.

During a program interview prior to camp, I will ask staff about their “secret nerd hobbies” and their “passion areas.” These are often jumping off points for many creative activities we share with campers. Maybe a staff member knows how to crochet, or he is a campfire culinary master, or she is just really into Harry Potter. By immediately trying to integrate our staffs’ interests into the summer program offerings, we are harnessing their creativity and creating buy-in for the creative, inspirational community culture of camp.

Additionally, once our staff are familiar with the day to day camp schedule, we regularly solicit new ideas for activities and trips to add variety and richness to our program offerings. This inspires others to “think big” and also creates an opportunity for positive reinforcement that benefits the entire organization.

“Add a dose of trust and positive reinforcement”

Look out! It's Mystique on the Move!

This summer at camp, overnights and trips like The Pirate Overnight, The Yoga/Horse Five Day, The Ghost Hunter Overnight, The Locavore All Day, and The Assault on Mt. Doom (formerly known as The Pikes Peak Bomber), made for memorable, creative, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences for the campers and staff on the trips. Themed hikes featuring X-Men adventures, 80’s attire, fairies, and Ninja hijinks were both new on sign-up sheets—and full of the creative spirit of the staff whose idea inspired the activity. Nature activities like PoeTREE and Guerilla Art were both unique and enhanced the campers’ Sense of the Earth, while The Junkyard Art All Day will, undoubtedly, be the catalyst for the next generation of Burning Man artists. The newly created “Costume Class” competition during 2nd Session’s Gymkhana was a fantastic addition to a long-standing tradition, while our traditional ceramics program was a hit for many of the campers—with some of the pieces they created out on overnights being glazed and fired for an end of camp show that was enjoyed by the whole community.

We don’t always know how a new trip or activity will work out. And sometimes they DON’T work. Yet as an organization we trust the efficacy of the entire experience because that type of experiential, creative learning is enormously beneficial for both campers and staff. Campers provide real-time feedback to adults, often directly “challenging the process” and “inspiring a shared vision”, while staff members are able to analyze their triumphs and potential missteps in a supportive, creative community environment where feedback is often solicited as much as it is given…because personal success should be celebrated.

“Motivate with autonomy”

Yoga on Horses

What should one do on Xanni and Grace’s Rugby and Parkour Adventure Hike? Whatever Grace and Xanni decide to do. In this case, campers did a lot of running around, jumping off/over/around rocks/bushes/trees, and practicing the fine art of “scrumming”—all while hanging out with a couple of REALLY OUTSTANDING female role models.

Utilizing the talents, interest areas, and latent creativity of staff members allows for autonomous professional and personal growth. Even if staff members don’t necessarily know what the heck “Treehouse Madness, Fairy House Building, and Cloud Watching” might be, they have to craft an activity that is fun, campercentric, and fulfills the mission in some way. This also helps them create opportunities for camper excitement, ownership, and autonomy because the campers themselves often have great ideas about where to build the best fairy houses, what to do at the treehouse, and which valleys/high points have the best cloud watching potential.

Autonomy can be terrifying: “What if I mess up? What if this doesn’t work out? What if it does? What will people think? How will I feel?” Yet in the camp environment, campers and staff ask themselves versions of these questions every day. By making independent choices and dealing with the real time outcomes, our campers and staff develop stronger, authentic selves.

In our camp environment, like the larger Burning Man community, there simply isn’t room or time for micromanagement. The mission and community shape the camp culture; the people and the 6,000 acres of space create the unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience we share each and every summer.

“Reward people with appreciation rather than money”

Junkyard Art All Day Adventures

People don’t often get rich through creative expression alone…and we also know they don’t get rich working as summer camp counselors. Yet the value of the experience IS truly multi-faceted: an enhanced confidence in one’s own creative ability, the recognition found in self-expression in a community, and the freedom to learn, grow, and challenge oneself to create something unique that positively impacts the campers and their camp experience.

I truly appreciate the creative efforts and inspired thinking of our Sanborn staff members…and I challenge any and all of the participants of Burning Man to see if they can sustain and maintain their creativity for the duration of a summer camp contract…you do remarkably great things in the desert for seven days, but our staff do AMAZING things for 72 days.

Oh yes. The Sanborn Staff are en fuego.

-Ariella Rogge-

Remembering Camper Stories

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Camp has sadly come to an end for the summer of 2011. Things are very quiet at Big Spring and High Trails! While we are already looking forward to next summer, we want to share a few more stories from this summer…

Today we went horseback riding. We all put on our jeans and boots and walked to the barn. First we talked to our wrangler about how to saddle our horses before our ride. The sun was blazing hot, but luckily we all finished saddling quickly. My horse was named Popcorn. She is dark brown and pretty tall. We walked through all the pretty trees and mountains. At about noon we stopped for lunch. YUM! We tied our horses to trees and enjoyed a delicious meal. Turkey sandwiches and fruit. After we ate, we got back on our horses and started to head back to camp. On the way back we took a different trail and saw colorful flowers and lots of trees. After an all-day ride, we got back to the barn and untacked our horses. This was probably the best horseback riding trip ever all because of SANBORN!!
Abby G.

One day early in the morning we got up and dressed to go on our all-day horse ride. It was really fun! When we got to the barn I looked on the sheet and I got Rafter. Rafter was a tall horse. He was really sweet and listened to everything I told him to do, and he loved to trot fast. I loved him so much. When we got back, we put the horses in the pen. Rafter dropped on the ground and started to roll in the dirt. I said “Rafter I just brushed you” and he just looked up at me, stood up, and came up to the fence and licked my hands.
Alexandra D.

There are lots of fun things to do at Sanborn. The fun thing I just did was the Artsy Overnight. It is a hike to Tie Cabin and we make art. It took us about twenty minutes to get ready with our backpacks full of food and tents. And then we were ready to go. It took about two hours to get there and set up our tents. Then we started to draw, make key chains, rock necklaces, and so much more. The day went by so fast. It was time to go to bed. I was sad to leave the fun things that we were doing, but I knew that a bunch more fun things await me and my campmates!
Addie T.

We just got back from our very fun overnight, the Artsy Overnight. When we got back, we went to outcamp to wash dishes and put away the food. We had a delicious lunch of hamburgers, french fries, and root beer floats. We met at the lodge for our afternoon activities – I chose blogging. I know we are going to be very sad to leave our new friends we made at Sanborn. But most of us are coming back for another summer of fun!
Taylor L.