Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Take a Deep Breath and Enjoy the Season

During these final hectic days and hours, when last minute shopping, cooking, and preparations for visiting guests are made—it is easy to get sucked into the future, into “what do I need to do next?”

We sometimes see that with our trip leaders in the summer, too. They are so focused on route-finding, safety, and mitigating the what-ifs of weather, blisters, slow hikers, the upcoming mountain climb, and monitoring the preparation of campers and staff—they forget to stop and breathe.

This is why we encourage a few moments each day of a trip—and even before and after every activity at camp—where the individuals as a group stop and share their goals for the trip/activity, their possible fears, their triumphs, their failures, their high points, their low points, and how they have grown (or think they may grow). Stretching together before a hike begins we can share our goals for the hike: “I want to set the pace today” “I don’t want to be at the back today” “I want to put up the rain fly myself” “I want to help cook dinner” “I want to enjoy the scenery and stop being so nervous about the climb” “I want to stop someplace beautiful and take a nap in the sun”—this helps remind the campers and the trip leader that they are ALL part of the experience, that—in fact—the hopes, fears, and goals they each bring to the trip make the experience that much richer for everyone.

Then, after a long day on the trail, in the saddle or on foot, they can share the insights the day provided them. “I saw a cloud that looked like a pig eating a chicken” “I really appreciated Jordan’s help when we were crossing the stream” “I didn’t think I was going to make it over the ridge, but I did—and that felt great” “This was the BEST dinner I have ever eaten—I usually HATE spaghetti!” “I liked how we stopped and just listened to the stream after lunch—it calmed me down” “Playing those hiking games was my favorite part of the day, I never even felt tired” By giving campers the space and time to reflect on their day, a trip leader sees how his/her planning, effort, coordination, and dedication pays off in real growth experiences for kids.

So this holiday season, make sure you take time to ask those sitting around your table what their favorite part of the day might have been, or have a story night when each member of the family shares a short story from their childhood (kids included!), or take time to light some special candles and share why you are grateful this holiday season, or just take an evening stroll around the block as a family to look at the holiday lights, stars, or just see the beginning of the crescent moon sparkling on the snow.

Happy Holidays!

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Outdoor Leadership

I am currently working on my Capstone project to finish a Masters in organizational leadership. You will probably read a few posts from me about this over the next few months.

I was doing some research last week. Do you know how many articles and books there are available on leadership?! Hundreds. Topics range from leadership, to recognizing it, being a better leader, leading change, leaders during problems, leading in crisis, leading teams, leadership development, etc. While there are various topics and themes to the research, there is an underlying message in each – leadership is important.

While businesses want to hire young employees who show potential as strong leaders and colleges are looking for students who will be leaders in the community, I could not find a lot about leadership opportunities for high school students, especially in Colorado.

Why is this? There are national programs and conferences that students can go to, many times to represent their school. These programs typically last for a week with the goal to give students the resources to be leaders when they get home. There is something lacking with these programs though. They are indoors in classroom settings. I disagree with this teaching method.

Leadership is experiential. Yes, there is a need to understand certain principals and methods that can be taught in the classroom, but this is not enough. To best learn to be a leader, young adults need to interact with others and practice being leaders.

I think it is the best way to learn. I have worked with high school students from various backgrounds and experiences and have watched them all demonstrate stronger leadership traits than they thought possible while leading outside.

Can you think of ways to teach young adults to be future leaders in the outdoors?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

'Tis the Season

Now that winter has arrived you might find you and your family spending more time inside playing the Wii or backing cookies. Scholastic has put together a fun and exciting list of winter activities that you and your children can do even when snowflakes are flying. Lets learn from and enjoy this wonderful season.

•Create a sundial. Find a long stick and set it in the snow. Try to tell the time throughout the day by where the stick's shadow is cast. (At high noon there will be no shadow.)

•Start a nature sketchbook. Buy an inexpensive artist's sketch pad or book and begin a winter nature diary. Each time you take a walk, observe something up close in nature. Draw the item, then write down descriptive details and date the entry. Continue you observations and entries throughout the year as seasons and locations change. This is especially fun if you visit the same area year after year — you can compare your observations over time.

•Identify trees during a walk in the winter woods. Observe the shape and bundling of evergreen needles and patterns on bark. Borrow a naturalist's guide from the library to help make your identifications.

•Go on a berry hunt. Pick berries with leaves attached and try to identify them (but don't eat them!). Use a naturalist's guide or check the Web before or after your search to find clues.

•Observe the night sky. Before your trip, research the constellations and planets that may be visible on a cold clear night at the latitude and longitude where you are staying. Practice picking them out in the heavens by first tracing the constellations on paper. Then, when you are away, it will be easier to find them. Your Sky is just one site where you can map your sky.

•Search for animal tracks. The best time is early morning when snow is pristine — you'll find the tracks of nocturnal animals. Draw and label what you see. Visit before you leave for your trip, and download pictures of tracks for black bear, porcupine, beaver, red fox, gray squirrel, moose, skunk, brush rabbit, deer mouse and black-tailed deer. You can also learn about their winter habitats at the site.

•Keep an eye open for skat, too. Droppings are another way to look for signs of animal life.

•Collect pine cones from different types of evergreens. Take them home as mementos of your trip.

•Take bird-watching breaks. Record your findings in your sketchbook. When you get home, do some research (using the Internet or an Audubon guide) to find out what types of food these birds forage for in winter.

•Listen and look for owls just before dark. In the daytime, keep your eyes open for "owl pellets" during your walks. Owls spit up these small, oval-shaped balls that may contain bits of undigested bone and fur.

•Hunt for icicles. See who can find the biggest.

•Explore lichen. To identify and learn more about various kinds, check out

•Search for deer fields on foot, while showshoeing, or when you are in your car. Deers like to collect in meadows that are sheltered by trees.

•Blow bubbles outdoors in the cold. Do they freeze? Visit Bubblesphere for a host of information.

•Play snow "basket"-ball. Scoop out a large bowl-shaped area in the snow and make a ton of snowballs, then see who can land the most into the basket.

•Try snowball catch for variation.

• Team up for snow hockey or golf. Use a broom for hockey, or bring along a toy club for golf.

•Have fun with outdoor tic-tac-toe. Use a long stick to draw the grid and the Xs and Os. Or color snowballs (use a spray bottle filled with watered-down food coloring) and throw them into the grid to play - red against blue, for example, instead of X vs. O.

•Go snow bowling. Line up inverted pails of snow, then try to knock them down with snowballs.

•Build a snowman, of course. Use stones, branches and berries to decorate (and a carrot for his nose!).

Monday, November 30, 2009

Go With the Flow, Momma!

Just last week, I watched as my 13 month old son gingerly, methodically, joyfully occupied himself for over 15 minutes by removing and replacing the lid of a baby food jar.

This meant a number of things: a) I could eat my dinner without attempting to shovel bites of spring vegetables and pasta into the mouth of a willful would-be toddler; b) he was completely immersed in a task that interested him; and c) to witness the growth of perseverance is a gift.

“Life Skills” is one of those over-packaged, over-used phrases that blandly attempts to characterize (often in list form) the myriad gifts that make us successful humans. I think I prefer the phrase, “Behaviors and Tendencies That Make You Great.”

Perseverance is one of those behaviors. Perseverance, in my mind, finds its beginnings in what I have come to know as “flow”—or as Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi describes it in his seminal work, 'Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience'— a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation. According to Csíkszentmihályi, we are happiest in these “flow states” where we are intrinsically motivated by whatever it is we are doing—from working on a car, to writing a novel, to gaining enough gross motor control to grasp and release a lid over and over again, to rock climbing, to mountain climbing, to horseback riding…and everything in between.

