Archive for March, 2015

The Importance of Climbing

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Life is a gift, but some days it feels like a chore.  On those days, we can feel overloaded with the weight of responsibility, disappointment, and anxiety.  It’s important to push through those feelings because in the end, life is an adventure.  That’s one of the reasons it’s important to get outdoors.  More specifically, it’s important to climb mountains.

Climbing a mountain somehow resets your brain.  Ascending any peak, no matter its size, is an exhausting journey, a crazy trek.  It changes you as it challenges you.  Maybe it’s the lack of oxygen, but every time I climb a mountain I see the world in a new light.

I climbed my first mountain at camp many years ago.  School had ended, summer rolled around, I assumed I had three months of dullness to look forward to.  But then, my parents sent me to Sanborn.  Boredom went out the door.  I loved it.

It was that summer that I climbed my first 14er.   I’ll never forget that trip.  I remember getting dropped at the trailhead, our packs full.

At the trailhead, ready to climb

Counselors checked the maps, and we set out into the wilderness.  After many hours of hiking, we reached our basecamp.  Rising to the north was the cloud-covered mountain that we were driven to climb.  That night, we ate well, sang songs around the fire, and drifted to sleep in our little village of tents.

We woke long before dawn to find the counselors up and ready.  We crunched down some cold cereal and set out to climb the mountain.  The adrenaline was flowing, the spirit of adventure pushing us.  Hours passed, our line of headlamps bobbing up the steep trail, gaining altitude. I was exhausted and I wanted to give up.  But with encouragement from my counselors, I pushed on.

As early daylight broke on the mountain, we were able to see our progress.  I was encouraged by how high we had climbed.  In the valley below, our tents were so small they were hard to see.  And then we saw an eagle fly.  Not above us, but below us.  Looking down on that powerful bird as it soared across the sky was a shift for my brain.

We pressed on.  After a while, we could see the summit — it was only a few hundred yards away.  I was so excited I joined other campers and we ran… only to discover… it was a false peak.  We learned an important life lesson: don’t burn out racing up false peaks.  I was exhausted, but because of my counselors, because of how much they believed in me, I never gave up.  We pressed on.  It seemed like we were hiking across a lunar landscape.

Climbing a 14er

We were above tree line, no vegetation, the squeak of pikas all around us.  Hours moved like minutes.  We fought the wind and cheered each other on.  Finally, we scrambled over rocks that were billions of years old and reached the summit.  We did it.  There was a mystic silence as we stood on the peak and watched the sun rise over the Rockies.  I laughed with delight, bonding with my Big Spring brothers.  I couldn’t wait to climb again.

Standing on top is amazing, but the summit is not the goal.   The reason we climb a mountain is just that:  to climb.   One of my favorite climbs was years ago, when I was a counselor myself and our camp trip didn’t even reach the top.  A storm rolled in over Mount Harvard and pushed us down long before the summit.  We returned to base camp and took shelter from the cloudburst.  We still had a great climb.  It was an epic trip, long remembered, even though we didn’t make it to the top.  The goal is not only the summit, the goal is the journey, the strength you gain from the climb, and the memories.

Standing on top of the world

When we climb mountains, it clarifies our thinking.  The disorder of our lives — the argument with a friend, the bad grade in algebra — all of it is forgotten.  The mountain is all that matters.  It gives us perspective.  When we climb, the mountain speaks to us in geologic time, a slow-motion language, and it reminds us that that problems are fleeting and life is truly a gift.

~M.Huffman~

Adventures of Artie the Abert Squirrel: A Spring Mystery

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Hi everyone, Artie here!

I want to share something with you, but I’m a little worried you won’t believe me, because no one else does! So before I tell you about my latest mystery adventure, I need ya to promise you’ll believe me!

Off to investigate A-Bluff

In the last couple weeks, as I’ve been investigating A-Bluff, TOTW, and Little Blue, to make sure everything’s okay with the rocks, plants and animals there, I noticed some green splotches on the ground. When I told Mike Mac about the splotches, he said they must be some early grasses popping up after all the spring snows we’ve had, but I wasn’t so sure he was right. Elizabeth told me to double check and told me to bring some of it back for her to see. I thought that sounded good, so the next morning I headed back to A-Bluff, to the spot I knew I’d seen the green splotches.

