Posts Tagged ‘High Trails Outdoor Education Center’

News from Camp: October 1, 2015

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

We are enjoying spectacular Indian Summer days here at camp. The golden Aspen are at their peak and are stunning against the bright blue sky. We’ve been spying on the herd of elk at Potts Spring and have also seen deer, porcupines, wild turkeys, bobcats, and, of course, the fat black Abert squirrels. Many of our summer birds have headed south and the year-round bird residents are beginning to show up at our feeders more regularly.

Everyone at camp had a great time watching the lunar eclipse on September 27. It was a spectacular show from our location, and bugling elk in the background made it a night to remember!

Our outdoor education program with sixth graders from District 20 in Colorado Springs has been underway since mid-September. We also hosted a “No Child Left Inside” open house September 19 and were very happy to have many local families join us for a morning of hikes and nature-based activities led by our staff. We are very committed to doing everything we can to help young people connect with the natural world. The benefits are enormous—as Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder” says: “Children who have a personal connection with nature are happier, healthier, and smarter.”

At The Nature Place, Rob Jolly and his staff are busy working with the University of Denver on a team-building and leadership development program for DU’s MBA students. We have collaborated with DU on this program, where every MBA student spends a long weekend at The Nature Place, for over 15 years. The students rock climb, participate in an orienteering course, and work through many team-building scenarios, all of which teach values-based leadership.

The horses are grazing happily in Fishcreek where they are exceptionally appreciative of the lush green grass. They miss taking rides every day with their many friends but are already looking forward to next summer.

We are most excited about opening enrollment for another season of camp. The summer of 2016 will be our 68th and we are looking forward to sharing adventures, friendships and lots of fun. We have already begun enrollment, and additional enrollment information will be going out throughout the month of October. If you know of interested families, we’ll be happy to send our brochure and DVD. They can also request information from our website.

We hope you are having a fantastic Autumn!

News from Camp: September 1st, 2015

Friday, September 4th, 2015

Don't worry...This Window, That Window and The Other Window signs will be back!

It is much too quiet around camp   The fields, hills, and lodges are filled with great memories from the summer of 2015, 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 8.  Among the summer staff who have returned to teach during this program are Mike Adler, Janie Cole, Melody Reeves, Jared Allen, Anne Ulizio, Nick Jordan, and Jalen Bazile. Patrick Perry, Carlotta Avery, Sarah Ulizio, and Jackson Blackburn will provide leadership for the program.

An outstanding hay crew consisting of Jim Larsen, Joe Lopez, Ian Stafford, Matthew Huffman, and Anne Shingler 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 crew has been busy since camp ended. They have completed a beautiful new over the road sign at the entrance to Big Spring and have almost finished a big job at the High Trails Lodge—installing new electricity, new paneling, and new windows. We think it will be a big hit with all the High Trails diners.

We have several exciting events this Fall in addition to our traditional schedule.  On September 4 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. And on September 19, 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 also have an Alum Reunion planned for October 15-18, and are looking forward to welcoming many old friends back to 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 12 – Tuesday, July 12, 2016. The second term will be Friday, July 15 – Sunday, August 14.  The four terms of Sanborn Junior will be June 12 – June 26, June 28 – July 12, July 15 – July 29, and July 31 -August 14.  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 and DVD or know someone who would, we will be happy to mail them at any time.

Each month we will post news from camp on the website, so keep checking it out!  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.

School Weeks Is Here!

Monday, March 26th, 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!

Students on a hike

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.

Improvements in All Areas

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Living at camp during the winter is quite an experience. Sometimes it’s quiet, and sometimes it’s cold. I have come to appreciate these times, and I still get amazed at the way the community can come together and pull me back in after I’ve been on my own.

Building community is one of the four big goals for all programs at Sanborn, and today I better understood why we are so successful in this area: we have a rock-solid community of core year-round staff and support staff.

Creative Cuisine!

As a way to continue to improve all areas of our programs, we held the first ‘Creative Cuisine’ lunch today at The Nature Place. The idea was developed by Shavano, one of the head cooks at The Nature Place, and entailed a potluck meal involving all winter staff and support staff. We gathered for lunch, with everyone bringing a dish that could be used to expand and diversify the menu options of the kitchens.

As you can imagine, we enjoyed food of all varieties – salads, appetizers, casseroles, soups, and amazing desserts. I wish I could share the tastes I experienced – I’m still stuffed as I write this.

