Archive for the ‘Sanborn Western Camps’ Category

Rafter The Gentle Giant

Friday, January 20th, 2012


Color: Red Roan

Gender: Gelding

Breed: Appaloosa Cross

Rafter is a gentle giant who has called Sanborn his home since 1996.  He is one of our biggest horses, yet our smallest campers love to ride him.  Rafter’s got a very calm demeanor and overall mellow attitude.  He also has a very smooth gait when he trots and lopes.  Rafter loves to lounge in the sun on warm afternoons and munch on hay with his fellow “seniors” (our other horses that are 20 years and older).  Our senior horses are often used for Sanborn Junior riders because they have years of experience in safely teaching younger children how to ride.  Rafter’s name comes from his unique brand that he had when he first came to Sanborn.  On a foot note… Rafter has very large hooves!

Rafter usually needs some pretty short stirrups!

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Jaunts With Jasper

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012


Color: Chestnut

Gender: Gelding

Breed: Mustang Cross

Jasper is a very talented horse in more than one way.

All his friends call him Houdini for his amazing skills of escaping from any locked gate or corral.  He can also quickly untie a knot no matter how tightly it’s been tied.  Jasper not only frees himself, but he encourages his friends to join him for a little rendezvous.

Jasper also has uncanny swimming skills.  His favorite day in the summer is the Super Wrangler All Day because he gets to pretend to be a very large fish and take campers for a dip in the Witcher Fish Pond.  Lost Lake is another favorite stomping ground of Jasper’s.  He will jump in with campers on his back again and again!

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Find more Four-Legged Friends here!

Cowboy Take Me Away

Monday, January 16th, 2012


Color: Bay

Gender: Gelding

Breed: Quarter Horse Cross

Cowboy is a gentle, wise soul who has been at Sanborn for over fifteen years.  He used to be a wrangler horse who loved to pull shenanigans and was always looking for adventures.  Now he is enjoying being more mature and has the experience to get you anywhere around camp – from Top of the World, to Lost Lake, to Fish Creek, to the Big Spring Barn or the High Trails Stables.  Cowboy has his own special saddle with his name right on it because of high withers on his back.  He also has quite the forelock which gives him a Justin Bieber-esk quality.  He could definitely pull off some great karaoke if the situation arose! He and Rafter are best friends and have been for a long long time.


Cowboy sports the Bieb's hairdo

Click here for more Tails from the Barn.
Find more Four-Legged Friends here!

Innovation and Leadership Styles: There is No Single Formula

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Creativity. Innovation. How else will you find the next foothold?

This weekend, the New York Times interviewed Bill Kling, founder and president emeritus of the American Public Media Group, about leadership and the influential lessons of childhood.

Kling appreciates the space and time his parents provided him, as it allowed him to let his imagination run.  He also spent a great deal of time dismantling and reconstructing (and sometimes destroying) radios….perhaps leading to his lifetime interest in radio.  He feels “we often undervalue the importance of giving young kids that kind of hands-on experience. It may not lead to their deciding what to do with their lives, but it’s surprising what they will absorb — and maybe their lives will turn out differently.”

This ability to experiment as a child, and follow one’s passion areas, strengths and skill areas truly add to a person’s leadership potential.  If a child, or young adult, feels he/she has aptitude in an area—he/she will have more confidence.  That said, it is essential that our future leaders understand that they have to try a variety of activities and work with others in order to achieve great things.

Hard work at 13,000 feet

As Kling says, “A mentor of mine taught me that every perspective is additive, because every person sitting in a room is looking at things differently. Each of them has a different perspective. They come from a different way of thinking and different experiences. And their collective perspective gives you a better outcome. So you have to value the perspectives and try to organize those perspectives in some useful way that lets you go forward.”

Our SOLE/CORE programs allow our 8th and 9th grade campers to not only work together and learn to value new perspectives, they also give our campers opportunities to focus on a specific skill set that interests them.  Whether they are rock climbing, expedition backpacking, horseback riding, or mountain biking, the time and effort these campers dedicate to planning, route finding, learning, teaching, and collectively improving (through service projects and mentoring) gives them a depth of experience and a camaraderie that is life-changing.

They discover that their own leadership strengths can compliment the strengths of others, and they also learn that, sometimes, those very strengths need the balance of other ideas in order to find success. They discover inner creativity—sometimes in humorous ways—because they are in such a supportive, “can-do” social environment.  They discover the outdoors to be a very demanding and inflexible teacher, one whose course requires a great deal of preparation, creativity, flexibility, and innovation in order to pass.

