Archive for March, 2012
We are very excited that our school program staff week started this morning! We are looking forward to a fun and busy season. Our first school comes next Wednesday – Summit County 4th graders. Be sure to check out the HTOEC website and blog for more information on the program and spring season. After a quiet winter, it is nice to have new and returning staff on site. It is a great reminder that kids will soon be back on the property!
We have a great staff from around the country – some new to COEC and some returning. It is fun to see familiar faces. Returning staff include Jessie Spehar, Will Ostendorf, Mike Piel, Jenny Hartmann, and Bea Raemdonck. Mike, Bea, and Will have been a part of the Sanborn staff in the past and are excited to be a part of School Weeks for the first time.
It is just as fun to see how quickly new staff is incorporated into the COEC family. Marie DiBennedetto is from Allenstown, PA and has been a part of various outdoor education programs in the northeast. Adam Delp is joining us from Michigan – but has spent much of his adult life in Colorado; he is currently enrolled in a Wilderness Therapy program. Brendan Brady is from New York state where he has recently been an environmental educator. Michelle Davis is also from New York state; she graduated from SUNY Potsdam where she studied Environmental Studies and Wilderness Education.
The debate blazes on.
(Please excuse that terrible pun. It was the best I could think of at the time.)
As the summers unfortunately bring more dry weather and less rainfall (not to mention our alarmingly low amount of snow this winter on the ranch) we are faced with a dilemma.
A few Fridays ago, Mike Mac, Carlotta and I hiked around a cleared out space about a half mile or so from our front gates where there’s this egregious pile of mulch from all the trees that are being, well, retired, I guess.
That little person standing there, yup, that’s Mike Mac. And that’s what I like to call the Iron Giant–a wood chipper the size of a space rocket.
This is how it works (sorry for the slow start, but a tiny pile of mulch might equal to a dozen or so trees, so just think of how many trees that ginormous pile really is).
So just on the left side of the switchback before our big ol’ beautiful aspen grove, just before the main world-flagged gates of Sanborn, campers and parents alike will notice a bit of a change on the upper ridges that were once dense with pines and spruce. This area belongs to the National Forest Department, and unfortunately this isn’t something we can fight. But the question remains, is it something that we should fight? This type of mitigation is indeed necessary to provide a healthier forest in the future, and prevent our property from, well, to put it lightly, be the innocent bystander in the unfortunate event of a forest fire.
In fact, we had to mitigate a number of trees on our property in the past because it was, well, just too darn dense. And as far as those orange tags you may notice as you look right just before the front gates, that’s another project for the Colorado State Forests who will be doing a bit more trimming in the not too distant future.
For more resources on fire mitigation, what it entails, why they do it, and what they use, check out a few teaching links on the infamous Hayman Fire and tell us what you think.
Why is this beneficial? Do the negative, short-term aesthetic effects trump the long-term benefits of having a healthy, fire-resistant forest?
“To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived – this is to have succeeded.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
So there’s this guy named Richard Louv. Not sure if you’ve heard of him.
Not only did Louv create a network of nature enthused people, aptly named the Children & Nature Network, but his book, The Last Child in the Woods, also sparked this neat little political campaign called Outdoor Nation.
In June 2010, with the help of various nationwide conservation groups, outdoor educators, and some super sweet retailers, more than 500 delegates met in Central Park, New York City, to come up with ways to break down barriers to the outdoors and come up with more ways to get kids outside.
There they drafted a declaration for youth, for outdoor educators, heck, for anyone who ever wants to enjoy the outdoors and protect its future in the States.
So without further adieu, here’s what they came up with:
For the first time in U.S. history, more than 500 youth have risen together to address the growing disconnect between young people and the outdoors.
We are leaders and we are diverse. Therein lies our strength.
We come from the city, suburbs, and the country – from coast to coast.
We are the pioneers of the outdoor revolution. Our unified voice shouts that everyone has the right to access and enjoy America’s great outdoors.
America is in a current state of crisis where its youth are choosing technology over nature, Xboxes over healthy lifestyles. Green spaces in urban areas are either unsafe or non-existent. Families, schools, and media have failed to engage and excite youth about the benefits of the outdoors.