Creative Cuisine definitely brought out a new array of options for our cooks, but it’s the experience of the lunch that I’m still digesting. After a few months of working on my own projects in and around the office, I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed getting to reconnect with the great people that work together in so many different areas for this great organization. Cooks, laundresses, maintenance staff, office staff, summer camp folks – so many people that I haven’t seen as much this winter.

A potential new dessert - YUM!

I was reminded of why we all love to work at Sanborn – it is a home for everyone that comes through. Our community stretches across generations, across the world. Every person that is touched by being here can remember this community. You can take comfort in the knowledge that the next time you come to Sanborn, we will have some great new meals. More importantly, though, we will still be the community you were a part of, and we’ll pull you back in too.

HTOEC Week 1

Friday, September 16th, 2011

We just finished a great week with the 6th graders from Challenger Middle School. The students arrived Tuesday morning and jumped right into their outdoor ed experience with their first discovery group that afternoon – Setting the Mood. Led by trained facilitators, the students learned about using their 5 senses more, as well as about the High Trails sixth sense – Wonder. The students were split in half Tuesday evening – one group going to the hoedown (a fun and silly set of dances led by the High Trails staff) and the other went to the Interbarn our hands-on science center.

Students Arrival

Students Arrival at High Trails

Wednesday morning was adventure-filled with the first themed discovery groups. Students learned about Homesteaders, Prospectors, Mountaineers, Innovators, and Woodsmen to name a few. After a delicious lunch, students headed back out for their second themed discovery group. Unfortunately, a little rain cancelled the cookouts, but everyone enjoyed burgers in the lodge followed by an entertaining skit night.

The groups made it out for all-days yesterday and lots of fun was had by all. The HTOEC staff expanded on the activities done during the shorter discovery groups – Cowboys see our working ranch, Innovators tried some solar cooking, Woodsmen go to the working sawmill, Explorers go to the Bat Caves, and Mountaineers rock scramble on several of the bluffs around the main property. To finish off the day, the students that went to the hoedown on Tuesday headed to the Interbarn, and the students from the Interbarn went to the hoedown.

After a great rock session this morning, students went for their last discovery group – Putting It All Together. The students seemed to enjoy their week and learn a lot of interesting facts about nature, themselves, and Colorado history. We had a lot of fun this week and hope the students enjoy the rest of the school year. We look forward to Mountain Ridge Middle School coming next week!

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.

“Why Kids Need Nature”: WE AGREE

Friday, March 4th, 2011

We found a great article on the Children and Nature Network web site this morning: Why Kids Need Nature. At Sanborn we more than understand the value of kids spending time in nature, and we love being able to share more research about the importance of it with others.

I wonder what that tastes like?

Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine interviewed Richard Louv to gain more insight into why it is important for children’s well-being to spend time outdoors and how parents are able to expose their children to nature. Louv explains that time in nature can help fight obesity, depression, and ADD as well as help kids activate their brains (in a different way than school provides) and utilize all their senses. Including their sense of wonder which we emphasize in our summer camps and school weeks programs. It can be hard for parents and children to find the time and space to explore nature. Sports, clubs, meetings, homework all take time during already busy family schedules. Not many neighborhoods have the space for kids to run and play freely.

Louv explains that it is understandable that parents are hesitant to send their kids out to explore unsupervised, but that he finds more and more parents spending time outdoors with their children. We believe that not only kids benefit from nature, but adults as well! Louv states, ”Nature is good for everyone’s mental health.” It is fun for parents to get out with their children and go on scavenger hunts around the yard and neighborhood and take a break from work and for a hike in the woods. The more enthusiastic parents are, the more excited their children will be about their abilities to explore.

“Nature isn’t the problem; it’s the solution.” The Children and Nature Network recognizes the challenges parents may face taking the initiative to take their children outdoors and provide parents with local resources and ideas. We at Sanborn also try to provide resources and ideas for parents and children to reconnect with nature. Here are just a few:

Beyond 101 Nature Activities

New Adventures

Ariella and the Wild Animals

A Small Sounds Tapestry

Time for a Special Place







Hope for “Race to Nowhere”

Friday, January 14th, 2011

A group of us went to University of Colorado Colorado Springs a couple of evenings ago to see the film “Race to Nowhere“, that explores the pressures on today’s students to succeed in school and the negative health benefits these pressures have caused. A mother was inspired to make the film after seeing the unhappiness, illnesses, and stress her own children were enduring due to the pressure to be a good student. An online article in the New York Times today further explores the pressures on students and the definition of success. Does strict control determine greater success? Is success having good grades or being a good and happy person?