And, sometimes, they fail.

Repairing Fence...Building Leadership

Yet as they come down from the rock they didn’t climb, or the mountain they didn’t summit, or the river they couldn’t cross—they are already thinking, wondering, formulating, planning, and talking about how to do it again…and again…and again.  No one on these trips tells anyone “you can’t do it.”  Kling said, “Too often, leaders fail because someone told them they can’t do it. If you don’t know what you can’t do, then you may well achieve it. If you don’t know what you can’t do, then you may well achieve it.”

All of this brings to mind a favorite children’s book, The OK Book by  Amy Krouse Rosenthal.  Childhood is the time to be “OK” at many different things….because you will have the whole rest of your life to become really terrific at something.

Undoubtedly many of our SOLE/CORE participants will go on to become “really terrific” leaders in the fields of their choice….many of them already have.

Banana Suits and Big Things to Come: Thoughts from Big Spring Program Director, David Cumming

Friday, January 13th, 2012

David Cumming, Big Spring Program Director

Well hello there. This is David Cumming, your new Big Spring Program Director at Sanborn Western Camps. I’m extremely excited to be back in action after a summer as a counselor in 2010 and subsequently putting on the overalls and rabbit fur hat as an instructor at High Trails Outdoor Education Center that very fall.

Some of my personal accomplishments include: three-time male champion at Florissant’s annual Thunderbird Figure Skating Competition (I nailed the Half Lutz, but my Open axel was sub-par), Big Spring Nighttime Banana Split Eating Championship (actually I’ve been the only competitor each night … I mean year … I mean, it may or may not take place in my kitchen) and the original Settler of Catan (it was a rough winter for us Catanans, but we pulled through).

But on a somewhat serious note, I hail from the great nation of Florida, and graduated with a degree in journalism and education from the University of Florida, working for newspapers and desperately trying to be Tim Tebow’s friend.  Then I heard about this Colorado place, and it was all over. So for the past year, I was a city slicker up in Denver, working for a non-profit conservation corps along the Front Range doing trail restoration and fire mitigation. During this brief spell, I was able to begin my own after-school outdoor education program, where we brought underprivileged youth on trips to state parks for them to learn about the wild and help build some trails as well. After twelve months of hearing a chain saw buzz in my ears at all hours of the night, I can honestly say that there’s nothing quite like being a citizen of Florissant again.

On International Talk Like a Pirate Day I Climb 14ers...Arrgh!

In my spare time, I have a few writing projects I am working on, and trying to publish my first book (shameless plug)! I also dapple a bit in photography and video, enjoy cooking with family and friends, and am currently trying to nail down vegan bread and dessert baking in such a high altitude (any tips?). I used to be such a jock in my teens (lacrosse, swimming, baseball, surfing, and the occasional beach volleyball (don’t judge me, I was young, and a Floridian)).  Now give me any sport with the words “book” and “club” involved, and I’m there.

Oh, and I have a beard (please don’t make me go solo mustache, as I’ve confirmed with my peers that I just can’t pull it off).

But even more seriously, I am certain that teaching in the outdoors is one of the most significant ways we’re going to keep this world from going lop-sided. I have seen the change first-hand in our campers, our students, and even our counselors (me included) after spending time in the woods. Just a walk among the pines can unlock a universe of possibilities in us. In a place where children are able to just be themselves, to laugh uncontrollably and play freely without worry, and to be still under the stars for the night, they begin to understand just how similar and connected we all really are.

And that right there might change the entire game.

Honestly and truly, it’s an honor to be part of this great leadership team, and I can’t wait until summer gets here.

I’m dry-cleaning the banana suit and sumping a bowl of gravy as I type this.

In the pool,


“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” ― John Muir

Ice Gardening

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Ice Gardening...faster than growing beans!

Happy New Year!  We hope everyone had wonderful, outdoor adventures during the holiday break…a number of the year-round staff took to the hills to do some skiing, sledding, running, and snow-cave building while others travelled but made time for wintry botanic gardens, walks around the local lake, feeding the geese, and much more.

Now that school is back in session, we need fun, fast, engaging activities to continue to connect our kids, and ourselves, to the outdoors.  One of our favorites is Ice Gardening.

