Posts Tagged ‘Colorado’

News from Camp: February 1, 2017

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

We've had some gorgeous days to tromp through the snow. We love seeing Pikes Peak rise up through the clouds!

Although we haven’t had a lot of snow this month, it has been pretty cold and wintry here at Big Spring and High Trails. Elk, deer and Ninja Squirrels have heavy coats and seem to be staying warm through the season. Two deer are hanging out in one of our open storage sheds, sometimes startling our maintenance department when they come to work in the morning.

Mike Mac, Elizabeth, and Mike Adler enjoyed seeing many of you as they traveled through the Midwest with our digital slide show program last week. They appreciated their warm receptions and enthusiasm for the coming summer.

February is a busy month as we prepare for the summer of 2017. A major project throughout the winter is to hire the summer staff—counselors and wranglers, nurses and A.C.s. We are always so proud of the outstanding college men and women who spend their summers contributing enthusiasm, fun, and nurturing leadership for the young people who attend Big Spring, High Trails, and Sanborn Junior. We already have a great group of returning staff lined up and are making careful selections among new applicants now.

The National Convention of the American Camp Association will be held in Albuquerque in mid-February, and we will be participating in full force. Jane is the Program Chairperson for the conference and has been working on an outstanding educational program for many months. Ariella, Elizabeth, and Patrick will be leading educational sessions at the conference, and Jessie is an official photographer for the event. Mike Mac, Mike Adler, Mark, Jalen, Carlotta, Anne, Val, Megan, Martie, and Sarah K. will also be attending the conference. This type of training helps us to stay on top of evolving issues and inspires us to continue to improve our program each summer.

Our maintenance team continues to work on various projects to improve our facilities. They are finishing up a major plumbing project at Big Spring and continue to work on interior renovations in the High Trails Lodge.

Maren, Rachel, and Annie are hard at work preparing the riding program for next summer and making sure the horses are all ready for their busy season. It won’t be long before we start having new calves at the Witcher Ranch.

The staff team in 2016 was incredible and we are so excited for some of them to return! We are especially excited to meet all the new 2017 staffers who will be equally as awesome!

We are all excited about the community that is coming together for the summer of 2017 and can’t wait to begin the fun. We are happy to mail our new brochure to anyone interested in camp and to provide references for new families. If camp is in your plans, please let us know soon, as we have many grades in both terms at High Trails and the first term at Big Spring which are filled or near filling. Several terms of Sanborn Junior are also building waiting lists.

The sun is shining brightly today, reminding us that summer is only four months away!

News from Camp: September 1, 2016

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

Hammocks are some of the best places for quiet moments!

It is much too quiet around camp The fields, hills, and lodges are filled with great memories from the summer of 2016, and we are grateful to have had the opportunity to spend this time with so many outstanding campers and staff.

One of our tasks during the weeks following camp is to collect and distribute all the lost and found items. We have now mailed every major article which has a name to the owner. We still have some jackets, boots, and other items of clothing which do not have names. Please let us know if your camper is missing something and we will do everything we can to track it down and send it to you.

Our outdoor education program staff has arrived and we will begin welcoming sixth graders to High Trails Outdoor Education Center on September 6. Among the summer staff who have returned to teach during this program are Mike Adler, Val Peterson, Anne Shingler, Mark Rutberg, Martie Adams, Nick Jordan, Blake Carr and Jalen Bazile. Sarah Robinson has returned as a nurse and Patrick Perry, Carlotta Avery, Sarah Ulizio, and Sarah Krumholz will provide leadership for the program.

An outstanding hay crew consisting of Jim Larsen, Joe Lopez, Matthew Huffman, Kevin Fernandez, Jordan Unger, Ben Cox, Evan Zitt and Joe Sisk has been working hard to bring in our hay crop this year. The cattle and horses are very grateful for their work because the hay will provide their nourishment through the winter months.

Our maintenance staff has been busy since camp ended. They have put a new roof on the HT Lodge, winterized all the buildings at Big Spring, and stained the tent platforms at Big Spring.

We are already looking forward to the new friends and new adventures that Summer 2017 has in store for us!

High Trails Directors, Ariella Rogge and Elizabeth Rundle, Big Spring Director, Mike MacDonald, Office Manager, Jessie Spehar, and our new Office Assistant, Megan Blackburn, are hard at work making plans for the summer of 2017.