We have all experienced “flow states”, and those were some of the happiest moments of our lives. These moments are “characterized by a feeling of great absorption, engagement, fulfillment, and skill—and during which temporal concerns (time, food, ego-self, etc.) are typically ignored.” (Especially the food part, especially if you are a little person.) And in these moments, when we encounter obstacles, we merely see them as a puzzle/challenge that we GET to overcome. The more often we are presented with challenges while we are in this optimal state, the more we will view obstacles as necessary—and interesting—parts of our path to satisfaction and happiness.

If this has been our experience when we encounter hardships, the more often we will associate hardships with eventual success…so we will choose to persevere to accomplish the task even if it means we must fail repeatedly before we are able to accomplish it. But let’s return to my kitchen table a moment…

I have finished eating my dinner and decide I haven’t been adequately celebrating the Great Triumphs and Astounding Genius of my Miraculous Boy Wonder. So I start talking to him: “Good job!” “Wow, you are A Master of Gross Motor Skills!” “Hooray for you!” (and the like). And, suddenly, he stops playing with the lid. He starts smiling at me, batting his eyelashes for a moment, and then, with a flourish, deliberately jettisons the jar lid at the dog and begins to howl.

So what happened?

I interrupted his flow state. I interrupted his moment of self-generated happiness by trying to impose myself and my annoying verbal nonsense in his quiet, self-absorbed world. His efforts were undermined by my very desire to be supportive. So he quit.

Studies are showing that there are a lot of kids who have self-reported “high self esteem” who give up, quit, or don’t even bother to start something if they think will fail. Why are they so afraid to fail? Because if they have grown up feeling and believing that support, joy, love, and success only comes from others when they succeed in a task (get a ribbon, get an A, etc.), then how will people react when they fail? They think that support, joy, love and sense of success will vanish, and take their high self-esteem right along with it.

But true self-esteem comes from the “self”. And developing a unique sense of self is one of the best gifts a child can take away from a summer camp experience. At camp a child has the opportunity to define him or herself outside of the home environment. It is easier (and safer) emotionally to try and to practice perseverance in the summer camp environment. The peer group is varied, the number of supportive adults is larger, and the entire progression of summer camp emphasizes the process over the outcome.

So, tonight, when my son alternated between inserting and removing his spoon from the jar, as well as continued his lid placing practice, I put on my summer camp counselor hat and merely stated (calmly and occasionally) what he was doing…and then I just watched him practice and practice and practice…and watched him learn how great it feels to grow.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Modest Proposal

A number of high-ranking political figures have recently been seriously suggesting that American young people should spend more than the current 180 days a year cramped into small desks in classrooms.

I would humbly propose that what American young people actually need is less time held captive in small desks and more time in the great outdoors. Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, provides

compelling research to support his statement that children who spend more time in nature are “happier, healthier, and smarter.”

And so, to my plan for revolutionizing education in the 21st century: simply put, kids would spend 6 months a year—from November-April—in a traditional classroom and 6 months a year—from May-October—at camp. Of course, there would be family vacation times and holidays (and perhaps Swine Flu outbreaks) built into this schedule but I leave that for someone else to figure out.

Let’s look at some of the societal changes that have made this proposal a good idea. Take technology, for instance…we know that in today’s world more information is being generated every day than anyone can possibly “learn” during that day. Therefore, the challenge for educators is not to fill children’s heads with knowledge, but to teach them how to learn, and how to access the information they need. And even more importantly, young people need to gain curiosity and wonder in order to become life-long learners. Where better to gain a sense of curiosity and wonder than by marveling at the stars, exploring the rocks, or contemplating the interconnections of our ecosystem?

Daniel Goleman, author of books on emotional and social intelligence, has shown that social skills and emotional skills are more important for future success and happiness than IQ. Social and emotional skills are the curriculum of camps. We intentionally teach how to be a friend, teamwork techniques, integrity, respect, perseverance, resilience and many more character traits and skills for successfully navigating the world.

Peg Smith, Chief Executive Officer of the American Camp Association recently wrote in Camping Magazine “There is a great deal of debate right now around education reform. I submit that the answer to the problem, currently framed around reforming the traditional school system, is not to confine children to classrooms for year-round school. I believe the answer lies in much more natural, developmental settings that promote experiential learning, improve social skills and physical fitness, teach kids to take calculated risks in a safe environment, and expand the creative mind allowing for the possibility of innovation.”

I agree with Peg Smith, Daniel Goleman, and Richard Louv.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ways to be Involved

This past week Sanborn Western Camps hosted the American Camp Association Rocky Mountain Section Fall Conference. The Conference had many educational breakout sessions that strengthened the experience camps deliver to campers. Some sessions focused on how to teach leadership, social skills, and how to find/retain quality staff to support the lessons taught at camp. Camp is a place that children learn life skills that help them thrive in and out of the classroom. Camp provides the opportunity for children to reconnect with nature. The children and Nature movement is sweeping across the country and we must help in supporting it. Here are some quick and easy ways that the ACA has identified that will help raise the importance of getting children out of doors.

1. Join NatureRocks – a national campaign created to inspire and empower parents to take their families to play, explore, and enjoy quality time in nature for happier and smarter children.

2. Join the National “No Child Left Inside” Coalition and follow what is happing with the piece of legislation.

3. Provide opportunities for children to engage the natural world in meaningful ways.

4. Encourage youth to be good stewards of the environment. Teach Leave No Trace (LNT) principles and environmental ethics. Foster environmentally friendly behaviors.

5. Take advantage of “teachable moments” with children. Explore and focus on natural elements. Look at the stars, the clouds. Facilitate in children the sense of wonder and awe.

Life Long Friends

"Keep me from going to sleep too soon. Or if I go to sleep too soon, come wake me up. Come whistling up the road. Stomp on the porch. Bang on the door. Make me get out of bed and come and let you in and light a light. Tell me the Northern Lights are on and make me look. Or tell me clouds are doing something to the moon they never did before, and show me. See that I see. Talk to me 'til I'm half as wide awake as you and start to dress wondering why I ever went to bed at all. Tell me that waking is superb. Not only tell me but persuade me. You know I'm not too hard to persuade." Robert Francis

This has to be one of my favorite quotes and it pops into my mind throughout the year. After having spent the weekend with one of my dearest friends, meeting up with another for dinner, and with Thanksgiving around the corner, I couldn't help but think about how grateful I am for friends who are there to wake me up.

My most cherished friends have come from spending summers dressing up in costumes, sleeping under the stars, hiking through the forests, cooking over a fire and living together in the outdoors. They are people I met at Sanborn who share the same interests and dreams. Camp lays the ground work for creating lasting, meaningful relationships, provides the space for those friendships to grow and develop, and a foundation for them to last a life time. Whether you are a camper or staff member you are surrounded by people who believe in you, share a passion for being in the outdoors, encourage you, support you, and care for you as an individual.

At camp we climb mountains, hike, swim, tube down the river, horseback ride, go camping, do arts & crafts and make s'mores. What makes these trips, activities, and programs so amazing, rewarding and memorable are the people standing next to you when you reach the summit, hit the bullseye or sing a camp song with you at the top of your lungs. Camp is a place where you have the opportunity to learn the art of friendship. To some it comes so easily and for others, those friendship skills and problem solving skills have to be developed and encouraged by an adult who is willing to invest themselves in teaching these valuable life skills.

This past summer I received a phone call at what seemed like the middle of the night. The person on the other end did just what Robert Frost suggests one should. She woke me up, convinced me to get out of bed and wrap a blanket around myself, to step outside on a crisp August night to look up at the same sky she was gazing up at and stand in awe watching the Perseid Meteor Shower. My hope is that our campers and staff will find friendships here that are created throughout the summer and last a lifetime.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Role Models: A Longer Look

Mirriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines a role model as “a person whose behavior in a particular role is imitated by others.”

