Great news! This year, you can celebrate GivingTuesday on December 1, 2015 by donating to our long-term partner, the John Austin Cheley Foundation. Former and current Sanborn Western Camps campers are participating in a crowdfunding campaign to support their positive camp experiences through Sanborn and the JACF. Check out what Luis Acosta, DJ Shattock, and Luis Ochoa had to say about the impact of their SWC experience (and help them win some cool prizes through JACF!)
There are so many magnificent things about summer camp, and for me one of the greatest of them is the opportunity to sit around a campfire. Not a gas flame flickering, not a warming lamp on a restaurant patio… but a campfire.
The first campfire I experienced was at Sanborn, and it was love at first sight. I was a camper on my first unit overnight, far from home. I was tired from a long hike in wet weather, my feet and shoulders were aching, and a cold front was rolling in behind the rain. But then the counselors built a campfire. And all of those tiresome things melted away. I couldn’t believe how incredible it was to just stare at the rolling flames.
The mood lifted as campers and staff gathered around. We gazed at the fire, transfixed by the vines of light tangling in the air. The brilliance, the warmth, the crackle of the logs…it brought new life to our cold campsite. There was something mystic about those flames. It felt like a message from the earth, from nature itself, an encouraging note of warmth and energy.
Throughout that evening, campers and counselors stayed near the fire, working together to prepare dinner. We chopped and grilled, cooking right over the blaze. There wasn’t a stove in sight, we literally cooked over the fire. It felt timeless, as if we were engaged in an ancient task. I still remember that meal, it’s one of the best dinners of my life. And not because it was well made, which it was, but because the entire meal was cooked on an open fire. It lit up my mood and filled up my belly.
That campfire was a first for me, and summer camp is all about firsts. Spending a night or two out in the wilderness can be scary, but a campfire can chase away those fears. It’s a process that humans have been doing for eons.
The human race has a special relationship with campfires. It’s a ritual of light, a safe zone of warmth and community. Gazing into a the flames, we connect to our past. For thousands of years our ancestors sat around fires, not for fun, but for necessity. Human history began by the firelight. When we build campfires, it brings a taste of the timeless into our cluttered modern world.
It’s essential to be safe when building a fire. At Sanborn, we don’t have fires all the time, we only build when conditions permit. Sometimes there are fire bans, other times we’re in National Forest or high country and we simply don’t want to impact the surroundings. But when we do build campfires, it’s truly wonderful. A campfire can warm a day and bond a group. Gazing into the flames inspires you in ways that are hard to describe. The flames roll and your thoughts roll with them.
Years ago, that night around the fire, the meal finished but we kept the flames going. We roasted marshmallows and sang along with an untuned guitar. The flames twisted up into the night with our laughter in tow. I looked across the fire, into the eyes of my new friends. The campfire underscored the mood, it was a shared love of the moment. With each pop from the fire, sparks floated up into the sky, mixing with the stars. I felt so… connected.
As the night ended, the flames fell into coals and the embers pulsed like a heartbeat. One by one, everyone headed off to bed, zipping into their tents and bags. I sat alone with a few others, poking at the embers. Finally, the counselors put the fire out with a crash of cold water. Steam hissed up into the night, the light fading away. It was time for bed.
I always sleep like a rock after sitting around a campfire. It’s almost like the flames were a lullaby for my busy mind. And then there’s the fun of the next day… because one of the great things about a campfire is that it stays with you. The next morning you can smell the campfire in your clothes, an aroma of smoke, an echo of nighttime fun. More than once, I’ve been caught standing stock-still, sniffing my clothes and smiling, remembering the flawless joy of a campfire.
We have had a long and beautiful Indian Summer, with golden and red aspen trees lasting into late October. The temperatures are dropping a bit now and the mornings are chilly, but the sun is creating a lot of warmth during the day. We had one snowstorm in late October—it left about 3 inches which quickly melted.
Our maintenance crew has made excellent use of the good weather and is building a new tent frame and a foundation for a new yurt on ABC Ridge at Big Spring. They have also finished new roofs on Red Cloud, Massive and the Crafts Building at BS. Their winter projects include renovations on the ABC Washhouses at Big Spring, and additional work on the interior of the High Trails Lodge. They will also build a new “Welcome” gate at High Trails to match the new gate they finished in September for Big Spring.
Maren reports that the horses are very happy grazing in Fish Creek. They have appreciated taking it easy and munching sweet mountain grass to their heart’s content after their busy summer in the Big Spring and High Trails Riding programs.
