Archive for the ‘Kids and Technology’ Category

New Years Resolutions

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

We're hard at work here in the office!


Get excited, because we have a lot of great things coming your way this New Year! Sure, the first Postal Holiday of the year is over, but here at the office things are just warming up. Look out for an update from us here at Sanborn’s blog each Wednesday in the form of (but not restricted to): the exploration of gustatory delights with Big Spring’s new Program Director, Jackson Blackburn, interviews with staff and camp buildings, updates on winter projects, an article here and there that catches our attention, and the occasional uplifting piece of multimedia.

An exciting event: our #sanbornswag contest! Let us see your Sanborn Western Camps swag (this means clothing) from home, from camp, and any and all adventures you’ve taken around the world! Follow us on Instagram (@sanborncamps) and post your picture with #sanbornswag along with a great caption. Submissions are due February 3rd 2014! We will announce the winners and post their pictures here and to our Facebook page. If you don’t have an instagram, you can post your pictures to Facebook with #sanbornswag, but, as you may not be aware because you do not have an instagram, the bigger problem here would be not having an instagram. I bet you also don’t have a 3-D printer, and therefore do not have geometrically shaped candy treats in flavors of mint or sour apple? Ha. What is this, the stone age?

So check back every week for what’s new and cool here on Sanborn Western Camps’ blog!

ACA Conference

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Last week 10 of us ventured to Atlanta for the ACA National Conference. The overall theme of the conference

Jane Sanborn and her entourage!

was Convergence: Vision, Learning, Innovation. This was an exciting opportunity for our staff to continue our professional development as youth and outdoor educators and camp professionals. And it was a great week! Our very own Jane Sanborn was the conference program chair. She and the conference team lined up wonderful session and keynote speakers, fun night programs, and a variety of exhibitors for the exhibit hall.  We were all able to go to a variety of educational sessions presented by child development and camp professionals – sessions that emphasized the importance of what we do best: provide exceptional outdoor experiences for children. We were able to network with other camp professionals. We left energized and motivated for the summer! It is fun for us to come back and share all that we have learned with each other and start incorporating new ideas into our summer and school weeks programs.

We had great keynote speakers including, Dr. Christine Carter (author of Raising Happiness), Richard Louv, Sanborn alum, Rod Lucero, and Niambi Jaha-Echols. Each speech was relevant to and encouraging of what we do at camp.

Dr. Carter started the week sharing the importance of teaching and cultivating life skills such as gratitude, kindness, and growth campers – all things that we know about and do at camp! Dr. Carter is a strong believer of Growth Mindset – the belief that someone is successful due to hard work and effort, as well as innate ability. At camp, it is important to us that campers are challenged to try new things and encouraged through the process. We believe that campers and staff can grow and learn from our trips and activities. Being able to try new things is one of the great things about camp and campers having the ability to choose their own trips and activities.

Richard Louv emphasized the role camps play in continuing to get children outside. In his speech he told us how he was jealous of his friend who left Kansas every summer to go to camp…specifically, his friend left Kansas and spent his summers at Sanborn. He spoke of the growing importance of camp and getting outside, as our world becomes more technology-driven.

Rod Lucero helped us better understand the importance of camps continuing the education from schools. Relevance, Rigor, and Relationships are the foundation of education, and according to Lucero, without them, reading, writing, and arithmetic don’t matter. At camp, we help make education relevant. The foundation of Sanborn is education. We continue to learn and pass our knowledge on to all Colorado Outdoor Education Center participants.

Niambi Jaha-Echols provided us with an inspiring and humorous closing session. According to Jaha-Echols, camp provides us the opportunities to transform into new beings – from caterpillars to butterflies. It is important to us that we provide campers with the space and support to understand and grow into the people they are supposed to be. We are lucky to have 6,000 acres, amazing counselors, and a great variety of trips and activities to help all campers grow as individuals into butterflies.

We look forward to continuing to share our learnings with you and incorporate them into our 2012 summer.

