Archive for September, 2010

Timberview Week 1, Day 3

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Today was a great day for all-days. It was still very nice weather, but with a slight breeze that kept it from being too hot. The students had fun on their all-days. The woodsmen went to the sawmill to learn about cutting down trees, the homesteaders made candles, the explorers went to the bat caves, the cowboys went to our working ranch, the Indians made medicine pouches and dreamcatchers, mountaineers did LOTS of rock scrambling, the prospectors went searching for copper, and time machine looked for fossils. It was a very busy day!

This afternoon, the students chose a recreation activity – last chance hike to A-bluff, 4-story treehouse, and marshmallow baseball are just a few of the favorites. Similar to this morning’s hikes, students can choose the activity or hike that interests them most. At dinner they will be able to share the highlights of the afternoon with the rest of their cabin.

Tonight’s activities are focused around the students spending time together as a cabin. The High Trails staff have some fun activities and short night hikes planned. The night activities allow the students to use their senses in different ways than they do during the day. It gives them the chance to use senses other than relying primarily on sight. Being in cabin groups tonight also allows students to bond with groups of students they aren’t spending the day with during the discovery groups. It is fun to watch the students really work together and enjoy spending time with new friends. With the very clear sky today, everyone will have the opportunity to use our telescope to look at the moon and Jupiter which has been coming up over Pikes Peak!

Amazon Adventures

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Piranhas Everywhere

Want to take a boat ride down the Amazon River?  I know, I know, it would be great except for the a) bugs, b) snakes, c) prohibitive amount of time it would take you to get there and back (though you don’t have to actually take the boat TO the Amazon).

Fortunately, you CAN head down the Amazon River if you are in Denver anytime between now and January 2, 2011.  The Denver Museum of Nature and Science is hosting the exhibit: Amazon Voyage: Vicious Fishes and Other Riches.  This is an awesome opportunity to learn about the world’s largest and most biologically diverse river.

Ariella: Anaconda--New Name Game Variation?

The exhibit itself is fairly condensed, but chock full of fun, interactive elements which are great for kids and adults of all ages.  From checking out the stomach contents of a giant catfish, to learning about the wide variety of piranha species, to seeing real live freshwater stingrays and Amazonian cockroaches (fairly large, but VERY cool), AND seeing how much an 18 foot long anaconda weighs—this bilingual exhibit offers a balance of interesting information, experiential learning stations, and beautiful artifacts.  (Plus you get to learn ALL about the 7 Perils of the Amazon right before Halloween–shivers!)

After the exhibit, I realized a  “Swimming With The Pink Dolphins” All-Day Trip would be right up our alley–but, I admit, there are some logistical (andperilous) challenges.  After careful consideration–and a long talk about transportation limitations with Julie and Mike–(tubes are NOT recommended on the Amazon),  we have determined we will NOT be offering any variation of this particular adventure as next summer’s new Long Trip.

Tubing Down the Amazon?...Um, maybe not.

So during the long, cold winter days ahead, plan visit The Denver Museum of Nature and Science to have your own personal Amazon River adventure—and when you practice the steps of the samba in the exhibit, you will definitely warm yourself up, too!

Authors Note:  I would like to thank Mile High Mamas and the Colorado Chapter of Mom It Forward for organizing and promoting a great preview evening of the exhibit.  The museum itself provides innumerable enrichment opportunities for children to engage with their sense of wonder through outstanding, interactive displays and exhibits.

The museum just received a 3.27 million dollar federal grant from the National Science Foundation to fund a program called Urban Advantage

Some of the Mile High Mamas after our Amazon Boat Ride

Metro Denver.  UA Metro Denver is a collaboration between urban public schools and science-based cultural organizations designed to improve science literacy among middle-school students.  Entities involved in this community partnership include: The Denver Museum of Science and Nature, the Denver Zoo, Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver Public Schools, Aurora Public Schools, and Adams County School District 14.


