Posts Tagged ‘Colorado Camps’

A few camper stories

Friday, February 17th, 2012

A few stories to send you into what is hopefully a good weekend for you…

Hi, I’m Daniela and I want to tell you about a great horseback riding experience! Here at Sanborn, they teach you everything about the horses and give you time to love them. There is time to appreciate and learn about them. The wranglers help you understand the horses and how horses understand your feelings. Horses teach you how that everything is possible! They give you a feeling of comfort, even though the horses are bigger than you. The horseback riding experience at Sanborn is unforgettable and you shouldn’t miss it!

I love horses! I ride English at home and compete in lots of horse shows. I really love to come to camp and ride Western. It is fun and relaxed and I still learn a lot. The wranglers are all really nice! I am able to sign up for lessons on Saturdays, go on a horse overnight, and different rides in the morning and afternoon. Even though it is a different type of riding, the wranglers help me improve my riding skills so I will be a better rider when I go home. I like going on trail rides because we get to play games on horseback and talk to our friends. I definitely recommend riding while at Sanborn!

We are getting ready for our last overnight this week. I am really excited to go on the Pirate overnight. I heard we get to build a pirate ship, go on a scavenger hunt, and play fun games! I loved all of my trips and activities this summer. I can’t decide which is my favorite! I am going to be really sad to go home soon. I have made such great friends this session – I’ve made some new friends and spent time with some people who were here last year. This has been such a fun summer and I can’t wait to come back next year!

Campers’ Summer Stories

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

CORE (Community OutReach Experience) Horse was a very educational, growth encouraging, and fun-filled experience for me. A lot of people think riding a horse is very simple. But it takes a lot more work than just sitting in a saddle and pushing the horse forward. My group learned things from how to scoop manure to how to do Key Hole in gymkhana. You learn how to face your fears of riding bareback on a horse and how to communicate with your horse through your body, not just your actions. We learned how everyday wranglers, like Jessie, Will O., and Maren, wake up at 5am to feed and pull horses for us campers throughout the day. And then they don’t get to sleep until 10pm. CORE is a great experience and I will never forget it. Thank you Sanborn!
Mimi C.

Sanborn is the BEST camp ever! You meet lots of great people here and they are very nice to you. My favorite part of camp is the good. The chefs are amazing! And nice. :) The one thing that is great about this camp is that you get to choose almost everything you do here! I can’t wait to climb a 14er! The view is beautiful everywhere you go. There are trees everywhere! We follow a practice that is “Leave No Trace.” That basically means don’t litter, leave stuff behind, or carve your name into trees. I most certainly can’t wait for my 2nd year in 2012!
Lauryn G.

There are so many things to do at High Trails, and fishing is one of them! We went fishing and it was so much fun! We learned how to fish in 3 simple steps. Cast, reel, and viola! You probably have a fish. We used marshmallows as bait. There were a lot leftover, so we ate them. We heard that the boys caught a 19in fish in the pond, so we were hopeful! In the end, everybody had caught something – reed, sticks, themselves. Overall everybody enjoyed themselves and were full of marshmallows!
Mia M.

I am a junior at HIgh Trails, but I wish I were here for a month because it is so much fun here. One of my favorite things is the horseback riding, which I absolutely love, but everything at Sanborn is fantastic so I’m not picking favorites! Today we came back from our last overnight at Tie Cabin, which was awesome. It’s amazing that eleven days have done by because it feels like two days. I am definitely coming back to Sanborn!!!
Katherine S.

More Camper Stories

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Camp is like a home away from home. Every year is full of fun, adventure, and excitement. I have been with the same group of girls that now feel like family; I can be as crazy as I want to around them. Camps is also the only time I really get out into nature and no amount of technology can compensate for living with nature.

The Warrior Dash
The warrior dash was such a blast! We had all these different teams and challenges that we had to complete. These are just some of the things we got to do. First we went to the warrior sing and had to make up a song for our team. Next I went to the 4-story treehouse and had to save “King Arthur” by choosing the right silver cup. We tossed shrunken heads (water balloons) back and forth in front of the lodge.
Hope Pohlman

Sanborn Camp is not about sitting around. Sanborn is about determination, courage, and responsibility. Sanborn is about getting in touch with nature, hiking the tallest mountains, riding a horse as fast as you can, and pushing yourself to the extreme! Sanborn is a new beginning and it never has an end. Sanborn camp is happiness, pure happiness.
Victoria Mak

In the world,
we get lost in the commonality
we forget to look for the beauty
we miss the glow of life
Then we come to nature and
we are afraid to look, love, listen
we are afraid that something might be perfect and true
we are terrified that something is real
That’s why together we can accept that
this might be what we’ve been searching for
this might open up our eyes to it all
Then we go back to the world
never to be the same.

