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!
Ford Church, Founder and Executive Director of the Cottonwood Institute, is an amazing man who sadly does not have the ability to grow facial hair. But this October, despite the odds, Ford will be attempting to grow a mustache! Why would he want to do such a silly thing you ask? Well, for Mustache4Cash of course!
Mustache4Cash and Color4Kidz is a Denver Fundraiser started in 2004 by the Youth Opportunity Fund, an organization committed to raising money for non-profits serving “at risk” youth. The way it works is that willing men and women in the Denver area called “growers” and “colorers” will be sporting handsome staches and stylish streaks for the month of October. Each of these men and women are reaching out to the public for sponsors to donate money to their cause.
April Pishna, Cottonwood Institute’s Administrative Coordinator and all-around multi-tool will be joining Ford in this ultimate adventure, along with Ryan Bovard-Johns and Nate Bankirer, two amazing Cottonwood Instructors.
We are participating in this creative event to raise money to help increase the accessibility of the outdoors to low-income, inner city public school students at Gilpin K-8 Montessori School in Denver, CO during the 2009 – 2010 school year. The money we raise will be used to offer a 1-day field trip for World Water Monitoring Day, a weekend overnight camping trip to practice leadership and teambuilding skills, and a 1-day rafting trip next spring. Most of these kids have never even been to the mountains!
Give Cottonwood Institute a hand by donating to this campaign. Its quick and easy! All you have to do is visit this link http://www.mustache4cash.org/users/294 and make a donation before October 24th.
On Thursday, September 17, 2009 students from Gilpin K-8 School headed over to the South Platte River in downtown Denver to team up with Earth Force and Cottonwood Institute for World Water Monitoring Day (WWMD).
In partnership with Keep it Clean from Drain to Stream (KIC), a water education campaign led by Denver Public Works, Denver City Councilwoman Judy Montero kicked off the event with her inspiring opening remarks and encouraged students to do their part to help keep Denver’s water clean. Approximately 25 students and 10 volunteers performed a variety of tests along the South Platte River to check the water quality for the wildlife that call it home and for the people that use it for recreation. Students performed several water tests including, pH, turbidity, temperature, and dissolved oxygen, waded in the water in search of macroinvertebrates, and participated in an interactive game called “The Incredible Journey” to understand the water cycle.
Students recorded their findings, which will be submitted to the Water Environment Federation. Community results are published each year in the “Year in Review” report and made available on the WWMD website, so stay tuned for more information. At the end of the day, students had gained knowledge on not just water, but how to keep it safe, how to know it’s safe, and how to enjoy it responsibly.
WWMD was one of three events Cottonwood Institute, Earth Force and Gilpin have planned for the 2009 – 2010 school year thanks to a generous grant from REI. Other courses include a fall camping trip and a spring rafting adventure, so check back with us to keep track of all that we accomplish throughout the year.