Archive for November, 2010

A Million Stories…and Counting

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Scott Arizala: Learning Through the Journey

Huge things happen in small spaces.
–Scott Arizala, Opening Session, WAIC Conference 2010-

Huge things DO happen at camp. At the opening session of the Western Association of Independent Camps conference today, Scott Arizala reminded the gathered group of camp professionals that we are responsible for the continuity of the camp experience—and those threads make up the storied history of many of our camps.

Sanborn has an incredible history. Sandy and Laura’s story is a powerful one that captures the imagination with their vision and their execution of a dream. In the post WWII world, they wanted to create a place where kids could come together in a community and learn to live with each other—no matter the differences between them.

Now, over 60 years later, that vision is brought to life every summer when our campers, and staff arrive—excited and nervous—to experience a new, vibrant, and tradition-rich summer at Sanborn Western Camps.

For some, the vision looks like a first night sleeping in the outdoors or learning to tack up a horse, for others, it is in the hug of a caring ridge leader or in the knowing smile of a counselor, and for others still, it looks like the success of making a life-long friend. But for all of our campers, there is the opportunity to grow, evolve, and create their own connection, their own story, and that becomes part of Sandy and Laura’s vision, mission and story.

So how did camp change you? What is YOUR story from camp?

Challenger Middle School, Day 4

Friday, November 12th, 2010

We had a lot of fun with the 6th graders from Challenger Middle School! This morning the staff went to the cabins to help the students pack and clean before breakfast. They did a great job cleaning! We enjoyed a hot breakfast before heading out for the morning.

The students are on our big rocks right now for a closing session. On Tuesday, the students wrote quotes about what they were thinking and feeling in their special spots. This morning, the High Trails staff is reading about 20 of those quotes on the rocks. It is chilly again this morning, but the sun is shining and we have a great view of Pikes Peak!

After the closing session the students will head out on their last discovery group, Putting It All Together. Similar to Setting the Mood, everyone does the same discovery group, but in the smaller groups. The staff has activities planned to wrap up the week and the students have time to return to their special spots to reflect on what they have learned and goals they want to set for when they return home. Everyone seems excited to share their stories and adventures from the week with their friends and family who weren’t here this week.

The group from Challenger has been a lot of fun to have around. We hope they have a great fall and are able to remember their highlights from their time at High Trails. The 6th graders we have spent time with this fall truly embraced their time in nature and took advantage of their outdoor education experience. They came together as teams from the middle school and seemed to return to school as a stronger community. We have had a great season with District 20 6th graders and look forward to seeing some of the same teachers and high school students next fall!

Challenger Middle School, Day 3

Friday, November 12th, 2010

We had a great day here at High Trails. It was cool again this morning, but still lots of fun. We enjoyed pumpkin pancakes, ham, milk, juice, and cereal for breakfast. After which, the students got ready for their all-day discovery groups. Similar to the half-days, the all-days are themed, focusing on one group of people from early Colorado. Rather than spending only 2.5 hours learning about groups such as prospectors, homesteaders, and explorers, the students spent the majority of the day role playing and partaking in activities relevant to their themed group. Due to the colder weather, the all-days were from 9:30-2:45 (a slightly shortened version, but still a lot of fun and full of activities).

For the afternoon, the students were able to choose a recreation game or hike. This was a good opportunity for students to spend time with friends and classmates in different cabins and discovery groups. It has been fun for the High Trails staff to see how close this group of 6th graders is; they work well together, seem to get along, and are enjoy their activities together. Not only did students have fun telling stories, playing games, and running around, we had a few snow flurries! It was just a small dusting, just enough to cover the ground and allow us to watch for new animal tracks on the trails.

We enjoyed a different type of evening program tonight: skit night. Each cabin, students and counselors, prepared a short skit to share with the rest of the group. It was fun to see all the creativity, silliness, and excitement emerge with each skit. The High Trails staff returned to the cabins, just as the previous two nights, to debrief the day, allow students to share their highlights from the day, and talk about tomorrow.

Challenger Middle School, Days 1 and 2

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

We have had a great first two days with the sixth graders from Challenger Middle School.

The students arrived on Tuesday to cool weather, but no snow. The students participated in their first discovery group – Setting the Mood. Everyone did the same discovery group, but in different smaller groups going to various points around the High Trails property. The students started with a nature awareness scavenger hunt, where they looked for things and used their 6 senses (smell, taste, hearing, sight, touch, and WONDER). They additionally did a blindfold find your tree activity where they had to learn about a tree while blindfolded, then without their blindfolds had to go find their trees. They also were able to find a special spot where they could reflect on the week ahead of them and set goals for the week.

After dinner on Tuesday, half the students went to the Hoedown and half the students went to the Interbarn. The High Trails led 5 silly, choreographed dances at the Hoedown. The students had a great time skipping around and laughing. The Interbarn is our hands-on science center, where students can choose three stations to go to in order to learn more about nature, animals, and the earth.