The key word in this definition in imitate. Imitate. Who do you imitate? Who is your role model? Really think about it. Depending on your age and what’s going on in your life, your answer is probably very different from others. If you’re five, you might say “your parents.” If you’re seven, you might say “your classmates.” If you’re fifteen, you might say “Shaun White.” If you’re twenty, you might say “your professor.” If you’re thirty, you might say “your spouse.”

Throughout our lives, we have many different role models who we imitate, and when we grow to a certain age, we can choose these role models. When I think of whom I imitate, I’m reminded of a lecture that really stuck with me in college about Social Learning Theory. “The theory considers that people learn from one another, including such concepts as observational learning, imitation, and modeling. The basic principles of Social Learning Theory are as follows:

1. People can learn by observing the behavior of others and the outcomes of those behaviors.

2. Learning can occur without a change in behavior. Behaviorists say that learning has to be represented by a permanent change in behavior, in contrast social learning theorists say that because people can learn through observation alone, their learning may not necessarily be shown in their performance. Learning may or may not result in a behavior change.

3. Cognition plays a role in learning. Over the last 30 years social learning theory has become increasingly cognitive in its interpretation of human learning. Awareness and expectations of future reinforcements or punishments can have a major effect on the behaviors that people exhibit.

4. Social learning theory can be considered a bridge or a transition between behaviorist learning theories and cognitive learning theories” (

According to this theory, a person’s social environment has a huge impact on the general behavior of the individual, both positive and negative. When I search my mind for positive environments for children, I can’t think of any better environment than sleep-away summer camps. At camp, the community structure gives children a chance to observe the behavior of many peers and role models and the resultant “reinforcements or punishments” of those behaviors. And you may think well they can get that at school. Same thing, right? Wrong. School settings model only a learning environment, where as summer camps, especially overnight camps, model everyday life, from meals to personal hygiene practices and beyond. Moreover, summer camps offer the best role models for children; role models that you can really know; role models that are personal and intelligent. These role models are the counselors, who typically have a few years of college experience and who are screened for their character and ability to work with children. I don’t think that a parent could ask for anything more from a role model for their child to imitate.

And just a side note followed by a rhetorical question: I recently searched the phrase “modern role models” on Google. The first ten individual names that popped up were Shaun White (snow/skate boarder), Soulja Boy (hip hop artist), Miley Cyrus (teen pop artist), Matt Damon (actor), Michael Jordan (legendary basketball player), Chris Angel (magician), Noel Gallahgar (musician), Tyra Banks (model and talk show host), Angelina Jolie (actress), and Britney Spears (musician). Although all of these people are involved in different careers, they have one common characteristic: they have exposure through mass media – television, radio, Internet, magazines, and newspapers. They are celebrities. They have had great success with their individual careers. But how well do we really know them? We see them in their “roles” – on the slopes, on stage, on the screen – and we can imitate them only in the role that we see them. Shaun White is a role model for a young snow boarder. Soulja Boy is a role model for a young hip-hop artist.

But are these people you want acting as role models for your children, siblings, students? Miley Cyrus was just ranked one of the worst role models for teens. Just because someone is called a role model, does not mean they are setting a great example. You have the opportunity to give your children strong role models through their social environments.

Who is your model for the role of parent, brother, sister, student, employee, leader?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Morning at High Trails

Last night we saw some great skits! Each cabin performed for each other. The High Trails staff did a cowboy melodrama that received lots of laughs. The teachers told some good jokes and read cowboy poetry. It was lots of fun!

This morning the students finished packing and the High Trails staff helped clean the cabins. We had another delicious breakfast - hard boiled eggs, oatmeal, and fresh banana bread.

The students are all meeting at their stakes for the last time to head to Sunday Rocks. The High Trails staff read 15 - 20 of the quotes the students wrote during Setting the Mood on Tuesday. From the rocks, the students head on their last discovery group - Putting It All Together. They'll head back in for the Million Dollar Buffet before getting on the buses.

It was a great week up here at High Trails. The High Trails staff and teachers saw growth in their students. We expect they will have lots of new nature facts to bring home with them. We will miss all the students! And wish them luck for the rest of the school year.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thursday Morning at High Trails

It's looking like another nice day here! The students started the morning by picking which hike they wanted to go on. The group that went to the candy cane were able to hike up close to a few deer, including a big buck.

Everyone ate their fill of french toast with syrup, orange juice, and cereal this morning. We are sending the groups out on their all-days right now. They will spend the day out on the trail for their discovery groups. A few of the extra activities include the homesteaders making candles and apple cider; the cowboys learning how to rope and brand, the prospectors heading to the copper mines. The groups will head back in this afternoon for another recreation time.

The students are having a great time and can't wait to return home to share all their adventures with you!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wednesday Evening at High Trails

We had such a nice day up here at High Trails! It was warm and sunny.

The discovery groups all went very well. We heard lots of good stories at lunch about finding crystals, shooting arrows, and making crafts. The students really seemed to learn a lot and enjoyed learning outdoors. For lunch we had chicken nuggets, pasta salad, and gooey Rice Krispie Treats.

We had recreation time after a second discovery group this afternoon. The students chose which hike they went on or game they played. It is important after a day of learning to be able to run around, enjoy nature, and play.

Everyone was ready for dinner tonight, which was roast beef, mashed potatoes, corn, coleslaw, homemade biscuits and honey butter, and butterscotch bars for dessert. It is not often friends get to sit together at a meal and share the adventures of their day. It is so fun to hear them excited about learning.

Tonight was the hoedown for everyone. The High Trails staff led semi-choreographed dances for the group. We always think its more fun to dance as a group or to dance with as many partners as you can in a short period of time, than stress about asking someone to dance.

After another snack in the cabin, everyone headed to bed ready for tomorrow's adventures!

Wednesday Morning at High Trails

It is another beautiful day at High Trails! We started this morning with hikes as cabin groups. There were some great views from Top of the World, A-Bluff, and Little Blue. The 6th graders are using their sense of Wonder that we talked about yesterday on Setting the Mood. We have heard lots of students telling their friends how much they are enjoying being out in nature and appreciate the beauty of it all!

We had another good meal this morning - scrambled eggs, toast, and cereal - before heading out on the first themed discovery group. Groups are out until lunch this morning and then again this afternoon.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tuesday Evening at High Trails

What a nice afternoon! The discovery groups were out until 5pm. As they were coming in, the sun was setting. The High Trails staff reported that all their groups were excellent and that the students had a great time.

As everyone was coming into the lodge, the moon was just peeking up over the trees. It was huge! We heard lots of "Oh, cool," "Wow," and "That's awesome" when students looked behind them to see the almost full moon. It was great to hear the stories the students were telling each other at dinner. Even though they did the same discovery group, everyone had a slightly different experience. We enjoyed another delicious meal - spaghetti, sauce, bread, caesar salad, and homemade cake.

Tonight everyone went to the Interbarn, our hands-on science center. Students could go to pond life, the cell, inventions in nature, fun think, the Earth, the freezer, and more. It is always fun to hear the responses to seeing rocks, animals, and nature they haven't seen or experienced before.

Everyone is in their cabins now with their High Trails staff. Everyone will be heading to bed after a quick snack, debrief of the day, and explanation of tomorrow's schedule.

Tuesday Afternoon at High Trails

Our second group of Mountain Ridge students arrived safe and happy this morning. They moved into their cabins and have already been playing games as a cabin group with their High Trails staff leaders.

Everyone enjoyed a good lunch of sandwiches, homemade chicken and rice soup, and freshly made ginger cookies. There were not many leftovers on any table!

At 3 this afternoon the students will go on their first discovery group, Setting the Mood. They will play sensory awareness games, find their special spots, and enjoy nature around the High Trails property.

If you want to check out pictures of our facilities and the activities your child will be partaking in this week, please click on the link to our camp Web site and High Trails Web site. Check back tonight and throughout the rest of the week for updates on how the 6th graders are doing!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Morning at High Trails

Good morning Mountain Ridge families! The sun is starting to come out and it is going to be a beautiful morning here at High Trails.