To See A New Color

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

A recent blog post from Simon Ings tells us how we need to start seeing differently:

“We humans acquired the means, very late in our evolution, to perceive a world of colour – and every day we spend phenomenal amounts of energy making the world even more colourful than it would otherwise be, with face paints and aniline dyes, fabrics and photographs, paints, powders and moving images everywhere.

But the further we leave our terrestrial environments behind, the more we confront a relatively colourless universe. At best, the Martian sky is mauve. The rings of Saturn are dun brown. The Moon is black and white. Or is it? Today, with a decent telescope and a digital camera, any keen amateur astronomer can demonstrate that the Moon is full of colour – but can our unaided eyes, so spoiled by life on earth, ever appreciate its de-saturated motley?

Exposed to radiations from which they were normally shielded by the Earth’s atmosphere, the earliest astronauts – balloonists with the US Air Force’s Man High and Excelsior projects –saw colours they conspicuously failed to identify on a Pantone chart. There are, after all, new colours to be discovered in space – but to see them, we need new eyes …”


Happy Weekend – Unplugged

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

As we are quickly nearing the weekend, I came across this Denver Post article that made me think about my plans for the next several days. David Brown writes about his family occasionally unplugging for the weekend. It is hard for many people to do – limiting their use of cell phones, not turning on the computer, avoid sitting in front of the television. Brown reveals the fun the family had playing games, laughing, telling stories – essentially spending time together.

We luck out living in Florissant; we have limited access to cell coverage and the outdoors are easily accessible. But even here, technology creeps in and takes hold. Just one more check of email, send a quick text, okay, maybe one more email. When looking at a screen, time disappears much too quickly.

Sledding is always fun, regardless of the amount of snow

Snow hit Colorado today. Some places more than others. I was just watching the news and saw a story about people enjoying sledding on their snow day. You could see the grass coming through the snow, but that didn’t stop these happy sledders from having some fun. This article has impeccable timing. The snow, or sun (depending on your location), or just a normal weekend is a perfect excuse to unplug for a day, or a couple of hours, and enjoy time with friends and family.

I recognize the irony of writing this blog post and suggesting you read an article about unplugging. It is easy want to stay plugged-in when the temperature drops and snow starts falling. On the other hand, isn’t it more rewarding to unplug and reconnect with people instead? For me, I need these small reminders to turn off the computer, phone, television and enjoy what we have around us, even for just a little while.

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!

More Camper Stories

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Camp is like a home away from home. Every year is full of fun, adventure, and excitement. I have been with the same group of girls that now feel like family; I can be as crazy as I want to around them. Camps is also the only time I really get out into nature and no amount of technology can compensate for living with nature.

The Warrior Dash
The warrior dash was such a blast! We had all these different teams and challenges that we had to complete. These are just some of the things we got to do. First we went to the warrior sing and had to make up a song for our team. Next I went to the 4-story treehouse and had to save “King Arthur” by choosing the right silver cup. We tossed shrunken heads (water balloons) back and forth in front of the lodge.
Hope Pohlman

Sanborn Camp is not about sitting around. Sanborn is about determination, courage, and responsibility. Sanborn is about getting in touch with nature, hiking the tallest mountains, riding a horse as fast as you can, and pushing yourself to the extreme! Sanborn is a new beginning and it never has an end. Sanborn camp is happiness, pure happiness.
Victoria Mak

In the world,
we get lost in the commonality
we forget to look for the beauty
we miss the glow of life
Then we come to nature and
we are afraid to look, love, listen
we are afraid that something might be perfect and true
we are terrified that something is real
That’s why together we can accept that
this might be what we’ve been searching for
this might open up our eyes to it all
Then we go back to the world
never to be the same.