We will be again be hosting the American Camp Association—Rocky Mountain Region Annual workshop in mid-November. Attended by camp leaders from several states, this is a wonderful educational and networking opportunity and many of our year round staff will be attending and, in some cases, presenting programs. High Trails Director Elizabeth Rundle is a member of the Local Counsel of Leaders, and has been very involved in planning the conference..
We are all looking forward to the relative calm of the winter season and the opportunity it provides to improve our programs and our facilities. We met last week to select dates for some of our exceptional trips next summer. These include four- and five-day backpacking trips on Mts. Elbert and Massive, Mts. Harvard and Yale, Pikes Peak, the Colorado Trail, Buffalo Peaks, the Tarryall Mountains and several more spectacular wilderness areas. We will also plan mountain climbing trips to Mt. Huron, Mt. Ouray, Mt. Oxford and Belford, La Plata Peak, Mt. Quandary, Mt. Democrat, Mt. Princeton and ten more Colorado “Fourteeners”. We are already anticipating the fun and challenge of these amazing adventures.
Mike is looking forward to visiting Austin this week with our first camp road show of the season. Elizabeth, Mike and Matthew are also planning their January trip to the Midwest. Details will be on our website as soon as they are available.
Many of you have received enrollment information in the past month, and we are always happy to send our brochure and DVD to new families. We offer an early bird tuition discount for enrollments we receive before December 1. We have already received a significant number of enrollments for 2016 and are excited to watch the High Trails and Big Spring communities take shape.
Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Maybe being this far back in the forest you would think that it’s hard for the News to reach us, but we do appreciate those of you who help keep us connected to what’s new and trending, and we will never pass up a great article about the Magic and Purpose of Camp! So when this article from the Huffington Post by Kelly Newsome was passed along to Jane by a couple of alums, it quickly made its way around the office and now up on the blog and back out to you, who we have a feeling will appreciate it as much as we did!
We know from first-hand experience that the thoughts Ms. Newsome expresses about how camp shaped her as a person are very real. Camp is an environment where individual growth and self-understanding occur in a way that seems magical. It does not matter where or which camp you attended as a child or worked at in your young adult years or came back to for an Alum Reunion.
And that is where this article struck me as so true. We just enjoyed the camp alum reunion to celebrate our 67th year, and welcomed nearly 50 over-excited “children” (as Ms. Newsome so aptly put it). The excitement in the lodge on Thursday night was palpable. Pre-historic through present aged camp alum immediately blended together into a new camp community. All weekend they enjoyed together the activities that make up so many happy memories from camp days.
My favorite part of the reunions though are the stories told during meals and “rest time” on the deck. The stories of great adventures, favorite counsellors and campers, and most especially the challenging moments! Just as Ms. Newsome said, “After lice outbreaks, soiled linens, projectile vomiting, and shrill screams in the wee hours of the morning, getting splashed by an oncoming bus on the way to class or stepping in dog poop at the park just doesn’t take a toll on my happiness the way it once did.”
We all have those stories of the great mountain climbs and perfect 5-day horse trips that we look back on fondly, but it’s not these stories that get told with minute-by-minute details and pride in all the sheer will-power it took to boil water in a torrential Colorado downpour. It’s the challenges we all faced, and overcame, that turn into the stories that are now told and reflected on as being the best. You were challenged by Nature, by very-tired distraught campers, by a mountain with 14 false peaks. You struggled, worked as a team, and overcame the worst of the situation to pull through and return triumphant! Those are the memories that you hold dear and those are the times that shaped you into the strong confident human being you are now. These are the magic moments – and yes, for those of you who are currently campers, this is happening for you too!
The world is changing out there (we do venture out of our forest home enough to know that). It is continuing to become a place of diversified challenges and struggles. Yet, we know that what we’ve done here for the past 67 years and the challenges we continue to embrace, are still helping to grow and shape us into the very best humans we can be. The humans that will take Camp out into the world and “redefine magic” there as well.
Find Kelly Newsome’s article The Magic of Summer Camp here.
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!
We have had another great week at camp. This morning’s gymkhana was a real highlight—riders from Big Spring and High Trails competed in horseback games in the arena and everyone from both camps cheered them on. Saturday night’s dance with a Hoedown theme was also a lot of fun.