Grab your towel, grab your goggles, bring your smile, and run to the pool. Cruise down the slide, and splash in the water. There’s so much to do at the POOL! Paddle around in the blow-up tubes! Use the noodles as any sea creatures. Adventure through the whole pool, there’s so much to do! You can play in the pool or out of the slide. I love the swimming pool! My favorite thing is to hang out in the sun and talk to my friends! Mis loves to go down the slide on a sleeping pad because it goes so fast! Addie loves to go down on a tube! I love the pool! There’s so much to do!
Emily Driscoll

Camper Stories

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

We can’t believe it is already the end of January! It feels like campers were just here sharing their stories from their trips and activities. While we reminisce about the summer, we are very excited for summer 2011, and all the stories to come!

Campers at the start of a 4-day long trip.

Camp has been a huge part of my life for the past four years. Since day one, everyone here has been kind, understanding, and fun. The girls in my cabin are my sisters and we are all part of a strong, loving community. Sanborn has pushed me to achieve goals I hadn’t even set for myself 4 years ago. I have been pushed to do what I thought was impossible, which has helped make me a stronger person. My self-esteem has grown enormously from my experiences here. I cannot believe this is my last year as a camper. I will never forget the times I’ve had here and the lifelong friends I’ve made. Camp’s been an experience of a lifetime that has changed me for the better and I will forever be grateful for the time I’ve had at Sanborn.  - Jaclyn T.

I have made a lot of friends at camp. On my first overnight we went to Beyond A-Bluff and played Capture the Flag. I have done a lot of activities including rock scrambling, hat making, horseback riding, and a lot more. The food is GREAT! Camp is so much FUN! I am really excited for my long trip and Gymkhana. I am definitely going to come back next year!  - Simms E.

On July 1, 2010 I climbed a 14,037ft mountain (Mt. Sherman). We lost the trail once, but didn’t back down and found it right in front of us again. When we reached the top we celebrated with apple cider and gummy bears. It was REALLY fun! And challenging. It was a wonderful experience and I’m so glad I went and climbed the mountain.  - Hannah B.

The Art of Letter-Writing…Alive and Well at Sanborn

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Letters from the Pony Express! Let's RIDE!

In response to today’s article in USA Today, we wanted to shed some light on how Sanborn Western Camps is keeping letter writing alive and well this summer…not to mention that we believe the fairly new post office in Florissant is a direct result of these fine letter writing skills (or maybe the result of LOTS of care packages).

The secretaries in the camp office were alarmed when the first batch of mail written by campers to their families was collected.  Stamps were stuck in random places on the envelopes, including on the back, instead of the upper right-hand corner of the envelope.  Addresses were incomplete, illegible and also found in strange and confusing places.  It was a shock to realize that many young people (including staff!) do not know how to write and post a letter.  Is Letter-Writing becoming a lost art?

Imagine what the world would have missed if the correspondence between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had been via e-mail?  What if Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning had communicated via text message?  And, how sad it would be if Jane Austen, Henry James, Abraham Lincoln, and Benjamin Franklin had tweeted, instead of producing the volumes of elegant prose which preserve and enhance their legacy.

The Arrival of the Pony Express!

Camp is one of the few places where letter writing is still encouraged (and taught!).  Campers are required to turn in a letter to their families to gain admission to lunch each Sunday.  Counselors compose hand-written letters each week to send home to the parents of each of their campers describing the camper’s achievements and adjustment to the camp community.  Hand-written letters flow freely between the girls’ camp and the boys’camp.

Parents have told us for many years that they value these letters written by campers and counselors and save them along with other treasured mementos of childhood.  Some parents have shared them with us, and these are a valuable piece of the history of the camps and of the family history of each camper.