The students are packed, eating breakfast, and are ready for their last discovery group. We are enjoying a big breakfast of hard boiled eggs, oatmeal, fruit, and coffee cake.

Our last discovery group today is Putting It All Together - a wrap up of the week.

Even with the 2 hour delay down in town, the students will be back at school by 1 p.m.

You can check out a few pictures of our lodge and cabins to see where your student was this week, as well as our discovery groups.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thursday Evening at High Trails

We finished another great night at High Trails! The snow has stopped and you can see the moon and stars. It is chilly outside, but everyone had fires in their cabins tonight and there was lots of marshmallow roasting!

Everyone had a good time on their discovery groups today. The cabins ate picnic lunches in their cabins with bagel sandwiches and more hot chocolate. We had lots of takers for sledding this afternoon! Marshmallow baseball was also a hit.

Everyone had their fill of ham, potatoes, peas, and fruit salad at dinner - with delicious cookies for dessert. The lodge was lively tonight with lots of conversation. It was fun to hear the highlights of everyone's day.

The skit night was very fun! Each cabin put together a skit, song, or dance - or all 3 - to share with the rest of the cabins. Each was different, and entertaining!

The weather looks better for tomorrow. While we have a short day, we have a few more activities planned for the morning before sending the students on their way.

Thursday Morning at High Trails

I want to start by apologizing for titling last night's post as Tuesday evening, versus Wednesday evening. We're having so much fun, we're losing track of time.

We woke up to a little more snow this morning, not as much as yesterday. Since it is cold this morning, so we have adapted our all-day schedule. We are going to spend some discovery group time inside today, doing just as interesting activities as we would outside. The students will have an extra discovery group today - instead of having one all-day, they will have two half-day learning periods. All the students are warm and bundled up. We have plenty of extra clothes for anyone that is at all chilly.

The High Trails staff, teachers, and counselors have great activities planned for today! We have even heard a few high schoolers say they don't mind missing a snow day, because this is more fun than they would have at home.

After sleeping in today, the students are enjoying a hot breakfast of pancakes and syrup. Again, we have hot chocolate warming up and fires going in the buildings.

We love reading all of your comments. Your children can't wait to tell you about all of their adventures this week!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday Evening at High Trails

Everyone had a great time today! The snow was a fun obstacle to overcome - and more importantly, it was fun to explore in.

The snow died down this afternoon, allowing discovery groups to spend about half the time inside and half the time outside. We heard many excited conversations at each table during dinner as each 6th grader shared the highlights of his or her day with the rest of the cabin.

While we didn't get extra play in the snow this afternoon, students did spend time working on their skits for tomorrow night's evening program. We are planning some exciting recreational activities for tomorrow afternoon.

Everyone enjoyed a good dinner and the Halloween cookies for dessert were a huge hit. The Hoedown and Nature Carnival tonight were high points in many of the students' days.

We can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!

Summer Camp Comes Home for the Holidays

With the holidays fast approaching, we thought we might take a “program idea” from former camper Jackie Hatfield and the recent Wall Street Journal article “Summer Camp Comes Home” that profiled her new Idaho home “Camp Hatfield”. The home was envisioned by her husband, Tinker Hatfield, a top Nike designer and Sanborn camp parent, with many touches that are inspired by Sanborn Western Camps.

Recently Tinker and Jackie invited friends and family to live, work and play together in their camp style home. As the quintessential program director, Jackie assigns “staff” to programs, dish duty, and more while “campers” sign up for the different daily activities offered around the property.

We think this is a GREAT way to organize a large group of friends and family who are coming together to celebrate the holidays…and an economical one, too. You can take the mystery out of “what are we going to do today, Mom?” or the worry that, perhaps, the chosen activity for the day (say, bowling) may NOT be what your 93 year old great grandmother had in mind for her afternoon. Plus, you can share the cost of meal planning and preparation, gas, and—in some cases—you might even qualify for a group discount!

A few tips for creating an effective holiday family camp program:

1. Create variety: On a daily basis, have at least three activities to choose from that will take a similar amount of time but appeal to different age groups. A cookie decorating/baking party for the kids (followed with a costume dress-up “tea” afterwards); a “Last Minute Mall Crawl” for final holiday shopping (take your highest occupancy vehicle—or even consider renting a van for a few days); and a nature walk/bike ride/park excursion for high energy individuals (read: young boys) and others who just want to be outside. We recommend always having some sort of outdoor activity going on—this gets folks out of the house, reconnecting with nature and the elements, getting some fresh air and sunshine, and is a low-cost, no-cost activity. For ideas of what to do once you GET everyone outside, check out the 101 Nature Activities pdf.

2. Utilize your resources and share your gifts: have a number of family members who live in the same town? Find out what they can/want to offer as activity ideas. Perhaps you have a cousin who could take a group fly fishing for an afternoon, or a grandmother who is a docent at the local art museum, or your own child who wants to lead a tour of her favorite parts of the community zoo. Setting up a board game station or a “daily craft” table in the basement will also provide some activities to do during transitions or down time. If everyone is meeting in a unique location, send out a link to the town/city website and ask folks to find activities that look interesting to them...assign staff accordingly.

3. Make a job wheel: For families all coming together under one roof for a few days, a job wheel is a great way to assign tasks that will make the host/hostess feel less overwhelmed, and help the guests feel like they know what they “can do to help” without having to ask constantly.

The job wheel can either be designed for family groups (“Plan and prepare dinner” “Kitchen clean up and dishes” “Pick the movie for Movie Night” “Breakfast Buffet” “Put Out/Take Down the Sack Lunch Fixings” “Tidy Common Areas”) or for individuals (“Sweep Kitchen” “Toilets/Toilet Paper Monitor” (makes sure toilets are clean and all bathrooms have toilet paper on the rolls) “Eco-Freako” (last person out of the house who makes sure all the lights are off, heat is down, and doors are shut) “Trash & Recycle Fairy” (makes sure trash is emptied and recyclables end up in their proper containers) “Happy Hour Hostess” “Weatherman/Coat Patrol” (this person makes sure all little people have all the things they need for the day and are in the proper attire…this might need two slots on the job wheel.) A job wheel makes mundane tasks a little more fun, and a little less overwhelming!

4. Food, Outcamp and Able Waiters: This is what makes the holidays fun…and STRESSFUL. Utilize a job wheel (#3 above) and/or have simple breakfast/lunch spreads that can be “self-serve” or even packed “outcamp-style” with all of lunch for 8 packed in a crate to be served and eaten at the zoo/park/children’s museum/mall food court/hiking trail/etc..

For big dinners, consider trying out non-traditional holiday themes (“Candyland” was a big hit with the campers this summer…but probably wouldn’t work very well for your vegan, sugar-free sister-in-law) to provide opportunities for creativity, excitement and COSTUMES. At our house Thanksgiving means bringing and eating foods which we are thankful for—and pizza is ALWAYS on the menu. Antsy kids can take the job of “able waiters” who clear the table after meals—and they can be paid in “chits” for doing a good job. Chits can be redeemed for all sorts of great rewards (ice-cream party, “first-turn” privileges, “treasures” from a treasure chest, etc.) and provide a fun incentive to help all week/weekend long.

5. Big Evening Events: Pictionary games are legendary; a bag-skit night can be even more so. Create mixed age groups and give them a sack with an assortment of random things—each group then comes up with a skit in which everyone participates using ALL the items from their bag. Themes of “Our Favorite Part of the Week” or “Holiday Happenings” or “What Might Happen If…” will help family members overcome stage-fright and the dreaded “skit-block”. Sing-a-longs, a moon-lit night-hike around the neighborhood (or neighboring woods), and—of course--roasting marshmallows for s’mores in a backyard firepit, the fireplace, or even the fondue pot (FINALLY you get to use it for something!) are great family-friendly events that will create memories for years to come.