All you need is a variety of water holding containers, sub-zero temperatures, and a surface on which to arrange your garden.  If your temperatures are REALLY cold (like they are at camp right now), you can fill up the containers at night, pop your ice shapes out in the morning, and refill them before you head to school….and they may be frozen again by the time you get home!

So many possibilities!

Experiment with different sizes and shapes, and remember that you don’t have to fill the containers to the very top!  If you want the ice to stick together, pour a bit of water on one piece, then hold it firmly against the piece you want to attach it to for a few moments…then VOILA!…the two will freeze together.

Once you have your ice garden, make sure you upload a photo of it to our Facebook page…and if it isn’t cold enough where you live to make an ice garden, then send us photos of a favorite outdoor winter activity in your neighborhood (and if it is surfing or beachcombing…expect us to be jealous).

Happy gardening!

Happy 2012 Sanborn Camps News Update

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Happy New Year to all of our friends across the world.  As we reflect on the happy moments and blessings of 2011, we are so grateful for the wonderful campers, staff members, friends and alums who are such an important part of our lives.  And, as we look ahead to 2012, we are especially excited about the friendships and adventures that will occur at Big Spring, High Trails, and Sanborn Junior next summer.

Mike and Julie will be heading out in mid-January with the new digital slide show about a summer at Sanborn Western Camps and look forward to seeing many of you as they tour the Midwest.  Beginning January 18, they will visit Denver, Omaha, Chicago, Louisville, KY, St. Louis, Kansas City, Tulsa, Oklanhoma City, and Santa Fe.  Those of you who are on our mailing list will receive information in the mail and all the details are posted on the website.  It is a great program and takes less than an hour so save the date!

We have a lot of projects underway to make 2012 great!  We are looking at every aspect of our program and pursuing ways to make it better.  We’re ordering the equipment we will need and hiring the staff who will become our outstanding counselors, wranglers, assistant counselors, and ridge leaders next summer.  We have already had an excellent response from our 2011 staff and are looking forward to working with many of them again next summer.

Our maintenance crew has begun building all new tent frames on MOPQ Ridge at Big Spring.  During the winter, they will be working on repairs and painting in the cabins at High Trails as well as the continuing restoration of the outside of the Big Spring Lodge.

Maren, Rosie and Scot are busy caring for the horse herd and planning some exciting new rides and trips for next summer.

Enrollment is well underway for 2012 and many of our age groups are over half full.  We are always happy to send our brochure, DVD and references to interested families.

We hope that you have the happiest New Year ever!

Top 10 Holiday Inspirations From the Natural World

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Broomball=Family Fun! (Helmets are always a good idea!)

10.  Outdoor Ice Skating…especially fun on ponds.  Broomball is a great game for the whole family.  Part hockey, part hilarious this game is a slippery way to burn off a few of the too-many-holiday-cookies calories.

9.  Animal tracks.  Fresh snow, or even wintertime mud, is a great way to discover the critters in your neighborhood.  See if your kids can identify the differences between canine and feline tracks, and try to find a mouse track (the impression left by the tail is a great way to identify one).

8.  Outdoor icicles.  The ones hanging on your Christmas tree are nice…but the ones hanging from the tree in your front yard have historical legacy….and are much tastier.

7.  Quiet nights.  Long, star-filled night skies make for great evening walks and story telling.  Check out H.A. Rey’s The Stars for stories about wintertime constellations like Orion and Gemini.

Eating snow is a favorite winter activity, too!

6.  Going sledding and building snow people.  One of the times you are guaranteed not to have to cajole your children into multiple layers of clothes, but you might need to cajole them to come inside for dinner.

5.  Making holiday decorations from natural objects.  Besides cutting down your own tree (a great family tradition), you can make fragrant wreaths, centerpieces, and door swags from the nature that you have nearby.

Pinecone Bird Feeder

4.  Creating animal trees.  The animals will appreciate a few treats around the holidays, and nothing is better than peanut butter-birdseed-pinecone ornaments.  The birds (and maybe your dog) will love you forever.

3.  Seeing different (read: not evergreen) trees illuminated by lights.  One winter, in La Paz, MX,  I saw a palm tree wrapped in a strand of multi-colored lights and now I look for out-of-the-ordinary trees and bushes that have been festooned for the holidays.  Most recently: a pile of stacked tumble weeds illuminated by a farmhouse on the Kansas prairie.

2.  All-NATURAL workout.  Shoveling snow and scraping ice?  Thank you, Mother Nature, for the requisite motivation to get out and move this morning.