Grab your towel, grab your goggles, bring your smile, and run to the pool. Cruise down the slide, and splash in the water. There’s so much to do at the POOL! Paddle around in the blow-up tubes! Use the noodles as any sea creatures. Adventure through the whole pool, there’s so much to do! You can play in the pool or out of the slide. I love the swimming pool! My favorite thing is to hang out in the sun and talk to my friends! Mis loves to go down the slide on a sleeping pad because it goes so fast! Addie loves to go down on a tube! I love the pool! There’s so much to do!
Emily Driscoll

Camper Posts

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

I was new at camp the year. When I came I was scared and got homesick. Then everything got better, everyone was really nice!! My counselors were nice too! One of my favorite activities is horseback riding! You get to learn how to put the saddle on and learn how to brush your horse. Skit night was fun. It’s where you and your cabin make up a skit and perform it and everybody at High Trails watches. I like singing songs here like “Rocky Mountain High.”
Katie Neal

High Trails is like a second family to me. We all come here from different parts of the county and come from different backgrounds. But once we are surrounded by all of these beautiful mountains and trees and nature, none of that matters. Every new person is welcomed with hugs and smiling faces. And old friends are never forgotten. You are never bored because there are a variety of things to do. You can horseback ride, mountain bike, technical rock climb, rock scramble, swim, arts and crafts, and much more! High Trails gives me something to look forward to every summer and when it is over I know there are more girls enjoying the Rocky Mountain High.
Mimi Chapman

High Trails at Sanborn Camps is a summer worth of fun. There is something for everyone. Horseback riding, drama, hiking, climbing, pottery, and so much more. Sanborn is a safe environment where kids can learn and grow in the outdoors. We welcome new campers with open arms. Sanborn has become a second home to some and hopefully to you too. Sanborn is an experience you do not want to miss. Have you ever heard the wind dance in the aspen leaves? Have you ever slept out under the stars? Have you climbed to the top of a mountain peak? Have you ever gone tubing down a river? We guarantee you will have a blast! Throughout the term you will learn new things, meet new people, and do things you may not have. I tried Sanborn and I know I am a better person for it. Sanborn is the camp to go to. We hope to see you here next summer!
Kate Ratliff

It’s only the first week of Sanborn, and I can already tell you that walking uphill is A LOT easier. I’m sure by the end I will have gained so much muscle! Hiking a mountain will be a breeze. Then I will spend more time actually seeing the beauty of the Rockies. The hills gently roll, and the mountains…Oh the mountains! Last year when I was hiking up Quandry we got up at 3 in the morning. I can tell you it was well worth the early rise. In the light of the moon, the dew on the pines sparkles and glistened. It was probably one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen.
Not using technology was hard at first, but when you get to know how many things you can do without it, it gets easier. There is so much to do here, you really don’t have time for technology. If there’s anything to be said of Sanborn, it’s that you never get bored!
At Sanborn there are 2 sections. One is Big Spring, where the boys live. And I live at High Trails with the girls. It actually makes camp more enjoyable to be separate, you spend less time worrying about looks and boys and more time enjoying the outdoor experience. There are coed events where you get to see the boys. Best of both worlds!
Coming to Sanborn is a wonderful experience, and the people you meet always become your friends. It’s like a family away from family. Cliques don’t exist here. Everyone is there to help you out. If I could spend every summer here, I would say yes without even batting an eye.

A Film From the Big Spring Craft Shop: “As it Happens”

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011
Movie: "As it Happens"

Movie: "As it Happens"

Our campers have sure been creative this session! They’ve worked with clay, fired pots, painted posters, carved wood, and the list goes on

Throughout this session, a group of four campers worked diligently to create a stop-motion video. Using clay, paper, cardboard, and wire, they put this film together during the Arts and Crafts Saturday Special.

As described by our Arts and Crafts Director, Falcon Craft, “This is what happens when you get a group of creative campers, staff, and just the right amount of magic working together like a fine delicacy.”

Click here to see the video!

The Art of Letter-Writing…Alive and Well at Sanborn

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Letters from the Pony Express! Let's RIDE!