6. Create “Camp” Traditions: Family style dining, announcements, singing, costumes, celebrating the everyday, sharing in the successes of others, being grateful and thankful for your friends and family—sounds a little like the holidays, too, right? Make sure to give everyone ample opportunities to share “highs-lows” or their favorite part of the day or something they learned and who they learned it from. With camp-style activities, family members may not be together during the day, so it is important to reconvene and share stories, laughter, and thanks. A great treat is a “Praise Jar” where family members can leave notes of appreciation and thanks to each other—and at the end of the week/weekend, those notes are distributed to each person—a more meaningful gift than anything that could be purchased at the mall.

The most important thing to remember when planning a camp-style program of fun and adventure for your friends and family this holiday season is to be flexible—who hasn’t had the impromptu infirmary in their basement because cousin Alice suddenly came down with the chicken pox on Thanksgiving morning?—and to channel your inner camper. Kids rarely know how much preparation and work goes into a fun, nature-filled, activity-rich day at camp…they just know it was a great day. So don’t stress, let others help, and don’t let the “teachable moments” get lost in the desire to execute the plan. The kickball game at the park dissolves when the 7 year old outfielder discovers a wolf-spider den in the grass? See if you can catch the fly that brings him out of his lair.

And, no matter what happens, it will be a holiday celebration everyone will remember for YEARS to come. We hope the Hatfield’s have a fantastic holiday season at Camp Hatfield, and that your holiday season is as joyous and fun-filled as a day at camp!

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Mountain Ridge First Morning at High Trails

We woke up to a wonderful snowy morning! We have about 2 inches on the ground this morning; we still have big fluffy flakes coming down. The 6th graders are very excited to be out in the snow!

We had short hikes this morning. Everyone went out for 30 minutes to an hour looking for new tracks in the snow. All the 6th graders looked happy when they came in for a hot breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast.

Our morning discovery groups just went out. The plan is to play and learn in the snow for an hour this morning before heading to indoor spots for more discovery group activities. We have fires going in various buildings around High Trails. The hot chocolate is on the stove to help everyone warm up.

The plan for later this afternoon is to have snowman building and sledding, as well as other fun snowy day activities.

Check back for an update later this evening!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Zen of Camp

In a nod to our good friend, Marla Coleman and her blog Campfire Stories for Parents, I thought I would feature one of my favorite children’s books, Zen Shorts, by Jon Muth. It often takes zen-like patience and wisdom to work with children in the camp environment, and this collection of stories provides three key nuggets of life wisdom which can be applied to almost any situation working with kids OR adults. The quotes interspersed with the commentary are from Sanborn campers.

Our narrator in Zen Shorts is Stillwater (a giant panda), who first tells a tale of a robber attempting to steal from his rather material-poor uncle. The uncle (a polar bear, of course) startles the robber when he offers up the clothes on his back—the robber takes the clothing and runs. Moments later, while looking up at a beautiful full moon, the uncle laments, “All I had to give him was my robe…I wish I could have given him this beautiful moon.”

The beauty of a camp experience is that kids actually DO get the moon…and the stars…and the trees…and an understanding, appreciation and wonder for the natural world. At camp, and in the outdoors, our days and actions are “stripped” to the necessary and the functional. There is not a great deal of material excess or concern, so campers and staff alike find it easier to begin to look outward: to connect with the natural world and with each other.

“There is something about Sanborn and the mountains that is unattainable anywhere else on earth. The greatness of the landscape humbles you and makes you grateful for life at the same time.”

Similarly, in the second tale, we learn of a farmer who seems to have both a great deal of both bad and good luck. His horses run off (bad), and eventually they return and bring back some wild horses (good luck); his son tries to ride one of the wild horses and breaks his leg (bad luck), and then the army recruiters arrive to enlist young men to fight in a war, but they see the son’s broken leg and pass him by (good luck). In each instance, a bevy of well meaning neighbors stop by to offer their sympathy (“Such bad luck!”) or celebration (“Such good luck!”) to the farmer who always replies, “Maybe.”

During the summer, it appears easy to see something like a missed summit or a conflict in the living community or getting lost on a hike as a failure—or just bad luck. In actuality, the missed summit builds anticipation, desire and strength for the next climb; the conflict allows us to look at our communication and group living skills; and being lost teaches us how to deal with adversity, anxiety, and a lack of control. The opportunity to work in environments so rich with diverse growth opportunities isn’t rare—it is just a matter of perspective. Unlike some potentially less forgiving environments, at camp when we think we have “the answer” there is both the vision and the challenge of “…maybe.”

“The mountains are a place where you can forget about the congestion and commotion of city life and focus on what life really has to offer.”

My favorite story is the last. Two monks are passing through a flooded town when they see a rather cross-looking woman who is waiting for her attendants to carry her across the water-filled street. The older monk quickly picks her up, carries her across, and sets her down—only to have her shove him away without a bit of thanks. The younger monk stews over this woman’s rude behavior for the rest of the afternoon and then finally berates the older monk for even picking her up because she was obviously such a terrible person…a statement to which the older monk replies, “I set that woman down hours ago, why are you still carrying her?”

So who are WE carrying today and why? A month may seem like a long time, but for our campers it passes like a heartbeat—and, no wonder, this place and the people here create their own energy and life rhythm. There isn’t time or space for holding on to slights or hurt feelings or drama—there IS time and space to work through those challenges in a healthy way and move on. Our campers and staff who understand that letting go of whatever hinders them (negative perceptions of themselves or others, bad choices in the past, family issues, etc.) are able to grow limitlessly during their time at camp.

“I am coming back to camp because I have more and better friends here than any other place on earth; each summer is an adventure, and each summer I push myself farther.”


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Friday, October 2, 2009

Autumn Days

There is just something about this time of year that makes autumn my favorite season. It is the changing leaves on the aspen trees and the ones that have scattered to the ground paving the the road in yellow as it winds through the aspen groves. It is the way the air smells when I take the time to inhale, taking in the smell of the sun, the ponderosas, the dry leaves and the crisp fall air. It is seeing the moon light up Pike's Peak, and it is watching the students who come up to camp enjoying just being and playing.

As I wandered around last weekend to watch groups of kids and families enjoying the outdoors for our No Child Left Inside Open House, I made my way across a field of tall dry grasses. I could hear voices of excitement but couldn't see the people laughing through the trees. I kept walking towards the sounds and voices. As I crossed through a line of aspens and pines on the edge of the meadow it was like a curtain was lifted to reveal a magical wonderland, a secret world. Kids were laughing, running, playing, carrying logs and sticks, engaging their parents, inviting them into their world of imagination and creation to build a fort from what they could find around them. I could have stood and watched forever as they added extra rooms, tried to fill in the gaps so that the wind wouldn't blow through, and sat inside pretending it was their home.

Here are a couple of quotes from 6th graders who have been inspired while sitting and just taking in the season that surrounds us now.

"I feel like I see these trees and bushes and rocks everyday in bits. They used to be like small strokes in large paintings. Now they are masterpieces all by themselves."

"Being adventurous makes you want to be more curious."

"The simple life of nature stuns me"

Find time to be simple. What better way to spend fall days than playing, soaking in the suns warmth, allowing yourself to slow down, to find your inner child and sharing it with those who you care about.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

How Do Your Children Connect With Nature?

Today I was thinking about the children and nature movement. At camp, we know the benefit of taking children outdoors. There are authors writing books about children and nature. The media have focused a great deal of time promoting children going outside. The government has gotten involved creating bills to reconnect children with nature. Do you know what I found when I did a Google search today of “children and nature” blogs? More than 88 million people were talking about the significance of children and nature.

This is HUGE. It is important to learn about, understand, and discuss. Most of all, it is important to actually go OUTSIDE with your children! It is hard to find the time. We all have busy schedules. But, just think how much fun it was when you were a child to jump in piles of leaves, help your parents rake, or even just play in the yard after school. The payoff of spending a few minutes outside with your children is worth the few minutes it takes you away from cleaning the kitchen, sending one more email, making one quick phone call.

