Play Time for the Instructors!

Playing games to stay warm.

“If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things in nature have a message you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.” – Eleanora Duse

Madeline demonstrates how to “Hypo Wrap” Katie

Despite a mid-winter summer in the Front Range, the Cottonwood Institute managed to find blue skies and deep snow a couple of weeks ago. Upon meeting in Boulder on Saturday morning, our crew of 15 outdoor aficionados played games and got to know each other; we’re now able to recite each others names and favorite scar stories! Eager to get into the mountains, we loaded into a few cars and caravanned up past Ward to Brainard Lake Recreation Area for our annual Instructor Training weekend.

We managed to squeeze 12 instructors in our quinzhee!

To escape the weekend crowds, we snowshoed off the main trail and found a more secluded space with deep snow drifts. We dove right into reviewing our winter survival skills and general curriculum. With an occasional wind howling down from the Continental Divide to our base camp, reviewing the laws of thermodynamics became timely and practical. We kept our bodies warm by digging out snow shelters like quinzhees and trenches (aka technical snow forts), and through the ever-entertaining “Tasmanian Toe-Tap.” We also practiced our winter fire making skills, warming our hands with one-match fires, strikers, and bow drills.The day provided us with a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with ourselves, fellow-instructors, and the natural world. With the sun starting to dip towards the horizon, we headed back to Boulder to the warm comforts of home.

A nearly finished snow trench shelter.

On Sunday morning, we again started the day with more games! With a little energy out of our systems, we settled in to closely examine the goals and mission of the Cottonwood Institute. We studied course progressions, perused paperwork, reviewed the “cycle of hope”and the “cycle of cynicism”, brainstormed risk management scenarios, and shared new ways of debriefing. The morning proved efficient and effective, helping us all become better educators and instructors.

A big high five and thank you to all of the instructors who contributed to such a fun, inspiring, empowering, and educational weekend. The Cottonwood Institute is fortunate to have such an amazing group of instructors!

Check out more pictures from our instructor training weekend!

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