In response to today’s article in USA Today, we wanted to shed some light on how Sanborn Western Camps is keeping letter writing alive and well this summer…not to mention that we believe the fairly new post office in Florissant is a direct result of these fine letter writing skills (or maybe the result of LOTS of care packages).

The secretaries in the camp office were alarmed when the first batch of mail written by campers to their families was collected.  Stamps were stuck in random places on the envelopes, including on the back, instead of the upper right-hand corner of the envelope.  Addresses were incomplete, illegible and also found in strange and confusing places.  It was a shock to realize that many young people (including staff!) do not know how to write and post a letter.  Is Letter-Writing becoming a lost art?

Imagine what the world would have missed if the correspondence between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had been via e-mail?  What if Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning had communicated via text message?  And, how sad it would be if Jane Austen, Henry James, Abraham Lincoln, and Benjamin Franklin had tweeted, instead of producing the volumes of elegant prose which preserve and enhance their legacy.

The Arrival of the Pony Express!

Camp is one of the few places where letter writing is still encouraged (and taught!).  Campers are required to turn in a letter to their families to gain admission to lunch each Sunday.  Counselors compose hand-written letters each week to send home to the parents of each of their campers describing the camper’s achievements and adjustment to the camp community.  Hand-written letters flow freely between the girls’ camp and the boys’camp.

Parents have told us for many years that they value these letters written by campers and counselors and save them along with other treasured mementos of childhood.  Some parents have shared them with us, and these are a valuable piece of the history of the camps and of the family history of each camper.

Technology today is encouraging short, superficial messages, rather than the deeper, more meaningful communication which occurs when letters are written. Text messaging is fine for letting your Mom know when soccer practice ends, and tweeting works to find out how Lance Armstrong is doing in the Tour de France.  But if you want to let your parents know how it feels to stand on top of a 14,000’ mountain, or you want to tell them about your new friends, or you want to describe the sunset you saw last night from Top of the World, then letter writing is the only way.

Letters for EVERY Lady at High Trails

This summer, campers and counselors in both sessions have participated in a fun and exciting “Pony Express” activity.  Originating at the Big Spring Barn, campers and riding staff painstaking wrote letters to every “fine lass and lady” at High Trails Ranch.  On the day of the Pony Express’ long-anticipated arrival, the riders battled “banditos” who threatened to relieve them of their Important Delivery.  After bravely defending their priceless parcels, the riders rode triumphantly to the High Trails Lodge to deliver their precious cargo.  The ladies greeted them with cheers and showered them with praise.

Letter writing might be slightly antiquated…but it has never been so much fun.

Go Play Outdoors

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

The research has been done.  The results are staggering.  Children spend less time in the outdoors than EVER before in human history.  And the impact of this fact will, inevitably, profoundly shift how our children, and our children’s children view their connection with and within this natural world.

West of Jesus: Surfing, Science and the Origins of Belief

In his excellent, and well-researched West of Jesus: Surfing, Science and the Origins of Belief Steven Kotler posits that “what we believe governs what we see.”  Basically, our belief systems (from religious, to spiritual, to biological, and back again) govern our perceptions—and what we perceive is the real world—Reality—is nothing more, or less, than what we believe.  Kotler’s concern, same as mine, is grounded in the current trend that has the human species moving farther and farther away from the natural world.  In essence, we are ignoring or shunning basic biological imperatives that allow us to see, to create, to value interconnections in the very natural world from which we came.

Not so, you say.  Our children (and some of us) are making connections and raising the collective consciousness through the strategic use of internet technologies, globalization, and instant access to information.  Yet in this environment of overwhelming information access, our human-animal brains are being put to the test.

Kotler frames his argument about the origins of our belief in both current and older brain research and studies.  Much of our “human-ness” comes from our ability to manage both “logos” and “mythos.”  Logos—or logic—is “information of the no-nonsense variety:  practical, clinical, scientific, secular.”  Mythos—or myth–is a “way to give meaning to events that exist beyond easy context.”    We are deeply entrenched in a culture that celebrates logos, bringing to mind the line and cultural motifs from The Matrix, “The world as it was at the end of the 20th century”.  A culture that, by and large, now shuns myth.  Myth was long believed to be an outward representation/explanation of our inner selves.   Our creation of personal “myth” explains the inexplicable, allows us to describe the indescribable, gives us the context to make sense and meaning in a world of random suffering, pain, and death.