If you’ve been following this blog, you know we had snow last week, then a beautiful day Saturday. The changing weather made me enjoy being outside even more. The aspen leaves are almost completely yellow right now. I challenge everyone to go out and take in what’s around you. Let your children appreciate the beauty and wonder of nature. As the temperatures drop, it is harder to motivate to go outside. It takes effort to bundle up and be sure everyone has mittens and hats. However, if you get in the habit now of spending a little time outside and enjoying nature, it will be easier as the fall becomes winter.

How do your children connect with nature?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Growing Up (in the) Wild

The No Child Left Inside Family Fun Day at Sanborn Western Camps was a huge success this last weekend. Over 100 parents, teachers, children and their friends enjoyed a beautiful, Colorado fall day amid the golden aspens and tall Ponderosa pines learning about animals, building forts, roasting marshmallows, playing games, and loving the outdoors and their time together.

I had the opportunity to be a participant on a few of the guided hikes with my own children and a few families from my son’s school. At one point, while hiking on the trail, one of my “mom friends” called out to our kids to “stay with the group, it might be dangerous up there.” Her comment gave me pause. Sure, as far as predators go, we’ve got our fair share: red-tailed hawks, coyotes, bobcats, and more. And yet I realized I am far more comfortable with my child running through the woods than I am with him running through the grocery store (trees don’t tend to give you disapproving looks, I suppose).

Her comment, however, is indicative of an unhealthy shift that makes moms into community pariahs, roaming kids into deviants, and “safe” kids into screen-watching, computer-clicking, tech-savvy individuals—who have limited confidence in themselves because they have not been able to interact and connect with other kids through real, unstructured, free-play types of activities in the outdoors.

While building a fort with our kids, another mother regaled me with a tale from her college days (mid 80’s) where their outdoor leadership club hitchhiked from Ohio to New Mexico to go backpacking for a week. “Of course, it was much safer then,” was her comment. Really? Or is it just easier to dismiss an act of borderline foolishness (or youthful ingenuity?) as typical of a different time—especially when that “time” itself didn’t involve the level of instant information (or dis-information) that exists right now.

As parents and as youth development professionals, it is our responsibility to take care of our kids and the kids enlisted to our care, and to help them become responsible, productive, happy adults. It is our responsibility to assimilate as much information as possible and make responsible decisions regarding the well-being of our kids and campers. It is also our responsibility to allow them the freedom to make mistakes, deal with consequences, and to feel empowered by the good choices they can and will make.

I can only hope that, when and if my kids have the opportunity to walk to school, or go on a Lone Vigil backpacking trip by themselves, or ride their bikes to a friend’s house (with or without a parent at home), I will have equipped them with enough information to make informed, wise decisions. And, if their decisions aren’t the best, that—with a loving heart--I can help them understand and deal with the consequences, then grow and learn from the experience. One of my favorite bloggers, Lenore Skenazy says, "That’s why it’s called “self-esteem.” Not “parent-assisted esteem.”

As we all watched our kids tripping over roots without tears, getting poked in the eye with branches and laughing, slipping on moss covered rocks and quickly dusting off pants, lifting heavy logs as a team, sharing a treasured feather with a friend, chatting together in the outdoor lunch buffet line, and safely leading each other on a blindfolded trust walk through an aspen grove—I think we all realized a lesson about how strong and powerful and wise our kids really can be….and already are.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

No Child Left Inside Weekend

Here we are the middle of September and it has been snowing on and off for 3 days. While it takes a little time to get used to, it provides a great opportunity for the sixth graders who are here to have a different experience in the outdoors. When it snows like this at school, they are confined to staying inside. We are doing the opposite, we are taking them outside and letting them experience the snow and wonder what it would have been like to be an early Explorer or Homesteader in inclement weather.

Last year in early October, Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, came to speak in Colorado Springs as a kickoff to the Leave No Child Inside Weekend. State Parks opened their doors to families, offering activities that allowed parents to connect their children with nature. Sanborn was a part of the initiative and had an open house on Saturday. Families from Colorado Springs took part in sensory awareness activities, themed hikes (including Woodsmen and Explorers), nature crafts, and more.

While Louv is not returning to Colorado Springs this fall, the tradition of getting children outside is continuing. Sponsored largely by the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, we are taking part in the 2nd annual Leave No Child Inside Weekend. If you are in Colorado, we would love to see you here or taking part in other activities around the state. If you are not in Colorado, I encourage you to still take part in a weekend of outdoor activities. Most importantly, we want you to take your children outside.

Sanborn Western Camps and High Trails Outdoor Education Center invite you to take part in active and exploratory experiences in nature to connect your children with nature. I invite you to check out this post from March with several ideas from our 101 Nature Activities. A quick Google search will provide you with programs in your area, easy activities you can do with your children without leaving home, and free ways to enjoy the outdoors.

Starting Sunday, September 27, through Friday, October 2, PBS is airing a six-part, 12-hour documentary about the National Park Service: 'National Parks: America's Best Idea.' Ken Burns spent six years filming at some of the country's most amazing parks. Even if you don't have time to get outside this weekend, you should check out parts of this informative and exploratory program.

Here are some great Web sites to check out:

National Parks: America's Best Idea

Florissant Fossil Beds

American Camp Association

Children and Nature Network

And if you want more information feel free to give us a call 719-748-3341 or email

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Camp, a Experiential Learning Experience

What does camp provide to youth that is unique to all learning environments? An Experiential Learning Experience, the most powerful way to developing leadership capabilities. It is more important today then 5 years ago, that our children are taught how to be a responsible leader. Camp provides them with the framework to practice and implement these qualities and skills. Today’s campers are going to be our future leaders of tomorrow. As youth development professionals, we need to model key roles and responsibilities of being an ethical leader. Thomas Maak and Nicola N. states that a Responsible Leader should be the:

o The Servant: Implies attentiveness, responsibility, and competence to serve others, to care for the needs of others. Servant Leadership contains a strong ethic of care. Serve others and care for their well-being through meaningful work, fair pay, and healthy and safe work environments. Servant leadership pursues goals that are compatible with all needs and interest of stakeholders.
o The Steward: Both being a guardian of values, a stronghold to protect personal and professional integrity, and steering a business responsibly and respectfully even through troubled waters, thus protecting and reserving what one is entrusted with. To hold something in trust is stewardship.
o The Coach: Facilitating development, enabling, learning and supporting individuals, teams and ultimately the organization to create an inclusive integrity culture.
o The Architect: Leaders need to create and cultivate an inspiring and supportive work environment where people find meaning, feel respected, recognized and included; where they have fun and feel mobilized and are thus enabled to contribute according to their highest potential.
o The Storyteller: A leader has the task of breathing life into both individual and organizational responsibility. Leaders need to communicate clearly and persuasively, and always with passion.
o The Change Agent: Leaders are responsible for initiating change towards a value-conscious and sustainable business in a stockholders society. Transformation should be conducted and facilitated in a caring and responsible manner and that it is, first and foremost, a leadership task.

Lets continue to teach our campers to be a Responsible Leader and model what that means in today’s society.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Learning Responsibility at Camp

“I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself. Every single one of you has something that you're good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is.” -From the remarks by The President in a national address to America’s schoolchildren

In conjunction with President Barack Obama’s remarks, the US Department of Education is launching an “I Am What I Learn” video contest later this month where students will respond to the president's challenge by creating videos, up to two minutes in length, describing the steps they will take to improve their education and the role education will play in fulfilling their dreams. As the following images demonstrate, many of our campers began taking those steps long before they stepped foot in their classrooms this fall.

“You become good at things through hard work.

“Being successful is hard.”

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions.”

“You can't let your failures define you -- you have to let your failures teach you.”