A Fantastic Play Day for Everyone

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Explorers Hiking the Hills of High Trails Outdoor Education Center

This last weekend’s No Child Left Inside Family Fun Day was an excellent event. Under beautiful Colorado bluebird skies, over 150 kids, parents, grandparents, teachers and outdoor enthusiasts spent the day searching for crystals, building forts, going on nature scavenger hunts, climbing up the Four-Story Treehouse, investigating at the Interbarn, and much, much more.  To see LOTS more photos from the event, visit the High Trails Outdoor Education Page on Facebook.

Making the Trappers Proud: Fort Building

Erma, Vicki, and Cathy all worked hard to put out a great lunch for the participants—some of whom were plenty hungry after hikes to A-Bluff and Top of the World.

Many thanks to our friends at the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument who did such an outstanding job promoting ALL of the weekends events throughout the region this last month.

We look forward to seeing everyone again next fall! (and maybe again in the spring…we’ll keep you posted!)

Timberview Week 1, Evening 2

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

It was a successful day at High Trails! The students had a great time on both their morning and afternoon discovery groups. Students seemed to learn a lot and enjoy their time out on the trail. The students are bonding well and it is hard to tell that it is still early in the school year – everyone is having a good time together!

After a delicious dinner, students had evening programming. The half of the students that went to the Hoedown last night went to the Interbarn tonight. Highlights from the Interbarn are the freezer, with several frozen birds and snakes (followed by lots of hand sanitizer!), tracks (students learn to move like various animals found around High Trails and Colorado), and fun think (a station of imaginative games, astronaut gloves, and mind puzzles. The students that went to the Interbarn last night went to the Hoedown tonight.

In the morning the students will go on another early morning hike. Rather than going with their cabins, students choose from about 8 hikes to the staff’s favorite points around High Trails. They will get to choose which high point or beautiful scenery spot they want to go to before breakfast. Tomorrow’s discovery groups are all-days. Students will spend the majority of the day in the same discovery group – participating in more activities, understanding their group of people, and even eating lunch on the trail!

We are definitely looking forward to more stories from tomorrow!

Timberview Week 1, Day 2

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

It is another beautiful day here at High Trails. The students slept well and it sounded like they enjoyed their morning hikes. Everyone ate lots of scrambled eggs, english muffins, cereal, and milk this morning at breakfast.

Students are out on their first themed discovery groups this morning. They will spend 2.5 hours learning about the early visitors to Colorado. The counselors and High Trails staff dress in costumes, the students participate in role playing, and everyone gets to think about what it would have been like to live in early Colorado. We are looking forward to lunch when the students will have the opportunity to share their activities from the morning with the rest of their cabinmates!

After lunch the students will have a short down time before their afternoon discovery groups. It looks like the weather will be nice all day. Teachers, 6th graders, and high school students will be able to enjoy a great fall day in the mountains.

Timberview Week 1, Day 1

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

We were excited to have the Timberview 6th graders arrive this morning. After a short welcoming meeting the students moved into their cabins to meet their high school counselors, the other students in the cabin, and their High Trails staff. Following a lunch of soup, sandwiches, and cookies the High Trails staff took the cabin groups out for about an hour and a half to play some games.

This afternoon students went on their first discovery group, Setting the Mood. This first session is an opportunity for the students to make their first connections with nature around the High Trails property and use their five senses more – plus recognizing the High Trails sixth sense, Wonder. During this group students do a nature scavenger hunt, blindfold find a tree, and find their special spots. While in their special spots students think about their goals for their week and write a quote – their thoughts about High Trails and spending time in nature. The staff will read about 20 of these quotes at the closing session on Friday.

We enjoyed a dinner of baked ziti, salad, and cake for dinner tonight. Everyone excitedly shared stories from their first discovery group with the other students in their cabins. We had our first evening programming tonight. Half the students went to the Hoedown, the High Trails staff were excited to dress up in funny costumes, tell stories, and lead silly choreographed dances. The other half of the students went to the Interbarn, our hands-on science center. At the Interbarn, students chose three interactive stations to go to to learn about craters, cells, animals, and more.