Images of Haiti by Allison Kwesell

In the current scientific climate, however, subjectivity is out, and objectivity rules.  When we are confronted with glaring economic issues,  complex political initiatives, and public health conundrums—there are those who utilize logos in its myriad forms to find “a solution.”  Yet when those situations involve environmental paradoxes where human wants and needs trump multiple species, or when whole cities or nations of suffering humans seem to become “an issue”—that is our logos attempting to usurp our mythos.  We don’t connect, we think.

The Great Bower Bird

For all of that thinking, we are still losing ground in certain ways—and our connection with ritual is one of those.  If you watch the elaborate mating ritual of the Bower Bird during this last month’s seminal Discovery Channel series, Life , or the battle of the Giant Bullfrogs, or the painstaking (and multi-year) guidance a mother orangutan provides to her child, it becomes easy to understand that all of the natural world is governed by ritual.  And, yes Virginia, we are part of that natural world, too.

Meaning, for humans, is created through layers and layers of ritual.  This evolution of ritual eventually created a schema, or thought pattern, that made us want to know why something happened.  This desire to know why is one of the characteristics that make us uniquely human.  The “logos” sciences have helped us tremendously in this area.  I am happy to know that my toddler son’s runny nose is actually caused by a virus that my preschool son brought home and somehow shared with him (think prolific nose-picker) and not by a malevolent spirit (though I do wonder what possesses the nose-picker, sometimes…).

The cognitive imperative to seek out  “the answers to life’s persistent questions” is not only the charge of Guy Noir, it is inherent—biologically and neurologically—in each one of us.  Because of this, we have to reconnect our kids with nature because—without it–they are actually losing part of their evolutionary intelligence, health, and disrupting their neurochemistry.

Wild Turkeys on the move at Sanborn Western Camps

For example, if a child is completely disconnected from the food cycle, and has no idea that the meat in front of her was once living—or if that child knows that the sandwich she is eating was once, in some other place and time, a living, breathing turkey, yet she has no experience with “Turkey”—how will she be able to truly know to ask why. (Why am I eating this? How did this turkey live and die? Why does turkey taste so terrific?  What will happen to me when I die?)  And when she does bother to ask why, she’ll find a number of nutrition charts on line that define the essence of “Turkey” as its caloric value and place on the food pyramid…but nothing that allows her to experience “Turkey” in all of its squawking, fluffing, and preening glory. Nor will she be able to find anything that will give her the respect, understanding, and empathy toward a once living creature who has now arrived in a neatly package, hermetically sealed, plastic container on her lunch tray.

We are short circuiting our brains because we cannot make connections to the very world that has sustained us for the last 6,000 years.  Candice Pert writes in her book, Molecules of Emotion,

There is a plethora of elegant neurophysiological data suggesting that the nervous system is not capable of taking in everything, but can only scan the outer world for material that it is prepared to find by virtue of its wiring hook ups, its own internal patterns, and its past experiences.”  If our children scan the world in 50 years, and haven’t explored and played in the outdoors, then how will they ever understand its value and seek to preserve it?

The current logic and trends say they won’t….but with the continued efforts and wisdom of  camping professionals, educators, eco-visionaries, environmental activists, parents, youth development professionals, surfers, brain researchers, scientists, spiritual advisors, nature-lovers, active individuals, the health-conscious, and other progressive fields and industries—we are swinging the pendulum back to a more connected, present, and happier place: our backyards, parks, camps, natural recreation areas….our world.

The adventures never end....

Reconnect with nature.

Reconnect with others.

Reonnect with yourself.

Reconnect with wonder.

Go play outdoors.