We’ve had an exciting quarter in CAP so far, filled with hikes, camping, and guest speakers. During the first two weeks of the quarter, we spent many classes navigating miles of trails that traverse the hills just minutes from New Vista High School at Boulder Mountain Park. While learning ecology, minimum impact hiking, and sensory awareness skills, we began to understand our role in the natural world. What’s your connection to the environment?
Here are some reflections from a few students our class:
There’s something really spiritual about the wilderness for me. In my life I have to be involved and a part of so many things. The wilderness gives me a chance to spectate and appreciate the beauty in life where so often I focus on the negative…Even the smog about Denver looks magnificent when it’s hit by the beams of a setting sun. – Harper
The experience: Breathtaking, Astonishing, Fresh. I love the experience and the quality time I’m spending with my peers. – Carter
I enjoy hiking because it gives me peace of mind. The reason why it gives me peace of mind is because it lets me get away, that these problems I had before I was hiking don’t matter right now. The only thing that matters right now is where I’m going. It’s like entering a new world where it’s not rush, rush, rush. It’s just take your time and go at your own pace. – Thomas
All of our class experiences in the natural world certainly give us a reason to want to protect the environment. As we dive into understanding some of the issues that threaten the Boulder ecosystem, we invited two guest speakers to our class. Katie, from Eco-Cycle, taught us how we can move towards zero-waste on the individual, school, and community levels. Betty, from Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks, taught us about a few of the urban wildlife conflicts that affect us in Boulder. It was a fun and interactive program; we held furs and footprint molds, looked at different types of scat, and listened to animal calls. We were so inspired by the presentation, we decided to research the topic more and form an Action Project on Boulder’s urban wildlife conflicts. We’re just beginning our research this week, but we’ll keep you updated as we learn, play, and experience more throughout the quarter.
Take a look at pictures from our overnight camping trip at Cal-Wood on CAP’s Photo Site.
After two overnight camping trips, Community Adventure Program students reflected on their experiences thus far. Many students made deep connections between our class and everyday life. Read what Lucy had to say about her CAP class wilderness experiences:
I got many things out of the two overnights that we went on as a CAP class. One of the main things I got out of the trips was new friends. When you are spending a lot of time close to the same people, you really get to know them, especially when you depend on them for food, water, and shelter. Especially by the end of the second trip, I was very comfortable spending time with my classmates, and I think now our whole class has a new dynamic. Something else that I took from these trips was a new perspective on how I live. I realized that I don’t spend enough time just by myself to think, and I also spend too much time depending on electronics and communication. After these trips, I will try to live more simply and not depend so much on electronic entertainment. I will also try to save some time for myself to just be outdoors and think.
One of the memorable things that I learned on our overnights was how to make a one match fire or a fire with flint and steel. On the first trip I learned how hard it is to make a fire in the first place, and on the second trip I learned that you can do it with one match and patience. Something that goes with this is that I learned how important it is not to become frustrated with bad results. The first time, we tried to make a fire for about an hour, and in that time we did not communicate as a group and we became very frustrated. However, the second time when we were much more patient and communicative, we started the fire quickly and easily. This is a lesson that is not only important for camping but also for life in general.
Something else that I noticed was that in nature, our senses seem to pick up and become much sharper. During my sit spot, I observed my surroundings with great detail. I was in a very good spot so that I could also hear echoes, and I even heard flapping wings of two birds over my head. I would never be able to hear something like this in civilization or even if I was around other people at the time. An example of how my sight improved was with the stars. In the wilderness, you can always see stars better because there are no city lights to interrupt them. I really appreciated the stars more when I could see them better, because I knew they wouldn’t be the same when we got back home.
I really enjoyed all parts of the trips, but there are several memorable highlights that stood out to me. On the first trip, my main highlight was when we reached the top of our hike and saw the amazing view. I really liked this because after a tiring hike, it was nice to sit and enjoy it for awhile and it felt like we had reached a goal. On the second trip, my highlight was probably the sit spot because we were in such an amazing and peaceful place. Those events are probably the things I will remember most about the trips, but I enjoyed every part of them. Overall, I thought these trips were an amazing and new learning experience and they were one of the best parts of my quarter. Now, I have a better understanding and appreciation for the environment that I will carry for the rest of my life.