“But whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.”

Each of our campers discovers something he or she is good at while at camp. From leading a group to the summit of a mountain, to comforting a friend, to overcoming fears, to pointing out the beauty of a sunset, our campers build on personal strengths and take pride in their unique gifts. A summer at camp brings out the best in each child, and allows each individual to flourish in a safe, supportive, nurturing environment where questions are welcomed, successes are celebrated and failures are opportunities for growth.

The SOLE (Sanborn Outdoor Leadership Experience) and the CORE (Community OutReach Experience) are two programs designed to specifically teach leadership and backcountry skills to our oldest campers. Through these programs we see a dramatic increase in our campers’ sense of personal responsibility, in their understanding and commitment to service, a new-found confidence in their abilities and strength, and the knowledge (and desire) to be truly successful.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

End of Summer

I can't believe the summer is over! I find with each year, the two months with campers goes by more and more quickly. Both sessions were a blast this year! We had new programs and trips, great campers, good weather, and lots of good stories to tell. I hope you've been able to read some of the stories the campers have told on the posts below. I want to encourage campers or parents who have adventures and stories to share to send me an email,, and we can get them up on the blog!

Things are pretty quiet around here now. We are getting ready for school weeks to start in just a couple of weeks. Each camper that came through, returning or new, brought personal experiences, outlooks, and excitement to camp. These made this year a one-of-a-kind adventure with memories not to be forgotten soon!

I personally learned a lot from all the campers this summer. The Juniors kept me laughing and having fun. It was encouraging to see girls who had never ridden before and were slightly nervous, smiling from ear to ear on the final rides and talking about coming back to ride next year. The maturity with which the JCs worked with the younger campers and set an example for the rest of the camp went beyond any expectations I had. They are already planning their return as staff in three summers. I actually ran into a JC from first session yesterday and she excitedly told me about a mini reunion she and her camp friends are planning for this winter. It is great to watch friendships grow and develop during a month at camp, and continue far into the future!

I am already looking forward to next summer!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Camper Posts

While we've been extremely busy here at camp, several more girls wrote about their experiences.


Here at Camp Sanborn everything is so exciting and fun! Especially all the wide variety of activities that we get to choose from. There is an awesome swimming pool with an amazing slide! I have already climbed a mountain that was 14,265 feet tall called Mount Quandry. I have also already made tons of friends who are very close to me! The dances are also super fun! The music that they play is usually really good! I have also grown a love for riding horses in the arena! I love camp Sanborn!!! I have grown a love with it that is inseparable! Come to Camp Sanborn and enjoy the best summer of your life!!!

--Gracie Hurley

Things to Know if You Want to Come to Sanborn

If you like adventure, horseback riding, hiking, camping, dancing, games and a whole lot more stuff than this is your camp. This camp has great food everyday! There’s Gymkhana where you compete against the boys in horse games like barrels. There’s always a talent show where you can show your talent. If you are in the month long session you can sign up for 4 or 5 day horse trips, or to climb big mountains. You can even sign up to climb Pikes Peak! The ages are 7-16. Don’t worry, you can always write your parents letters! You always get to go on overnights. Sanborn is awesome! Don’t worry if you don’t have a friend when you come, you will always make new friends! The girls’ camp is called High Trails and the boys’ camp is called Big Spring. Every Saturday night you go to Big Spring to have a dance with the boys! There’s always something to do every day! You can either come for a month or 2 weeks! So I think everybody should come to Sanborn! It’s a great camp!!!

--Olivia Seely

Things I Most Enjoyed

Camp Sanborn is the most thrilling, exciting, and joyful camp around. It’s been the best experience I have ever had! This camp has made me decide for myself. I love everything about this place! All the people, activities, and the fun trips are going to be in my memory forever! My favorite thing I have done here so far are all of the overnights. I mostly enjoyed my 4-day horseback riding trip. I love riding horses and this trip made me become closer to them. I also enjoyed my technical rock overnight. It was with my whole cabinside and was a blast! I got to climb real rocks for the first time! Even though I got lots of bruises, it was worth it. I even climbed Mt. Quandry! It was exhausting, but the view was spectacular! That is was I enjoyed most.

--Emilie Schaphorst


I just came back from my amazing long trip. I hiked a 14,110 foot tall mountain called Pikes Peak. It was so tiring, but super fun. Also, we had a spectacular view. When we finally summitted, we ate donuts and french fries. There was also a huge gift shop. The last day, after hiking all the way down from the Mother Ridge to the base of the Crags, we were starving, so we ate pizza at Joe Mama’s. This is the trip that I have enjoyed the most.

--Ana Pichardo

Sanborn Activities

Sanborn is so much fun! We get to do all kinds of fun stuff; if you come for a month, you get to do stuff like Gymkhana, long trips, hiking, horseback riding, art, dancing, games, High Trails and Big Spring talent show, swimming, and a ton of other activities. If you come as a junior, you get to have just as much fun only you come for two weeks. If you love adventure, fun, and great friends and counselors, come to Sanborn and go home with a smile on your face. There are also dances, where you get together with Big Spring. Every dance has a theme. My name is Kate and I am at High Trails. It is awesome, and I am sure that Big Spring is just as fun. Meals are so yummy. The cooks are great. When you have campfires, you learn a bunch of new fun songs. You also get to roast marshmallows by the fire. Overnights are fun too. Like the one to Tie Cabin where the Juniors went. So come to Sanborn! It is great!!! (It is for 7 – 16 year olds)

--Kate Grylicki

Sanborn Camp

My name is Alivia, and this is my first year at camp. My experience here has been so fun. On the first day I came I was very shy, but after my mom left, I made lots of friends who are all very nice. Before the first day ended for sleep, our counselor reads a story. After that, we have flashlight time, where we can read, write, or just sleep. If we haven’t already fallen asleep at flashlight time, you go to sleep after. In the morning you have breakfast at 8:00 and then you have cabin clean-up to make you space nice and clean. After that, we normally go on a morning hike. After your hike you have lunch and after lunch is rest time where you are in your cabin doing quiet things. After this, you will have more activities, which are very fun. Then you have dinner. Then the cycle starts over with different hikes and activities. After a couple of days, you go on a camping trip. On my camping trip it hailed, so you have to bring warm clothes. Sanborn is very fun and you will enjoy this camp very much.

--Alivia Nelson

Long Trips

I just got back from long trips yesterday. I was on Pikes Peak. I really liked it, but it was really exhausting. The first day, we had an easy hike to our first campsite. On the second day, we woke up at 3:00! That day, we hiked the Mother Ridge. We met a guy named Brad who was 40 and had muscular dystrophe. Pikes Peak was his 8th Colorado fourteener! After we went up the Mother Ridge, we hike down into a valley and set up camp. On the third day, we woke up at 3:00 again and hiked up Pike Peak! It was easier than I expected but the last 600 feet was entirely rock, so we had to rock scramble up to the top. At about 10 or 10:30 we summitted! There was a donut shop/gift shop up on top. There were tons of tourists who either drove up or took the train, and they looked at us like we were crazy. The donuts were really gross though. We went back to our campsite and crashed. We had dinner at 9:00 because it rained for like 5 hours. On the fourth and last day, we woke up at 6:00, we climbed up the valley, down the Mother Ridge and down to Lottie with the vans. Then, we went to get pizza at Jo Mama’s. I had a slice of cheese and 1 ½ slices of a pizza that is a vegetarians nightmare. It had pepperoni, ground beef, sausage, salami, bacon and ham. After pizza we came back to camp and crashed.