We have several exciting events this Fall in addition to our traditional schedule. On September 2 we will be providing leadership training for students from School District 20 high schools. We have developed this outstanding program over the past few years and are always excited to work with these motivated teens. On September 24, we will again join with the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument to celebrate “No Child Left Inside Day” by hosting an open house. We will be offering a program of nature-based activities and hikes for families who would like to get their children outdoors for the day. There is no cost for the event.

We are also looking forward to celebrating the wedding of High Trails co-director, Elizabeth Rundle, to Levi Marable on September 17. The couple will be married at camp.

We are already thinking about next summer and have established our dates. The first term at Big Spring and High Trails will be Sunday, June 11 – Tuesday, July 11, 2016. The second term will be Friday, July 14 – Sunday, August 13. The four terms of Sanborn Junior will be June 11 – June 25, June 27 – July 11, July 14 – July 28, and July 30 – August 13. We have sent this information to current camp families and will send additional information in October to camp families, former camp families, and prospective camp families. If you would like to receive our catalog or know of someone who would, we will be happy to mail them at any time.

Each month we will post news from camp on the blog and keep an eye out on Facebook, Instagram and SnapChat for photos and moments from the summer of 2016! Right now, a few gold leaves are showing on the Aspen, and the sky is incredibly blue. A large herd of elk is hanging out at Potts Spring and the horses are wondering why no one comes each day to ride them. We wish all of our camp friends a great beginning to the school year and hope that everyone will keep in touch.

The Thrill of Horseback Riding

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

When riding a horse, I feel connected.

Trees blurring past, the thunder of hooves.  I held tight to the reins, remembering to keep my heels down.  Fourteen hundred pounds of power galloping through the forest.  Horseback riding is a mystical, powerful adventure.

When riding a horse, I feel connected.  It’s a mixture of love, fear, and respect.  Humans and horses have a long history together, a productive relationship that has lasted centuries.  Before machines, horses were the machine, they were a power that helped pull our civilization together.  Before cars, horses carried us across the land.  When we ride horses in this modern world, it’s a timeless event.  And Sanborn Western Camps is one of the best places to ride.

At Sanborn, one of our many goals is to foster a sense of wonder in every camper.  We work to inspire a connection with nature.  And one of the many ways to achieve that connection is to swing up into a saddle and ride a horse.

I gazed into the huge marble eyes.

There is something therapeutic about horseback riding.  Studies have shown that we truly connect with the animal.  Brain waves slow.  We even change our breathing to match up with the horse.  The slightest movement, a turn, the twitch of a muscle, it’s all communication.  The horse understands without words.  If a camper is stressed, the horse can sense that.  If a camper is relaxed, the horse relaxes as well.  It’s a feedback loop, animal to animal, a real time relationship.

Many years ago when I was a camper at Sanborn, I was afraid of horses.  I pretended I didn’t care, but the truth is I was scared.  The staff was ready for this.  The counselors and wranglers gently encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone and give horseback riding a try.  So I did.

I thought we would jump right on a horse and ride, but the process was much more intricate.  The wranglers first taught me how to care for the animal, to understand it, to lead the horse gently, to speak to it.  They showed me how to brush the horse, tracing the contours of its power.  I began to relax and forget my fear.  I began to feel a sense of wonder.

I gazed into the huge marble eyes.  I ran my hands along the sway of the horse’s back and wondered if a Ute boy or a young trapper did the same with his horse two hundred years ago, right where I was standing.

We learned to saddle and bridle, tightening buckles, bringing all tack to the perfect length.

We learned to saddle and bridle, tightening buckles, bringing all tack to the perfect length.  Then, with mud on my rented boots, I swung up into the saddle.  We rode slowly, ambling away from the Big Spring barn.  That sunny afternoon, I went on my first ride.  And I’ve never looked back.

When we ride, we develop all kinds of skills.  Horseback riding is a two-way process.  You can’t just sit back and do nothing, you must interact with the animal with physical and verbal cues.  As a result, riding develops subtle communication skills.  Riding also develops balance and coordination.  Your core gets a workout, and you must stay focused on where your body is in space.  After a long ride, the next day you can truly feel it, aches in muscles you didn’t know you had.

