Archive for May, 2011

June 1st Update: Getting Ready For Summer 2011

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Senior Staff Leadership Scenarios

June is the most exciting month at camp and everyone here is excited for the arrival of campers in less than two weeks.  We had some great moisture in May, (mainly in the form of snow!) and the grass is green, the Aspen are leafing out, and the wildflowers are beginning to appear. We see deer every day in the immediate camp area, the Mountain Bluebirds are settled in for the summer, the hummingbirds are back, and the Abert’s squirrels are exceptionally fat and sassy.

We have been preparing the facility and are almost ready for everyone’s arrival.  The Big Spring tents are up, the BS Lodge is getting a facelift, and fresh paint is being applied in many places.  The flowers are planted, the horses have new shoes, and the swimming pools are filling.  Although we are still finishing a few last minute facility projects, we are now turning our attention to staff training.

The leadership staff has already arrived and we completed a special training for our Senior staff team over the weekend. Several staff also completed a lifeguard training course over the weekend. Last Thursday and Friday, our rock climbing staff enjoyed a two-day training at our Wild Goat Mountain climbing site.  On Monday and Tuesday, many of our trip leading staff completed a two-day Wilderness First Aid course taught by the Wilderness Medicine Institute.  Today, we’re conducting an all-day driver training as well as CPR and First Aid classes.  And that is just the beginning…on Thursday our entire staff will be here for a nine-day staff training period.

As always, we are excited about bringing together our wonderful summer community.  We are looking forward to the mountains we will climb, the horseback trips we will take, the sunsets we will share and the friendships we will make.  We especially anticipate opportunities we will have to learn more about ourselves, our companions and the natural world.

We again plan to post weekly updates and photos on the website and our blog once camp begins.  Although we cannot promise to show every camper or every activity, we think these photos will help parents, friends, and family members to get a peek into life at Big Spring, High Trails, and Sanborn Junior.  So visit us again on June 13!

Lasting Impact

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Our school program ended last Wednesday after a very successful season. We had 4th-8th graders from about 20 schools came for 3-5 day programming over the last month and a half. At the beginning of every season we have the chance to reflect on why we want to be a part of HTOEC school weeks and share our thoughts with each other. I tell the staff, and remind myself, that the season will go by way too quickly, that we will have the opportunity to make a difference in the life of at least one child (hopefully more), we will be challenged, we will learn something new from the students we work with, and this place will become home.  Even though I have been part of a number of seasons, I’m always surprised that I forget these predictions that come true every year.

Students on a cabin porch

Several weeks ago I worked with a group of 5th graders from Palmer Lake Elementary School in Monument. I worked in a cabin with about 12 girls who varied in their interest and experience in the outdoors. We played games and hiked to several points around the ranch. I was at the cabin early in the morning and brought snacks after evening programming. This is typical for all the schools we work with. They were only here for three days before they headed back to school and a new school arrived at High Trails. I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent with them and as always, I wished them well as they left and reminded them they could come back as high school counselors.

About a week or so later I received a large stack of envelopes in my mailbox. I was mostly excited because it is rare that I have mail. I opened the first envelope and saw it came from one of the Lewis Palmer students that was recently in my cabin. I read about one of the girl’s experiences at High Trails as she talked about how much fun she had and how she was sad to go. Each letter in the stack was from one of the girls in that cabin. And each letter talked about how she challenged herself, enjoyed the hiking (when she didn’t think she would), loved the food, had fun doing different discovery groups, and several remembered my suggestion to come back in several years.

It was definitely surprising to receive this stack of mail. It was also very nice to read about the impact High Trails had on this group of girls. As staff, we see a number of students from different schools with various expectations about High Trails and experiences in the outdoors. We are never sure what students will walk away with as lasting memories. We will see a few high school counselors return after being at High Trails as younger students, we will hear teachers say the experience is great for their students, but it is rare to hear from students after they leave High Trails.

Checking out an Aspen tree

As the season ended and I reflected back on my comments at the beginning of the season, it was fun to remember my comments and recognize that they once again came true. These girls challenged me to go new places and I challenged them to push themselves a little farther out of their normal comfort zone. I learned more about High Trails as they asked me questions about birds and flowers I didn’t know and they learned more about nature. While they did not explicitly say High Trails had changed their lives, reading their excitement about being here showed the lasting impact High Trails will have on them.

We are now gearing up for the summer season. As I move forward and work with new and returning campers, I will again remind myself that everyday is a learning opportunity and the chance to making a lasting impact on another child.

Sanborn News Update: May 1st

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Almost time for fresh air, sunshine, and Sanborn Summer Fun!

May is a busy, exciting month here at camp. In a week or so, the tents will go up along the Big Spring ridges, after, of course, the annual ritual of repainting them. (Some staff members will still have green clothing and hands by the time camp opens) All the Big Spring buildings will be opened up, cleaned, and prepared for summer. The Big Spring Lodge received a new floor last month—if you would like to see it right away, you can go to our Facebook page.

At High Trails, the cabins and Lodge are already open, but everything will be cleaned and given a fresh coat of paint. In addition we will put up tennis nets, order crafts supplies, organize the backpack tents, and put the final touches on all of our facilities and programs. Scot, Maren, Ashley and Rosie will bring in the horses from the pastures at Fish Creek and get them fixed up with new shoes for all the great rides this summer. There are plenty of things to keep us busy, and everyone is excited about these projects because they mean that a new season of camp is almost here!

The Aspen are showing catkins now and we’ll begin to see the first leaves later in the month; the bluebirds and robins are back; and a large herd of elk has been moving through Potts Spring. The Pasque Flowers have already bloomed and it won’t be long before we begin to see Indian Paintbrush and the spectacular wild Iris in the field in front of the Witcher house. The first hummingbird has been sighted and four deer are hanging out in the field in front of the Big Spring Office, eating green grass as it pops up.

Late this month, we will begin staff training for our ridge leaders and trip leaders. During the weekend before Memorial Day (not a holiday here) we will do a training with our Ridge Leaders and Wranglers. On Monday and Tuesday, any members of our leadership staff who do not have current certification in Wilderness First Aid will take that class taught by instructors from the Wilderness Medicine Institute. On Wednesday, we’ll be providing more first aid instruction and a full-day driver training course. On Thursday, June 2, our entire staff will arrive for a 10-day training period before the first campers arrive. And on June 12, first term campers arrive and we’ll be off…..

We are still accepting enrollments in some age groups and terms at Big Spring so let us know if you are interested in receiving our brochure and DVD. Summer–2011 promises to be a fantastic experience for everyone!