Never sure about what might be around, I circled about a couple times and then snuck up close, real quiet like. As I got closer to one of the splotches, I noticed one that was sorta shaped like an oval, but was skinnier in the middle and fatter at the ends. I looked around more, and saw that all the splotches had that exact shape. After I inspected about 14 of them, I looked back and noticed they were lined up like a path or a row. Huh, I thought, this is weird! I didn’t forget what Elizabeth suggested though, so I got out my shovel and  bucket I’d brought to collect it. Before I started digging, I tried to touch it, but when I did, my hand just touched dirt. There was nothing on top of the dirt and Pikes Peak Granite, like I’d first thought. When I looked at my fingers, there was nothing green on them. Then, when I looked back at the splotch, it had disappeared! I rubbed my eyes, I blinked, I spun in a circle, and looked again, but it was still gone! I was astonished and confused. I’d never seen anything like it, so I went to the next splotch and touched it. This time though, I made sure I never looked away, and sure enough, as soon as I touched it, it vanished. Well, you bet I ran back to the office fast! When I finally caught my breath enough to tell Jackson and Ian what had happened, they offered to go back and look with me. So I sat on top of Jackson’s helmet as they rode their bikes to the spot with the splotches. When we got to where I’d hastily left my bucket and shovel, we looked all over, but none of us could find any splotches – they were all gone! Well by this time, I was just mad! I knew these green splotches had been there, but I couldn’t show them to anybody else! I was sure everyone thought I was crazy! Jackson and Ian were really nice about it, telling me they were sure the splotches had been there, and suggested that maybe I was just tired from the long winter and should go take a nap. They offered me a ride back to the office, but I just wanted to be alone, so I headed back down the trail towards High Trails. Pretty soon, I started to hear whistling coming from further down the trail. I started going a little more cautiously, but was excited when I turned the corner and saw Sarah! She always makes me feel better, she’s so fun to talk to and always knows what to say! She seemed excited to see me too, but noticed pretty quick I was a little glum and not my usual chipper self. So we sat down on a Ponderosa log on the side of the trail and I told her the whole story, even the part about me starting to think I was crazy. When I was done, Sarah sat for a minute and thought. She was so nice to remind me that I have always been such a logical squirrel and because of that, she was sure there was an explanation, we just had to figure it out! Sarah suggested we head back to High Trails, get a snack and put our thinking caps on- so that’s just what we did!

When we got back to the lodge we were really excited to find the cookie jar full of fresh baked oatmeal chocolate chip cookies! They are my favorite and just what I needed to get my brain thinking. Between munches on her cookie, Sarah asked me to explain again to her exactly what the green splotches had looked like and had done when I touched them. I carefully told her everything I could remember about what they looked like and if I could feel anything when I’d touched them – my hand felt warm, that’s all, but maybe that’s just because the sun was shining.

Sarah started munching again and looked like she was thinking really hard, then all the sudden she exclaimed, “aahaha!!!” I dropped my cookie and nearly fell off my chair I was so surprised! But I was excited, because it sure sounded like Sarah had figured it out!

“Artie”, she asked, “what month is it?”

“March”, I said incredulously

“Exactly!”, she said like she was certain she’d solved this mystery, “we need to build a trap!”

Before I could even blink, Sarah was rummaging around the lodge, mumbling to herself about boxes, and bait, and how we could hide and not be seen, and what time of day we should go.

“Sarah”, Sarah”, I yelled, “What do you mean, what do you think it is, what are you doing!?! I don’t understand, what are you doing?”

Pretty soon Sarah had a whole pile of supplies and was packing them up in her backpack. She said, “Alright Artie, let’s go!”

Still confused I hopped on her shoulder, figuring maybe that she would answer my questions as we hiked back out to where the splotches had been.

Pretty soon I could see my bucket in the distance.

When we got close Sarah said we need to go very quietly, and that we should crouch in the trees before we actually got to the spot. Pretty soon I could see my bucket in the distance, but the shovel was missing. We crouched low behind a juniper, and Sarah started to take things out of her backpack. I climbed up the Ponderosa next to us, to get a better look around. When I got up high, I was so excited almost fell off the branch! I scurried back down, and whispered, “Sarah, the splotches are back, they are all over!”

Sarah started working faster. “Okay Artie, we need to move fast then if we are going to catch one of these guys!”

Sarah snuck around the Juniper bush, but stayed in the shadows. She put the box upside down, and used a stick to prop it up, so there was a

Then we covered the box up with some pine needles and pine cones.

small opening near the ground. Then she tied a piece of fishing line around the bottom of the stick and tied a marshmallow to the other end. Then she tucked it in at the back of the box. Then we covered the box up with some pine needles and pine cones and snuck back around behind the Juniper bush. By this time, the sun was starting to set and it was getting cold, so we hiked back to Sarah’s house for dinner.

The next morning, Sarah and I got up early and hiked up the hill just as the sun was rising over Pikes Peak. As we got closer to the spot where the splotches were, I started to hear something strange. I asked Sarah to stop walking because her big feet make a huge stomping noise, even when she’s trying to be quiet. I listened carefully, and pretty soon heard it again, a little, high-pitched voice yelling, “let me out, get me outta here!”

“Artie, what do you hear,” asked Sarah? As soon as I told her, she started running! Good thing I was holding tight onto her shoulder!

She didn’t stop and go quietly like yesterday. She ran right up to the box and put her hand on it, so I got off her shoulder and sat on top of it too!

She ran right up to it, and put her hand on it!

Sure enough, the voice was coming from inside the box, and it was angry!

Sarah said to the box, “hello sir, how are you this morning?”

The angry voice from the box growled back, “why you, you trapped me, eh, how dya think I am?”

His accent was so strong I could barely understand what the voice said!

Sarah replied, “I’m sorry sir that we had to trap you, but we can let you out if you promise not to run away.”

“Ha, after this treatment, you bet I’m not sticking around!”, yelled the voice in the box.