The High Trails staff went to the cabins to debrief the day and talk about the morning. In the morning, the students will go on hikes before breakfast with their cabin groups. It was a beautiful day here at High Trails, and a great setting for the first day. The aspen leaves are changing and the yellow trees are fun to see among the evergreens on the hillside. This could be the peak of changing colors. The morning hike should be beautiful. Hopefully, students will see some deer and elk in the morning – or at least see a few tracks.

By Any Other Name…September 25, 2010: An Outdoor Adventure

Friday, September 24th, 2010

We can't WAIT til September 25th!

Michelle Obama refers to it as the Worldwide Day of Play. There has been legislation passed in states across the country, so we can participate in No Child Left Inside Celebrations. Our friends in North Carolina and with The Children and Nature Network know it as Take a Child Outside Week. The American Camp Association, REI, and others have developed a national campaign because Nature Rocks!. Others seek to inspire the next generation of respectful, thoughtful land users during National Hunting and Fishing Day. And the National Park Service recognizes the need for mass reconnection to the natural world, and is offering free admission to all of the National Parks during the National Public Lands Day

Across the country and the globe, September 25th marks the day when EVERYONE should take time to be outdoors.

Happy Mountain Fisherman

No matter what you call it, or what your political leaning may be, the research is piling up that being outdoors is an essential part of childhood, and—in the mind of many doctors, scientists, philosophers, and mental health advocates—is also an essential part of being a healthy, happy human being.

In the past weeks, there have been innumerable articles published and cited about the vast benefits of spending time in the outdoors.

There have been news stories, blog posts, and other features dedicated to the opening of nature centers from the Middle East, to the UK, to India, to Kalamazoo, MI.

Canoeing at 11-Mile Reservoir

We have shared our 101 Nature Activities with our readers in the past, and we still believe that teaching children how to engage with the outdoors through structured activities is an excellent way to pique interest in being outside.

Kings of the Mountains

That said, the focus must remain on play and the simple enjoyment of the natural world. There are moments when the outdoors seems daunting to children, parents, teachers, and mentors alike. Rainstorms leave us running for the classroom, windy days seem to irritate the 3 and under set, gearing up for a play day in the cold ends up taking as long as the kids then actually spend outside.

Yet those are lessons in and of themselves. Lessons about perseverance, creativity, resourcefulness, patience, and the incredible power of redirection. Lessons about being a more tolerant, adventurous, problem solver. Lessons about seeking wonder, appreciating beauty, and choosing to live simply. Lessons about discovery, self-efficacy, and innovation.

As we get our families outside this week and weekend, just remember it is about the quest. Through play and exploration, you will discover answers to questions you didn’t even know you had—and THAT is what makes these minutes, hours, and days outdoors worthwhile.

Backpacking in the Colorado High Country

We are heartened by the global reach of this movement. And we also realize that we have always have been on this path, and—because of our mission—we know that our job as educators, mentors, and youth development professionals is more important now than ever before.

If you are in Colorado, please join us this weekend for our No Child Left Inside Family Fun Day—otherwise, please seek out opportunities in your communities to get your whole family outside to simply play.

Mountain Ridge 2, Evening 3

Friday, September 24th, 2010

We had a great day for all-days today. Everyone had an excellent time and dinner conversation was very animated as stories from the day were being shared. It seemed that every student had something special to share with the rest of his or her cabin.

Following all-days, students headed back to the cabins for a short break before recreation period. The 6th graders were able to choose between activities such as marshmallow baseball, aspen tree dodge ball, 4-square, capture the flag, 4-story tree house for one of their last activities. It was a good opportunity for students to work with and get to know students they did not have discovery groups with or were in different cabins.