Technology today is encouraging short, superficial messages, rather than the deeper, more meaningful communication which occurs when letters are written. Text messaging is fine for letting your Mom know when soccer practice ends, and tweeting works to find out how Lance Armstrong is doing in the Tour de France.  But if you want to let your parents know how it feels to stand on top of a 14,000’ mountain, or you want to tell them about your new friends, or you want to describe the sunset you saw last night from Top of the World, then letter writing is the only way.

Letters for EVERY Lady at High Trails

This summer, campers and counselors in both sessions have participated in a fun and exciting “Pony Express” activity.  Originating at the Big Spring Barn, campers and riding staff painstaking wrote letters to every “fine lass and lady” at High Trails Ranch.  On the day of the Pony Express’ long-anticipated arrival, the riders battled “banditos” who threatened to relieve them of their Important Delivery.  After bravely defending their priceless parcels, the riders rode triumphantly to the High Trails Lodge to deliver their precious cargo.  The ladies greeted them with cheers and showered them with praise.

Letter writing might be slightly antiquated…but it has never been so much fun.

Summer Camp: The Kitchen of Human Relations

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Happy Campers: An essential ingredient

Beyond the incredible opportunities for personal growth, exposure to the natural world, and the connection (or reconnection) with one’s sense of wonder, camp provides campers a unique opportunity to build a community from the ground up.

Building these communities is a little like baking at high altitudes: there are plenty of modifications to the recipe you can try…but you are never sure exactly which one is going to work.

Take our recipe for a FANTASTIC cabin/unit community at Sanborn:

9-10 happy campers
2 dedicated, attentive counselors
1 personable, knowledgeable assistant counselor
3 tons of positive attitude
1 ton of mutual respect
100 lbs. of integrity
18 gallons of flexibility
10 quarts of compromise
80 lbs of problem solving techniques
5 buckets of perseverance
5 buckets of resilience
1 truckload of empathy
A bunch of new experiences
A dash (or 200) into the outdoors  for new perspective
An infinite number of amazing opportunities and fun to be had!

Teambuilding activities build community

That said, sometimes campers or staff unintentionally modify our ideal recipe.  Occasionally, some snarky comment gets spilled in, or a selfish behavior is added, or—in some cases—an entire ingredient is forgotten or substituted.  And, like the high altitude cake with incorrect modifications, you find yourself with a crumbly, grumbly, salty mess on your hands.

Yet unlike the adult world, where it is sometimes more admissible (and far easier) to just cut your losses and walk away…at camp, these are the people you are living and working with for the rest of your summer.  You have to figure out what went wrong and try to fix it…otherwise, your summer simply won’t be as sweet.

You never expect the first cake you bake at 8,600 feet will turn out perfectly (though you do hope it will be edible)—similarly, you cannot expect the desires, wills, values, beliefs, emotions, and hormones of 13 unique individuals to always line up and converge in perfect harmony.  So you tinker with the ingredients: you teach the staff some new problem solving techniques, spend time getting to know each camper very well, and you show everyone support, gratitude, forgiveness and empathy along the way.

Fun and silliness at camp!

It is easy to get frustrated with a crumbly cake or with someone you are living with…but the cake won’t respond to your irritation or anger any better than a person.  So, through the daily mix of ingredients in our living units, on trips, on activities, and everywhere at camp, we create a unique and ephemeral “Daily Special.”  Because of all the factors involved, a day at camp cannot be repeated.  Each day is unique, it never has been, or ever will be the same again.  Some leave a bit of a sour taste in your mouth, others will represent the high point of your life for many years to come.

At the heart of camp, just like at the heart of cooking, is the playful spirit and desire for fun, wholesome experiences—the experiences that all campers and staff are seeking from their summer in the Colorado mountains.

And the best part?  There are NEVER too many cooks in this kitchen.

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

To live together in the outdoors, building a sense of Self, a sense of Community, a sense of the Earth, and a sense of Wonder through fun and adventure.

I love our Sanborn Western Camps mission statement. It is rich and varied; succinct and pointed; it represents both years of summer camp experience and the vibrancy of each new camp season; it celebrates the individual and the team; it embraces and enhances our connections to each other, ourselves, and to the world as a whole; it reminds us that growth is intensely personal, but is maximized when shared; and it isn’t a didactic lecture, delivered by the learned professor–it is an afternoon studying multi-colored lichen on some high mountain rocks, a leisurely walk through elk-chewed aspen groves, a game of hide-and-seek among the montane grasses and trees, and children laughing, talking, and growing around a Colorado campfire.