1.  A REAL Context for Christmas Carols.  While we walk in a winter wonderland, we can build Frosty the Snowman because, now the ground is white, and we are heedless of the wind and weather. O’er the fields we go, laughing all the way to where the treetops glisten, and to where all is calm and all is bright.  We are caroling out in the snow, while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains remind us that heaven and nature sing.  We were expecting a silent night, but the sun was hot that day, then—with a look down from the sky—we shouted, “Let it snow!”   The snow came upon a midnight clear, and folks dressed up like Eskimos.  In fields as they lay making snow angels with their friends and family, those of us who love the natural world hope that all your Christmases be white.

Happy Holidays!

Holiday Listening Skills: The Reason for The Visit

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Taking time to listen...all year long

How are your listening skills? Today is the Colorado Outdoor Education Center’s annual holiday luncheon at The Nature Place.  It is our opportunity to get everyone from the different departments at COEC together for a meal and some quality story telling, some questionable singing, and some good listening.  This is a holiday tradition that has been part of Sanborn for decades.

Story telling is an essential part of the holiday season, it allows us to take a deep breath and immerse ourselves in the history of the past year with our friends and family.  It allows us to remember those we have lost, and celebrate the triumphs of childhood and share our quest for sanity in parenthood.  It allows us the opportunity to listen at a deeper level.

In the excellent article, In Africa, The Art of Listening, author Henning Mankell reminds us why “humans have two ears and only one tongue”.  Much holiday family time revolves around “visits” to different places to see different people…yet a “visit” is also a time to chat and, more importantly, to listen.  It is around these holiday tables that I learned my history and began to define my own set of stories to help explain my distinct sense of self.

One of my family’s favorite stories was about Sandy Sanborn.  My uncle, Charlie, does an amazing Sandy impression and his favorite story is a humorous retelling of The Day The Sheriff Came.  “Chandler” (as my uncle was known) was the Garbage Man at Big Spring.  The day the sheriff arrived (for reasons never known), Sandy had my uncle hide—and then began to tell everyone that “Chandler” was a wanted man.  At the next meal, a shot was fired outside the lodge, and–in dramatic fashion–my uncle crashed through the front doors….covered in ketchup.  (This was always the point in the story my dad would mutter, “My kids are NEVER going there…”)  I don’t remember what happened next—but I’m certain it involved Sandy’s deep belly laugh…a laugh that I had heard imitated for years before I actually heard it in person.

Children LOVE your stories.  They will readily become enraptured as you tell stories about your favorite gifts, most memorable holiday moments, and the history of the traditions you practice and remember.  They want to hear your stories about everything: school, camp, love, adventure, embarrassment, and mistakes.  A good story will teach a lesson…but the listener might not realize the lesson for years to come.  Your stories will shape their paths, and they will return to them again and again to gain more and more knowledge about the world.

In a world where information is ubiquitous, time is a valuable resource, and there are innumerable technological distractions that take away from these “visits” it is important to take time to pause, reflect, remember and share.  Whether we know it or not, we all crave the knowledge those moments provide.  As Mankell says, “Many people make the mistake of confusing information with knowledge. They are not the same thing. Knowledge involves the interpretation of information. Knowledge involves listening.”

During this holiday season, we hope you take time to tell a story or two, listen to the stories being told, and watch for the new stories being created.

Happy Holidays!

Nominate YOUR Favorite High Trails Woman Today!

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Growing Stronger from then....

2012 marks the 50th anniversary of High Trails Ranch for Girls.  To celebrate we are creating the 50 Years of High Trails Blog Project. This project hopes to acknowledge the depth and breadth of outstanding women who have created a lasting impact on both our camp culture and in the world at large.  These mothers, sisters, best friends, counselors, ridge leaders, trip leaders, kitchen staff and others should all have two things in common: they are amazing women and they all have been, or continue to be, part of the High Trails community.

If you have a photo of you and your nominee together, or of your nominee in action, please attach the image so we may share it–along with a unique story about your nominee–on the Sanborn Western Camps Blog beginning in January 2012.  Our goal is to share the accomplishments of these fantastic women every week on the blog.  Nominations should be submitted via our online form before January 1st, 2012.

Be a part of this historic celebration of women who have learned to GROW STRONG because of their experiences at High Trails.  Nominate YOUR favorite High Trails woman today!

...til now!