At camp we do all kinds of rides, from half-day trail rides to five day pack trips deep into the Rockies.  It’s a range of fun that fits perfectly with the range of campers.  My favorites are the long trips, adventures that are unmatched.  We ride deep into rugged country, places where only horses can take us.  We sleep under the stars and rise before dawn to care for the herd.  It’s a unique experience that you can only find at a place like Sanborn.

In our modern chaotic world, it’s important to find ways to relax.  Horseback riding can do that.  Horses are a direct bond with nature that we can all share.  When you ride a horse, you find both companionship and solitude at the same time.

Any chance I can get, I’ll take a horseback ride.  The rasp of an old saddle, the musk of the animal, the joy of a slow walk through an aspen grove.  The world looks better from the back of a horse.  The Ute Indians of the Rockies once said, “The way to heaven is on horseback.”  I think they might be right.

- M. Huffman -

Holiday Listening Skills: The Reason for The Visit

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Taking time to listen...all year long

How are your listening skills? Today is the Colorado Outdoor Education Center’s annual holiday luncheon at The Nature Place.  It is our opportunity to get everyone from the different departments at COEC together for a meal and some quality story telling, some questionable singing, and some good listening.  This is a holiday tradition that has been part of Sanborn for decades.

Story telling is an essential part of the holiday season, it allows us to take a deep breath and immerse ourselves in the history of the past year with our friends and family.  It allows us to remember those we have lost, and celebrate the triumphs of childhood and share our quest for sanity in parenthood.  It allows us the opportunity to listen at a deeper level.

In the excellent article, In Africa, The Art of Listening, author Henning Mankell reminds us why “humans have two ears and only one tongue”.  Much holiday family time revolves around “visits” to different places to see different people…yet a “visit” is also a time to chat and, more importantly, to listen.  It is around these holiday tables that I learned my history and began to define my own set of stories to help explain my distinct sense of self.

One of my family’s favorite stories was about Sandy Sanborn.  My uncle, Charlie, does an amazing Sandy impression and his favorite story is a humorous retelling of The Day The Sheriff Came.  “Chandler” (as my uncle was known) was the Garbage Man at Big Spring.  The day the sheriff arrived (for reasons never known), Sandy had my uncle hide—and then began to tell everyone that “Chandler” was a wanted man.  At the next meal, a shot was fired outside the lodge, and–in dramatic fashion–my uncle crashed through the front doors….covered in ketchup.  (This was always the point in the story my dad would mutter, “My kids are NEVER going there…”)  I don’t remember what happened next—but I’m certain it involved Sandy’s deep belly laugh…a laugh that I had heard imitated for years before I actually heard it in person.

Children LOVE your stories.  They will readily become enraptured as you tell stories about your favorite gifts, most memorable holiday moments, and the history of the traditions you practice and remember.  They want to hear your stories about everything: school, camp, love, adventure, embarrassment, and mistakes.  A good story will teach a lesson…but the listener might not realize the lesson for years to come.  Your stories will shape their paths, and they will return to them again and again to gain more and more knowledge about the world.

In a world where information is ubiquitous, time is a valuable resource, and there are innumerable technological distractions that take away from these “visits” it is important to take time to pause, reflect, remember and share.  Whether we know it or not, we all crave the knowledge those moments provide.  As Mankell says, “Many people make the mistake of confusing information with knowledge. They are not the same thing. Knowledge involves the interpretation of information. Knowledge involves listening.”

During this holiday season, we hope you take time to tell a story or two, listen to the stories being told, and watch for the new stories being created.

Happy Holidays!






Where are we? Colorado! What are we? Mountain Mamas!

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Camp Kids at the "Rockin" SWC table

On Monday, we had the opportunity to be part of the Colorado Mountain Mamas Spring Fling.  Colorado Mountain Mamas is a hiking club for moms living on the Colorado Front Range.  They have a chapter in Denver and one in Colorado Springs.  CMM offers hikes for moms with babies newborn to 2 years in a pack (with three different levels of difficulty) and also hikes for toddlers ages 2 to 5.

CMM was founded in 2003 by Joy Opp (a former Colorado Springs native and 6th grade attendee of HTOEC) after the birth of her daughter, Amanda.  The club has grown to over 2,000 members trekking the trails with their seven hike leaders.