--Chandler Kropp

Tie Cabin Overnight

Juniper East went our first overnight on Wednesday. It took about 1 hour to get there. When we got half way, everyone was super tired, so we took off our packs and laid down. When the counselors told us it was time to go we all groaned, but we kept going. When we finally got there, we set up out tents and got settled in. After that, we ate bagels for lunch. Then we explored the cabin. When we were looking through the doors we found an old picture that was dated 1912. Then we ate dinner. We ate pita bread pizza. We had to stop and take our food into the tents early because there was a thunder storm. After a while, we went to bed. The next morning we packed and ate crepes. It was so good. Then we hiked for another hour back. Almost all of us fell asleep. Overall, it was a great first trip.

--Myriah Pitt


Camp has been great. It is my first year, and already I know that I am definitely going to come back. I love all of my choices of activities that we get to choose from like horseback riding, climbing mountains and so much more. I have met so many people I know I will be friends with forever. I love them all so much. An activity I have done was a four day horse trip. It was a blast, and I became so much more comfortable on horse and I am a much better rider than I was before I came to camp. The dances and Saturday Specials are loads of fun too because they are co-ed, long and you are always active. Colorado is beautiful and having camp here is great with such a gorgeous view. I love Sanborn and you should definitely try it.

--Tessa Oliver

My Long Trip

We rode in one of the vans, and it was about 2 hours long. When we got there, we set up tents and ate lunch. Then we unpacked. For dinner, we had chicken noodle soup or tomato soup. The people that were climbing went to sleep right after dinner. We wore up at 3:00am and started climbing at 4:00. We summitted and got back at 11:30. And for lunch, we had crackers. We did arts and crafts for the rest of the day until dinner, which were noodles. The next morning, we went to South Park City, and looked at the old buildings and we ate lunch and got ice cream. It was delicious.

--Vivi McNett

Sanborn is the most amazing experience EVER. We do white water rafting, horseback riding, long trips (3,4, and 5 day), swimming at the pool (which has an awesome slide), science and TONS more. I love it here.

--Sierra Zischke

They Pay Me to do This?

Last week, I was able to summit Mount Shavano with our co-ed S.O.L.E. service trip. The boys were so supportive of the girls as we climbed the 14,000 foot mountain. All 10 of us, 3 boys, 4 girls, and 4 staff all took in the fantastic views at the top. After 7 ½ hours on the mountain, and after meeting about 35 different people along the way, one of the boys turned to me and said, “You six were the only women we saw on the mountain all day and definitely the only ones who summitted. That is so awesome. It’s so cool to know strong girls.” I smiled. I hadn’t even noticed, not only what happened that day, but how many opportunities Sanborn offers for kids to stretch themselves and learn to appreciate that in each other.

--Kira Runtzel

Monday, August 3, 2009

More Camper Posts

In between all of our trips and activities, several campers have been busy documenting all the fun that is happening at camp!

Art Page:

In art this year at High Trails, we have a great new art teacher named Joyce! We've made journals, done tie-dye, made gourd bird houses, gourd African shakers, and some awesome gourd bowls! We've also experimented with candles (supervised by Joyce or a counselor), made the best picture frames ever, and decoupaged everything possible. Joyce has the best ideas for crafts! One of my personal favorites is the orange juice wallet. When you come to High Trails for a month, go to the Art Barn for lots of fun!

- Virginia Owen


Grab your swimsuit, grab your towel, put on your shoes and run for the pool. 1,2,3 Splash! Up 10 stairs, zip, zap, zoom! Take a ride down the slide. In the middle, friends are needed! Find a ball and play...VOLLEYBALL with the built in net! To make it hard, play noodle volleyball. It's the same as volleyball except you have to stay on a noodle. If you want to relax, some noodles have string to sit in. There's this little place with swimming supplies. Splash! Have fun at the pool!!!

- Emily Driscoll

Bear Sightings:

The counselor hunt is a battle between the cabinsides to name all of the hidden counselors you could find. The more you name, the more points you collect. Our cabinside was off at the sound of the bell. We doubted we would win because or cabin had trouble with remembering names... and more important stuff too. After finding a bonus counselor (10,000 points) we passed behind Out Camp to name the wranglers sitting on top of a car. We came up to them laughing and talking loudly but we were quickly shushed by Reggie who was hidden in the top of a tree. She pointed toward the Aspen trees and we followed her finger directions. We all shifted around the trees to look at the object that had already gathered a small crowd. Little did we know that what we thought would just be a deer or rabbit was actually a bear! She was sitting 100ft up facing us with the least bit of aggression at all. She must have gotten bored and turned around to go back up into the trees. A small cub bounced out from behind a tree and chased after her and played with her tail. It reminded us of the cub "Koda" from the movie Brother Bear. It was nothing like anything on T.V.

Sanborn Horse Back Riding:

Sanborn has great horseback riding lessons. You can go on long horse trips and all-day horse trips. There is also something called gymkhana were you go on horses and compete against Big Spring boys; you go around barrels, poles, and rings. Also, there is a Saturday special where you can ride and there are three different groups at 7:45a.m., 9:30a.m., and 11:45a.m. At the end of camp there is a super wrangler all-day where you go to a secret place and go bareback riding.  

- Sophie Murphy

Why You should GO TO Sanborn:

You should go to Sanborn. Sanborn is the best camp I have been to. At Sanborn you can do swimming, horseback riding and much, much more! I love to go horseback riding. Sanborn is so awesome! On Saturday, I do drama. On Saturday, we have special things such as dances at Big Springs! At Sanborn, you sleep with girls your own age in cabins. It is so much fun! On Sundays after dinner, we have Vespers.

That's why you should go to Sanborn Western Camps.

- Natalie Glick 


Just recently, my counselor, Kimberly, my cabin-mate, Charner, and I all trudged back to our cabin after an outstanding Artsy Overnight at Tie Cabin. First, we set up our tents and unpacked our backpacks. Then, we explored Tie Cabin and told ghost stories referring to it. As we were looking in cabinets and drawers, I happened to find an old pastel drawing of a row boat tied up to a dock with a sunset in the background. It even looked like it had been through a fire because it was burned and singed on the edges. It said 1912 on the back. The rest of our group told me to go and show Kimberly. It turned out it was a prank from a previous overnight. After a little exploring we had lunch. Then we decided to explore more of the site. We found an old outhouse and grill. About twenty minutes after we got back, Joyce drove up with our crafts! She told us while she was unloading her car for us to go find lots of different types of flowers for our first project. By the time we had enough flowers she was all set up. She told us we were going to do flower pounding. First, we had to tape down the flowers and then we got in a line to start pounding them with a hammer. I was the last one and as soon as I was done this thunderstorm popped up and it started pouring! We just went inside Tie Cabin and make book marks and leather bracelets and key chains. When it stopped raining, we had to collect firewood for our stir fry dinner. Yum! Kimberly even made a single match fire! Even Joyce had dinner with us before she had to go. After s'mores, another thunderstorm came up! We had to stay in our tents until morning. But when we woke up it was clear; really nice weather.

I live in Texas and at Sanborn Western Camps in Colorado, it's a real treat to beat the summer heat! I love this camp so much it is my fourth year. If you want to be caught up in something adventurous, yet peaceful Sanborn Camps is your place to be over the summer!

- Savannah Phillips

Friday, July 24, 2009

Colorado Kids' Outdoor Bill of Rights

Before they grow up ALL Colorado kids should have the opportunity to:

1. Camp out under the stars.

2. Follow a trail, ride it or walk it, and be respectful of everyone’s right to use the trail.

3. Play in a creek or river: fish, wade, paddle, or skip a stone.

4. Experience the wonders of Colorado’s four seasons: wildflowers, abundant sunshine,

the changing aspen leaves, and fresh powder snow.

5. Visit a working farm or ranch.

6. Enjoy the view from the top of a mountain.

7. Identify Colorado’s official state wildlife and plants in their natural habitat.

8. Explore one of the dozens of local, state, and national parks in Colorado.

9. Play in the dirt and learn about the world from the ground up.

10. Plant a seed for other Colorado kids to enjoy in the future.

Developed by Colorado’s youth and the Office of Lt. Governor Barbara O’Brien