Our mission statement is transcendent and universal…we want it to share it in as many ways as possible. We want every child and adult to understand what gifts they can gain when they spend a summer at Sanborn, when they spend a lifetime in the outdoors. We want the Sanborn mission statement to “make sense” to our staff, so we have designed a set of “Six Staff Senses” to help make the mission statement real. Parents, teachers, outdoor advocates, experiential educators and more can use these “senses” to help bring the life lessons, values/ethics, fun and adventure of the summer camp experience to your every day life. Enjoy.

The Six Staff Senses

1. Seeing/Vision: To “see” both the outside and inside of every child; being able to see/know everything all at once; the past, present, & future; seeing through different lenses—what do parents see, what does the camp community see, what do the campers see, what do I see; visualizing the impact of the natural world and the camp experience on campers—seeing through the goals you set for the campers and for yourself.

2. Hearing/Listening: REALLY learning to listen and HEAR campers and their needs; hear the words between the words; hear the hurt/fear/frustration behind the action; pause to listen to the lessons of camp; allow yourself to listen to your heart and your gut…good judgment comes from within.

3. Smelling: Olfactory memories are some of the strongest around; make sure and have your campers stop and smell the trees/grass/morning/evening/post-storm/flowers/desserts etc.. Smell is also a complicated memory maker—it has to be associated w/ other elements to become memorable—so take TIME to sculpt those memorable (and fragrant!) moments.

4. Taste/Food: Eating is VERY important at camp; it is respectful community building in our family style/campfire meals; it is ritual in our plate scraping/mabel waiting; it is celebration in our song/birthday parties/theme dinners/banquets/post-climb meals; it is analyzation in our end-of-the-day dinner discussions/observations of kids eating; it is nourishment for the body and the soul—be present, be aware.

5. Touch/Feeling: “The shortest distance between two people is a smile.” “A smile is the light in the window of your face that tells people you’re at home.” All summer long: BE PRESENT. The benefits of hugs, smiles, nods of affirmation, high fives of celebration will not work if you are not there to share those feelings, share the physical connections, share the summer with your campers and yourself.

6. Wonder: Each day is a god—make it be so in everything your do.

Make the mission make sense–the more you practice and play, the less abstract this job and the world will become.

School Weeks Ends…Summer Begins (Almost)

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

We finished our school weeks program today. It went very well! We had 1,202 students and 231 high school students participate in the High Trails outdoor education program. While we might not see the immediate impact that we had on these students, the evaluations that teachers fill out provide us the encouragement to know their students grew from their time at High Trails. We had high school students returning for their second or third year to be a member of the leadership program; schools have already signed-up to come back next year; students talked about wanting to come back as high school students; and there were even students who talked about their parents coming to High Trails. What a cool history!

While we are sad that school weeks has come to an end, we are definitely looking forward to the summer beginning. We are getting things going around here – cleaning the lodges, flying tents, setting up cabins, finishing program updates – and staff will start arriving in the next couple of weeks, then campers arrive soon after that!

I think one of the best parts of this job is that everything is always changing. Spring and summer require different teaching methods, both challenging and fun in their own ways. During the spring we see new students and schools every week. We may be teaching the same material several weeks in a row, but it is always different in how students relate to the material, appreciate the surroundings, ask questions, and participate. During the summer we are fortunate that campers stay for 2 or 4 weeks. We are able to work with the same campers and teach them new skills and information each interaction.

We won’t see as many children come through our program during the summer as we did this spring. We look to have the same impact on their lives, spring or summer. Teaching and learning take on a new meeting at while outdoors and while at summer camp. The experiences and adventures that take place here at High Trails, Big Spring, and Sanborn in general are meant to challenge students and campers, while helping them grow as individuals and community members. And most importantly, they are FUN!

We will keep you updated over the next couple of weeks on things around camp and be sure to check back this summer for posts written by our campers!

From the Archive: Top 10 Things I’ve Learned at Summer Camp (that make me a better parent)

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

This post first appeared in April 2009 on our previous blog.