Check out more pictures of our adventures by Clicking Here!
Written by Lucy Briggs, edited by Katie Craig.
This past quarter of CAP, the class has learned many interesting things. They learned about bees, pollinators, survival skills, and tips on camping. One of the main things CAP focused on was colony collapse disorder (CCD), which is the disappearance of worker honey bees. Another is wilderness survival skills, which is teaching the class how to make it in worst case scenario situations in the wilderness.
The class has recently been working on a mural related to colony collapse disorder (CCD) and has been making flyers to support local beekeeping and to support saving the bees. The causes of CCD are unknown, but many theories connect to a host of issues: parasitic Varroa mites, pesticides and even radiation from mobile phones. The best thing we as individuals can do, is buy local honey and support bee keepers; or even start your own hive.
The class has also learned about basic survival skills. In the image to your left you can see one of the CAP class students making a fire on the overnight trip with the coal made from a bow drill. The class has learned fire skills, how to find/make shelter, how to identify edible plants, how to find and treat water to drink, and simply how to calm down and take a breath. This class has absorbed so much knowledge! The sky is the limit!
“The Community Adventure Program is an amazing class that is offered at New Vista in conjunction with the Cottonwood Institute. It is such a fulfilling opportunity that I decided to take it for a second time. I could tell from the first day of school that each C.A.P. class must be so unique in many ways. My first experience of C.A.P. was absolutely lovely and I thought there was no way this experience could top my first. But boy was I wrong! Each class is so different that there is no comparison. Being in nature changes people and brings them together. The whole class having to go back to the basics of survival on the overnights forces new sides of people to come out and induces support and coming together. Every high school should offer a class like this. More kids need to get back in touch with nature! I love everything about the Community Adventure Program and this quarter has truly been a unique one thus far.
So far this quarter we have learned about local plants, how to prepare to back pack, appropriate ways to interact with nature, how to maintain physical and mental health, and about small ways to help the environment. One of my favorite elements of C.A.P. is learning about self-care. We have read articles on this and also conducted skits. We have touched on everything from how to stay happy, to how to stay warm in the wilderness.
Lately we have started thinking about our action project. We decided to do a project on how to save the bees! I think the class has really come together well to share ideas and plan a great project. I hope we get to show our creativity and passion through whatever medium we decide. Everyone is learning new things about the bees, which only makes us more excited to share it with the Boulder community. I am looking forward to speaking with experts and making a difference for the bees.
Overall this class has been very entertaining and educational. I cannot wait to go on the second over night with everyone. I am looking forward to learning more about local plants, wilderness skills, bees and myself. I can’t wait to see what this class knocks out next! The environment pertains to everything on the planet and I think everyone can do more to help out.”
Stay tuned to hear how C.A.P. accomplishes their action project and wraps up the quarter!
CAP students were quite busy this quarter. Before their first overnight they learned about camp setup, packing their bags, proper camp nutrition, and basic outdoor overnight essentials. Most of them already had a great deal of camping experience for high schoolers. Or so they said, as they arrived for the overnight with overstuffed backpacks – everything but the kitchen sink! And so the adventures began…
…And continued. Although it started heavily snowing, everyone was in good spirits through spreading mulch, going on a night hike, learning about fox walking, setting up a bear hang, and working as a group. Even though they were exhausted and wet, by the time CAP left their first overnight trip everyone was satisfied and excited for the next one.
The next few weeks students worked on their action project, which was all about transportation and the inefficiency of cars. When they went on field trips CAP students only rode bikes, used the bus, or other forms of alternative transportation to leave a smaller carbon footprint. They walked their walk and talked their talk.