Long trips at High Trails returned Thursday and Friday enthusiastic about their adventures and accomplishments. The four-day Elbert-Massive Backpack climbed Colorado’s two tallest mountains, 14,433’ Mt Elbert and 14,428’ Mt. Massive; and the 4-day Pikes Peak Backpack reached the 14, 115’ summit of one of our state’s most famous mountains. The four-day Oxford (14,153’)-Belford (14,197’) Backpack, reached both of its summits, and the five-day Colorado Trail Backpack hiked along the spectacular Continental Divide and summited 14,073’ Mt. Columbia along the way. The Kite Lake trip climbed 14, 148’ Mt. Democrat on Wednesday and the Alpine Valley 3-day trip reached the top of 14,036’ Mt. Sherman. Backpack trips into the Tarryall Wilderness Area and Mt. Silverheels enjoyed spectacular scenery during their four days in the wilderness, and the Silverheels group also climbed 13,822’ Mt. Silverheels. The four- and five-day horse trips had great experiences exploring wilderness areas south and west of camp as well as some of the more remote parts of the ranch. The Pikes Picasso trip produced some impressive art while engaging in exciting hiking explorations, and the Canoe four-day paddled 18 miles around the perimeter of Eleven-Mile Reservoir. All of the girls were excited about the beauty of their campsites and the fun they had together.
Big Spring campers enjoyed many exciting overnights and all-days last week including climbs of Quandary Peak, Pikes Peak, and Mts. Oxford and Belford. The boys also had fun on horseback overnights, rock climbing overnights, river overnights, fishing trips, a canoe overnight, a mountain bike overnight and several trips which camped out on the ranch.
The Sanborn Juniors have been enthusiastic and energetic about their activities this week. They have enjoyed horseback riding, swimming, crafts, hikes and nature programs at the Interbarn, as well as their first campout. Their group photos have been posted on Camp-in-Touch.
Next week, Big Spring will head out on three-, four-, and five-day backpacking trips, mountain climbs and horse-pack trips. High Trails has a variety of overnights and all-days planned including a trip to the resort town of Breckenridge on Thursday. Sanborn Junior campers are looking forward to another campout, more horseback riding, a hike to the Florissant Fossil Beds, and an all-day tubing trip on the South Platte River. The term is flying by and we plan to make the most of our last week together.
Our photographers will be posting last week’s photos on Camp-in-touch tonight and they will be available Monday morning.
After several years of drought, we have been blessed this summer by higher than average moisture. It began in May when we had several heavy, wet snows at the beginning of the month followed by daily rain at the end. The moisture continued through June with rain almost every day–in most cases, the timing was perfect and did not disrupt our program at all—although we did have a couple of downpours which had us wondering if we should put Ark Building on the program. Nice evening rains have continued into July.
The results of this moisture are everywhere. The High Trails Lake, which has not even been a puddle in recent years, is a truly magnificent lake again and we are canoeing, paddle-boarding, and fishing there. The Witcher Pond is overflowing and Lost Lake is so large that it is not lost anymore. Salamander Pond by the Tipi Village is home to many noisy frogs. The grass is waist high in some places and the camp is as green as it has ever been.
And the wildflowers! We have not seen this abundance and variety of wildflowers for many years and we are all reveling in their beauty. Thousands of Fairy Trumpets bloom along the roadside, and some of them are over two feet tall. Hummingbirds are drawn to them and the little birds are buzzing around constantly. The Indian Paintbrush, which were late in blooming this year, are now filling the meadows with their bright orange petals. They are taller than usual too. Columbine bloom in every forest glade and we have even seen a few of the bright red Firecracker Penstemon. The Mariposa Lily, which has been extremely rare in recent years, is now common; the wild roses have more blooms than ever; wild flax is turning the meadows blue, and we’ve even spotted some rare orchids in shady places in the forest.
One of our all-time favorite books at camp is “The Immense Journey” written by Loren Eiseley in 1946. One of the chapters is titled “How Flowers Changed the World”. In this chapter, Eiseley describes, in exceptionally beautiful language, how
flowering plants evolved on the Earth about 100 million years ago (recent in geologic terms). The development of the true encased seed of flowers allowed plants to move away from the waterways and to reproduce much more efficiently than more primitive plants dependent on spores. “True flowering plants grew a seed in the heart of a flower, a seed whose development was initiated by a fertilizing pollen grain independent of outside moisture. But the seed, unlike the developing spore, is already a fully equipped embryonic plant packed in a little enclosed box stuffed full of nutritious food”.
But the story doesn’t end there. Warm-blooded birds and mammals thrived on the nutritious high-energy seeds of the flowering plants and many of them evolved in ways that helped to spread the pollen and seeds of the flowering plants. As Eiseley says,
“Flowers changed the face of the planet. Without them, the world we know—even man himself—would never have existed.”
Those of us fortunate enough to be living with our abundance of wildflowers this summer, campers and staff alike, are taking the time to smell the roses and appreciate the wild beauty that surrounds us. We only wish you were here to enjoy them with us.
Photo Credit: All photos taken by Carlotta Avery.