To confront these and other barriers, we commit the Outdoor Nation to:
- Engage all of America’s youth in the outdoors and … move the outdoors to the inner city and the inner city to the outdoors. create safe places to be outdoors and a green spaces to call our own.
- Work with communities to provide … clean outdoor spaces, free Outdoor events, safe urban areas for recreation, and local role models.
- Create outdoor jobs through … local community projects like revitalization, spreading awareness of job and training opportunities, and securing the funding of that training.
- Partner with schools to encourage … environmental literacy curriculum, scholarships for outdoor mentors, service learning, and well-funded after school programs and field trips.
- Advocate to our local, state, and national governments to … increase public/private partnerships, more effectively manage existing resources for outdoor experiences, and create a culture that places a priority on the outdoors.
- Inspire volunteerism and service learning that … utilizes social media tools, cell phone applications, and advanced web based information systems to engage our technology driven generation.
We are innovative, entrepreneurial, and committed to continuously improve and fund our initiatives.
We are determined to act on our ideas year-round, year after year, and the annual Outdoor Youth Summit will be the gathering place for Our Nation.
Now is the time to amplify our energy, momentum, and power to impact our neighborhoods, boroughs, cities and towns, and to make a lasting impression on our Outdoor Nation for generations to come.
We are mobilizing and empowering today’s youth because we are the leaders of today’s youth.
We can and will make a real, measurable difference.
We are taking a stand. We are united together as a movement. We are Outdoor Nation…
I know, pretty bold.
I was lucky enough and oh so happy to attend the Denver summit last summer when I worked for Mile High Youth Corps (shameless plug). There we were able to draft a set of rights and responsibilities as outdoor educators to present (in the near future? not sure …) to the Obama Administration. I also won a pretty sweet pair of Merrell tennis shoes, but that’s neither here nor there.
Taking it a step beyond, some delegates have the opportunity to take the conversation over to Washington D.C. to meet with Members of Congress to chat about our natural resources, investments and make sure that our youth have a say in the future of our great outdoors.
Check out some of the 2012 dates and other ON opportunities they have been cooking up this winter, and be a part of the movement.
See you in 2013 for the Florissant Summit (fingers crossed).
At camp, we love to read. As part of the American Camp Association’s Explore 30 reading program, Sanborn is building an outstanding library for our campers at both High Trails and Big Spring to encourage both independent reading and the long-held tradition of reading aloud in cabins, tents, and by the campfire.
We know reading inspires the imagination, enhances a sense of wonder, builds community, teaches life-skills, and limits summer-learning loss–much like the camp experience as a whole. Books can take you to places you have never been, introduce you to creatures and people you have never met, and create environments and situations you have never imagined. And, after reading a book, the story becomes part of you.
Thus it was a little discouraging as parents, educators, and advocates of the Children in Nature movement when we read the USA Today piece last week which detailed the loss of nature environments and themes in current children’s picture books. Researchers examined Caldecott Medal award winners and honorees from 1938 to 2008 and determined that, over the course of 80 years, children’s books are moving away from nature environments, themes and characters. According to the study:
•Early in the study period, built environments were the primary environments in about 35% of images. By the end of the study, they were primary environments about 55% of the time.
•Early in the study, natural environments were the primary environments about 40% of the time; by the end, the figure was roughly 25%.
As Richard Louv says this study demonstrates “a physical disassociation with the natural world.” He recognizes that “Nature experience isn’t a panacea, but it does help children and the rest of us on many levels of health and cognition. I believe that as parents learn more about the disconnect, they’ll want to seek more of that experience for their children, including the joy and wonder that nature has traditionally contributed to children’s literature.”
So to help you connect your kids to the outdoors through children’s literature, we have a Pinterest Board celebrating some of our favorites….and if you don’t see your favorite nature-based children’s book on the list–let us know and we will add it for you!
What are some of your favorite nature-inspired children’s books?
One of earth’s incredibly overwhelming phenomena. How can each flake be so distinct among others, and yet, there’s just so, so much of it?
Well, to help us gaze into the infinite, here’s a neat little activity to harness each little speck of snow, forever!
Check out Instructables to get the play-by-play.