On Wednesday morning, the High Trails staff led early morning cabin hikes before breakfast to take the students to several of the high points around High Trails. Again, it was a little chilly, but a sunny day. The students went on their first themed discovery group after breakfast where they spent 2.5 hours role playing and learning about Colorado history. All the groups had a lot of fun and enjoyed their times learning. The students were able to participate in a second themed discover group after lunch. For evening programming, the students switched if they went to the Interbarn or the Hoedown.

Nature Activity: A Small Sounds Tapestry

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

A Small Sound Tapestry example from Hannah Hinchman's book

There is a Boeing 767 flying through my office.  It is nighttime in the mountains in the winter.  It is approximately 19 degrees outside, and completely still, calm and quiet.  Yet right now I am being bombarded, literally, by a giant fly who would like me to turn off the office light so he can…most likely…die.

The house is popping and sighing in the cold.  My “unusually loud” (spouse’s description) keyboard strokes, the whispering, continuous hum of the computer and the dog’s occasional snorts and whines are all I can hear in this little insulated cabin in the woods.  And the fly.

I have been thinking a great deal about the sounds of the natural, and unnatural, world after leading an activity during Stalking Education in the Wild where participants created “Small Sound Tapestries”, an idea I found in Hannah Hinchman’s book, A Trail Through Leaves: The Journal as a Path to Place.  A sound tapestry is a visual representation of the sounds in the natural world around you.

It is a fantastic activity for all ages.  You sit, listen, and sketch what you think the sound looks like in color, size, and movement—you allow the sounds to overlap, stand alone, or otherwise define themselves on paper.  You seek to capture the visual essence of all the small sounds, and the layers of sound, around you.

Headphones are no longer complimentary on domestic flights

Armed with colored pencils and our journals, my fellow naturalists set out to sketch the shapes of the sounds around us.  After the sounds of crunching grass underfoot faded, the depth and richness of wind sounds filled Olin Gulch.  There was the deep, constant rumble of the wind through the Ponderosa Pines on either side of the Gulch; the mid-tone oscillating, undulating, vanishing wind through the deep grasses in front and beside me; then the almost shrill and pointy bits of almost winter air zipping past and above me—the memory of which I carried with me later while my earlobes throbbed with pain as the blood finally flushed out the cold.  On my tapestry, I also recorded the shriek of an irritated Stellar’s jay, the brief whir of a small and brave insect, the sneeze of a friend…and the interminably long interlude of a jet planes’ approach, fly-over and departure.

Of all the sounds on my tapestry, that one was the most constant, the biggest and the ugliest.  It was neither a small sound, nor one that I could ignore, so I stuck it at the bottom of my page, titled it “Annoying Jet” and tried to move on.  But it roared on and on.  Even after it was gone, I could still hear—in the rumbling of my brain—those engines 6 or 7 miles above me.

Gordon Hempton recording for Soundtracker

A week later I read an article in The New Yorker entitled “Letter from California: Blowback” regarding a campaign to ban leaf blowers in Orinda, California because of their impact on the “soundscape” and overall health of community members; and tonight, via Mountain Gazette, I discovered Nicolas Sherman’s film, “Soundtracker” about Gordon Hempton—a sound recordist who is trying “to find and record the vanishing sounds of nature in an attempt to capture a disappearing sensory experience.”  In a New York Times article, Hempton says, ‘‘We have become insensitive to listening,” he said. ‘‘The most important thing you can do to become a better listener is to simply go to a naturally quiet place and allow your senses to open up again. When you become a better listener to nature, you become a better listener to your community, your children, the people you work with.”

So I’m off to listen to the not-so-distant howl and yip of the coyotes, the crunch of a pinecone beneath shifting horse hooves, and the vanishing hum of the soon-to-be-very-cold-jet-propelled-fly that I just let outside.

Why Come to the Sanborn Road Show?

Monday, November 8th, 2010

You’ve heard about the value of  summer camp.  You’ve read about the importance of summer camp.  You might have even GONE to summer camp yourself.

Perhaps you follow Sanborn Western Camps on Facebook, on Twitter, and you might have even watched our promotional video on YouTube.  You feel confident about the place, the people, and the program.  So why should you take the time to head uptown/downtown/in-town to catch the show?

Because it will make you feel great.

There is nothing that can replace the face-to-face interaction you can have with current and prospective camp families and camp directors at a local viewing of our Sanborn Road Show.  This is where you can ask questions you hadn’t even thought of prior to watching the slide show and short video (“What if my child is too small to hoist that ginormous saddle on top of her horse?” or “Do all the kids bring those crazy costumes with them from home?” or “How do you train your staff to handle homesickness?”).  You can also hear the questions of other parents in the room which may, in turn, engender questions from you.