After a delicious dinner (roast beef, potatoes, green beans, rolls, salad, and cherry bars), students who went to the Interbarn on Tuesday went to the Hoedown tonight, and students who went to the Hoedown went to the Interbarn tonight. As a closing conversation at the Interbarn, the High Trails staff led a discussion on the interconnections in the world.

Students are getting ready for bed now with a bedtime snack. The staff are debriefing the day with them and talking about the plan for the morning. High Trails staff will be in the cabin before breakfast, helping kids pack and clean the cabin. Students will go to the big rocks for a closing session and then head out on their last discovery group – Putting It All Together. We have had a great time with the Mountain Ridge 6th graders and will be sad to see them go.

For anyone interested in visiting High Trails, this Saturday, Sept. 25, we are having a Leave No Child Inside weekend. The High Trails staff will lead abbreviated versions of some of our favorite discovery groups and lead hikes around the High Trails property. Lunch will be provided from 1-2. We would love to see some District 20 families up here, and have the opportunity to show them a little bit of what their students experience.

Mountain Ridge 2, Morning 3

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Just as we hoped, the clouds moved out last night and we woke up to a beautiful day at High Trails. Everyone had good morning hikes. A number of students went to the Candy Cane, A-Bluff, Top of the World, and the barnyard to visit the goats and mini horses. The group that went to the top of Little Blue heard Elk bugling in the distance and went on an Elk tracking hike (they never saw them though).

After enjoying a breakfast of pancakes, sausage, cereal, and apple juice, the students went to get ready for the day. The all-day discovery groups are Time Machine (where students travel through time to explore the High Trails property and search for fossils), Woodsmen (students contemplate how to maintain a healthy forest and go to the working sawmill and get a piece of tree to take home), Explorers (the highlight is going to the bat caves to explore and rock scramble), Cowboys (students visit the working ranch and learn to rope and brand a piece of wood to take home), Indians (students play games and make dream catchers and beef jerky), Prospectors (after the Quartz rush, students had to the copper mines), Trappers (hike to Tie Cabin and have a mock Trapper rendevouz), Mountaineers (students rock scramble on three of the high points on the ranch and survival techniques), and Homesteaders (students make candles and apple cider).

The all-days are an opportunity to spend more time learning about a group of people and Colorado history than time allows during the half-day discovery groups. Today is a highlight for both students and teachers. Students typically return more appreciative of the modern conveniences they have at home and aware of the challenges that early people faced in Colorado. In addition, the aspen trees are many shades of yellow right now, providing beautiful scenery during the hikes.

Mountain Ridge 2, Evening 2

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

It was a very exciting day at High Trails today! Everyone had fun on their morning hikes and ate lots of eggs, toast, cereal, and orange juice at breakfast. The morning discovery groups went well. The 6th graders went out on Homesteaders, Indians, Explorers, Mountaineers, Innovators, Prospectors, Woodsmen, Team Building, Crafters, and Trappers. Students hiked around the High Trails property, learning about the early explorations of Colorado, building a stronger sense of self and community, and using their sense of Wonder.

It was a loud lunch as everyone wanted to share the adventures from the morning. As entertainment, one of the staff led a song the entire lodge participated in. The students returned to the cabins for a short rest period before afternoon discovery groups. We had some rain this afternoon and the High Trails staff were prepared for indoor activities. Several of the groups spent time inside and outside, still engaging the students in themed activities and games. Other groups stayed out the entire time – Mountaineers made it to the top of B-Bluff and A-Bluff. Even with the rain students had a great time!

The High Trails staff went to the cabins after the discovery groups to help the students prepare for skit night after dinner. We had burgers, apples, chips, and brownies for dinner. Each cabin then had a skit prepared with a wild west theme. The High Trails staff also performed a western melodrama. It was a fun-filled evening and we saw lots of creativity from the 6th graders and high school students!

Everyone is getting ready for bed now and preparing for the morning. We have hikes again in the morning before breakfast. Instead of hiking with their cabins, everyone is able to pick which hike they want to go on. We are expecting good weather tomorrow for the all-day discovery groups!