There were a number of teachers and parents with children at the showing who expressed their frustration at the current system and how they feel trapped to teach to tests, and assign and enforce hours of homework, regardless of what their students developmentally need. A teacher mentioned the illogic of her 1st grade grandson having an 1.5 hours of homework a night.

We were all moved at the end of the film by the lack of time students have to take a breath. Are students doomed to have no time? Are they really in a race to nowhere? one of the students featured in the film explained that schooling was a race to nowhere -elementary school is all about getting to middle school, middle school is about getting ready for high school, high school is about getting into the right college, and college is about getting into grad school. Quoting a comment in the article, “Balance, it’s all in finding the correct balance.”

There is hope! We were inspired by what we do as outdoor educators. We provide the opportunities for children and adults to learn, we teach in an outdoor setting, we empower and inspire our participants to experience the world and education in new and imaginative ways. There are places that allow students the freedom to learn in a different environment. While not all children have experiential learning trips with school or have the opportunity to go to camp, there is hope for all students. It is finding the “correct balance.” It is necessary for students to spend a few minutes outdoors in the backyard or local park, to take a break from the pressure of school, to learn about life beyond the basic subjects in school.

Campers and staff learning about animals

All the employees at the Colorado Outdoor Education Center, High Trails Outdoor Education Center, Sanborn Western Camps, and The Nature Place hope you are able to find, and help the students in your life, the balance and beat the race to nowhere.

Challenger Middle School, Day 4

Friday, November 12th, 2010

We had a lot of fun with the 6th graders from Challenger Middle School! This morning the staff went to the cabins to help the students pack and clean before breakfast. They did a great job cleaning! We enjoyed a hot breakfast before heading out for the morning.

The students are on our big rocks right now for a closing session. On Tuesday, the students wrote quotes about what they were thinking and feeling in their special spots. This morning, the High Trails staff is reading about 20 of those quotes on the rocks. It is chilly again this morning, but the sun is shining and we have a great view of Pikes Peak!

After the closing session the students will head out on their last discovery group, Putting It All Together. Similar to Setting the Mood, everyone does the same discovery group, but in the smaller groups. The staff has activities planned to wrap up the week and the students have time to return to their special spots to reflect on what they have learned and goals they want to set for when they return home. Everyone seems excited to share their stories and adventures from the week with their friends and family who weren’t here this week.

The group from Challenger has been a lot of fun to have around. We hope they have a great fall and are able to remember their highlights from their time at High Trails. The 6th graders we have spent time with this fall truly embraced their time in nature and took advantage of their outdoor education experience. They came together as teams from the middle school and seemed to return to school as a stronger community. We have had a great season with District 20 6th graders and look forward to seeing some of the same teachers and high school students next fall!

Challenger Middle School, Day 3

Friday, November 12th, 2010

We had a great day here at High Trails. It was cool again this morning, but still lots of fun. We enjoyed pumpkin pancakes, ham, milk, juice, and cereal for breakfast. After which, the students got ready for their all-day discovery groups. Similar to the half-days, the all-days are themed, focusing on one group of people from early Colorado. Rather than spending only 2.5 hours learning about groups such as prospectors, homesteaders, and explorers, the students spent the majority of the day role playing and partaking in activities relevant to their themed group. Due to the colder weather, the all-days were from 9:30-2:45 (a slightly shortened version, but still a lot of fun and full of activities).

For the afternoon, the students were able to choose a recreation game or hike. This was a good opportunity for students to spend time with friends and classmates in different cabins and discovery groups. It has been fun for the High Trails staff to see how close this group of 6th graders is; they work well together, seem to get along, and are enjoy their activities together. Not only did students have fun telling stories, playing games, and running around, we had a few snow flurries! It was just a small dusting, just enough to cover the ground and allow us to watch for new animal tracks on the trails.

We enjoyed a different type of evening program tonight: skit night. Each cabin, students and counselors, prepared a short skit to share with the rest of the group. It was fun to see all the creativity, silliness, and excitement emerge with each skit. The High Trails staff returned to the cabins, just as the previous two nights, to debrief the day, allow students to share their highlights from the day, and talk about tomorrow.