Sure, as people begin to research summer camps for 2011, many questions may arise—and the staff at Sanborn Western Camps will always strive to answer those questions as completely and comprehensively as we possibly can over the phone or in an email—yet nothing can beat a face-to-face conversation with the very people who will be responsible for your children during the summer.

If you are a current or recent camp family, your experience will provide new and prospective campers and camp families with a local perspective…and give those individuals “insider” information about the Sanborn experience.  If you are a Sanborn Alum, you can bring an even deeper insight to the conversation by sharing how you feel the Sanborn experience has benefited you and/or your children.  If you are a current camper, you can give outstanding peer advice to the other would-be campers in the audience—and the stories that you share are priceless.

So check the schedule, mark your calendars, RSVP to the hosts and hostesses, and plan to join us for the 2011 Sanborn Road Show when we hit YOUR hometown later this month or in early 2011.

Snacks, beverages and inspiration will be provided…the enthusiasm, anticipation, and memorable moments will come from you.

We hope to see and meet you there.

Week 2, Discovery Canyon Campus Day 4

Friday, November 5th, 2010

It is another beautiful day here at High Trails. The High Trails staff helped the students pack and clean the cabins this morning before breakfast. The cabins look great!

The students are down on the big rocks for a closing session. While in their special spots on Tuesday the students wrote quotes about their goals and what they were feeling about being here. The staff are reading about 20 of those quotes right now on the rocks. The students will then go back to their special spots during their last discovery group, Putting It All Together. Similar to Setting the Mood, the students all do the same discovery group, but in their smaller groups.

We have had a great time with this group of 6th graders from Discovery Canyon Campus! It is rewarding for us to see students excited about nature and ready to learn in this wonderful outdoor classroom. It is even better when they want to take their learnings home to share with their friends and family who were not here with them this week. We hope the students have a great fall and it would be fun to see them back as high school counselors!

Week 2, Discovery Canyon Campus

Friday, November 5th, 2010

We had a great day at High Trails! Everyone had good early morning hikes. It was a beautiful sunrise this morning and we could still see the smallest sliver of the moon. We enjoyed another delicious breakfast – french toast, sausage, cereal, milk, and apple juice.

Everyone had fun on their all-days today. The all-days are always a good opportunity for the students to spend an extended amount of time with their themed discovery groups. They get to know the groups very well, do extra activities, and eat lunch out on the trail. The students came back this afternoon excited about what they had learned and ready to share their highlights from the week with their families at home.

After a little downtime, the students were able to choose their recreation activity. Students were again able to spend time with classmates who are in different cabins and discovery groups. Recreation options included 4-Square, nuke-em, marshmallow baseball, 4-story treehouse, and A-Bluff. Students enjoyed running around and playing games with their High Trails staff, high school counselors, and teachers.

Everyone went to the Hoedown for evening program. The High Trails staff and counselors dress in crazy costumes and lead silly, choreographed dances. The students all had a good time skipping and dancing around. Before bed, the High Trails staff went back to the cabins to talk about the highlights from the day and prepare the students for tomorrow. In the morning the staff will go to the cabins to help the students pack and clean before breakfast and their last discovery group.

Week 2, Discovery Canyon Campus Evening 2

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Everyone seemed to have a fun day today. The students had great stories to tell at lunch about their morning discovery groups, and were excited to head back out for the afternoon. After a short downtime, the students met at their stakes for a themed cookout. The High Trails staff took the groups to nearby fire rings for a dinner of hotdogs, chips, apples, and brownies. While the staff prepared dinner, the high school students taught the students a shortened version of the discovery group and played related games. It was a beautiful night, and most of the groups admired the starts on their walks back in.

The High Trails staff went back to the cabins to debrief the day and talk about tomorrow. The students were able to share their highs from the day, any questions they had about the rest of the week, and spend time bonding as a group. The students have enjoyed their cabin time, and it is easy to see how close this group of sixth graders is. In the morning, students will have the opportunity to choose which hike they want to go on. It is a good chance for the students to go on a hike with students in different discovery groups and cabins.

Week 2, Discovery Canyon Campus

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

We woke up to a great day here at High Trails. The students had fun on their hikes this morning – heading to B-Bluff, the Lost Treehouse, Top of the World, A-Bluff, Candy Cane, and Z-Bluff. The students were hungry when they came to breakfast. We enjoyed scrambled eggs, toast, milk, cereal, and juice this morning.

Everyone is out on their first themed discovery groups this morning. For 2.5 hours, the High Trails staff, teachers, and high school students teach the sixth graders about what it would have been like to be a Homesteader, Trapper, Prospector, Woodsmen, Indian, or Crafter. The discovery groups are always fun, the students get to take on the role of a person from their discovery group, complete challenges, be creative, learn their imagination, all while learning about Colorado history. The High Trails staff do a very good job of making learning fun and interactive!

After lunch the students will go on a second themed discovery group, followed by a cookout for dinner, and cabin night. It is a busy day, but we have good weather and everyone is very excited to be learning in the outdoors!