We had some fabulous trips last week, including five successful mountain climbs. Groups from High Trails reached the summit of Quandary Peak on Tuesday morning while two other girls’ groups stood on the tops of Mt Huron and Mt. Antero early Friday. A group from Big Spring summited Mt. Princeton on Thursday, the same day that one of our SOLE Mountain Trips made it to the top of Mt. Antero. Our second SOLE Mountain trip spent 3 days hiking the Colorado Trail; both of these trips also spent days working with the Colorado Fourteeners’ Initiative doing trail work on Mt. Oxford.
All of our trips last week enjoyed warm, sunny weather and we had some amazing views of the “Blue Moon” on Friday night. Horseback riders rode through fields of clover and camped out at several of the established spring tanks on our property; CORE tech rock experienced great climbing both on and off the ranch; mountain bikers glided along our trails and one older group did the Salida Downhill bike trip. Other campers tubed on the river, fished in mountain ponds, visited the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, and enjoyed some wonderful rock scrambling all-days.
We have also had a busy weekend. Yesterday’s Saturday Special Activities were fun in the morning; in the afternoon, we all enjoyed a coed Carnival with all kinds of games, as well as cotton candy, sno cones, and popcorn. The dance on Saturday night had a “Just off the Yacht” theme and there were many creative costumes. Today, we prepared for next week’s trips, and both camps will end the day with our traditional vespers services. The boys climb to the top of Little Blue for this special celebration and the girls go to “Sunday Rocks” on B-Bluff.
We were sad to see our Third Term Juniors depart on Friday—they had been a wonderful group, and we are grateful for our time together. We have had a lot of fun greeting our Fourth Term Juniors today. They have a busy week planned including their first camp-out on the Ranch, horseback rides, exciting hikes, swimming, crafts and much more.
Next week the girls will leave camp for three-, four- and five-day trips. Some will head out on horse pack trips; others have chosen four- and five-day high mountain backpacks into some of Colorado’s most pristine wilderness. Other trips will be based in spectacular alpine areas like Silver Heels and Kite Lake near Alma. Many groups will have the opportunity to climb mountains, and we know that our summit count will grow.
Big Spring has planned an exciting program of overnights and all-day trips including mountain climbing trips to Quandary Peak, Pikes Peak, and Mts. Oxford and Belford. The boys will also be horseback riding, fishing, mountain biking, rock climbing, camping on the ranch and tubing on the river. Their “long trips” are scheduled for the week of August 10.
Photos from this past week will be available Monday morning. We’re looking forward to another adventure-filled week!
We had some fabulous all-day trips on Thursday and Friday. The weather was warm and sunny and the High Trails Juniors loved their Thursday tubing trip on the South Platte River as did a group of older girls who chose this adventure on Friday. A group from each camp climbed on the fabulous rocks at The Crags and Pancake Rocks on the west side of Pikes Peak, and others enjoyed rock scrambling on the camp property. We also enjoyed fishing trips, canoeing trips, technical rock climbing trips, mountain biking trips, and several extremely fun horseback riding all-days.
We had several trips to the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, and campers found many leaves and insects at the special digging site we visit after seeing the huge Sequoia stumps at the Monument. The Big Spring Junior campers enjoyed this trip on Friday.
We have had a full weekend with Saturday Special Activities yesterday morning and Hike the Pike in the afternoon. For Hike the Pike, campers may choose to hike up to 6 miles, and the camp makes a donation to charity for each mile walked. Many campers participated and most chose to do the entire 6 miles! Last night we had a coed ice cream social and dance; the theme of the dance was “Neon Space Rave” and there were many colorful and creative costumes.
Sunday is always a day to clean-up, organize and get ready for upcoming adventures. During the afternoon we had a fun in-camp program which included all kinds of games and swimming. Tonight, each camp will celebrate our traditional Sunday Rocks service at dusk.
We have a lot going on next week. Both camps have many overnight and all-day trips including mountain climbs, horseback 2-days, Capture the Flag Overnights, River trips, fishing trips and much more. This is also the week for our SOLE (Sanborn Outdoor Learning Experience) and CORE (Community Outreach Experience) Trips, offered to campers who have completed the 8th and 9th grades. Campers choose from trips specializing in mountain climbing, horseback riding, technical rock climbing, and mountain biking. Each 5-day adventure includes a service component as well as a great deal of learning in the chosen activity area.
The Junior Campers at both camps will have another fun overnight and Juniors at Big Spring are looking forward to their River Trip on Monday. High Trails Juniors will visit the fossil beds on Thursday.
Our photographers are hard at work uploading this week’s photos. You can check them out tomorrow morning.
We are looking forward to another great week!