Sarah answered, “well then, I guess you stay in the box for awhile.”

I was shocked, Sarah is the nicest person I know, but she sure was being tough on whatever was in the box. Sarah started to ask it some questions about where it was from and why it was here, but the box only ever replied, with a “Harumph!” noise.

Sarah asked the voice from the box if it was hungry

“I have a granola bar, if you’d like it.”, she said.

The voice from the box was softer and less angry when it said, “yes, please.”

Sarah told the creature inside, she was going to slowly lift the box up, but it had to promise it wouldn’t run away. We just wanted to talk to it.

I jumped off the box right away, but stayed close to Sarah! I sure was excited to see what was inside, but still didn’t know what to expect!

The voice in the box agreed that he would not run away.

Sarah lifted the box slowly up, and I started to see the tiniest little green shoes I’d ever seen! The box got higher and I saw that the shoes were connected to the tiniest little man, dressed very finely in a very green suit. He had tiny glasses and the brightest red beard I’d ever seen!

“Top ‘o the mornin’ to ya, I’m Patrick O’Sullivan.”

Sarah told Patrick our names and gave him the granola bar. The granola bar was almost as tall as Patrick. As Patrick started to eat his breakfast, Sarah asked her questions again and Patrick had some questions for us too.

We learned that Patrick had come to Colorado from Ireland for a new adventure. He said there were not any mountains in Ireland or forests like we have here. He had seen pictures in books back home and wanted to see it in real life. He had been having a great time climbing trees and was very excited when he found a home that was very sturdy and just his size.

Sarah and I looked at each other. She was obviously just as confused about this home that Patrick had found. We asked if he would show us later, and Patrick agreed.

I was dying to know what the splotches were, but when I asked Patrick, he looked unsure.

Sarah noticed to so she asked, “What wrong Patrick?”

Patrick replied, “We Leprechauns, are very special, and must keep some secrets about who we are. It is very rare that one of us gets caught. In all my 528 years, I’ve only heard of it happening one other time.”

I was pretty proud of Sarah’s plan and hard work when I heard that!

Patrick continued, “But you two, have turned out to be very considerate and since you could see my footprints and see me now, I feel that I can trust you.”

“His footprints?”, I thought, “OH, that must be what the green splotches were! This is turning out to be one of the most exciting days of my whole entire life!”

Patrick told us many things about Leprechauns, but only after he made us promise that we would not tell anyone else. I was disappointed, but it made me feel better that at least I could talk about this with Sarah, since I was certain that no one else would ever believe I had met a Leprechaun. Patrick did tell me, I could recount the tale of his capture, so there you have it. I can’t wait for you all to get here this summer, so I can show you where I found the splotches and Patrick’s home he found.

The home that Patrick found!

He said he’d come back sometime, after he’d explored more around the United States and maybe he’d bring friends! We should definitely build more homes for gnomes, fairies and leprechauns!  I can’t wait to see you all this summer!

love, Artie the Abert Squirrel

Artie is the leading authority around Sanborn on at least 2 subjects. He enjoys long walks on a branch, dropping pinecones on people the ground, and watching the sunrise. He is an aspiring mystery novelist and waits impatiently all year for camp to begin again!

News from Camp: March 2015

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Everyday we watch to see how covered in snow Pike's is and dream of the day when the snow is gone and the Aspens begin to pop!

Although we cannot compete with the East Coast in amount of snow that fell in February, we have had some great snows during the past two weeks and are very happy to look ahead to the green grass and wildflowers which this moisture will make possible during the summer. The longer days and increased activities of our wild animal friends remind us that Spring is just around the corner, and this makes us even more excited about the coming camp season.

We have many projects underway in preparation for camp next summer.  Mike, Matthew, Ariella, and Elizabeth have been hiring outstanding staff members for next summer.  We have some great returning staff as well as some wonderful new staff signed up for the summer of 2015.
We are working on many areas of the program, too, which will provide some exciting new activities and trips this summer.  Everyone has been busy putting together plans and resources for each activity so by the time June arrives, we will have everything ready!
Maren and Jaime have been making plans for our super horseback riding program, designing activities and trips that will be lots of fun and also allow everyone from beginner to advanced riders to improve their riding skills.
Our maintenance crew is working on a variety of projects to improve and update our facilities in both camps.  These include renovations of the Real Estate Office at Big Spring and the bathroom in Crystal Palace at High Trails.  We also plan to have a new floor in the High Trails Lodge before summer begins.
Jessie, Ariella and others are keeping our Facebook site fresh and active with new posts.   You can also check out our blog which has fun stories about what is going on at camp during the winter.
We are mailing our Getting Ready information to enrolled camp families this week.  All of the needed forms are on line this year, and we hope this will make the preparation for camp much easier for our families.
Camp is only three months away and we can’t wait.  Already we have campers and staff from 40 states and 9 countries—and we’re adding more every day.  The fun and friendship which occur when all of these great people get together is what makes camp so special!  We are happy to send our brochure and DVD to anyone interested in learning more about the exciting programs at Big Spring, High Trails, and Sanborn Junior.