This has certainly been one of Colorado’s hottest summers, but that did not deter the Buckley Airforce Base Youth Group from going out to the woods for a weekend of adventure and learning with the Cottonwood Institute. On June 23rd they departed to the Colorado Lions Camp and Conference Center outside of Woodland Park near Colorado Springs to brave the heat and wander the woods.
After setting up camp, the group dove quickly into learning about fire skills and shelter building. Fire became a big topic on this course, as the kids witnessed the beginning of the Waldo Canyon Wildfire. They watched the column of smoke grow and billow, coming face to face with the knowledge that fire can affect anyone, anytime, anywhere. Knowing their location was safe from the fire, the students were eager to learn more about nature and survival.
The afternoon brought on a two hour exploration starting in the ponderosa pine forest and winding down into a ravine to a boggy, willow-filled environment. This became the highlight of the course. The students found some intriguing bones and spent a good deal of time asking questions and speculating as to what had happened, what animal they were looking at, what gender it was, why it died, etc. Nature awareness was also brought into play as the group observed and identified the different plants in the changing environment.
To wind down the weekend’s events, each group member shared a story, leading into unique and interesting conversations, including a discussion on what it means to connect to nature. Although the course was short, the adventures, lessons, and friendships built will last forever. What more can you ask for?
We are very thankful to all of the donors and supporters who made this course possible for these military youth, especially the Markham Vineyard’s Mark of Distinction Program, which helped fund this project. But don’t take our word for it, check out this short thank you video from our students:
Written by Kelly Muller. Edited by April Pishna.
Here at Cottonwood Institute, we are all about teamwork. On a pleasantly warm fall evening in October at Cherry Creek Reservoir, Clark Patton from CI teamed up with a group of campers from Buckley Air Force Base’s Youth Programs for a couple of hours of fun and fire skills. As a guest instructor with a team of highly skilled military men, it was an honor to be invited to their youth camp for a survival overview.
While the time was short, the students learned basic survival priorities and even had time for a torch-lit night hike. Clark had everyone laughing and wanting more by the time the night was over. No worries, Cottonwood Institute and Buckley Air Force Base will be teaming up again next spring. We will work together to implement a weekend survival course giving everyone more time to not only learn and practice survival skills, but also time to laugh and enjoy the outdoors.
As the salamanders relaxed in the stillness of the early morning waters, and the plants soaked up the first rays of the morning sun, off in the distance there was a faint, yet distinct sound of children’s laughter and the crunch of twigs underfoot. Cottonwood Institute’s survival course was underway once again at Taylor Mountain.
Every year, Cottonwood Institute donates a one-day survival course to be auctioned off at our annual fundraising event, The Base Camp Bash. The brave families who made a bid on this action-packed course got what they expected and more. Throughout the day, they participated in a shelter building competition, learned about edible and medicinal plants, practiced knife and fire skills, played exciting games and activities, and the kids even created their own fishing poles!
While the day was humming with activity, one of the best moments was simply the stories each person had to share. Relaxing in, and connecting to nature brings out the story-teller and listener in each of us. From shelters to sit spots to stories – these activities, coupled with a beautiful warm summer day, made an unforgettable adventure for not only the families involved, but also the instructors.
“My whole family enjoyed this course. The way Ford made fire out of sticks so fast – amazing! Clark is very knowledgeable about the outdoors and knows a lot about plants and animals. Both instructors worked well with the kids and adults. After taking this course, I am more aware of how to build a shelter and about what I might need to do if alone and lost in the outdoors.” (participant, Christine Frank)
Click here for a photo slideshow to check out the adventurous day!
To schedule your customized survival course, click here for more information.