Finally, it was time for the second overnight and more adventures with the weather. This time it was all about the rain. Needless to say their spirits were slightly dampened (pun intended!), but as soon as they set up their tents, ate lunch and built shelters, the sun decided to poke out from behind the clouds, helping to raise spirits a bit. Students played elbow tag for an entire hour. (And for those of you who have never played this game, I leave it up to you to look it up and play – well worth the time!) Feeling energized and satisfied, they headed back camp to hang out and eat dinner. The next morning was sunny and warm, and everyone was sad to leave. As CAP ‘s quarter came to an end, the only disappointment was that time had flown by so quickly, but everyone knew the experience of it all was something that would never be forgetten.
Click here for a slideshow of the adventures!
Written By Juliet Luna and edited by Madeline Bachner and April Pishna.
This quarter CAP students at New Vista High School in Boulder, CO explored the environmental impact of population growth. They researched how overpopulation is affecting Boulder County and came across the following topics: Open Space and Mountain Parks trail usage, food production, water use and treatment facilities, waste management, family planning and population density.
The class created funny characters to discuss these topics in skits, helping students understand the possible severity of this issue. It was a difficult topic to fully grasp and contain in a six week project, but they worked hard and came away with an increased awareness and a desire to delve deeper.
CAP students not only gained an understanding of the overpopulation issue, they also learned more about nature awareness, social change, and interpersonal skills. But don’t let us tell you about that, let the students speak for themselves…
“I had fun spending time outside and learning about our planet. I thought the emphasis on movements always starting small and the fact that you CAN do something as just one person was empowering.”
“Although the things that the class is really set up to teach are environmental issues and survival techniques, I learned much more about just being with people, and working together toward one goal, and being successful with it…” Jake
“I liked the way everyone was connected through the class. I’ve never taken a class and felt that safe with the kids in it. I really liked how most of the things we did, we did in groups. I also think the attunement was a really fun way to unite the class. CAP class taught me a lot of important lessons and teamwork was one of them.” Julien
Click here for a slideshow of the full CAP adventure!
Every quarter offers something new for each Community Adventure Program (CAP) student at New Vista High School in Boulder, and this past one was no different. While traipsing through the snow on both overnights, the students learned a lot about themselves, each other, and how to be comfortable outdoors in the Colorado winter! Read what CAP student, Giselle, had to say about her experience.
“This overnight camping trip was one of the longest times I have spent in nature since I was 5. And in that time, I realized how much I missed out on all these years by not going into nature more often. When we live in civilization every day and are exposed to nothing but dull concrete and distracting technology, we begin to forget how amazing nature really is. We take it for granted, and are told by society – artificializing every piece of earth they can get their hands on – that it is something far away and really not that important. This camping trip re-established the deep connection with nature I used to have. It opened my eyes and made me realize that nature is not something far away, but instead it is something that is closer to me than anything else.
Probably my favorite moment during the second hike we did was when we were learning about building a snow shelter and me and a few other people were just lying in the snow. It was just really calming and kind of ironic that I was warmer lying in the snow than standing up. I’ve never really liked snow that much at all, so it was kind of funny that my favorite memory has to do with snow. I also thought the snow in itself was really cool, because it was more like sugar crystals than snow. I have never seen snow like that in my life. And it was really fun walking through it, especially when it was like 2 feet deep.
So overall, I would say this was a really great camping trip, and it really changed my perspective on my relationship with nature. It made me value and love nature more than I have in a really long time, and exposed me to a new reality. Since I have grown up in a culture of constant convenience and distraction where you can get basically anything you need all packaged and prepared across the street and don’t really ever have time to just sit and relax and enjoy life for what it really is, where you don’t have time for inconveniences, it was really nice to see what life would be like if you didn’t get everything handed to you. I also felt it helped build a strong sense of community in the class.”
A huge thank you goes out to Giselle for sharing her experiences.
Re-kindle your connection with nature by clicking here for a slideshow of their adventures.