The Audubon Center--a great facility!

Their annual Spring Fling event attracted over 300 outdoorsy individuals to The Audubon Center at Chatfield Reservoir in south Denver to hike on the trails, hang out with the red-winged blackbirds, make cool crafts, check out great vendors, and play Nature Bingo with Mike and Ariella from Sanborn Western Camps!

We loved meeting all the moms, dads and grandparents who are passionate about getting their kids into the outdoors.  We gave away 3 copies of our new book 101 Nature Activities for Kids and donated one to Colorado Mountain Mamas and one to the Audubon Center for their future programs.   We encourage you to visit Amazon.com to order a copy for your family, classroom, nature club, youth group, or just to share with your neighbors.

101 Nature Activities for Kids

We often share some of those 101 nature activities on our  Sanborn Western Camps blog–so like us on Facebook so you won’t ever miss a post!  Our blog is also a great place to stay current on everything going on within the Children in Nature movement, find fun outdoor activities to do with your kids, and to find great tools and techniques to incorporate into your own outdoor parenting, grandparenting, and teaching style.

Additionally, April is Children in Nature Awareness month—and there will be plenty of opportunities to get your kids outside in the upcoming weeks.  Plan, or plan to attend, a Let’s G.O. (Get Outside) event for your favorite play group, a school field trip, or home school community.

Check out the Children and Nature Network on Facebook to stay up to date on ideas, activities, articles, legislation, and more.  Keep the outdoors part of childhood…keep hiking, playing, and doing what you are doing with your family, friends, and neighbors.

We love Mountain Mamas and Dadventurers–let’s get these kids outside!







Liberators, Integrators, and Hope Generators with Mawi Asgedom

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Find the Invisible kids. This was Mawi’s call to action during a morning keynote address at the ACA National Conference. How do we do that as youth development and camp professionals?

We SEE all of the campers. We KNOW all of the campers. We seek to build AUTHENTIC RELATIONSHIPS with our campers. These campers may be invisible because they aren’t “seen” by the adults in their lives, they may not be “seen” by their peers, and some may not even be “seen” in the camp community as a whole because they are unable to attend camp. It our job as youth development professionals, and as a greater camp community to come together and help ALL of our youth be seen, be respected, and be known.

Youth today can create their lifestyles at a depth unknown to the adults around them. When we were young, many of us had perimeters when it came to our chosen “lifestyle”. Sure, we could relate to, talk to others about, and put on the appearances and behaviors of our “chosen” lifestyle: the sports, music, fashion that defined those styles. And then we’d head home, where we were sharing (typically) a single phone line and we were battling our family members for control over the TV remote…and we would just be ourselves.

Youth today can maintain the lifestyle they choose almost 24/7. They can IM and tweet and Facebook chat about it late into the night under their covers. They can shut their doors and Google search, watch YouTube videos, and Hulu shows that inform their opinions of their lifestyles. They can create virtual worlds where they, in fact, are both known AND invisible. They can be invisible, safe…and yet they can still FEEL known.

What lifestyles are your kids embracing? Are they known in the virtual world or in the real world? How can we help them find unique identities beyond their embraced “lifestyle”? How can we help them see that–Because of Camp

Mawi Asgedom

–they can and will be able to create a lifestyle for themselves, rather than having that lifestyle dictated to them by the outside world?

By teaching them how to make a friend, and how to keep a friend; by helping them understand the importance of values; by modeling authentic, healthy relationships; by spending time in the outdoors; and through the recognition that the world is both very big and very small we can help promote the “camp” experience for invisible and visible children all around the world.

In the end, “camp” will mean one thing to a child refugee in a remote village in Africa, something else to a kid on the Upper West Side, and something else entirely to an indigenous child living on a reservation. It is our responsibility, and our mission, as Mawi said, “To make the invisible, visible” and to make the summer camp experience as we know it, accessible to all.

Opening Session at ACA National Conference

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

100 Campers for the 100th Birthday Celebration!

Our super Sanborn Western Camps choir crew ask, "Why no Dew?"

Singing "Choo-Choo-Cha!"

