Community Adventure Program (CAP) students at New Vista High School were deeply impacted by their outdoor experiences this quarter. In CAP class, one of our goals is always to awaken students to their gifts and abilities to make change in their own lives and the lives of people in their communities. The reflections of this quarter’s students show the strengths of this experiential class and the self-realization that comes from knowing how connected we all are to the natural world and the people around us.
“This quarter’s CAP class was a very eye-opening experience for me. For example, it
was the first time I have ever gone camping, slept outside, was the first time I have ever heard about GMO’s, and the first time I have ever used ways other than a lighter to make fire…Overall, CAP has introduced me to many new ideas and ways of thinking about things such as the food I eat, the trash I throw away, and how much time I spend outdoors.” Jack Lenny
“I am so glad that we learned about our ecological footprints and ways to reduce our consumption, otherwise I would have never known and couldn’t have changed anything.” Ali Quinn
“I can make a difference in my world and I know that all I have to do is try. After I went through this class and collected all that it had to give me I know that I can change my community for the better.” Keva Alvarado-Yule
“Everything we did in class was amazing; overnights, action project, and CAP in general were so great and I know that I won’t look at the world the same way.” Sarah Patterson
“I really think that this class is absolutely amazing and cool. I think everyone should take it, and I think it should be required in all high schools.” Sarah Patterson
“We will all eventually find our way back to the earth by listening to the moon and stars, sun and wind, to the heart beat of the earth pounding like a drum through everything.” Rayna Miller
Check out all the fun, by clicking here for a photo slideshow.
Not many people intentionally choose to give up their weekends to get up before sunrise to sling rock and help rebuild trail on 14,000 foot peaks. But that is just what heroic Cottonwood Institute volunteers chose to do this summer when they signed up for our Mt. Evans Volunteer Project. “The wake up call felt awfully early at 5:30am on Saturday morning, but there was a lot of work to be done that day,” said one volunteer.
Mt. Evans is Denver’s closest “14er,” or peak over 14,000 feet high. Its proximity to Denver and access to the summit via the Mt. Evans Highway, the highest paved road in North America, contributes to Mt. Evans popularity. Hiking trails to the summit have been established by years of use rather than careful trail construction, so parts of the trail are precarious, far too narrow, and are heavily eroded. In addition, some hikers choose alternate paths, which leads to braided social trails and the destruction of the fragile alpine tundra.
That’s why volunteers from the Cottonwood Institute came together to step up to help complete much-needed trail maintenance on Mt. Evans this August. The Colorado Fourteeners Initiative led the project and provided us with two awesome crew leaders as well as all the tools we needed to complete our work. We spent two days working near Summit Lake at 12,830 feet of elevation. Our main project was to construct two rock walls below the trail, providing space for a wider trail where it was previously only inches wide. That meant we were going to need lots of big rocks, and there are plenty of those in the Rocky Mountains—you just need to move them. With advice from our expert crew leaders, Ben and Kate, and lots of teamwork, we rolled, scooted, lifted, and flopped rocks into position, stacking them into what would become a beautiful rock wall.
After work, we returned to camp to clean up before heading to town for some well earned grub. After everyone was stuffed full of pizza, we returned to camp to relax around the campfire, reflect on our accomplishments, and rest up for our second day of work.
Participants came from all different backgrounds. There were Community Adventure Program alumni, Summer Course alumni, parents of alumni, Cottonwood Institute Instructors, and other volunteers who wanted to roll up their sleeves and get involved. We enjoyed sightings of alpine wildlife like marmot and pika, and we gave back to the Colorado mountains that we all enjoy and that the Cottonwood Institute uses year round as a classroom. We improved a rough section of trail that many hikers use each year. Best of all, we got to get away from the city for a weekend in the mountains and made new friends that shared our interest in the Cottonwood Institute’s commitment to environmental stewardship. A special thanks goes out to the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative and to all of our hard working volunteers.
To check out a slide show of the project, Click Here.
This article was written by Eric Ellison and edited by Ford Church.
The Earth Task Force is Coming…to New Vista High School!
What is the Earth Task Force? We are a club, a group of students and adults who really want to help the environment. “It’s so awesome that we can actually make changes in the school and see them happen!” – Aleyna
What is the ETF up to? This year, we are heading a green-school initiative to lower the environmental footprint of New Vista High School. We are focusing on three topics for the year: Energy in February, Waste/Recycling in March, and Transportation in April. “I’m super stoked to do stuff to green the school.” - Sean
Okay, so what are you doing right now? Well… We need an artsy logo for our club, and since New Vista is full of artistic, creative people, we’re organizing a school-wide logo-making cosntest that will simultaneously let everyone know that we’re here! “It [the art contest] gives a chance to let people’s art go on t-shirts and all over the place.” - Malcolm
The logo chosen will be printed on t-shirts, newsletters, websites and more!
To prepare for Energy Month in February, we will be having an energy audit at the school to tell us, specifically, what can be improved at school.
Finally, there is going to be a school-wide launch in January that will really let everyone know about the great work we’re doing!
“I am truly excited to become a leader in our school and join this incredible process…” - Aaron
Thank you, and you will be hearing more about us and from us soon!
Under the warmth of the sun, 13 students from Gilpin K-8 Montessori School escaped the concrete jungle of Denver last weekend to find themselves surrounded by snow-capped peaks to learn about the environment and how to survive in it. The goals were simple: get students outdoors, have fun, and connect them with the environment before we ask them to save it.