The Community Adventure Program (CAP) rounded out 2011 with a great project on healthy alternatives to fast food. The students researched and used experience with their peers eating habits to shape a project based on finding healthy and affordable alternatives to the easily accessible fast food chains near the school. CAP students became interested in a few different aspects of eating well: from thinking about waste in restaurants and packaging, to how animals are treated, the distance the food travels to get to your plate, in addition to basic nutrition.
The class had a great resource experience meeting with Whitney Johnson, Whole Foods’ healthy eating specialist and hearing from their meat department. They learned about the ways that animal lifestyles are qualified for meat labeling in the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Program. The class toured the different departments of Whole Foods looking for nutrition, less packaging and good deals. They also made delicious and simple black bean humus with Whitney’s assistance. The deli was very kind to the students, providing a late lunch with lots of yummy options and highlighting their new deal of 5 choices for $5 starting this winter.
The class’ closing remarks from their presentation were as follows:
“We all knew that fast food was bad for us, but we didn’t know what went on behind the scenes. We all live in a time where we’re trying to make a change. What we put into our bodies is a big part of our lives. Know what it is you’re eating. We can’t force you to eat better, but it’s your choice to eat well or eat badly. Keep in mind what’s in the food you’re eating, and how far it’s traveled to get to you. It costs a little more to eat real food, but it’s worth the price.”
A huge thank you to Whitney and Whole Foods for providing us with great resources and ideas!
As Community Adventure Program (CAP) students reflected on another amazing quarter, they came together as a class and had a blast learning and playing on their overnights and at school. They researched food issues and developed a great sense of what goes into making and eating quality food. But, as usual, the main takeaway was an appreciation of the outdoors and each other.
“Going through this class made me gain a stronger sense of acceptance, respect and teamwork!” – Zoe Clark
The overnight weekend was a huge success. There were some great moments shared and remembered from looking out over the valley towards Long’s Peak. Many students commented on the vast stretch of trees and amazing feeling of not seeing much evidence of people. The CAP class made a solid quinzhee on our overnight and learned a lot about staying warm in the Colorado winters. They worked well together, and played even better.
“CAP was much more than surviving in the wilderness, it was about having fun while you learn how to keep yourself safe and really paying attention to what’s going on around you in the world you live in.” Jordan Hartnett
The class grew in their awareness of the world and how we treat it. They looked forward to class and time to work on their project. They were a fun talkative group that put some great effort into their learning.
“I rarely look forward to classes, but this was one I was happy to have in the afternoon as it was always a really mellow class where we could talk about different issues and learn about the wilderness.” Kai Sharp
With wind chills predicted at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, the brave students from this quarter’s Community Adventure Program (CAP) at New Vista High School headed to the mountains near Allenspark, CO to take part in their first overnight of the class! Several students had never camped before and many had never been winter camping. With a week of preparation under their belts they set off, with many layers, to experience the Colorado outdoors in early November.
As the group drove into the mountains they took stock of how much snow had accumulated in hopes of building a quinzhee shelter. The construction is quite simple, but requires some labor. It is built by piling snow then hollowing out the pile after it has settled. The dome shape and strength of the settled snow combine to make a structurally stable shelter that can be quite warm for 2 or 3 people. After setting up camp the group got to work piling snow for their own quinzhee. A hike up the hill to take in the view of Long’s and Meeker’s Peaks gave enough time to let the pile settle and after just over an hour of trading off digging out the shelter they had created a sturdy quinzhee. For the ultimate test, one adventurous student even slept in it overnight. The group took it down the next day and everyone was surprised at the strength of the structure as 8 students stood atop the quinzhee and could not break it down without shovels and a lot of energy! Check out the video below.
A few other highlights of the trip included an amazing moment watching clouds move quickly over the waxing moon, changing the light in a beautiful nighttime display. The group also had a great time playing a camo game and honing their stalking skills, as well as learning to use senses other than sight in the evening drum-stalk. CAP students had a wonderful time and learned a great deal that they can put to use on their next winter outing in December!
A big thanks to the Cheeley Family for the use of their land and the drivers who helped us get to our site.