Part II

The second edition of the two part series about skills I learned while working as a summer camp youth development professional at Sanborn Western Camps. These top five are, in my mind, some of the most important tools to practice…but they are also some of the hardest parenting, and counseling, skills remember. In the end, if we screw up (which we will), a genuine apology, a good hug, and time spent together in the outdoors will make the challenges and bad feelings evaporate–and give everyone the room they need to breathe. Enjoy!

Developing a sense of Self--and style--takes time

5. Respect their individuality. Making    comparisons between children (siblings, bunk mates) is a terrible mistake. Very few of us deliberately say things like, “I wish you could be MORE like Alice…” but plenty of us are guilty of saying, “Look at how well Alice cleared the table…” with the sibling or the rest of the children filling in the end of the sentence, “…and YOU didn’t.” Appreciate each child’s unique gifts. Know each child’s unique gifts. Celebrate those gifts in a one-on-one setting, don’t put one child on a pedestal in front of any others. Don’t love equally, love uniquely.

4. Never forget: It is the ACTION, not the person, you need to modify through discipline. There are no “bad kids” only “bad choices”. It is hard to emotionally remove yourself from a situation that has you incensed…but you must. That said, it is equally essential to voice your feelings, “We all have been working as a group to stop gossiping about other campers, because it is very hurtful and damaging to our community. The rumor that you started IS hurtful and damaging. You are not a mean girl, you just made a bad choice and I want to understand WHY you made that choice.” Tantrums (pre-school or pre-teen) are an outstanding time to practice empathy, not judgment.

Wonder is everywhere

3. Kids need time to simply be themselves. To simply be kids, to simply be playing, to simply be silly, to simply be curious, to simply be grumpy, to simply be happy, to simply be thoughtful, to simply be alone, to simply be playing with others, to simply be outside, to simply be strong, to simply be scared, to simply be human. Never underestimate the power of unstructured free play in the outdoors—kids will learn more about themselves and others in that environment than during a lifetime of soccer games. Boys, mine especially, really love taking long walks outside while singing silly songs, running races, picking up pinecones, inventing games, and actually talking to their momma.

2. The ability to manage and control one’s emotions effectively is a trait that many happy, wise successful adults all have in common. Providing children tools to practice emotional management is vital for creating a healthy, well-balanced society. A parent’s job is to raise a child that she wants to “release” into the world…and to begin that slow release the day the child is born. Beware of enabling behaviors that seem like safe alternatives. Make challenging situations into positive learning experiences. Promising a homesick child she can come home if she “hates camp” before she even arrives strips her of the ability to work through a tough experience and be proud of the resilience she developed on her own is no different than promising candy if you can make it through the grocery store without a fit.

cool duds

Like father, like son, like brother...

1. 80% of what children hear and learn is what they see. Humans learn through mimicry. Kids will only be as good at these skills as you are…and parents, camp counselors, and camp professionals should never stop trying to do these things at home, at work, with friends, and with family. Because, in the end, children will see all of you faults, and love you anyway.

If you are interested in more tips from the camp world about parenting, preparing your child for camp and for life, as well as some cutting edge conversations about youth development, please continue to visit the Sanborn Western Camps blog–and also check out Bedtime Stories for Parents and parent resources on the ACA website.

Because of Camp…

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Because of Camp… was the theme of the ACA National Conference held in Denver, February 15-19, 2010.

We have collected some of our favorite Because of Camp…statements from current campers and alums.

Because of Camp…

  • I am someone I like!
  • I am a more self-confident person towards everything and I love spending time in nature. I have a brotherhood that I have developed and will have for the rest of my life.
  • I’m a significantly better person.
  • I proved that chubby, geeky kids with glasses could climb mountains, ride horses, paddle a canoe, and make friends with kids from all over the world.
  • I have so many lifelong friends and an audience back home for my amazing camp stories, but I, too, am a significantly better person and connected with nature at High Trails. Viva la Sanborn.
  • I have confidence in myself that I can be successful in my winter job.
  • I can take apart just about any toilet and I have not lost to any stopped up john yet!
  • My life is richer because of the people that I have met and the close friends that I have kept.
  • I look out for the other guy.
  • I love to wash dishes and pots and pans.
  • I can change just about any tire.
  • I found myself and several of my best friends

Listen to former Olympians, actors, actresses, world leaders, and global thinkers share how camp affected their lives in the ACA’s PSA “Because of Camp…”

What are some of your Because of Camp…stories?