The first day at the ACA National Conference in Denver, CO, 100 Colorado campers kicked off the ceremony by singing camp songs with the nearly 1000 conference attendees. Elizabeth Rundle, along with other directors and staff members from the Rocky Mountain Section, had the privilege of teaching the campers the camp songs (new for some) transporting the kids to and from the conference venue, getting them lunch, and just hanging out with them.

When the campers arrived in “Capitol Ballroom C” the energy in the air was electrified. The campers were SO excited to be there—and they loved the unique opportunity to connect with other camp-loving kids from all over the area.

They wowed the audience with a three-part round, an interactive call and response that left Those Of Us Above 30 bent over at the waist, elbows back, knees together and tongue out while singing, and a beautiful camp modified rendition of “Taps.”

Most of all, they energized the 100th anniversary celebration of an organization made up of so many fantastic individuals from all over the country and world who are committed to the importance of a camp experience for each and every child.

Because of camp….

ACA National Conference 2010

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

We are all at the ACA National Conference in Denver right now. So far, the conference is providing us with great resources from other camp professionals from around the country. We are connecting and reconnecting with people that recognize the importance of children going to camp. These are people who understand the necessity of reconnecting children with nature.

We are gathering a lot of great information that will help us create stronger programs for our campers, as well as bring you new ideas about the benefits of summer camp, nature activities, and youth development.

Please check back next week for new ideas and posts!

What if Punxsutawney Phil was a Marmot? (He Already Is!)

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010


Every February we all wait in breathless anticipation to see if our East-coast born mammalian weatherman sees his shadow and scoops the Weather Channel by 2 weeks. For those of us out in the West, I pose the question—what about us?

We should take heart, a marmot IS a groundhog—with both belonging to the esteemed Marmota genus. If Phil lived out west, he’d probably be a yellow-bellied marmot (Marmota flaviventris), not a lowly, lowlander groundhog (Marmota monax). Yet, he’d be a marmot, just the same.

So what about the big SHADOW question that looms large on February 2nd? Do we want more winter or less?

You see, six weeks from now will be the middle of March, and the middle of March in these high western states usually means lots of sun, hiking, skiing, running, a more stable snowpack, snowshoeing, possibly good and possibly dicey ice-fishing, mountaineering, biking, and a probably a lot more skiing. And, frankly, I think we would PREFER to be able to do those things…so bring on the winter!

As a Kansas native, I understand that winter in the Midwest and on the East coast is a different creature. Cold, wet weather that chills you to the bone; high frigid winds with obscene wind chill factors; and gray, gloomy skies that seem to sit on you day in and day out. Phil’s high-tech predictions are a hopeful break in an interminable progression of cold, gray, freezing, wet, and more cold.

But what would happen if we had our OWN regional brand of Phil…let’s call her Mountain Maisy…to make a weather projection for those of us in the high country?

In February, yellow-bellied marmots are holed up in long rock, grass and fur lined burrows on high-elevation slopes snoozing peacefully under LOTS of snow. By the time they come out of hibernation for good (and to find some love), it is April or early May. Thus, Marmot Day would actually have to be celebrated around the 15th of April (wouldn’t THAT be a nice change–to remind us that the gift of playing in our high altitude playgrounds are as certain as taxes).

By now, as a high country Colorado native—our young Maisy is guaranteed to see her shadow, because with over 300 days of sunshine a year, she would have to come out during a blizzard to not see her overwintered, slim self. Female yellow-bellied marmots typically only breed every other year, so Maisy would be a hot commodity on the hillside…a bit like women in a ski town, I suppose. So like all mountain women, if she DID come out in a blizzard, she would simply return to her burrow, put on a few warm layers, grab her Gore-Tex jacket and head out again to check out the backcountry scene.

If she sees her shadow, that means spring has arrived and the snows will melt quickly–a reminder that water in the West is precious, so we should conserve all year round. If she doesn’t see her shadow, it just means that–once again–we can all get our winter gear on clearance…because everyone else has started to buy swimsuits.

In this case, Maisy sees her shadow, and then sees the shadows of three intrepid ski mountaineers who are getting ready to hit the late spring snow fields off of Horseshoe Mountain…so she happily waddles after them, shrilly asking THEM about the weather for the day, and scrounging for a few M & Ms and bits of granola they might have left behind.

Happy (almost) Marmot Day!