Thanks to a generous grant from REI, the Cottonwood Institute teamed up with FrontRange Earth Force and Gilpin to take students on an overnight camping trip in the mountains to help increase the accessibility of the outdoors for inner city youth in Denver. For the rest of the school year, Gilpin students will work with Earth Force to tackle energy issues at their school. This trip was an important step to help them gain a love and appreciation of the environment so they can go back home to the city and help reduce their environmental footprint.
As the sun made its way across the sky, students played sensory awareness games like the 360 degree stalk and participated in three fire stations learning various ways to make fire: one-match fire, cotton ball fire, and bow drill fire. The excitement in their voices as they learned a new skill was evidenced by the smiles on their faces as they watched their friends accomplish the same task.
Dinner was consumed hungrily and the anticipation of s’mores and hot chocolate by the campfire became too much to bear, so they set off on a night hike before settling by the fire. With plentiful stars and crisp, cool air, the kids were eager to explore the darkness of their new weekend world. They set out with headlamps on and came back to camp with nothing to light the night sky except the brilliance of the stars to guide their way. The crackle of the fire provided warmth and comfort as the day ended and all looked forward to the next.
Sunday began bright and early with breakfast burritos and packing up camp, but the adventure was not over. The students ventured away from camp for a short hike and a shelter building competition. After the kids watched a quick demonstration of a debris shelter, they broke into groups and had an hour to build one of their own. Whose would be the best? Turns out they all were!
All too soon, it was time to pack up and head out. In the words of the wise students, the instructors were “cool, fun, friendly, and helpful.” Another student, Marylu, was so moved by the experience, she stated “I think I have enough resources to tackle an environmental issue, because this experience helped me to show leadership.”
What a fabulous way to spend the weekend!
Click here to check out the photo gallery of all the fun!
Have you ever looked around your house and thought to yourself, “Man! I have so much junk!” Why do we have so much useless stuff? Where does all this stuff come from? Where does it go after we throw it away?
Annie Leonard explores these questions in her short video called, “The Story of Stuff.” Leonard describes in detail each step of the process of all of our stuff; from trashing the environment through extraction and the toxic chemicals used in production, to how we dispose of our stuff when we are finished with it. Can you believe that 99% of the stuff we consume is trashed within 6 months of us purchasing it? At the end of the video Leonard talks about how we can work together to change this vicious cycle and create a more sustainable future.
Cottonwood Institute is teaming up with Prescott College to host a FREE showing of The Story of Stuff at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 22, 2009. The event will take place at the Boulder REI Store at 1789 28th Street, Boulder, CO 80301. Free raffle tickets for an REI gift card will be given to all who register as a participant of the event. To register, simply RSVP by contacting April Pishna, Cottonwood Institute Administrative Coordinator, via Email.
This event is free and open to the public, but donations are encouraged and will be used to help underwrite our Community Adventure Program (CAP). CAP is a unique academic experience designed for adventurous students who want to practice outdoor skills, discuss and debate local outdoor and environmental issues, develop deeper friendships with their classmates, and who want to make a positive impact in their communities.
Come for the free movie and leave with an inspiration to change the world!
Welcome to the CAP Club Blog!
Hello!! Welcome to New Vista High School’s NEW CAP (Community Adventure Program) Club! I’m so excited things are finally getting rolling. Not so long ago we didn’t even know what CAP Club was going to be, and now we’ve not only figured out our purpose, but some great activities, too!
So, wait; back up. Who is this ‘we?’ Well, ‘we’ are the three founding members of CAP Club; Hannah, Zander and me, Josie (you’ll be hearing from mainly me online).
All three of us have taken the CAP class before; Hannah and I were in the 1st quarter class, and Zander was in the 2nd. Hannah and I first collaborated to begin the CAP Club at the beginning of 2nd quarter, and Zander joined us a few weeks after. We all loved the CAP Class and wanted to continue CAP after we had finished it.
We have officially decided on our roles for CAP Club, and they are as follows: Hannah is the action of the CAP Club; the public speaker; outgoing and spirited. Zander is the Alternative Transportation Day guy; he always has great ideas and makes them happen. I (Josie) am the voice; the writer, the shy genius (humble I am not). If you’re looking for specifics in any of these categories, talk to the person who knows the most about them. (You can always ask any of us about anything relating to the CAP Club though, of course.)
And now that you know a bit about us, I can explain what CAP Club is all about!
CAP Club aims to inform peers about environmental problems and, more importantly, how to fix them. It is also a great place to start actively bringing about environmental change. But, and this is very important, CAP Club is FUN! It’s not a club that just talks and talks and gets nothing done — it’s a place where kids who want to help the environment can join together and talk, be active and simply enjoy the outdoors. Also, since this club is just getting started, anyone who wants to help shape it will be welcomed! We are always looking for fresh insight.
CAP Club has meetings biweekly, and every single time we meet will not be empty talk, but an event, whether it be hiking, learning at a how-to clinic or a mini Action Project (if you don’t already know, in the CAP Class kids do the Action Project to help the environment/community on an environmental subject, such as water or air pollution). We really hope to have had events in each category by the end of the year, because too much of one thing becomes dull and repetitive.
WE ARE HAVING AN INFORMATIONAL MEETING ON THURSDAY, JANUARY 29th IN ROOM 202 AT LUNCH!!! PLEASE come, even if you are only slightly interested. I have had word that there will be food there, so don’t worry about going hungry. And if you have any questions about CAP Club, ask them on Thursday or respond to this blog! We’ll be happy to answer them as best we can.
That’s it. Thanks a bunch for reading my novel above, and I hope to see you guys soon!